The Family of

Thirza Adams nee Radmore

1868-1942

1. EDITH (Edie) (1887)

Married Joseph Thomas Smith whilst both were living at Dawson City.  The couple were living with her parents at Hayfield in 1911 and moved to Stocksbridge with them before moving to Port Talbot, where Joseph went to work on the docks.

 

 2. WILLIAM JOHN (1889), died young

Born at Hut 34, Thelwell, Latchford, Warrington.

 

3. HARRY (1891)

Punch was Harry Adams’ nickname - apparently, it referred to his size, as he was not much over 5' tall.  He married Sarah Ellen White at Bolsterstone church in 1917.  The family were told that, after his younger brother John was killed on the 9th October 1917 he enlisted in order “to get one of them that killed him”  His army records do not seem to have survived; it isn't known which Regiment he originally joined, but he re-enlisted with Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) better known as the “Green Howards.”  Due to his stature he joined their Bantam* Division, the 13th Service Battalion.  He survived the war, but, like many men, was never the same afterwards.  He was in receipt of a disability pension from the army, and he died on the 2nd January 1936 aged 45 at Brookfield Cottages, Bracken Moor, Stocksbridge.

*A bantam, in British Army usage, was a soldier of below the British Army’s minimum regulation height of 5ft 3in (160 cm). During the First World War the British Army raised battalions in which the normal minimum height requirement for recruits was reduced from 5ft 3in (160 cm) to 5ft (150 cm) with an expanded chest measurement of at least 34 inches.

Private Harry Adams, 57735 Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)

Harry's War

In Navvyman, Dick Sullivan mentions that Harry was shipwrecked and “never was right in his head after that.”  His battalion were due to set sail aboard a troopship from Dundee on the 16th October 1918, but they were delayed because the ship wasn’t ready; it was in poor condition, dirty, unsanitary, and, it was said, in an unserviceable condition.  One account records that some of the men wished to disembark and go into town while the ship was being readied. This request was denied, but about 150 of the men pushed their way ashore where they were stopped at the dock gates by the sentries and military police.  The Colonel drew his revolver was threatened to shoot the next man who tried to leave the dock. In retaliation, the men stated that they would fetch their rifles and do likewise. This near mutiny situation was resolved when the ship was towed into midstream so that they could not get ashore.  They finally set out the following day, but the ship soon developed steering problems and was listing to one side. A day later her boiler burst and power was lost; the ship was drifting helplessly towards a minefield. An accompanying destroyer attempted to take her into tow but failed. Eventually she was towed into anchorage in the Shetlands where temporary repairs were made.  This took three weeks, and to avoid running out of supplies, the troops were put on short rations.  In order to make more permanent repairs the ship sailed toward the naval base at Invergordon.

 

During that journey, the ship began to list so severely that the men were ordered to stay on the portside of the ship.  A member of the crew was washed overboard during the night and was not found.  The steering failed again, and the Captain was forced to take refuge in Inganess Firth on the Orkneys. With the main anchor having failed the Captain was reduced to using the auxiliary ones and as the weather worsened and a storm set in, the auxiliary anchors could not cope. The ship was being steadily pushed towards the cliffs, endangering the safety of the ship and the men’s lives. Distress rockets and a ship’s S.O.S. was put out, and whilst waiting for help a line was sent ashore and some of the men were taken off by the ship’s lifeboats. Eventually, rescue craft arrived, and the rudderless and anchorless ship was towed to safety. Repairs could not be carried out that would make the ship seaworthy, and the troops were transferred to a sister vessel, the Huntsend.

 

The Huntsend sailed north to the Artic Circle and the troops finally arrived at their destination of Murmansk six weeks later than expected on 27th November 1918. This was a fortnight since the Armistice had been announced on the 11th November, but British troops were involved in an intervention in the Russian Civil War, which began in 1918.  Harry’s Battalion, the 13th, was ordered to entrain at Murmansk on 2nd February 1919 and from there to travel by sledge to Seletskoi, Russia, to take over from a battalion of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. Most reached there by the 22nd February.  Some of the men of the 13th mutinied and refused to fight; the mutiny ended on the 25th February and the men were told that they would return to Britain once the thaw had set in.  On 4th April 1919 Churchill sent a message to the men “to carry on like Britons fighting for dear life, set an example to others......reinforcements and relief are on the way.”  These events have been described as “Churchill’s Hidden War” by some historians.  Conditions were poor – locals were starving, soldiers’ supplies were stolen, and people were shot on sight.  One Russian Officer observed a squad of British troops being forced to march up a valley - on either side on top of the hill were other British troops with machine guns prepared to fire upon their own should they turn back.  On 25th December 1918, 2nd Lieutenant Robert Plumpton of the 6th Green Howards was found murdered in a ravine near Murmansk. His watch and some army stores were found on the 14th January 1919 in a raid on a house in the Russian quarter and the owner was tried and shot on 5th February 1919. 

