2/Lieut. Arthur Marston Adams, M.C.
(from: "Liverpool's Scroll of Fame")
As he had lived, so did he die. A few crowded years of life, marred by one supreme sorrow, then the Great Adventure, high honour, and a glorious death.
Thus may one epitomise the career of Arthur Marston Adams, of Carlton, Cavendish Park, Rock Ferry. The only child of George Arthur Adams and Fanny Ardelia Adams, he received the sound education customarily associated with Birkenhead School, and dividing his attention equally between the class-room and the playing-fields he was popular alike with masters and pupils. But outside his scholastic attainments he had one great advantage over his fellows, the knowledge which comes from travel. Gifted with an inquiring mind and comprehensive insight, he benefited enormously by a world tour with his parents. Outraged Belgium, upon whose bosom he sleeps in peace; Germany, whose lust for power was to lead to his sacrifice; Holland, and Russia all contributed their quota to his knowledge; and there came visits to the Eastern, Southern and Western states of America, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Uraguay, and as far afield as South Africa, India, Burma, Ceylon, Egypt and Turkey.
There followed a period of agony, such as few are called upon to suffer for, in February, 1912, Marston Adams' parents set sail for Columbo from Cardiff in the steamer Maroa, and the vessel was never heard of again. She vanished entirely, one of the mysteries of the sea, and after weeks of anguished enquiry the youth, for he was but eighteen, resigned himself to the double blow of Fate. With that courage, which he was to display even greater degree in after years, he faced the world. and placed the talents he had acquired by his wanderings at the service of Messrs. Lever Brothers, joining their export department in Liverpool.
In October, 1915, Marston Adams joined the Officer's Training Corps of the Artists' Rifles (London), and after passing the necessary examinations he was gazetted, in June, 1916 to the 1st line of the 9th King's (Liverpool) Regiment. Two months later he was drafted to France, and for a considerable time took part in the desperate fighting which has immortalised the Somme area. Then he was transferred to the equally famous Ypres district, where all those in the zone of combat were heroes.
It speaks volumes for the splendid services of the subject of this memoir, that before he could claim nine months active service, he had been awarded the Military Cross. The bald words of the official announcement show that he was entrusted with most dangerous missions, tasks undertaken in cold blood that necessary information might be secured, and undertaken with the clear understanding that detection meant death.
His services were set forth in the London Gazette Supplement, of August 16th, 1917, as follows: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of reconnoitering patrols and raiding parties, frequently under hazardous conditions. On one occasion he entered an enemy sap, capturing prisoners, and returned without a casualty."
The manner of his death was equally heroic, for on September 20th, 1917, when leading his men in an attack against a strong German position he received wounds from which he succumbed later in the day at the dressing station.
What the men under Sec.-Lieut. Adams' command thought of him as a leader is shown by one incident. When it was reported that he had fallen, his servant, though wounded, searched for him under fire with complete disregard of personal danger, his bravery being commented on by officers of the regiment.
That the latter also held Lieut. Adams in the very highest esteem, is shown by the testimony of his battalion commander, who wrote to his uncle, Mr. James D. Adams, of Weybridge: "A very excellent officer. I put him in command of a company before the attack and up to the time he was wounded he led his men in a splendid manner. He has always been a very great help to me."
A beautiful tribute was paid by a brother officer in these words: "He came nobly forward to fight for an honest and just cause, acquitted himself with courage and fortitude in all enterprises, endeared himself to the hearts of the men, and displayed all the noble qualities which are the inheritance of his race. His charming manner made him a great favourite among the officers, who all mourn his loss. A life given, as his was, for the sake of freedom and justice, is not wasted. We have all lost a comrade whose name we will honour and revere."