27 September 2003

The Victoria Cross awarded to one of Salisbury's greatest heroes, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Adlam, is now on permanent display in the city thanks to his family and his former regiment. His VC, together with seven other campaign medals, and a City Gold Watch presented on his return from the Somme, were formally handed over to the city during a civic lunch held in the Guildhall on Saturday, 27th September 2003. The medals and watch are now on display in the city's Silver Cabinet in the Grand Jury Room at the Guildhall.

Salisbury's Charter Trustees, led by Mayor Councillor Bobbie Chettleburgh, hosted the ceremony. Dignitaries included the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sir Maurice Johnson; the county's High Sherrif, David Newbigging; and the Earl of Selbourne, a close family friend. Members of the Adlam family travelled from all parts of the country to attend the ceremony, including Margo Bird, aged 93, from Mere, Tom Adlam's grandson, Sergeant Martin Adlam, and great-grandson, Tom.

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel Tom Adlam - 7th Bn, The Bedfordshire Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • British War Medal - ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal - ( 1914-19 )
  • Defence Medal - ( 1939-45 )
  • War Medal - ( 1939-45 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953
  • Medaglia Al Valore Militare ( Silver ) ( Italy )

Tom Edwin Adlam was born at Waterloo Gardens, Salisbury, on the 21st October 1893, the son of John and Evangeline Adlam. Followng his education at Bishop Wordsworth's School, Salisbury, he joined the Territorial Force in September 1912, and after the outbreak of war was given a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Bedfordshire Regiment in November 1915.

[ London Gazette, 25 November 1916 ], Thiepval and Swaben Redoubt, France, 27 - 28 September 1916, Second Lieutenant 7th Bn, Bedfordshire Regiment.

"For most conspicuous bravery. A portion of a village which had defied capture had to be taken at all costs, to permit subsequent operations to develop.

This minor operation came under very heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. Second Lieutenant Adlam, realising that time was all-important, rushed from shell-hole to shell-hole under heavy fire, collecting men for a sudden rush, and for this purpose also collected many enemy grenades. At this stage he was wounded in the leg, but nevertheless he was able to out-throw the enemy, and then seizing his opportunity, and in spite of his wound, he led a rush, captured the position and killed the occupants.

Throughout the day he continued to lead his men in bombing attacks. 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 magnificant example of valour, coupled with the skilful handling of the situation, produced far-reaching results."

Following the end of World War I, Tom Adlam became headmaster of the village school in Blackmoor, Hampshire, where he and his wife Ivy raised their four children. Called into service again during World War II, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1944. Tom Adlam died, aged 81, on the 28th May 1975, during a family holiday on Hayling Island, Hampshire. He is buried in St Matthew's Churchyard, Blackmoor, near Liss, Hampshire.


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Iain Stewart, 27 September 2003