In loving memory of Private James Hume Adams who died on 26th September 1915 during the Battle of Loos in France at the age of 25 years old.

Family Background

James Hume Adams was born on the 6th of March 1890 in Edinburgh to John Adams, a printer compositor, and Esther Boyd.  As is often the tradition with Scottish families and as the first born son, James was named after his paternal grandfather and great grandfather.

In 1891, James and his mother were living with James’ paternal aunt Barbara Adams in Lauriston Street, Edinburgh, whilst his father was working as a printer compositor, living in Portugal Street, Glasgow with another of James’ paternal aunts, Christina Adams, and paternal uncle, Robert Adams.  James’ grandparents had originally moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh and the family continued to have close ties between the two great Scottish cities.

He was the eldest of four children, with two younger sisters Esther (b. 1894, Edinburgh) and Catherine McKay (b. 1898 – d. 1898, Glasgow), and brother John Boyd Adams (b. 1900, Glasgow).  Somewhere between the birth of his two sisters, the Adams family fully relocated from Edinburgh to the Dennistoun area of Glasgow.  Initially, the family were living in Wishart Street before moving into Alexandra Parade, Glasgow.  In  1911, James was still living at the family home in Alexandra Parade, with his occupation listed as “Teacher Student”.


In 1906, James enrolled at the Glasgow Pupil Teacher’s Institute where he studied for 2 years.  Whilst in his second year of studies, he took an evening class in Dynamics at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College.

Once James had received his Junior Student Certificate, he was able to enroll at the University of Glasgow where he studied Latin and Greek, and went on to study French and German to Honours level.  In 1912 he graduated from university with a First Class MA in Modern Languages before embarking on teacher training, from which he graduated in 1 August 1913.

After completing teacher training, James relocated to Aberdeen and from 1913 to 1915 enrolled in the Faculty of Law at Aberdeen University.  He assumed a position at Gordon College in 1913 as German Master and was employed as the principal teacher of German at the start of the Great War.


He enlisted as a Private in the 6th Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in the March of 1915 and trained in Basingstoke. The battalion had formed in 1914 and was predominantly made up of like minded men to James and linked to the University of Glasgow, both students and staff. After a limited amount of training in England, the volunteer battalion moved to France in July of 1915, just four months after James had originally enlisted.

On the 23rd of July 1915, James and his regiment experienced their first day in the trenches. To start with, they were located some way back from the front line on the Western Front, but on the 23rd of September they were moved closer to the firing line.  On the 25th of September the Battle of Loos began around the village of Loos-en-Gohelle the Hauts-de-France region of France. It was the first major action carried out by the “New Army” made up of territorial soldiers, reserves and volunteers, like the 6th Battalion, who had very little training before heading to the Western Front. They not only experienced the shells and machine guns, but chlorine gas which the British military used for the first time at Loos.

It was assumed that James lost his life on the 26th of September 1915, one of  50,000 British casualties throughout the duration of the Battle of Loos between the 25th September and the 8th October 1915. He was awarded Victory and British War Medals for his service.  His effects and estate were left to his father, still living in Alexandra Parade in Glasgow. James was only 25 years old.


If you would like to learn more about James Hume Adams or the Battle of Loos, these are the sources I used in researching his story.  There are also photographs of James in both the University of Aberdeen Roll of Honour and the University of Glasgow WW1 Biography.


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