John Adams was discharged from the Army in 1919, while still suffering from his leg wound received in 1918. This period was difficult for him, as employment was difficult to find, and he used his old Army contacts to try to secure positions.

Some key dates:

  • 18 Feb 1919 – Demobilized from the Army, and transferred to the Army Reserve
  • 28 April 1920-6 November 1921 – trained and then worked as a motor mechanic for Rowland and Harris Ltd, Newry
    period of unemployment – see correspondence with Major Shillington and Capt Ensor
  • 23 February 1922 – joined the Ulster Special Constabulary (‘A’ Class). Rose quickly to Sergeant (8/6/1922) and promoted to Head Constable stationed at Middletown (1/10/1924).
  • 13 March 1926 – ‘A’ Specials disbanded
  • further period of employment, where he considered joining the Prison Service in NI or England
  • 21 May 1926 – joined ‘B’ Specials as a full-time Sergeant Instructor. See his Diary of a Sergeant Instructor for his experiences in 1926-27. He was promoted to County Adjutant on 20/6/1941 and retired on 25/10/1952.

The following correspondence is from this period.

Dublin: having the time of my life

Miss M Reid



Co. Armagh


Having the time of my life have you my blade.

Yours as B/4


The author is unknown, we don’t have any other references to the writing. It may be a solider returning from France – possibly Johnny Reid but the handwriting doesn’t quite match. The recipient is our grandmother Mary Adams, also known as Minnie, who married John Adams in 1926.

Postcard shows The Quay (After the Rebellion), Dublin

Dublin Postcard 190107a

Dublin Postcard 190107b

Approval for Training



Grand Central Hotel

Royal Avenue



Reference. “C” BRANCH P/2326



I am directed to inform you that you have ben approved for a course of training in Motor Mechanics at Messrs G.B. Rowland & Harris starting on 28-4-20 and I am to request you to report yourself there on that date at 9 am. Course of training will terminate on 27-4-21.

2. As this will be a Wednesday, you will draw your Pension and immediately bring or send your Ring Paper to this Office, or if not in possession of it, go immediately on receipt of this letter to your War Pensions Committee, and obtain a certificate from them that your Ring Paper has been forwarded to the Pensions Issue Office, or elsewhere.

It is to be distinctly understood that if the Ring Paper or Certificate is not received on the day training commences, such training will be immediately cancelled.

3. Your training will take place under the following conditions:-

Period: 12 months

Trg. with Maintenance: 12 months

Minimum wage payable by Employer: 1st 6 mos. nil. Next 6 .. 10/2 p.wk

Personal maintenance allce. for Single men. 1st 6 mos. 46/8 p.wk. Next 6.. 36/8 p.wk

Total weekly sum: 46/8

4. In addition you will receive any supplymentary allowances claimed on your Declaration Form M.L.T. 22, for which it may be considered that you are eligible, together with an efficiency bonus of 5/- a week, payable on the satisfactory completion of training under maintenance, under the condition set out on Form M.L.T. 23.


[signature] Lieut.

For D/Controller, A.T.B.I Belfast



Mr John Adams,



Co. Armagh.




Reference from Rowland & Harris Ltd.


Rowland & Harris Ltd.

Railway Avenue


6 November 1921

To. Whom it may Concern


John Adams of Whitecross has been in our employment as Motor Mechanic for the past Eighteen months. He is a good worker, honest, sober, and trustworthy, he now leaves owing to depression in trade, and we can highly recommend him to anyone requiring his Services.

For and on behalf of Rowland & Harris Limited

Geo B Rowland, Director

D Graham Shillington

Co. Down
Jany 9th 1922

Sergt. John Adams M.C.
Lisadian, Whitecross,
Co. Armagh

Dear Adams,

Your letter of the 5th has just reached me this morning, I am not likely to forget you and have often wondered what you were doing, there is no man I know of whom I would be more willing to help in any way in my power. I am writing to Capt. Ensor. urging your claims for consideration, and asking him if it would help if I saw some of the people at Headquarters in Belfast here.

I will write you again when I hear from Capt. Ensor.

Yours faithfully,

D. Graham Shillington

Capt Ensor



Dear Major Shillington

With reference to your letter about John Adams. Very few recruits are being taken on now and I have almost 300 waiting application so you can see there are lots waiting long over two months.

From your recommendation this seems a very suitable an and will give him a call as soon as possible.

I give every preference to old ninth men.

Wishing you every luck in the new year.

Yrs sincerely




Febry 9, 1922

Dear Adams,

Your letter dated Febry 5th has just reached me this morning. I am writing again to Capt Ensor, to see if he can do anything for you and home he may soon have an opening. Glad to hear from you at any time.

Yours faithfully,

D. Graham Shillington




Co. Down.

Feby 13th 1922

Dear Adams,

Enclosed is letter which I have received from Capt Ensor. I am sorry this is not more satisfactory, but I have written to him again urging him to try to do something for you as soon as ever it is possible. I have also told him that you are well known to Major Stalahan [?].

I may say that I called at the Headquarters here of the R.I.C. & they told me that with them all recruiting is stopped for the present. I hope something may soon turn up.

Yours sincerely

D. Graham Shillington

Ypres: Hill 60 Memorial

Miss M Reid

The Arcade

Hill Street




Having a good time. Hope all in the Arcade are well.



Miss M Reid was Madge Reid (not Mary/Minnie as she was married to John Adams in 1926).

Sarah/Sadie Birtles was Madge’s sister who married George Birtles after the war.

They will have returned to Ypres as part of organised post-war tours.

The Hill 60 memorial is still there today. Google Maps


Sadie Zillebeke 280808a Sadie Zillebeke 280808b