Adam, Arthur Innes


He was the son of Dr. James Adam, Litt.D., Fellow and Tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, a distinguished scholar of Plato, and Adela Marion Adam, daughter of Arthur Kensington, (Com 1827), a lecturer in Classics at Girton.

Adam came into College at the head of the Roll from Mr. R.S. Goodchild’s school at Cambridge. The Balliol College Memorial Book records that “as a boy of three he used to read Job and Jeremiah on the nursery sofa, and in July 1907, when he was elected to the senior scholarship at Winchester, the examiners noted that he “showed remarkable classical ability”.

He reached Sixth Book at an unusually early age, became Prefect of Library and in December 1911 was elected to the Senior Classical Scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford, a year before the usual age for taking such an examination. He won the King’s Gold Medal for English Essay, the King’s Silver Medal for Latin Speech, the Warden and Fellows’ Prizes for Latin Verse, Latin Essay and Greek Prose, the Moore-Stevens Divinity Prize and the Kenneth Freeman Prize, and was Goddard Scholar in 1912; he also took an active part in Debating and Archaeological Societies, and played the violin in the orchestra. His life at the University was full of varied interests. He took a First Class in Classical Moderations in 1914, was appointed Secretary of the Balliol College Musical Society and threw himself into Boys’ Club work both in Oxford and in South London.

He had served in the cavalry contingent of the University O.T.C., and in September 1914 obtained a commission in the 2/1st Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment. He went to the front in June 1915, after previous rejection for foreign service on account of his short sight; he was slightly wounded in the following month and late in the year succeeded to the command of his company.

Adam served alongside another OW, George Alfred Herman (killed in action 19th July 1916) (see individual entry) both of whom managed to obtain a week’s home leave in October 1915. On their return they missed their connection and spent the day looking round Amiens. They then “wandered for two days all over the countryside looking for the regiment; having found the same, we proceeded to march with it for three days westwards; i.e. away from Germany. Why, we don’t quite know, but we thought for a while that we might be going to the very latest in theatres of war….”

His battalion was engaged in heavy fighting near Hamel on the Ancre early in September 1916, the final big British attack of the Battle of the Somme. A patrol from A Company located what the war diary describes as a shanty, from within which the patrol heard a man coughing. It was later discovered that this shanty was in fact a brick emplacement close to the German line. Adam and another man, Lieutenant William Shaw, decided that they would either capture or kill the “garrison” in the shanty. An attack was launched which turned into a fiasco, the earlier night patrols having alerted the Germans who had set up a machine gun post to cover the shanty. An exchange of rifle fire left several men dead and the survivors were forced to withdraw. As they did so they discovered that a wounded man had been left behind and, either separately or together, Adam and Shaw returned to find him. Close to the shanty both men were hit by machine gun fire. It proved impossible for the British soldiers to recover their bodies and it was assumed that the Germans had buried them. Adam’s remains were later exhumed from a small grave yard and reburied in the Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension. (article in the Western Front Association Magazine, No. 91)

“A Record Founded on his Letters” by Adela Adam was published in 1920.

He was not the only Wykehamist to die that day on the Somme: ten others were killed or mortally wounded, including Lieutenant Colonel Eric William Benson (A 1901-1906, King’s Royal Rifle Corps); Lieutenant Raymond Asquith (Coll.1892-1897, 3rd Grenadier Guards), the son of the Prime Minister; Major Charles Blair-Wilson (I1908-1913, 42nd Canadian Infantry); Lieutenant George Macpherson (I1909-1915, Heavy Section – Tanks – Machine Gun Corps); Lieutenant Warine Frederick Martindale (B1907-1912, 1st Scots Guards); Captain Desmond Clere Parsons (E1903-1908, 2nd Irish Guards); Lance Corporal 73832 Henry Mark Ruddock (H1908-1913, 28th Canadian Infantry); 2nd Lieutenant Evelyn Godfrey Worsley (A1898-1903, 3rd Grenadier Guards); 2nd Lieutenant Geoffrey Wilfrid Penfold Wyatt (D1909-1915, 1st East Kent Regiment); and Lieutenant Raymond Gilbert Hooker Yeatherd (F1904-1908, 2nd Dragoon Guards).

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Adam
  • Forenames or initials: Arthur Innes
  • House: College
  • Years in School: 1907-1912
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: Cambridgeshire Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 25th April 1894
  • Date of Death: 15th September 1916
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer D6
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: ACHIET-LE-GRAND COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION: Grave IV. Q. 12.