Philip Paul Adams

Rank: Flight Sergeant

Service Number: 407704

Units Served: Royal Australian Air Force

Personal Details: Phillip Paul Adams was born to the Reverend Roland Vere Smith Adams and Mrs Nina Howell Quiney Adams on the 24thNovemeber 1921 at Mount Pleasant, South Australia. He was the fourth child and third son born to the Reverend and Mrs Adams. Philip, like his two older brothers, was educated at St Peters College, Adelaide. In 1936 he completed the Intermediate Certificate examination, passing in all subjects: English, Greek, Latin, Maths 1 and 11 and French. Philips Leaving Honours Certificate examination results in 1939 were no less impressive; English (credit), Greek (credit), Latin (credit), French (+ oral) and history. During his years at St Peters, he was consistently awarded scholarships. In his final term at the college, Philip was awarded the highest scholarship honour-Dux of the school. Philip was accepted to the University of Adelaide in early 1940 and studied Greek 1 and 11, Latin 1 and 11, and English courses. He was awarded prizes during that year for excellence in Latin and Greek. Philip was a keen sportsman, playing cricket and football for St Peters during his school years. In 1940 he was a member of the University Rifle Club.

Enlistment Details: On 13th June 1940 Philip applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. In January 1941 he was called up by the RAAF and was posted to Pearce, Cunerdin and Geradton, Western Australia for pilot and officer training. He was 18 years and 8 months the day he enlisted at the No. 5 Recruitment Centre, Adelaide.
Details about his role in War: Paul left Sydney on the 18/9/41 and arrived in the UK on the 4/11/41 to continue his training in England, until his plane went down while flying over the Mediterranean; he was presumed to be killed on the 16/7/42. He was flying a Blenheim bomber No. BA542 from Bicester in England to the Middle East. He landed safely on Malta and took off to complete the journey but was not heard of again. Before this he was awarded the Flying Badge on 26th June, 1941 and 1/Sergeant 22nd August 1941. Neither his body nor that of the gunner Sergeant Russell were found but the body of his observer Sergeant Price was washed up on the shore at Port Said in Egypt on the 12/8/42. His body was never recovered, and has no known grave. 

Age at Death:  20 years and 8 months

Cemetery or Memorial Details: Runnymede Memorial, Englefield Green

Interesting Material:  The year is 1942. Nina is residing in Clare, SA with her husband who is the Anglican Rector of St Barnabas. The couple’s three sons have enlisted in the forces and one daughter is awaiting call-up for the Woman’s Army.

On a cold wintery day in July, the Reverend and Nina Adams are advised their youngest son, Phillip Paul Adams has been reported as missing in the Middle East while on an operational training flight on 16th July.

Three months later, Nina writes her first entry in his diary…

Oct. 19th Monday

”I’ve written many letters, Paul, that we haven’t been able to post, so now I am going to start writing our days doings each night, Paul, hoping that someday you will get it and know that we have thought of you everyday”

Nina continues to write her thoughts and days doings; here are just some entries that touched my heart.

“I had a nice note from Nannette (sister to Nina) on Friday- thanking me for sending your photo over; as we were, she was thrilled with it and very glad to get it. She says she is still writing to you- please God sometime you will get all our letters. I also had a letter from Auntie Nancie; everyone is so anxious about you”.

Oct. 25thSunday

“Have been thinking of you all morning, Paul; wondering where you are and how you are. You are never out of our thoughts at any time”

Oct. 29thThursday

“We were all thankful to get a cable from Boy (Pauls older brother) this morning, sent last Friday saying ‘safe and fit’. His letters are getting thru very regualy now; naturally we are worrying a great deal as he has been in action since July 1st. We worry about you both, the uncertainly of your whereabouts nearly breaks out hearts. We long for news”.

Nov. 24th Tuesday

“Your 21st birthday, my son, and you haven’t been out of our thoughts all day. We can’t help wondering where and how you spent it. As we didn’t have you with us Dad had a special Celebration of Holy Communion for all of us at 7am. It was a georgous [sic] morning. There were just ourselves there as Dad hadn’t announced it at all, and we felt that we were sharing your birthday to some extent. We had a special prayer for you and one for Boy. Somehow we seemed very close to both of you. John (Pauls other brother) wrote to say, that as he couldn’t go to a service on your 21st birthday, he was going to one tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6am. Mrs Bobbie bird (a great friend of Ninas) sent in a lovely bunch of flowers today and a note just to say she was thinking of you on your 21st birthday. I will keep the note, among other things, to show you when you come home again, which I am sure you will do one day. Very many happy returns, my dear son; our love and thoughts have been with you all day long”.

Nov. 25th Wednesday

“Another cable from Boy Today. We would give anything to get one from you”.

Dec. 14th Monday

“All rather upset today as the photos of you, which we ordered from the West, arrived. We’ve been shedding a few tears. We miss you so, Paul, and are so terribly anxious and just pray every minute that we will have some good news”.

Xmas Day 1942

“We all went to church at 6:30am; sung Eucharist. Me heart was very full; my thoughts of you, my son and hoping and praying that wherever you ay be, you are well and being properly looked after; I felt very sorry for Dad during the service; he said he didn’t know how he was going through with it is, with the exception of last year, he says he never remembers (0r not very a long time) a Xmas morning Celebration without you at his side serving. You and Boy will be very much in our hearts and thoughts all day. Our constant prayer is that you will be with us again next year”.

The Royal Australian Air force Officially declared Philip Paul Adams deceased on 10th September 1942, stating 16th July, 1942 as the date of his death. Ninas Diary ended abruptly. It would seem highly probably she and the Rector were notified early 1943. Official notification of his death was registered in the Northern Argus on 5th March 1943. The informant was the Reverend Roland Vere Smith Adams.