32-year-old Private Joseph Adams, 15 Platoon, D Company, 6th Battalion South Wales Borderers, died on 3rd October 1918 as a prisoner of war. Born in London in 1886, he was the eldest of three children born to parents Joseph and Katherine Alice (née Pausey/Pawsey) who had married at St Giles Cripplegate in 1885. Joseph was a hotel manager and, sometime between 1891-1901, the family moved to Knowle, where Joseph managed the Greswolde Hotel.
The family left Knowle sometime between 1901-1911 and, at the time of the 1911 census were living at Kennans Hotel, Crown Court, Cheapside, London. Parents, Joseph and Katherine, were managing the hotel, while two of their children – 25-year-old Joseph and his 21-year-old sister, Gladys Mary – were assisting as cashier and book-keeper respectively. Their brother, Albert Edward Adams (born 10th May 1887) appears to have left home by 1911.
Prisoner of war records indicate that Private Joseph Adams was captured on 28th May 1918, at which time the battalion was engaged with the enemy at a location near Hermonville. The battalion had been in billets in a reserve area at Magneux on 26th May but received orders at 6pm to be ready to move with an hour’s notice. At 7.30pm they moved to Romain, where they received orders to continue the march to Vaux-Varennes. The march took some five hours as a result of the considerable movement of troops and transport. An entry by Major Alan Reid-Kennett in the battalion war diary says that
the enemy had heavily shelled the back areas with gas shells and it was at some points on the march necessary to march in gas helmets
The battalion war diary records that in the action 28th-31st May 1918 it suffered the following casualties:
- one officer and 18 other ranks killed
- one officer wounded and missing
- three officers missing (inc. Lieut. H Davies commanding D Company) and 101 other ranks missing
- three officers and 103 other ranks wounded
Private Joseph Adams was taken to Germany as a prisoner of war where he died on 3rd October 1918. He is buried at Worms (Hochheim Hill) Cemetery and is commemorated locally in the Soldiers’ Chapel, Knowle and on the roll of honour of Knowle Football Club.
By the 1920s, his family had moved to manage the Embankment Hotel, Bedford.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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