Salisbury's only VC hero remembered

Salisbury's only VC hero remembered

Tom Adlam receiving a gold watch from the Mayor of Salisbury

Tom Adlam unveiling the war memorial in Salisbury

The Victoria Cross

Salisbury's only VC hero remembered

First published in News Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by

HE won the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in World War I, and remains the only person from Salisbury to have been so honoured.

Now, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of hostilities, Tom Edwin Adlam's courage is to be commemorated with exhibitions at the Guildhall and at Salisbury Museum.

Alongside his portrait will be displayed his medals and a gold watch presented by his grateful fellow-citizens, as well as newspaper cuttings from the time, and photographs loaned by his family, one of which shows him unveiling the war memorial.

And some of his descendants will be honoured guests at a Guildhall ceremony on Remembrance Sunday, November 9.

Tom Adlam was born in Farley Road, Salisbury, on October 21, 1893.

He went to St Martin's primary school and then to Bishop Wordsworth's, where he excelled at sport - in particular, throwing the cricket ball, which was to stand him in good stead on the battlefield, where he threw out-threw the enemy with grenades (referred to by him as bombs).

He became a teacher, but within a month of him taking up his first post, the war broke out and he was mobilised.

It was as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the Bedfordshire Regiment in 1916 that he won the VC for his role in capturing the village of Thiepval and the Schwaben Redoubt, on the Somme.

His own version of events was recorded on tape in the 1970s by the Imperial War Museum, and can be heard at iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80000035.

It is a simple, vivid account, and differs somewhat in its detail from the official description of his actions at the time, which told how he “rushed from shell hole to shell hole” collecting men and arming them with abandoned German grenades to capture an enemy position, despite being wounded.

“Throughout the day he continued to lead his men in bombing attacks,” said the announcement.

“On the following day he again displayed courage of the highest order, and though again wounded and unable to throw bombs he continued to lead his men.

“His magnificent example and valour, coupled with the skilful handling of the situation, produced far-reaching results.”

On tape, the modest hero described how he was unaware that he had been decorated until he began receiving telegrams of congratulation from home, and had to wire his father to ask what was going on.

Mr Adlam's family presented the VC and citation, along with his campaign medals and watch, to the city in 2003.

The VC -worth £180,000 - is kept in a safe deposit box and a replica is displayed in the Guildhall silverware cabinet alongside the other mementoes.

But the real thing will be coming out of storage for the museum's exhibition, Salisbury & The Great War: Fighting on the Home Front, which runs from October 4 to January 17.

A more lasting memorial will be an inscribed paving stone, to be installed in the city centre in 2016.

And what happened to Mr Adlam after the war?

He went back into teaching, becoming headmaster of the village school in Blackmoor, Hampshire, where he and his wife Ivy raised their four children.

He joined up again in World War Two, was put in charge of the docks at Tilbury, Essex, and rose to Lieutenant Colonel.

He died in 1975 and is buried at Blackmoor.

His son Clive, 85, who lives in Braintree, Essex, told the Journal: “I still have his compass, and a cigarette case with his initials, which will be in the exhibition.

“I am very proud of what he did, and I still miss him.”

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