John Adams was wounded on 1 May 1916, by an accidental discharge of a round by one of his own Battalion. This probably saved his life, as the Battalion was largely wiped out two months later, on 1 July 1916.

France: “I suppose by this time you will think me dead.”

Somewhere in France

My Dear Mother

Just a few lines, now that I am able to write once more, to let you know that I am getting on alright. Hoping yourself and all at home are still keeping in your usual Good Health. I suppose by this time you will think me dead, but thank Goodness I am still on the land of the living.

After I got wounded the Chaplin promised to write to you and tell you and so did Jack. Did they do so. You see I have not got a letter since then. And I may tell you that many a time I wondered how youse were getting on at Home. And many a time I was very sorry that I could not write to let you know how I was doing.

But as my hand is getting alright I will try and explain to you how it happened. It was on Monday night the 1st of May. And we were out of the Trenches at the time. But the Batt that we were doing reserves to was supposed to be attacked. And we got orders to go up to support them. it was about 10 oclock at night and very dark. And when ourside our quarters the Order was given to load up our rifles. So I happened to be rather late getting out and when I got out I was standing side ways to where the men were, when one of them by accident let of a round. The bullet passing through my rifle and exploding it in my left hand. The splinters tearing the whole heart out of my hand. I had to go through two operations for to get them out. It did feel sore I may tell you. But you not be uneasy as I am getting alright now, as I have the worse of it over me. And it might have been far worse if I had lost my hand.

The weather is still keeping very wet now it is simply pouring today. I suppose it is much the same at home. How is Annie and Jimmy getting on. I am sorry I cannot write to them as all my writing paper is in my rucksack and this is all I have got with me. But I may tell you many a time when lying here I thought often about youse all. And I did not know how youse were doing as I did not get a letter from anyone since I got wounded. That is nearly a fortnight today. I wish my hand was better until I would get out again as I am fed up knowcking about and not getting any letters to know how all is getting on.

I believe all the riots in Dublin is settled and near time too. If they would come out heere they would get plenty of fighting to do, without starting at hhome. If the poor fellows had the [?] and stuff that they destroyed out here they would be glad of it. But its as well that they put an end to it.

I think I must draw to a close as my hand pains me still when I use it too much. Excuse this horrible scribble. I now close hoping soon to hear from you.

I remain
Your Loving Son

John Adams

France: “But my hand was so long in healing up.”

BEF, Somewhere in France

My Dear Mother

I am sorry that I have been so long in writing to you again. But I was waitin in the hope that I might get a letter, but another day has passed and still no sign of any. So I have given up hope of getting any of them until I rejoin my Regt and I hope that will not be long now, I am still in hospital, the same one as I in the last time I wrote home. I thought at that time that I would have been out by this time. But my hand was so liong in healing up the Doctor though that there must still be some of the splinters in it. So he had to open it up again, and got one in the heart of my hand. So it was put as far back as ever. Only it has nothing to do now but heal up. And by the time you get this letter I will be back at my duty again.

Many a time I lie and wonder how youse are all getting on at home. But I hope youse are all still in your usual good health. I know it is not your fault at home that I am not getting any letters. They come all right to the Batt – where they are endorsed ‘Hospital’ and sent away again. And the letters may go back home again for all I know or I suppose fro all the care so long as they get rid of them.

They are very nice fellows in this hospital. I knew some of them since we were in Clandeboye. And they were in Newry for some time, about the time that we were on the Route March through the Co Armagh. I am telling you this to let you know that I am not altogether among strangers as you may suppose. I was talking to Sammie Moffat about a week ago. He came to see me. He is just the same. I need not tell you I was glad to see him. It was like a breath from home to talk to him. Those at home cannot realise how much good it does one to meet someone they know out here. It brings fond memories of happier days.

the weather still keeps good and is is most pleasant. I hope the weather at home is also fine. We will so be into the summer months again. I wonder what it will hold for each of us. It may bring sorrow for some and joy for others. But I suppose what ever comes it will be for the best and we will have to put up with it. It is all in a good man’s hand and he knows what is best for each of us. So we will have to leave it at that.

