b. 04/03/1896 Bromley, Kent. d. 14/03/1976 Bromley, Kent.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 06/05/1936 Calcutta, India.
George John Adamson (1896-1976) was born in Bromley, Kent on 4th March 1896, the son of a carpenter George John and Emma Louisa nee Barnard. Enlisting in the 3rd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, on the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, he went to France in January 1915 and later transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. It was in the latter battalion that he saw action on the ‘First Day of the Somme’ on 1 July 1916, when it went ‘over the top’ at 7.25 a.m. The German front line was reached under heavy fire and, after fierce fighting, 200 yards of the line was taken by 7.50 a.m. The Commanding Officer later recorded that only he and one other officer were still standing two hours later and ‘we had bullet holes in our clothing’. The Battalion was compelled to withdraw at 9 a.m. with total casualties amounting to 470 officers and men.
Having then been placed on the Special Reserve in July 1919, he joined the Indian Police as a Sergeant at Calcutta in May 1920, the commencement of a remarkable career that would witness him being decorated on four occasions; so, too, awarded the Efficiency Medal and Bar for extended services in the Auxiliary Forces of India. In 1926, he was awarded the King’s Police Medal for Gallantry (London Gazette 1.1.1926) and later a Bar to the KPM (1.1.1931).
In early 1932, he received the Governor-General’s approbation for his ‘smart capture’ of two Chinese smugglers, armed with a revolver and 48 rounds; in December 1934 he received a monetary reward for his good work during the dock workers’ strike and was described as ‘an excellent officer in every respect’; another monetary reward followed in 1938, for ‘good services rendered in connection with the repatriation of refugees from Burma’, while in late 1939 he was cited for his good work in trapping ‘an undesirable’ seeking entry to India. He was awarded the Indian Police Medal for Distinguished Conduct in July 1940.
In between these actions, he was awarded the EGM for his actions on the 6th May 1936 in Calcutta, India, when he, with Cecil Kelly acting as pilot, was in charge of two Port Police launches escorting a cargo of defective dynamite being taken for destruction up the River Hooghly in a barge. The barge proved to be unseaworthy, and after travelling 15 miles up the river was in danger of sinking. Adamson's only responsibility was for escorting the cargo, but despite great personal risk, they tried to keep the barge afloat by bailing water from 7pm to midnight, when it was decided to beach the barge. They managed to guide the barge to the beach by hand in the darkness and despite the chances of the dynamite igniting. This took 5 and a half hours. They then partially unloaded the barge, but they couldn’t move the last 2 tons due to their instability. They then refloated the barge, towed it into deep water and sank it.
Adamson finally retired in 1950, having served latterly as an Acting Assistant Commissioner in charge of recruits. Adamson, who married Florence (neé Cousins) at Fort William, Bengal, in June 1918, died at Farnborough, Kent in March 1976. He was cremated at the Beckenham Crematorium, Kent. Adamson’s medal group was sold at Dix Noonan Webb on 22nd July 2016 and was purchased by Michael Ashcroft and are now displayed at the Imperial War Museum, London in the Ashcroft Gallery. Brigadier Sir John Smyth Bt VC MC in his 1968 book "The Story of The George Cross" describes Adamson as "surely the most highly decorated Police Officer".
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: BECKENHAM CREMATORIUM, BECKENHAM, KENT.
Adamson's medal group on the Dix Noonan Webb website prior to sale on 22nd July 2016