Harry Alford Adams

Updated: 31 December 2010

Note: It was the safe return of Lt. Harry Alford Adams, Dr. Ross Uri Adams & Grace Elizabeth Adams from "The Great War" (WWI) that provided the impetus for the beginning of the annual Adams-McKain Family Reunion in 1919.

Harry Alford Adams, son of George & Effa May Adams, was born 09 August 1891. He married Marian Saunders 02 September 1921. Harry Alford Adams served as a Lieutenant in the infantry during World War I spending some time in France. He died 24 February 1947 at the Naval Hospital, Long Beach, CA and is buried in the Veteran's Cemetery at Sautelle in Los Angeles (Plot 139, B20). They had three children:
1. Betty Jane
2. Harry Alford married Janice Lorraine Heath (30 Sept 1931 - 01 Aug 1983 in Los Angeles)
3. James King.

Harry Alford Adams at findagrave.com

Marian Elizabeth (Saunders) Adams at findagrave.com

Janice Lorraine (Heath) Adams Obituary
Janice Adams, age 51 of 8300 Kern Canyon Road, Bakersfield, California died while attending a Dodgers baseball game on 01 Aug 1983 after a massive coronary. She was born 30 Sept 1931, the daughter of Roy and Margaret (Luce) Heath and married Harry Alford Adams, Jr. on 10 July 1949 at Calvary Presbyterian Church. Although recently retired, she worked for a bank. She was active in transporting clients through a sorority charity program, was on the program and legislaturer committee of Golden State Mobil Home Owners Association. Alford works for Valley Oldsmobile as a Lease & Used car manager. Besides Alford, her husband, surviving are two sisters. Funeral services were 05 Aug 1983 at Hillcrest Funeral Home, Bakersfield, California with interment at Hillcrest Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Arthritis Association.

Harry Adams as a young boy

Harry A. Adams in 1919 (in military uniform)

The following letters were taken from the Marcellus News (Marcellus, Cass County, MI):

(20 December 1917)


Letter from Harry Adams
Camp Lewis, American Lake, Wash., 29 November 1917.

Darling Folks:

How is everyone at home tonight? Fine, I hope; am feeling fine myself. The weather is rotten. Has been raining for several days now, and is still raining. Shows no sign of letting up for some time.

Well, another Thanksgiving and we are scattered all over the country, and looks as though it would be that way for Christmas, too. Hard to tell where we will be by that time. We are being rushed through in preparation to move somewhere soon. Rumors are that we may go to Schofield Barracks at Honolulu to relieve a regiment of regulars. But our lieutenants think not. They think when we move we will be heaaded for "over there". The sentiments of the men are that while they are not anxious to go in a way, still they are ready to go and get it over with and get back home again. Every man ready to do his part. Of course there are a few who are holding back, and I tell you those are the men who will never come back. We are preaching at them to get in their toes. It may all seem unnecessary now, but the time may come when it will save their own and probably their hunkies lives.

We are getting lots of bayonet practice now. I drilled our platoon two hours yesterday morning in bayonet work (one half of them an hour each) and believe me I was ready to quit. It is the most strenuous work. We are teaching them the offensive part as well as the defensive, which is to be used in case a man loses his bayonet. Otherwise there is no defensive, as we are told there is no going back as long as we have a bayonet, for the Huns have a longer gun and a longer bayonet, and a backward step is unhealthy. But some men, instead of considering that they are being taught to save their own necks, seem to think that it is unnecessary to pay any attention. One rookie, in particular, got my goat, swinging his gun around in an aimless fashion with a grin on his face, and me out there putting every ounce of strength I had into it for twice as long. I sure gave him a bawling out he won't forget in some time.

