Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 24, 1893
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Donald Fraser Adams (mother), Matapédia, Quebec
Trade / CallingLabourer
Service Details
Regimental Number445239
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion5th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentSussex, New Brunswick
Date of EnlistmentJuly 16, 1915
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 6, 1917
Age at Death24
Buried AtAbbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France
PlotIII. D. 20.

Adams, James Andrew

Lance Sergeant James Andrew Adams served with the 5th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles in France and Belgium. He was wounded three times and he died in November 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele.

James was the oldest son of Donald Fraser Adams and Isabella Alice Alford of Matapédia, Bonaventure County, Quebec. Donald was a farmer in Matapédia and Isabella was from the nearby community of Runnymede. They were married in May 1892 and a short time later they moved to the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario. James, their oldest child, was born in Keewatin on 24 March 1893. When he was still a baby his family returned to Quebec and took up farming in Moore’s Settlement, near Matapédia. Four daughters – Jean, Irene, Christina and Alma – were born between 1894 and 1904. Around 1905 Donald and Isabella moved west again, this time to the newly-founded village of Carnegie, which was northwest of Brandon, Manitoba. Their twins Louisa and Donald were born there in 1906 and another daughter, Mildred Eliza, in 1908.

By the time James enlisted his family was living back in Matapédia. The village was very close to the New Brunswick border and he signed up in Sussex, New Brunswick on 16 July 1915, just as the war was entering its second year. He joined the 55th (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) Battalion and he said he had served for a year with a militia unit, the 12th Manitoba Dragoons. His battalion headed overseas that fall, embarking on the SS Corsican on 30 October and landing at Plymouth, England on 9 November. A few days later James was promoted to Lance Corporal and in April 1916 he became Acting Sergeant.

The 55th Battalion was absorbed into the 40th Battalion on 6 July 1916. That summer James spent several weeks as an instructor with the 104th Battalion and the Canadian Training School. On 27 September he was transferred to a new unit, the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, and sent to France, reverting to the rank of private. He joined his unit in the field in mid-October. The 5th CMRs were leaving the Somme around that time, moving north to the Lens-Arras sector where the Canadians would spend the winter. Near the end of November James suffered accidental wounds to both of his legs and one arm. The injuries weren’t serious and he recovered for nine days at a rest station and a convalescent camp, rejoining his unit on 6 December.

James was promoted to Lance Corporal on 18 February 1917, Corporal on 13 March and Lance Sergeant on 4 April. Following the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-14 April) the 5th CMRs stayed in the Vimy area holding the new front line. James suffered a shell or gunshot wound to his head on 6 June. He was sent to No. 20 General Hospital in Camiers and evacuated from there to England. He recovered at the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool from 15 June to 10 July, then spent a week at the convalescent centre in Epsom. He was back in France in early October. He rejoined his unit in the middle of the month and a few days later they began moving to the Ypres Salient for the Battle of Passchendaele.

The Canadian operation at Passchendaele was carried out in several stages starting on 26 October. The 5th CMRs took part in the assault on 30 October and James suffered a serious wound to his right thigh the next day. According to his casualty card his unit was near Ypres at the time, following their Passchendaele operation. James was evacuated to No. 2 Stationary Hospital at Abbeville, arriving there on 5 November. He died the following day. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his death date as 7 November but there are several places in his service file where it is noted that the correct date is 6 November.

James is buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension in France. He is commemorated by the Bay Chaleur Military Museum and on page 189 of Canada’s First World War Book of Remembrance, displayed in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

By Becky Johnson

Photo of James provided by the Bay Chaleur Military Museum.

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