Finally, a troopship arrived in Tyne from Murmansk in August 1919 carrying about 1,800 British and Italian troops, including men from the 6th and 13th Battalion’s Yorkshire Regiment.  Pension ledgers record that he was discharged on the 26th November 1919 with an (unnamed) disability. 

No wonder Harry never really recovered from his time in the Great War.

4. MINNIE (1893)

Minnie Adams married Charles Murray at Bolsterstone in 1917 and they lived at 4 Victoria Street. Charles and Minnie’s daughter Daisy (born 1920) appears on the Sheffield Indexers School page as leaving the district on the 8th July 1929 [to go to Hebden Bridge].  They also had a daughter called Violet.

 

5. JOHN (1895-1917 – killed in action)

John was 20 years and 10 months old when he signed up in Sheffield for a Short Service Contract with the York and Lancaster Regiment on July 23rd 1915, to serve for either three years or for the duration of the war.  

 

Acting Corporal John Adams was killed in action in October 1917 when he was killed by a sniper.  His parents were informed of his death in a letter from Lieutenant K.C. Whitlock in which he writes: “It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you of the death in action on October 9th [1917] of your son. He had only just re-joined the battalion a few weeks before his death, but it was sufficient time for me to see that he would make a capable NCO, and his loss will be keenly felt by myself and all his comrades. He was killed by a sniper during the advance on October 9th; but it may be some consolation to know that his death was instantaneous and he therefore suffered no pain. Please accept my deepest sympathy with you in your loss.”  He had been on active service for three years.

 

John’s Service Record states that he was based in the Mediterranean area from October 27th 1915 until the 26th June 1916.  He was then to the France/Flanders theatre of war on the Western Front, just in time to participate in the battles that took place from 1st July to 18th November 1916, which became known as the First Battle of the Somme. He was probably killed at the Battle of Poelcapelle which took place on the 9th of October 1917 - the day that he was recorded as having been killed in action. 

 

October 1917 was extremely wet; Major Richard Talbot Kelly of the Royal Artillery wrote, “It rained absolutely continuously, one was as afraid of getting drowned as of getting hit by shells. Actually, the extraordinary quagmire nature of the Passchendaele (sic) battle masked much of the effect of the shells, which sank so deeply into the mud that the splinter and blast effect was to a large extent nullified. But half the men in my battery were suffering from ague. I had only one sergeant left on his feet and I was the only officer left at the guns. But it was the weather, more than anything else, that got one down. When one woke in the morning in the little scrape you’d scratched out of the ground to get out of the way of the worst of the splinters, you felt the water bubbling and oozing in the small of your back.” Major Richard Talbot Kelly, Royal Artillery. Forgotten Voices of the Great War, Max Arthur 2002 p 218).  Humans, animals and machines sank in the mud.  On the 9th October it took some of the British troops eleven hours to travel from Ypres along narrow duckboard tracks to reach their jumping off points.  The guns weren’t stable enough to maintain their accuracy, and many of the shells fired by the British failed to explode or simply disappeared into the mud.  The British attack at Poelcappelle failed to achieve its objectives. 

 

John was buried at the British Cemetery, Langemark-Poelcappelle in Belgium and is remembered on Stocksbridge Clock Tower War Memorial

 

John’s family placed this poem in the Penistone Express (17th November 1917), signing it as his “sorrowing parents, sisters, brother and friends.

The midnight stars are shining

On a grave I cannot see

Where sleeping without dreaming

Lies the one so dear to me.

Could I have been there at the hour of his death

To have caught the last sigh of his fleeting breath

His last faint whisper I could have heard

And breathed in his ear a loving word

Ah only those who have suffered are able to tell

The pain of the heart in not saying farewell.

But when alone in my sorrow and bitter tears flow

There stealist sweet dreams of a short time age

And unknown to the world he stands at my side

And whispers these words “Death cannot divide.”

 

Another poem was printed in the Penistone Express of 15th October 1921 from “Father, Mother, Sisters and Brothers, Victoria Street, Stocksbridge.”  