Under the new organization of 250 men to a Company, it is divided into 4 platoons, each commanded by a second Lieutenant and three Sargeants. I rank third in command. As the first Sargeant is attending a school, he is away most of the time, and I am usually second in command, and quite often command the platoon, as the "shave tail," army slang for second Lieutenant, is away at times. The army organization is as follows: a squad of seven men and a Corporal, a section of three or four squads commanded by a Sargeant, two sections to a platoon commanded by a second Lieutenant and a Sargeant second in command, four platoons to a Company commanded by a Captain with a first Lieutenant second in command, twelve lettered and three attached companies, the supply, the headquarters (which includes the band and the machine gun companies) make up a regiment. There are also four Companies to a Battalion commanded by a Major, three Battalions to a Regiment commanded by a Colonel with a Lieutenant second in command. A brigade, which is commanded by a Brigadier-general is usually two regiments, and two or more brigades make a Division commanded by a Major General. This is the 91st Division commanded by Major General Greenet.

The foot ball team from Camp Custer are coming a long way a week from Saturday to get trimmed, as we have some divisional foot ball team here. Each regiment has its own foot ball team and nearly every company has one, but the 91st division team is picked from the best players of all outfits, and with 40,000 men to pick from, we have some team. They were to play the Navy today, but the field was a sea of mud and raining all the time, so the game was not so good, 14 to 12 in favor of the Navy.

We had a big feed today. I went into Tacoma yesterday and took in a show. I slept between real sheets for the first time in a long while. Had a chance to laugh at the reveille bugle, as I did not get up until 9 o'clock. Sure seemed good not to have to roll out at 5:45. Came back out to Camp at 11 o'clock for the big feed. Our mess hall was appropriately decorated with fern and pine boughs. We had oyster soup, celery, bread and butter, sweet potatoes, stewed corn, a fine turkey, cranberry sauce, mince pie, nuts, grapes and oranges, and music--a violin, guitar, mandolins and drums--not bad for "dough boys" as the infantry is called.

Received your box all O.K. and all the fellows say to tell you those cookies were the best ever, and to send a carload the next time.

That sweater would come in handy with the neck cut down and the sleeves cut out. Would be glad to get it. These damp mornings and evenings are cold and something like that would be fine to keep out the damp air.

We are all pleased at being out of quarantine. We were in for spinal meningetis, but neither suspected case turned out to be that disease. The two companies across the street were put in today for the same thing. There have been several cases, or rather suspected cases, which have proved to be rheumatism. They have it under control, so no cause to worry. Lots of newspaper talk, but that is all it amounts to.

Just over a year ago since I left Michigan. Would like to be in Camp somewhere nearer home, but no chance for a transfer.

Thers is an officers' training camp for enlisted men opens here January 5th. There will be five selected from each Company to attend. Will be a three months' course. The purpose is to make commissioned officers for the next draft. Was very much surprised the other day to be informed that I had a chance to be among the lucky bunch. Would certainly like to go, but am not going to plan on it too much, as I don't want to be disappointed. The final selection will be made December 21st, so from now on will have to put in all my spare time studying, and that same spare time is very scarce.

Tomorrow is muster. The last day of the month is always muster. The regimental Commander checks the pay roll at muster.

Getting nearly time for lights out, 9 o'clock.

Would like to get the NEWS once in a while. Got the other alright.

Love to all,
As ever,

Camp Lewis, Jan. 13th, 1918
Darling Folks:

How is everyone at home tonight? Am feeling fine myself outside of a little cold which is a habitual state affairs in this climate. It still continues to rain, has rained all day, but didn't make much difference as nearly every one was willing to stay in barracks and rest after a strenuous week on the rifle range. We went on the rifle range Monday noon came in last night. We were lucky we didn't have to go on today as we still have several days to go, and on most, in fact all, ranges they shoot Sundays and holidays rain or shine, but the colonel decided we could have Sunday off. We get in at night usually about 5:30 and leave at 6:30 a.m., so we haven't much time to ourselves as the evening is well taken up cleaning rifles and I had the score sheets to keep up so have been busy.

Did "Bunk Fatigue" all day today . We lucky to have several days without much rain, only rained hard yesterday.

It is very interesting on the range. There are five different tables to shoot over, table one is slow fire, ten shots at reach range, 100, 200, 300 yards at what is called an A-4 target which is four feet square and has an 8 in. bullseye and three other rings counting 4, 3, and 2. On the 300 yard range they are given 15 shots or a total of 35 for the table. The possible score for the 35 rounds is 175 as a bullseye counts five. I mad a score of 140 out of the 175, they must make 105 to qualify to shoot table 2 which is also slow fire, but smaller targets, at 100 yards being what is called a head targets 8 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches high and at 200 and 300 yards.

