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Credit: Rachel Hassall at Sherborne School Archives.

William Adamson was born on the 23rd November 1884 at Sunderland. He was the son of William Adamson and Eliza Adamson and had an older brother named Robert (b. c1882).

In 1891 the family were found at 2 Elms North, Christchurch, Sunderland. Like many of the men on the street his father was a ship owner and merchant.

In his youth, William attended Aysgarth Preparatory School. He then attended Sherborne School (School House) from January 1899 until December 1903 where he played for their 1st XV rugby football team in 1902 and 1903.

William continued his education, attending Trinity College at Cambridge: He achieved his BA in 1907 and MA in 1911.

Having completed his studies, William farmed at Greenfoot, Sebergham, near Carlisle.

When war broke out, William was commissioned into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He completed his training with the 11th (Reserve) Battalion before being transferred to the 6th (Service) Battalion for service overseas. He sailed for Gallipoli on 1st December 1915 holding the rank of Temporary Captain.

William briefly commanded the 6th (Service) Battalion before being killed in action in Mesopotamia on 24th April 1916. There is nothing written in the Regimental History, and the War Diary (WO 95/5156) has not been digitized as yet.

Extracts from the Newcastle Journal on Friday 05 May 1916;

An intimation has been received from the War Office of the death in action of Captain William Adamson of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Captain Adamson was born in Sunderland …for some years he lived at Heatheridge, Humshaugh, North Tyne and was a keen sportsman, being devoted to open-air life. He was a good shot and a keen angler and occasionally played rugby for Tynedale. Captain Adamson… made many friends, being keenly interested in hunting and otter hunting.

The following information was printed in the Evening Telegraph on 22nd February 1921;

At Sebergham Church, some miles from Carlisle, the Chancellor of the Diocese Archdeacon Campbell dedicated a lych gate in memory of Captain William Adamson of Greenfoot.

Captain Adamson was the second son of the late Mr and Mrs Adamson, of Langholm Tower, Sunderland.

After being educated at Aysgarth School, Yorkshire; Sherbourne, Dorset; and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took his M.A., Captain Adamson decided upon farming as a career, and took Greenfoot, Sebergham.

On the outbreak of war he volunteered and was granted a commission in the Loyal North Lancashires, and went to the Dardanelles, where he saw much fighting at Sulva Bay.

After the evacuation he went to Mesopotamia, fighting on the Tigris line. On April 21, 1916, his Colonel being killed in action, General Sir Stanley Maude promoted him to the command of his Battalion.

Three days afterwards, whilst going up a bad communication trench with his Brigadier he was fatally wounded by a sniper.

Had he lived he would have enjoyed the military title of Lieutenant-Colonel, but, having held the rank for only three days, he was never gazetted.


Adamson’s memorial Lych Gate at Sebergham

William is remembered on the Basra Memorial as well as being the first name (alphabetically) on the Trinity College Chapel First World War Memorial (North Wall).


The Memorial at Trinity College Chapel

The Manchester Evening News of 22nd August 1916 reported details about his estate;

An Officer’s Will. – Captain William Adamson, 11th Battalion (attached to 6th Battalion), Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, of Greenfoot, Sebergham, near Carlisle, killed in Mesopotamia on April 24, left unsettled estate of the value of £41,438, including net personalty of the value of £40,418.

His next of kin would later receive his 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal. They would also receive a memorial plaque and scroll bearing his name and in recognition of his sacrifice.

william adamson scroll

Rank: Captain
Date of Death: 24/04/1916
Age: 31
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6th Bn.

Additional Information: The article mentions his Colonel being killed, this was Lieutenant Colonel James Gordon FAIRLIE who was killed 22nd April 1916.

Paul McCormick
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