|The above photo depicts one William Adams who was the last surviving veteran of the Punniar Campaign of 1843-45
and was taken on 25 July 1914 when he was a 92 year old Chelsea Pensioner. Next to the Gwalior Star he wears the
Sutlej Medal for the 1st Anglo-Sikh War of 1845-46.
Additional information kindly provided by RQMS John Rochester of the Royal Hospital Chelsea states that Adams
became a Chelsea Pensioner on 1 April 1892 having left active service on 23 March 1847 - almost 50 years earlier!
He was a former member of the 50th Regiment of Foot and died on 28 October 1916 at the ripe old age of 93.
No. 1423 William Adams was born around 1822 in the town Deptford, Kent. He attested with the 50th Regment of
Foot on 38 March 1840 and received a £3 bounty at the tome of his enlistment. He deserted at Brompton on 1 July
1840 and was absent for well over a year before rejoining at Chatham on 29 January 1842. He was tried by District
Court Martial, found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment. He was released on 5 May 1842. Additionally his
service records state that he was also "marked with the letter D" as part of his sentence for desertion. Generally
one thinks of this in the sense of branding with a hot iron but it was in fact probably much more akin to a tattoo with
the letter being picked out on the skin then having gunpowder rubbed into it to leave a permanent marking in the
skin. The entry makes no comment as to where on Adams person the mark was made.
Adams served for just under four years in India, seeing action in the First Anglo-Sikh War. He was awarded the
1846 Sutlej Medal for "Moodkee". Additionally Adams would be presented with the 1843 Gwalior Star for action at
Punniar. Adams was wounded on 18 December 1845 at Moodkee being shot in the left leg. The musket ball
apparently entered his left leg about 3 inches below the knee from the outside and exited the inside. The wound
caused a contraction of the knee that left Adams incapacitated for the rest of his life and was discharged on 23
March 1847 as medically unfit for further military service.
William Adams seems to have taken up residence in London as an Out-Pensioner of Chelsea Hospital with his wife
Martha. In the 1881 Census William is listed as a Pensioner while his wife is listed an a laundress.
Adams applied to become an In-Pensioner at Chelsea on 2 February 1892 at the age of 69 sometime after the death
of his wife who had been providing for him. The couple was childless which left Adams with no other means of care.
On his application his character is listed as "Good (since desertion)". The photograph above shows that Adams
became something of a celebrity and based on his expression in the photo would seem to have enjoyed the notoriety .
Adams died of chronic bronchitis on 28 October 1916. In his service/Chelsea Pensioner papers (which stretch to
some 37 pages) there are several letters to and from the Officer Commanding, Depot Royal West Kent Regiment
regarding Adams' death, funeral and place of interment. It seems that even after almost 70 years Adams' old
regiment (the 50th Foot becoming the 1st Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment in 1881) had not forgotten
him. Representatives of the regiment accompanied Adams body on the train from Waterloo Station to his final
resting place at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking.
Real Photo Post Card
Wells - Photographer
40 Pimlico Road, S.W., London England