Tell Annie and Jimmy that I was asking for them. I hope that they are both in good health, as well as yourself. You can tell them I will write to them as soon as I get back to duty. But this is all the writing papoer I have got until I get back. My store of envelopes has run done. If you are writing to Jennie you may tell her that I am getting on all right. I cannot get writing to her now, but shall do so as soon as I get back. I am sending Jimmy a couple of cuttings out of an old newspaper. He might like them. I think this is about all so I must draw to a close. Hoping to hear from you soon.

Good night
I remain
Your Loving Son
John Adams

France: “You would have had me home with only one hand.”

BEF, Somewhere in France

My Dear Mother

Just a few lines to let you know that I am out of hospital once more. And that my hand is a good deal better although I am still not able for any heavy work. but the Captain was that pleased to see me back that he is letting me run about for a week without doing anything. I have got all your letters and was glad to know that all at home are still in good health. Well Dear Mother I suppose you will be glad to know that I have got another stripe since I came back. I have been promoted to the rank of Cpl. and am getting staying in my own Company.

The weather is simply lovely, it is just like summer this afternoon. I hope youse are having good weather at home for it is very pleasant. I hope Annie and Jimmy and yourself are keeping well. (You are right to keep fretting it will do you a whole lot of good.) [sic] I am beginning to think that you will never have sense. Well I may tell you if I havd started fretting over my hand I would not be back here today. You would have had me home with only one hand. But I kept up my heart and now you see the result of it. Well I think I have not much more to say. I will write soon again.

I remain
Ever your Loving Son

John Adams

France: Meets Rev. Paton of Downshire Road, Newry.

B. E. Force Somewhere in France

My Dear Mother

Just a few lines to say that I received your parcel all right. Many thanks for what you sent to me. I was most thankful for the cigarettes which you sent for to tell the truth I had nothing to smoke for a couple of days. I may as well tell you I am back in hospital again. I came out of it too soon and it seems that the splinters was not all out. So it broke out again and I had to go back. But its only a rest camp that I am in now. And only about half a mile from where the Regt is lying so anything that comes for me J. McCollough keeps them for me and sends them up. But somehow I missed that letter that you said you wrote on last Monday. I think he must have sent it by post so it would take it much longer coming. But I do not want you to be uneasy about me, as I will soon be alright. I was not going to tell you about it, only I thought that perhaps Jack would be writing home and telling you about it and that you would think it worse then what it was.

I just got your letter the other day telling me of the death of William Brown. It must have been very sudden for I never heard of him been ill. You see the reason I was so long in getting the letter I was just into hospital at the time and they did not know where I was so it was posted back again and got over the most part of France before I got it back again. Well that will be changes there. I thought be tooked quite all right the time I was home on leave but a short time makes a long of changes. But what can we expect but changes. There has been a lot since we came away 9 months ago. But the changes will only start when this war is over and the ones that is left live to get home. It is then that the ones that have fallen will be missed. But its all the fortunes of war and it will be a bad war indeed if all is killed. Someone will be left to tell the tale.

Well how is Jimmy getting on. He might take half an hour on Sunday and write to me a line. I suppose it is all the day he has. How does the Daylight Saving Bill affect him. It must be very hard rising at 5 o’clock when the clock says it is 6. It is starting with us today so I do not know how we will like it. I suppose they want to give us an extra hour at the Germans.

I suppose Annie is getting on all right. I had not a letter from her for long time. I think long when I do not hear from youse. I must soon write to her and to Jimmy too but there is not much to write about. Ask her if she remembers one 13th July that we came home from the Pass in J. Garvey car though Glenanne. That a man called Willie Whiteside and a wee child came home with us. Well I met him the other day. He is in the R. E. and he was asking me if I remembered it, and how my sister was getting on. He was saying that we would hardly be home for this 13th and I was of the same opinion.

