Able Bodied Seaman Harry Bernard Adams, J/14283
- Batt -
- Unit - Royal Navy
- Section - HMS Faulknor
- Date of Birth - 23/08/1894
- Died - 04/09/1914
- Age - 20
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Source: Michael Doyle Their Name Liveth For Evermore: The Great War Roll of Honour for Leicestershire and Rutland. He was the son of Thomas Emerson, a bricklayer, born 1872 in Belton, Leicestershire and his wife Eliza Emerson (nee Soden, married in the 3rd quarter of 1894 in the Leicester district), born 7th November 1873 in Long Buckby, Northamptonshire. Harry Bernard was born 23rd August 1894 in Leicester and baptised on the 7th April 1895 in St. Andrew’s Church, Leicester, at this time his family home was at 22, Goswell Street, Leicester. In March 1901 Harry was residing at Knighthorpe, Milton Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, together with his mother and half blood siblings, Ethel Dorothy Adams, born in the 3rd quarter of 1898 in St. Albans, Hertfordshire and Elsie Madge Adams, born in the 3rd quarter of 1899 in Loughborough, also residing with the family was Harry’s maternal Grandfather, Samuel Soden, a boot maker, born 1847 in Ravensthorpe, Northamptonshire, this was the home of John Adams, a bricklayer, born 9th March 1876 in Loughborough. In April 1911 Harry was absent from 31, Meech Street, Openshaw, Manchester, Lancashire, residing there was John Adams, a bricklayer, his mother, and half blood siblings, Ethel, a schoolgirl, Elsie, a schoolgirl and Hilda Lucy, born in the 4th quarter of 1906 in Barnet, Middlesex. In the 2nd quarter of 1916 Harry’s mother married John Adams in the Nottingham district. Harry’s mother died on the 29th March 1952 in Nottingham, aged 79.
Harry enlisted into the Royal Navy to serve a 12 year engagement on the 11th October 1911, his reckonable service to commence on the 23rd August 1912, he was allocated the service number J/14283 in Plymouth, Devon. His medical examination recorded that he was 5 foot 5¾ inches in height and had a chest measurement of 34¾ inches, his hair colour was brown and he had brown eyes, his complexion was described as pale, it was noted that he had a scar on his right hip, left shin and to the inside of his neck, he gave his trade or calling as labourer. On attaining the age of 18 he was re-examined and found to be 5 foot 6½ in height with a chest measurement of 36 inches. His record of service began when he joined HMS Ganges II as a boy 2nd Class on the 11/10/11 – 19/1/12. HMS Commonwealth, 20/1/12 - 31/1/12, when he was promoted to Boy 1st Class. HMS Commonwealth, 1/2/12 – 13/5/12. HMS Formidable, 14/5/12 – 26/5/12. HMS King Alfred, 27/5/12 – 14/8/12. HMS Talbot, 15/8/12 – 22/8/12, when he was promoted to Ordinary Seaman. HMS Talbot, 23/8/12 – 13/12/12. HMS King Alfred, 14/12/12 – 28/1/13. HMS Vivid I, 29/1/13 – 1/4/13. HMS Amphion, 2/4/13 – 20/2/14, when he was promoted to Able Bodied Seaman. HMS Amphion, 21/2/14 – 6/8/14. HMS Dido (Faulknor), 7/8/14 – 4/9/14, when he died from pneumonia as a result of a mine explosion, in the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hants.
