Author’s 20-year labour of love on Sunderland’s war heroes

Author Phil Adams.
Author Phil Adams.
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A man who has devoted 20 years of life to researching the war heroes of Sunderland has made another massive breakthrough.

Philip Adams has painstakingly uncovered the stories behind the men of the 160th (Wearside) Brigade Royal Field Artillery. It was a brigade which played a vital yet tragic role in the First World War Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago this year.

A line-up of the Brigade.

A line-up of the Brigade.

He began his investigations to find out more about his own Great Uncle William Henry Adams but Philip felt he owed a duty to the families of the 2,500 other men, to research their stories as well.

He set about a study of the brigade which now takes up all his life. The quest that began in the 1990s is still ongoing and his latest success was tracking down more information on Gunner John Porter Holmes.

It was the story of a true hero. Of a man who was stationed at a gunpost as the battle raged, of a man who was hit by enemy fire and had his arm blown off, and of a man who refused to leave his post despute his injuries.

He died of his wounds on July 1, 1916.

It is a great feeling when I can provide information to families and I continually search about the men.

Philip Adams

But 100 years later, little of his life was known by his descendants inclduing his grandson Jackie Holmes, now 84.

Jackie, who has lived in Frosterley since 1949, is a former resident of Hendon in Sunderland, and is indebted to Philip for his help. Philip said: “Gunner Holmes died serving with the ‘B’ Battery of the Brigade.

“It is a great feeling when I can provide information to families and I continually search about the men.”

The tale of Gunner Holmes continues tomorrow.

The Memorial Standard which commemorates the 160th (Wearside) Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

The Memorial Standard which commemorates the 160th (Wearside) Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

In the meantime, to find out more on Philip’s research visit the website at http://160wearsidebrigade.co.uk/ where people can also find out how to get a copy of his book on the subject called ‘Idle and Dissolute the History of the 160th (Wearside) Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

The book on the Brigade.

The book on the Brigade.