I do not think I was ever telling you about meeting the Rev. Paton of Downshire Road, Newry out here. It was after I came out of hospital. We were lying at a place called the Mound Keep on the railroad that runs between Paris and Berlin. It was on a Sat afternoon and Sgt Gordon and I was sitting outside our dugout when this Chaplain came along and he stopped to speak to some of our Officers and I saw him always looking over to where Willie and I was sitting. So when he turned to come away he came over to where we were sitting. Of course we arose and saluted him.

And then he said to me Corpl have I ever saw you any place before, so I said I do not remember having met you before Sir. And then he asked me what part of Ireland I was from. So I told him. And he asked what I worked at when I was at home. So I told him that I had lived with the Rev. Meeke for a number of years. So then he said he knew that he had seen me before, and asked me did I not remember having met him on one occasion he was coming to preach in Kingsmills. But still I could not remember him. So he told me he was Paton of the Downshire Road. So then it came back to my memory. He came to preach one Friday before the Communion. So I told him then that I remembered it. So he was preaching to us the next day (Sunday) and when he had finished he came over and told me he would write to Mr Meeke and tell him he had seen me.

Well I think I have told you about all the news. Only that all the chaps of the North Irish Horse is up this part of the line. But I have never yet saw any of them. When we are in one village they are in another, so that is how we miss them. Harry Whiteside is a Sgt Major now, and Willie Lockart is still a Sgt. The Newtown [Hamilton] fellows are two villages from us. I think I must draw to a close. Hoping this may find yourself and all at home in your usual good health.

As I remain
Your Loving Son

John Adams

Transferred to No 18 Ambulance Train

John Adams had been readmitted to hospital with a recurring infection and inflammation of the wound as indicated in his letter of 14th June.

Records from are available from No 3 Casualty Clearing Station, then at Puchevillers behind the lines at Hamel. See

These records indicate the following

Index number of admission: T1051

Ailment: S[ick]. Inflammation of connective tissue, hand

Date of Admission for Original Ailment: 17/06/1916

Date Transferred to Sick Convoy: 18/06/1916

Number/Designation of Ward: A1

Notes written in the Observations Column: 110th Field Ambulance. To No.18 Ambulance Train.

110th Field Ambulance was part of 36th Ulster Division, and in June 1916 was located at Clairfaye Farm between Varennes and Léalvillers.

For more on No 18 Ambulance train see

Archive Reference: MH106/311 can be found at The National Archives in Kew, and contains First World War Representative Medical Records of Servicemen from No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station


Paisley: “I am leaving here on Sat 22nd”

Postmark: Paisley 20 July 1916


Dear Mother

Just a line to say that I am leaving here on Sat 22nd.  I do not know yet if I am going home, but I expect I am.  Will write again and let you know.  No more at present.

Your loving son


160720 Paisley 02

160720 Paisley 01

Postcard shows:

“Picturesque Paisley”.  A view across to Thomas Coats Memorial Church and the John Neilson Institution, perhaps over a canal where Canal Street now runs. Google StreetView.

Tipperary: “I am sick of this place”

This card indicates that he returned to Newtownards on 26 Jan 1917.

Postmark: none, but the word Tipperary is underlined on the written side.


Dear Mother,

Just a card to say I reveived your ever welcome letter alright.  And I am glad to know that all at home are still enjoying good health.  I am leaving here on Friday for Newtownards, so you need not write here again.  I need not tell you that I am not sorry at the change, for I am sick of this place.  So I asked to get back to my unit.  We were to go on Thursday but now it’s changed to Friday.  The old address in Newtownards will find me.  No more at present.  Love to all at home.

Your loving son,


170124 Tipperary Muskry 02

170124 Tipperary Muskry 01

Postcard shows:

“Lake Muskry, Galtee Mountains, Co. Tipperary”  A view over the lake toward a steep hillside or mountain on the other side.