September 25th, 2016

Redditch man’s grandfather sailed over to join fight

Redditch man’s grandfather sailed over to join fight Redditch man’s grandfather sailed over to join fight
Updated: 10:05 am, Jul 01, 2016

ONE hundred years ago on July 1, 1916 soldiers left the trenches for the first time in the Battle of Somme, one of the costliest engagements of the First World War.

Here, Redditch Ukip County Councillor Peter Bridle recalls the part played by his grandfather in the battle.

“James Cooper Adair joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on May 27, 1915, aged 33 (although he told the recruiting officer he was 29!). He was a master tailor and had emigrated to Canada from Wishaw, Scotland in 1909 and settled on the prairies.

“On November 23, 1915 he sailed with the 46th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to England and completed his training at Bramshott, Hampshire.

“He landed from a troopship at Le Havre on August 11, 1916 and went straight to the trenches.

“After several involvements in battles he was deployed to Courcelette in the Somme valley and after heavy shelling of the German line by the Allies guns the 46th went ‘over the top’.

“Earlier 733 Newfoundlanders had been massacred on July 1 at Beaumont Hamel. Imagine, with this devastating news fresh in their minds the 46th were urged on at the Somme.

“They found that, despite the heavy barrage from their guns, the German barbed wire was still intact and their entrenchment virtually unassailable. The 46th became known as ‘The Suicide Battalion’!

“Sgt. James survived this and much more before the Armistice and his demob. He married an English girl and they returned to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, both worked at the hospital there and raised their family of four children.

He suffered with the effects from being gassed in the trenches and in 1935 he brought his family back to England. He died two days before Christmas 1948 in Portsmouth.