James Adams was born 3 June 1883 at Huntworth, the son of Robert Adams. He was the husband of Eliza Emma (born about 1884) Duckham of 4 Halesleigh Road in Bridgwater. We made a video about James here:
He joined the Navy sometime before the war. On the 17 February 1915 the Bridgwater Mercury published James' letter to his parents giving his description of the Battle of the Falklands. He was described as the leading stoker on the HMS Cornwall. On the 24 February the Mercury ran an interview with Adams on the battle.
In June 1917 he was assigned to a brand new destroyer, the HMS Valkyrie, upon her completion and was now a Stoker Petty Officer. However, only half a year later tragedy struck. Valkyrie was one of eight destroyers escorting a convoy from the Dutch coast. She struck a mine at 22.15 on 22 December. Thick fog hampered the rescue effort, although the Valkyrie remained afloat and was eventually towed to safety by HMS Sylph. At 3.15 in the morning HMS Torrent was manoeuvring to pick up men seen in the water also struck a mine and she broke in two and sank quickly, such that only seven men survived from the crew of 105. HMS Surprise and HMS Tornado were likewise sunk by mine that day with heavy loss of life. Adams was killed as a result of the explosion on the Valkyrie along with twenty other men. His body was returned to Bridgwater and buried in the Wembdon Road Cemetery. The Valkyrie was repaired and remained in service in the Royal Navy until 1936.
More on the Battle of the Falklands can be found here.
Each of the war stories on our website have been updated in our book, Bridgwater and the First World War.
We would dearly like to hear from anyone with more information, or even a picture of James.