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AND INFORMATION - WORCESTERSHIRE
WORCESTERSHIRE (DUDLEY) BATTN.
WILLIAM JAMES ADAIR
The Dudley area of the Black Country in Worcestershire
was defended by the 3rd Worcestershire (Dudley)
Battalion, commanded in 1941 by
Lt.-Col. A.R. Tanfield and later by
Lt.-Col. C.G. Elkington,
An image of a happy group of mainly
officers survives, with
William Wesson (click to read his story)
and Mine Host standing behind and surveying the scene.
The occasion is a weekend training camp at Kinver,
probably in 1942. Just one of the officers has been
identified. He is Major
William James Adair
sitting second from the left and holding a swagger or
pointing stick. We know a little about his life and
service, thanks to information provided by his
grand-daughter whom he never met.
William Adair was born 7th November 1896 at
43 Sugarfield Street,
Belfast to William and Jane Adair formerly
O'Neill. His father was a sailor. His own trade was
that of carpenter. He served in the Great War in the
15th Battalion, Royal Irish
Rifles, rising from Private to the
rank of Acting Sergeant. He married
Hannah Burke at
around this time and they possibly had three children.
After demobilisation he joined the
Royal Irish Constabulary
and served for a number of years. Unknown
circumstances - was it the political problems and
dangers of serving in that organisation in those
difficult times, or the ongoing psychological effects
of his war service, or problems in the marriage? - led
to him leaving Ireland and his family and moving to
England. He eventually settled in Dudley with a new,
younger lady, Elizabeth
Oliver Long Thompson with whom in January 1938
he had a daughter, Elizabeth Harriet, born at
10 Hill Street, Kates Hill,
It is not certain when he joined the Home Guard. It
is likely to have been at the very beginning, perhaps
in June or July 1940. By the time that the first
Officers' List was published, on 1st February 1941, he
holds the rank of Major. Whilst most N.C.O.s and
officers in those early days of the Home Guard were
appointed to positions of authority as a result of the
military training and experience gained in the Great
War, his rank is a significant one for someone who. it
appears, was not commissioned at that time.
Other factors must have been involved: probably
including his R.I.C. experience and
evident personal qualities and skills.
William Adair commanded "A" Company within the
Battalion and was responsible for a unit consisting of
up to 200 men. It is possible that he is the senior
officer present at the happy group shown above.
The following group shows him
fellow officers, a Sergeant-Major of the
Worcestershire Regiment, possibly seconded to the
Battalion for training purposes, and - for wholly
unknown reasons - a scoutmaster!
But William encountered difficulties during his
period of service. Records show a period of sick leave
after 10th June 1942 and then a further three months
from 18th July. The problems apparently did not
resolve themselves and he was eventually discharged
from the service on 6th May 1943 on the grounds of
ill-health. He was living at
3 Bourne Street at
that time. He was succeeded as C.O. of "A" Coy. by
Major A.C. Coleman.
Here is his well-worn Military Identity Card from
around that time:
The nature of William's ill health, which
brought to an end a long history of service to his
country, is unknown. Whether it was of the body or of
the mind, it can hardly have been helped by a family
tragedy which was developing in 1943: in early October
an infant son, Albert, was born at
12 Hayfield Road but
the little boy only lived for three weeks.
At the time of his leaving the Home Guard,
William's trade was "sheet metal worker/foreman
telephone cable reels". But subsequently he reverted
to his original skills, those of cabinet maker and
French polisher. His home in the later years was at
30 Chestnut Avenue, Dudley
where he lived in very straitened circumstances. He
died in Wordsley Hospital on 31st
Some memories of his life as a young man, many
EARLIER MILITARY AND POLICE SERVICE
Royal Irish Rifles
N.C.O.s and others at an unknown, snowy
location. He is 5th from the right.
third from the left...and...
...seated, in the middle
In Memory of
Major William James
all his comrades in the
most grateful to Tildi Ferlet-Horton for the
images and information about her grandfather;
to Mick Wilks for providing information to her
about Major Adair's Home Guard record; and to Malcolm Wesson for
supplying the group image at the top of this
(Mick Wilks is an expert on
Worcestershire Home Guard matters and has
published books on local defence including
"Chronicles of the
Worcestershire Home Guard").
Ferlet-Horton 2015 (except top group image
©Malcolm Wesson 2015)
Tildi Ferlet-Horton would welcome contact with
anyone who can throw further light on her
grandfather's life and service. Please get in
touch with staffshomeguard in the first
instance for contact details, using the
Feedback link below.
Further information about the
Home Guard in Worcestershire is contained
elsewhere in various parts of this website. To view the
Worcestershire summary page, please use the
Mems-Worcs link below.
And if you
can add anything to the history of the
Guard, please contact staffshomeguard via the