He sleeps beside his comrades

In his grave across the foam;

And his name is written in letters of love,

On the hearts he left at home.

For a fuller account of John's War, see Parker, Michael. Poppy People Revisited, 2009 

John Adams, showing his Corporal's stripes

6. NELLIE (1898)

Married Stephen Cooke, a boiler firer, in 1932 (Todmorden Registration District).  In 1939 his occupation was boiler firer.

 

7. WILLIAM (1900)

William Adams married Mabel Brookes in 1922 at Stocksbridge Parish Church; - he was a miner, living at Victoria Street; Mabel was living on Button Row.  William died 18th November 1963, age 63 at City General Hospital.

 

 

8. DAISY (1902)

 

 

9. RICHARD (1905-1906)

Richard was born in March 1905 at No. 2 Hut, Dawson City, Heptonstall.  He died young.

 

 

10. EDWIN (1906)

In 1923, when he was 16, he was placed on a 12-month probation order for stealing from the Water Works stores at Ewden.  He stole a spirit level belonging to to Fred Johnson, the foreman of the works, and a hammer, a hatchet, and a quantity of pitch pine wood, the property of the Sheffield Corporation.

Edwin married Millicent Dawson in 1932 (in the Todmorden Registration District).  They had at least one child, Wendell, in 1942)

 

 

11. ARTHUR (1908)

Arthur was born in the Bolton area.  In 1939 he was living at Hebden Bridge with his wife Sarah (Robertshaw), young son John and his mother Thirza.

NAVVY LOSES AN EYE

George Radmore, Thirza’s father, was the ganger (like a team leader or supervisor) at Pateley Bridge in 1895 when his son Arthur lost an eye when some explosives went off.  Arthur sued the contractors he was working for under the Employer’s Liability Act, claiming just over £187 for personal injuries.  He sued Morrison and Mason, who were contracting to the Bradford Corporation. 

 

On 29th November Arthur was injured in an explosion of dynamite and had to be taken to Leeds Infirmary, where for some time his life was in danger.  His right eye was so severely damaged that it had to be removed.  He also suffered some facial injuries, a broken cheekbone and jaw, a wound on his left eye, a wound on his right thigh and several of his teeth were loosened.   Arthur was permanently scarred and needed further surgery to his face.  He left the infirmary on the 1st January 1896, but still had to attend as an out-patient.

The case came to court in June the following year. 

 

Arthur had been employed in a group of eight workmen over which his father George Radmore was the ganger.  They were making a cutting and had to blast the rocks, but the weather had been frosty, and the dynamite cartridges had frozen and needed to be thawed before they could be safety used.  If dynamite was not properly thawed, the slightest knock or friction would immediately cause an explosion.  The gangs were meant to be supplied with “warmers” in which to warm the dynamite, but none had been available, despite George repeatedly asking for them.  A warmer consisted of an inner and an outer bucket which warmed the cartridges by means of a hot water jacket.  One of the other gangers had improvised a warmer by using ordinary buckets, but George didn’t even have a bucket, so he resorted to the practice of placing the cartridges in his shirt for an hour or two in order to warm them enough to be used safely.  Arthur had charged two holes and was charging a third, putting in first what was known as the primer, then a full cartridge, then half a cartridge which his father had cut in half.  It was in pressing the latter down that the explosion occurred.

 

The firm’s solicitor submitted that there was no evidence that the accident occurred through the neglect to provide “warmers,” and that accident might have been caused by pushing too hard on the half cartridge.  They said that Arthur knew that the cartridges were not properly thawed, but he knowingly risked using them.  The judge disagreed and said that “if persons chose to put dynamite cartridges into the hands of workmen without proper means of thawing according to the Act of Parliament, they would incur liability.”  He awarded Arthur the full amount of damages, to be paid immediately.  The firm said they intended to lodge an appeal, but as there was no report of one, it must have been disallowed.

 

Arthur’s wage had been 24 shillings a week.  He was 20 at the time of the accident and turned 21 in March 1896.  He told the court that he had first started as a labourer nine years ago (he would have been twelve years old).  He had started work on the Manchester Ship Canal, and was experienced in blasting, and fairly familiar with the use of the dynamite cartridges.

Thank you to Gail Adams Linaker and Ron Adams for their help; Gail and Ron are the great-grandchildren of Thirza and John; Gail’s grandfather was Harry (Punch) Adams (1891) and Ron’s grandfather was their son William Adams (1900).

Dawson City huts.JPG

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