Douglas Bernard Matthew ADAMS

ADAMS, Douglas Bernard Matthew

Service Number: 1857
Enlisted: 10 December 1914, Oaklands, South Australia
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Alberton, South Australia, 12 September 1896
Home Town: Largs Bay, Port Adelaide Enfield, South Australia
Schooling: Port Adelaide Public School & Prince Alfred College, South Australia
Occupation: Civil Servant (Marine Board)
Died: Died of Wounds (fractured skull), Gallipoli, Turkey, 7 July 1915, aged 18 years
Cemetery: Beach Cemetery - ANZAC Cove
Plot 2, Row E, Grave 1
Memorials: Adelaide Australian Harbours Board WW1 Roll of Honour, Adelaide Commissioner of Public Works Roll of Honour, Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Birkenhead WW1 Harbors Board Employees Memorial, Kent Town Prince Alfred College 'Nobly Striving, Nobly Fell' Roll of Honour, Largs Bay St Alban's Church Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

10 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Oaklands, South Australia
1 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1857, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
1 Apr 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1857, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Port Lincoln, Adelaide
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, ANZAC / Gallipoli
7 Jul 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, 1857, 10th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli

From Alberton To Gallipoli: An Upright Sterling Character

1914 was arguably the Port Adelaide Football Club's most successful year, going through the season undefeated as league premiers and champions of Australia.

The club's best and Fairest player, Jack Ashley won Port's fourth Magarey Medal in the league and Pat Crowley won the reserves Magarey Medal.

It was also the start of the First World War and many of the club's senior and seconds players enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force.

One of those young men, who has remained virtually unknown in the club's history books, is Douglas Adams.

Douglas Bernard Matthew Adams was born on 12 September 1896 at Alberton.

Growing up in the area he attended the Port Adelaide public school and later won a scholarship to enter Prince Alfred College.

In his early teenage years he was active in a variety of pastimes including the Semaphore Troop Scouts where he quickly gained promotion to become a 2nd Lieutenant and later joined the Senior Military Cadets where he rose to the same rank.

Playing cricket for the Semaphore Baptist Club and football for the Senior Military Cadets team of which he was captain in 1913, he was later selected to represent the Port Adelaide and Suburban Association against the Wentworth junior club touring from Western Australia.

Completing the civil service examination and gaining a position at the Harbor’s board office at Outer Harbor as a clerk, it was in the following year - 1914 - he started training with the Port Adelaide 'B' team, playing in a trial match against the senior side.

He played his first B-grade game in Round 4 against West Adelaide, kicked a goal and was named in the best players, he eventually finished the season having played eight matches and kicking seven goals.

In early October, Adams played with the senior Port Adelaide side - full of the players who earlier won the Championship of Australia over Carlton - in a match against Semaphore Centrals to aid the Port Adelaide Patriotic Fund.

At the end of the season he won the W.B. Carr Medal for best all-round player in the Association competition.

Adams enlisted for the A.I.F. at Morphettville on 10 December 1914 and was assigned to the 4th reinforcements of the 10th battalion “D” company. There, he was promoted to sergeant.

Along with other local men who had joined the A.I.F., he was given a farewell at the Foresters Hall, Alberton.

After completing training, he embarked aboard the H.M.A.T. Pt Lincoln on 1 April 1915.

He arrived at Gallipoli in early June and occupied trenches on the front line where both sides were dug into a stalemate.

The battalion then took a defensive stance along the perimeter of Anzac Cove.

On July 7, the 10th battalion was relieved by the 9th for a day or two’s rest out of the trenches behind enemy lines on the side of a hill, when they came under artillery fire.

During that attack, a shell burst near where Douglas was resting, striking him in the head and fracturing his skull.

Stretchered to the No. 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Adams died about an hour later; later buried at the beach cemetery at Anzac Cove.

In 1929, on the Roll of Honour circulars form for the Australian War Memorial completed by his father, Harry Adams, he simply wrote “Only an upright, sterling character."

Compiled by Mark Giles
Twitter: @mgiles1870


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Born  12 September 1896 in Alberton,  South Australia
(SA Birth Record 1842 - 1906 Book: 590 Page: 179 District: PtA.)

Father Harry Adams  (b. 29/3/1876 in Mallala SA - d. 8/8/1952 in Adelaide, SA)
Harry's parents: Father Mathew ADAMS and Mother Harriet Susan (nee PITHOUSE)
Mother  Elsie Adelaide Matilda Adams (nee John) (b. 7/2/1878 in Queenstown SA - d. 8/1/1966 in Adelaide SA),
Elsie's parents:  Father Maximilian Edward Louis JOHN & Mother Sarah Frances (nee HOLMES).

Douglas lived with his parents at Hargrave Street, Largs Bay, SA, prior to enlisting.

Brother    John H Adams  (served WWII AIF - VX73980)
               living at 20 Oakleigh Road, Carnegie, Victoria

Previous service:
4 years - 76th Senior Cadets - 2nd Lieutenant

Described on enlisting as 18 years 3 months old; single; 5' 10 1/2" tall; 164 lbs;
fair complexion; blue eyes; light hair; Church of England

10/12/1914  Enlisted in Oaklands, South Australia

18/12/1914  Completed medical - fit for service

16/3/1915    Commanding Officer appointed Douglas to 4th reinforcements, 10th Infantry Battalion
                   Promoted to sergeant in March

1/4/1915      Embarked from Outer Harbour, Port Adelaide, on board  HMAT Port Lincoln A17
                    as a Private in the 10th Infantry Battalion, 4th reinforcements

5/6/1915      taken on strength from reinforcements, into 10th Infantry Battalion

At the time he arrived, the 10th Battalion was occupying trenches on the southern end of the ANZAC line around Silt Spur. Adams would have been involved in manning front line positions, working in carrying parties and many other duties undertaken by the battalion, both in the line and in support trenches.

On 7 July, the 10th Battalion was resting behind the lines near Tasmania Post when they came under Turkish artillery fire.  

Sergeant in 10th Infantry Battalion

7/7/1915      Compound fracture to skull - obtained in action
                   admitted to 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station

Corporal Reuben Weatherall, in a moving letter to his own mother, recalled,
"Sergeant Douglas Adams was one of my best friends, and his death affected me so much that I have not had the heart to write to his parents."

He went on to say, "I heard that poor Douglas was hit, and went across to the stretcher where he was lying ... he lived for about an hour and was buried near the beach."

7/7/1915      Died of compact fractured skull - received in action at Gallipoli
buried in:      Beach Cemetery, Cannakkale, Gallipoli, Turkey
                    Plot 2, Row E, Grave 1
                    Southern point of Anzac Cove
buried by:     Chaplain J C McPhee

The epitaph on the grave, “A bright young life sacrificed on the altar of duty. So dearly loved.”

1914-15 Star (2296); British War medal (9804); Victory medal (9762);
Memorial Plaque and Memorial Scroll (305959)

Commenced - sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  11/3/2015.  Lest we forget.