King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Adams, Ralph

Lieutenant ▪ Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Ralph Adams, born on 20th March 1893, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1904, aged 10. He was the only son of John and Minnie Adams and the family lived at 172, Rotton Park Road, Edgbaston. John Adams was the headmaster of Birmingham City Road School and secretary of the Athletic Institute. Ralph was a very academic pupil and was awarded a full scholarship. At School he was a member of the Cadet Corps and Natural History Society.

On leaving School in July 1910, Ralph studied at Birmingham University where he joined the Officer Training Corps. Whilst at university he made a special study of army scouting. In the midsummer of 1914 he entered the brewing department of Mitchells & Butlers, and was offered a commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the outbreak of war in August of that year. The brewing company presented Ralph with his Officer’s sword before he left for the front in March 1915. He was mentioned in despatches by Lord French in December 1915 and in the following month was awarded the Military Cross.

Lieutenant Adams was last seen leading his men into the third enemy trench on 1st July 1916. He is commemorated on two memorials: Serre Road No. 1 Cemetery, France, and St. Augustine’s Church, Edgbaston.

In September 1916, Lieutenant Adams was awarded a bar to his MC for “conspicuous gallantry in leading a raid on the enemy’s trenches on the night of March 22nd and 23rd [1916]. Under close fire he cut the enemy’s wire with torpedoes. He then bombed his way along the enemy’s trench, killing three of the enemy himself and held a barricade till reinforced.” It was reported that when the fuse of the torpedo failed to ignite, Lieutenant Adams calmly lit it with an ordinary flint cigarette lighter.