A "F" target which is 19 inches high and 26 inches wide supposed to represent the head and shoulders of a man. The head target is to represent a man's head and are not very large at a hundred yards. The "F" targets are quite small at 300 yards. They are given 5 shots at each range must make nine hits out of 15 yards to qualify for table three. I made 5 at 100 yards, 4 at 200 and could only get one at 300, but was more than enough to qualify. Table three is same targets but is rapid fire, at 100 yards are allowed one minute to fire from 10 to 20 shots and at 200 and 300 yards one minute to fire 10 shots making a possible of 40, but about 12 was the limit at the 100 yards as it takes about 5 to 10 second to reload.

The shells for rapid fire are held five in a clip, which is a piece of tin holding the bottoms of the shells. They are forced in the magazine by pressing on the top shell. One must make 18 hits on this to shoot table four. I got in only ten shots at the 100 yards and six shots at 200 and had six to make at the 300, but didn't do it. Only got a measley three making 15 altogether, short three, the ejector failed me and got a cartridge jammed so only got in light shots.

Table four is the same as table three except is called record and they must make 25 hits to shoot table five. Forty-seven men out of 210 qualified to shoot table four and only 7 of the 47 made 25 hits to get into table five, which is a five and six hundred range at a twenty inch bullseye. At the hundred yard range they shot from a prone position a trench with a one foot parapet at two and three hundred yard range they use a six foot trench and shoot from a standing position. The place where the target is mounted is called a pit. Each is mounted on a frame which is raised and lowered from the pit. The pit is a trench about 8 feet deep and 8 feet wide, the front and part of the top being covered to protect the men from the bullets. Two men operate a target one to raise, lower it and paste stickers over the bullet holes the other to handle the marker. As soon as a bullet strikes the target it is lowered and a sticker pasted over the hole, the target is again raised and marked with a disk. A white disk is a bullseye, a red disk a four, black and white cross disk a three and a black one a two. A red flag is raised for a miss. In case of a miss which is not heard in the trench the scorer calls to the telephone man "mark target number so and so." The phone man calls the pit and tells them to mark it. There is a phone for each 15 targets.

In the rapid fire they get ready on the firing line and the range officer tells the phone man "ready on the firing line" he calls the pit and the pit officer says "ready in the pit." All targets are down, a red flag is waved five seconds before the targets go up and the man in charge at the pits blows a whistle and all targets are raised and after a minute are pulled down parted and raised the number of hits. I was pit sergeant one day during the rapid fire. It sure makes some noise with a bunch of bullets flying over head. Lots of them shoot low and take chips off the top of the pit or hit the ground and send a shower of dirt into the pit. There is a side hill covered with trees back of the pit and the first ten feet of this forest, the trees have been completely cut down by bullets, some trees as large as eight inches in diameter. The bullets rattling into the trees make a continual roar, all around it is very interesting.

Received the comfort kit, it sure is handy, have three of them but this is the only one which can be unrolled and hung up by the bunk, the others were in bags so unhandy like hunting for a neeedle in a hay stack. Got your letter on the next delivery saying it come from some young ladies' club, would like to thank them for it. Possibly the News will print this lengthy letter and if so, and any of these young ladies should read it they may consider themselves thanked, their gift is very much appreciated. Well it is time for lights out so guess I'll roll in as that old bugle will sound again at 5:45 and we start another day. The words the soldiers have figured out for the reveile call are: " I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up in the morning." They have figued out words for each bugle call. Taps is the prettiest call of all. There goes tattoo which means lights out so will close with love to all.

Your loving son and brother.
Harry Adams

Harry Adams, who has been some time in France, reached the United States June 14. He was sent with a troop train to Camp Russell, Wyo., where he is now located, but hopes to be home soon.
Harry Adams
Longury, France, Dec. 4.

