Next of Kin: Joshua Forth and Jessie Loretta Adams, Sarnia, Ontario
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Personal Details: 5 ft. 6 1/2 in., 140 lbs., fair complexion, blue eyes, fair hair, Methodist
Born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario, Alfred “Roy” Adams became a resident of Goderich, Ontario in 1905. He was a lodger with John and Martha Johnston and their son Raymond, who lived on Waterloo Street. Roy, as he was known, was employed as the organist and choirmaster at St. George’s Anglican Church, taught piano, and was a long-standing member of the local canoe club. He also led the 33rd Regiment Band, who would often perform concerts and musical programs in the area. In April of 1914, the Signal newspaper reported that Roy was leaving Goderich to take up survey work at Medicine Hat, Alberta.
In June of 1915 Roy returned to Sarnia to enlist in the 29th Overseas Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, 11th Howitzer Brigade. During his training in Guelph he was very quickly promoted to the rank of Acting Corporal, and then Sergeant later the same year. The battery left Guelph on February 23, 1916 and embarked at St. John, New Brunswick aboard the S.S. Missanabie, arriving at Bramshott, England on March 13, 1916. The next day, the battery was moved to Witley Camp for further training.
Roy and his brigade left for the front, arriving in Havre, France on July 15, 1916. Later that year he became ill and was taken to the 11th Canadian Field Ambulance and then on to a Casualty Clearing Station. On November 19th he was admitted to No. 5 General Hospital in Rouen, France with influenza, and spent the next few weeks recovering, eventually rejoining his unit in the field in mid-December.
In April 1917, a reorganization saw Roy transferred to the 8th Brigade, and then to the 10th Brigade in May. Later that year he was given a rest, leaving for a 10-day leave of absence on October 17th. On January 13, 1918 he was struck off strength on proceeding to England “with a view to obtaining a Commission”, and was posted to the Canadian Regimental Depot, Witley. On May 25th, after completing his officer’s training, Roy was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. He returned to France in June as reinforcement to the Canadian Artillery Pool, and became an officer of the 9th Battery, 3rd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, on August 7, 1918.
On September 2, 1918 the 3rd Brigade was in position near Vis-en-Artois, east of Arras, preparing for an assault on the heavily fortified Drocourt-Queant Line. As zero hour of 5:00 a.m. arrived, dawn was beginning to break and the weather was bright and cool with good visibility. The barrage began and the front was enveloped in a cloud of smoke, and before 6:00 a.m. prisoners began to stream past the batteries. The enemy barrage replied shortly after, much of it from the left flank north of the Sensee River.
The 9th Battery ceased firing at 8:00 a.m. and pushed forward, taking up a new position on the western edge of the Drocourt-Queant Line, and close to the Arras-Cambrai Road. All forward roads were under very heavy enemy fire, making the advance difficult. Around 10:00 a.m. the 9th Battery was in position and able to restart its barrage, but were heavily shelled throughout the day, resulting in many casualties. Lieutenant Adams was one of these casualties, suffering a gunshot wound to his head which fractured his skull.
Roy was taken by the No. 12 Canadian Field Ambulance to No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. On September 4th he was admitted to No. 20 General Hospital at Camiers, his condition listed as dangerously ill. On September 29th surgery was performed to remove a piece of his skull in order to relieve pressure. Roy seemed to be making a good recovery, with no apparent paralysis or mental impairment. He was deemed stable enough to be invalided back to England, and arrived at No. 3 London General Hospital in Wandsworth on October 2, 1918. On October 10th Roy’s condition was once again reported as dangerously ill, and on October 17th he died from his wounds received in action.