The circumstances in which Harry lost his life are as follows. On commissioning, HMS Amphion was assigned as leader of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla with the Harwich Force, defending the eastern approaches to the English Channel. During her early years she was commanded by Frederic Charles Dreyer, but by the outbreak of the First World War she was under the command of Captain Cecil H Fox. In the afternoon of 5 August 1914, HMS Amphion and the 3rd Flotilla were carrying out a pre-arranged plan of search when they were informed by a trawler that she had seen a suspicious ship “throwing things overboard”. The trawler gave an indicated position, and HMS Amphion led the flotilla to investigate. Shortly afterwards, the 2,150 long tons (2,180 t) minelayer SMS Königin Luise was sighted steering east. Königin Luise was a former Hamburg - Netherlands holiday ferry that had been converted to an auxiliary minelayer by the Germans. On the night of 4th August, she had departed Emden and headed into the North Sea to lay mines off the Thames Estuary. Königin Luise was disguised in the black, buff, and yellow colours of the steamers of the Great eastern Railway, that plied from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. Her attempt to flee from the approaching fleet aroused suspicions and four destroyers gave chase, including HMS Lance and HMS Landrail. In about an hour's time, Königin Luise was chased down and sunk, with 46 survivors from the crew of 100. HMS Amphion picked up a number of the survivors and continued on her prearranged search. The destroyers now sighted another ship of the same shape and colour as the Königin Luise, flying a large German flag. The destroyers began to attack this ship, whilst HMS Amphion recognised her as the St. Petersburg which was carrying the German Ambassador back to Germany from England. HMS Amphion signalled the destroyers to cease fire but either unaware of the signal or caught up in the heat of the moment, they continued to fire upon the ship. HMS Amphion then manoeuvred between the destroyers and the St. Petersburg to deliberately foul the range, and the St. Petersburg proceeded to safety. HMS Amphion continued with the search without further incident until 03.30 of 6th August, when she began the return course to Harwich. Unfortunately the allocated course ran very close to where Königin Luise had laid her mines. At 06.30, HMS Amphion struck a mine that had been previously laid by Königin Luise. A sheet of flame enveloped the bridge which incapacitated her captain. Except for one man, all the forecastle gun crews were killed and many of the bridge occupants were badly burnt. As the hands were at breakfast, many were killed or suffocated in the forward mess decks. As soon as he recovered consciousness, the captain ran to the engine room to stop the engines, which were still going at revolutions for 20 knots (23 mph). As all the forepart was on fire, it proved impossible to reach the bridge or to flood the fore magazine. The ship's back appeared to be broken and she was already settling by the bows. The escorting destroyers closed in and took off HMS Amphion’s crew and the few rescued German survivors. Though her engines were stopped, her momentum carried her back into the minefield and at 07.03, just three minutes after the last boatload of survivors were taken off, she again struck the same row of mines. The fore magazine exploded, with debris striking the rescue boats and destroyers. One of HMS Amphion’s shells burst on the deck of HMS Lark, killing two of HMS Amphion’s men and a German prisoner rescued from the cruiser. HMS Amphion then rapidly sank within 15 minutes of the explosion. Around 150 British sailors were killed in the sinking, as well as 18 of the crew rescued from Königin Luise.
On Friday September 11th 1914, The Leicester Journal published the following article under the heading. “THE SEQUEL TO THE AMPHION DISASTER.” – The Loughborough survivor of H.M.S. Amphion, Able Seaman, Harry Bernard Adams (19 years of age), whose parents live at 45, Storer-road, died on Friday in the Haslar Royal Naval Hospital at Gosport. Adams it will be remembered, was on sentry duty over 21 German prisoners on the Amphion when the ill fated ship struck a mine, and floundered so quickly that many lives were lost. Of the prisoners 19 were killed by the explosion, and Adams had a miraculous escape from death. He was evidently suffering a good deal from shock and the effect of the explosion fumes, but was granted 48 hours leave to come and see his parents. He left three weeks ago, and joined his new ship H.M.S. Faulknor, on the Sunday, and was to sail a week last Monday. He was taken ill and removed ashore. Pneumonia and other complications set in, and despite the assiduous care and attention of two nurses, who were in constant attention, he died on Friday. The body was brought home to Loughborough, where the funeral took place at Loughborough Cemetery on Tuesday. The route along the way to the cemetery from Storer-road was thickly thronged with people. The funeral was of quite a quiet and private character. The Rev. R. F. Handford, pastor of Baxter-gate Chapel, officiated. The mourners were the immediate relatives, the father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, the sister, and Mr. and Mrs. P. Adams, and all those sent wreaths in addition to “Uncle, aunt, and son,” Mr. and Mrs. Moss, Mr. and Mrs. Hutchins, a friend, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Rostone and Rosie, Mr. and Mrs. J. Cooper, Mr. and Mrs., and Miss Hodgson, Nellie, Mr. and Mrs. Battison, Aunt Dolly, J. J. Shardlow, Jas. Strange, and G. H. Greasley, three of his comrades, whose wreath was tied with navy blue and red, white and blue ribbons.
NOTE: The Carillon Tower Memorial in Loughborough records the name AB. Adams H.E., and it is my assumption that this entry refers to Harry Bernard Adams, the second initial being an error at the time the memorial tablets were created.
- Conflict - World War I
- Other Memorials - Loughborough Carillon, War Memorial Bell Tower
- Unit - Royal Navy
- Cause of death - DIED
- Burial Commemoration - Leicester Road Cemetery, Loughborough, Leicestershire, England, Grave Reference 44.107
- Born - Leicester
- Enlisted - 11/10/1911 in Plymouth, Devon
- Place of Residence - Knighthorpe, Milton Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, England
- Memorial - CARILLON TOWER MEM., LOUGHBOROUGH, LEICS