Darling Folks,

How is everyone at home today? Alls well here outside of the weather, which for a couple of days has been rather bad. Not very cold, in fact quite warm for this time of year but has been raining nearly all day, a disagreeable fine mist. We have sure had some job since Thanksgiving day. Came here from Longuyon a week ago Sunday, and didn't have much doing until Thanksgiving morning, when 2800 Russian prisoners of war returned this way by Germany were turned over to us for handling. Just got rid of them today and we are relieved. Sent them back into France. Sure was a fine job. We had to guard them and ration them. Had them quartered in an old brick factory, which the Boche had been using as billets. Never saw such a dirty outfit. Smelled worse than the Chicago stock yards ever dared to.

This town is a good sized place. Was some time a very busy place. Has brick yards, smelters, and chinaware factories. It is situated in a valley at the junction of Belgian, French and Luxemberg borders. There is, or rather was, an old fortress here, but was destroyed by Boche artillery in 1914. They came this way through Luxemberg, and two regiments of French infantry held them up for six days, but finally fell back, and it has been in the hands of the Boche since. They bled these people dry of money, and when they left took everything. Took all copper, even to oil cans on engines in factories. Even took the linens off the beds. All they left behind was an undying hatred for them, and several children of hate.

At the house where we have our mess the son came home a few days ago, escaped from Germany after fifty months and ten days a prisoner. He was captured on the Marne in September, 1914. He came up to see us. We talked to him in German. He was right near Berlin and had some interesting stories to tell of conditions in Germany. He said when he left in 1914 for the front, his father was a big strong man, his mother young looking and black haired. When he returned his father was old and bent, the mother's hair white as snow, and his sister he didn't know at all, she had changed so. Fours years of German Kultur had done that. In the territory where the Boche was located so long we see what he really was. He surely intended to stay some time. Had things all fixed up nicely. Was down this afternoon and had a bath in his officers' bath house. Showers, tiled floors, some fine hut, but he didn't stay as long as he expected.

The people say the Boche used to say right up until the time he had to leave, "the damned Americans will never come." They feared the American more than any other of the allies. And the American soldiers who came in contact with the Boche and who have seen his work hate him cordially.

Don't think we will be here much longer as part of our regiment is now at Heve, Germany, and suppose we will soon be on our way to join them. It is hard to tell when we will get back to the good old U.S.A. Will probably be some time yet. The papers say tonight the 85th Division is soon to go home. They are from Camp Custer are they not? The 85th was a replacement division. They didn't make much of a record for Michigan but the National Guard outfit did. They did good work. The 91st was the National Army outfit which made the best showing.

Haven't had any mail for three months or longer. Have been moving too much. Am in hopes some of the accumulation will catch up with me soon. The last letter from you was dated about the middle of August. Am getting anxious to hear from you.

It is hard to realize the war is over, but begins to look more like it. Prisoners of war, and civilians returning in large numbers every day. We at least will have intact homes to return to, but these poor people in these battle-scarred sections of France are many of them returning to a mass of ruins. No homes, no food, no clothes.

The French sure went crazy with joy when the war ended. Running around aimlessly, shouting "Finis Le Guerne, Finis Le Guerne." Most of them now realize that America won the war for them, as an old seamstress I had sewing some braid on my uniform said simply, "Americain Armee no come, me be Boche now."

I see by the papers they are mustering out the men in the States. They are lucky, but at that I wouldn't have missed it for a whole lot, but wouldn't want to go through it again, but the men who were over here and up front have learned a lot. I used to patronize a barber in preference to shaving myself. Over here I've shaved in everything from pails to tin cans, and had gotten so I could take a whole bath from a canteen of water. Necessity makes a great difference. I've slept in shell holes, under puptents, and under the sky. The longest stretch I ever hit without getting my clothes off was 14 days. Gets in that time so one's clothes seem to grow fast, and the last 6 days of those 14 days were spent in a steady rain, leaking tent, and mud for a bed. Think I'll "Couchez toute suite," or in other words go to bed right away. Pronounce it coosha "too sweet."

We are getting up now where German is now as common as French. The children here can all speak German, as the Boche made them teach it in school. My German is much more fluent than my French.

Will close. With love to all.

Your son,