Horace (‘Notty’) Adams died of wounds received in action, aged 21, on 5 Feb 1918 (the memorial in St John’s says 6 February), and was buried in South Hinksey churchyard. He was a private in the 2/4th Battalion OBLI. The Oxford City Roll of Honour says he died at home, probably meaning in Britain as his obituary in the Oxford Times says he died in the 2nd General Hospital Nottingham.
He enlisted in Oxford in February 1915 as a volunteer, and in December 1917 the Oxford Times carried a report that he had been wounded, as had two of his brothers. In August 1915 the Oxford Journal Illustrated celebrated the family’s patriotic contribution with photos of the 5 sons of Mrs Adams of 50 Lake Street ‘serving king and country’: Pte G[eorge] Adams, 1st/4th OBLI; Pte R[eginald] Adams, 1st/4th OBLI; Trooper F[rederick or Frank] Adams, Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars; Pte H[orace] Adams, 1st/4th OBLI; Pte F[rank or Frederick] Adams, Army Service Corps. Further pictures of G.B. Adams of Lake Street, R. Adams, H. Adams and F. Adams all of the same address appeared as a heroes of the war, probably on reports of their being wounded. All but Horace eventually survived.
At the time that Horace enlisted the battalion was based in Oxford, moving to Northampton, Chelmsford and Salisbury Plain before embarking for France in May 1916. News reached Oxford in December 1917 that Horace had been wounded. In the autumn of 1917 the battalion was with the force occupying the trenches near Arras. In November 1917 German activity increased with British retaliation. On 30 November the battalion was moved to Bertincourt and then to the Hindenburg Line where a German attack led to heavy losses and the taking of prisoners and the division was pushed back with heavy casualties, though it was said that the 2/4th battalion suffered less than most. It was probably in this engagement that Horace was wounded.
Horace was born in 1897, the fourth son and fifth child of Sarah Elizabeth (‘Lizzie’) Adams (née Bennett) and William Adams. He went to Hinksey School and in 1911, aged 15, he was working as an errand boy. At the time of his enlistment in 1915 he was working for R. Alden, butchers in the covered market.
His mother was born in Wootton, Berks and his father in the parish of Holy Trinity, Oxford. His father was a wheelwright at a coach builder and in 1891 his mother was described as a tailoress. The couple had six sons and a daughter, all of whom were born in Hinksey (the eldest son was born in 1887, the youngest in 1902). In 1891 they were living at 28 Lake Street with two children and a lodger, moving to a five-room house at 50 Lake Street in about 1906, where Mrs Adams remained until 1919. All six sons and their daughter were living with their parents in 1911. William Adams died in about 1913.
Horace’s brothers, George and Reginald, both served in the 1/4th OBLI. George enlisted in 1914, was wounded on 31 August 1916 and discharged in May 1917. Reginald was discharged from the army in February 1919. His brother (William) Frank served in the Yeomanry and Frederick in the Army Service Corps. Their sister Agnes was married to Herbert Lee who died of wounds in the Radcliffe infirmary in November 1919 and is commemorated in St John’s church.
After the war members of the family remained in and near New Hinksey, three of them moving to the new houses built south of Sunningwell Road after the war and four of them working at the motor works. In 1919 Lizzie married George Wells, of 51 Church Street, described in the marriage register as a bricklayer, though in the trade directories he is described as a beer retailer. He was a widower with three daughters.
The eldest brother, (William) Frank Adams was working as a porter in 1911. That year he married Dorothy Jane Trueman and they had a daughter, Freda Elizabeth Grace. Frank was then working as a labourer and the family lived at 64 High Street, St Thomas. From 1912 they were living at 29 Lake Street where in 1913 their daughter Hilda Dorothy was born, Frank now working as a butcher. In 1939 Frank was working as a storeman at the motor works and living at 32 Norreys Avenue with Dorothy and 13-year-old Megan.
In 1919 George Bennett Adams (a storekeeper and living at 50 Lake Street) married Janet Alfreda Justice, of 17 Crescent Road, Cowley, daughter of William Justice, a gardener. In 1922 they were living at 50 Lake Street. In 1939 they were living in Lincoln Road; he was described as a motor chassis foreman storekeeper and their 23-year-old son Ernest as a motor chassis erector. Ernest had been named Ernest Justice when he was born and later took the name Adams.
Frederick P. Adams married Mabel Rhoda Smith in 1920. In 1939 he was a records clerk at the motor works, living in Iffley Road with his wife and their 18 year old son, Gord[on] F., an estate agent’s clerk.
Reginald was in 1939 living in Monmouth Road with his wife Gladys (nee Turner) and their 16-year old son Horace. Reginald was a storekeeper at the motor works, Gladys was a part time glove machinist and Horace a wood dulling(?) machinist at the Morris company.
Cyril Adams, the youngest, was only 12 years old when the war broke out. In 1924, when he was living at 49 Lake Street and was a chassis assembler, he married Dorothy May White a waitress from Grove Street, Summertown in the church of St John the Evangelist. In 1939 he worked as a motor chassis assembler and lived in Northampton Road with Dorothy, and their two school age children Rex and Mary.
In 1922 the widowed Agnes Maud Lee (nee Adams) married Alfred Edwin Hewlett, a gardener, at the church of St John the Evangelist. He was from Summertown. Agnes died in 1932 and in 1939 Alfred married Alice Mabel Rawlings (nee Juggins). She was a widow with about 6 children whose husband John Rawlings had died in 1934. In 1939 the couple was living at 17 Summerfield with the Rawlings family. Alfred was a cemetery employee.
[i] See The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by G. K. Rose, originally published in 1920. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20395/20395-h/20395-h.htm#page156, accessed 11 May 2018