Service number: G/81028 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Royal Fusiliers.
Died of wounds, October 13th 1917, in Flanders.
Buried at DOZINGHEM MILITARY CEMETERY, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
WHAT I KNOW ABOUT BILL …
Brandon born William Adams, known locally as ‘Bill’, was born in Brandon in 1881. After leaving school he worked as a labourer for a local stonemason and married fellow Brandonian, Jessie Palmer. By the time of the 1911 Census the couple were living at 113 Thetford Road and they had three young daughters. By the time war was declared Bill was employed by Brandon builder, Mr Montague Froud.
Before the war Bill was most likely a Territorial of the East Surrey Regiment (service number 5730). A reorganisation of the regiment then put Bill into the Royal Sussex Regiment (service number 290019) and it was with these men that he went across the English Channel to France in the summer of 1917. By now he was aged 35. During late 1917 he was one of a group of men who were posted to the front with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, at a time that battalion was preparing for action. For Bill this meant going to Passchendaele to fight, and he would not fare very well. Just two months later his wife Jessie received a letter, dated 13th October 1917, from one of Bill’s comrades, Private P Billingham, of the Norfolk Regiment.
“Dear Mrs Adams.
I am very sorry to have to write to you to tell you that poor Bill got wounded the other day when he went into action, but I do hope it is not serious. I don’t think it is. We had advanced to our journey’s end, and started to dig ourselves in, when one poor fellow got wounded and Bill went to fetch him in and a sniper wounded him. I hope you will have good news, and as soon as you know let me hear.”
Sadly the news was not good when the War Office sent Jessie the official confirmation informing her that her husband had died. Bill had succumbed to his wounds at a casualty clearing station behind the lines, coincidentally on the same day that Private Billingham had written his letter. A month later Jessie received more letters about her husband’s demise, such as this one is from a nurse.
“It is with great regret that I write to confirm the sad news of the death of your husband, Private Adams, in this hospital, on the 13th. He was admitted on the 10th severely wounded in the shoulder that there was no chance of his recovery. Everything possible was done for him and he did not suffer much pain, but became gradually weaker and passed away peacefully four days later. He did not speak of anyone at home to any of the sisters in his ward and never seemed to realise how ill he was. All his personal effects will be returned to you later through the War Office.
With sincerest sympathy, I am, yours truly,
Another letter came from the Chaplain.
“I expect someone has already written to you of your husband’s death. He was wounded in an attack near Langemark on the morning of the 9th. We hoped he would have got over his wounds, but he died on the 13th. As chaplain of the battalion I would like to say how much I sympathise with you and your family in the very sad loss. The colonel also asks me to convey to you his kindest sympathy.