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John Harold Adams
Born (1918-12-19)19 December 1918
Died 3 November 2008(2008-11-03) (aged 89)
Place of birth Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1936–1968
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held HMS Creole
HMY Britannia
HMS Albion
Battles/wars World War II
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation
Awards Order of the Bath
Royal Victorian Order
Other work Paper industry
Rear Admiral John Harold Adams, CB, LVO ((1918-12-19)19 December 1918 – 3 November 2008(2008-11-03)) was a Royal Navy officer who was best known for his command of HMS Albion, a 22,000 ton Centaur-class light aircraft carrier, during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation.


Adams was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on (1918-12-19)19 December 1918. He attended Glenalmond College in Perth and Kinross, Scotland and joined the Royal Navy as a special entry cadet in 1936. After eight months of training he joined the Revenge-class battleship Royal Oak.[1]

After the outbreak of World War II, Adams was assigned to the destroyer Walker. On 11 September 1939, Walker ran down and went through her sister ship, Vanquisher, and was jammed in her. As the weather and conditions were good, both ships were able to be saved. During the crisis, Adams carried Vanquisher's safe with its confidential material inside to the deck of Walker, but found that after the situation had calmed down the next morning that he was unable to lift it.[1]

He served on the Hunt-class destroyer Cleveland in 1941 and saw action in the Western Approaches of the coast of Great Britain, as part of the St. Nazaire Raid and the landings of Allied troops in North Africa and Sicily. He underwent training and qualified as a torpedo and electrics specialist in 1943, and was able to use this knowledge to prepare escorts for convoys crossing the North Atlantic.[1] On 15 December 1942 he was Mentioned in Despatches for his actions aboard Cleveland in an engagement with E-Boats.[2]

After the war, he commanded the destroyer Creole and served in the Admiralty's torpedo and anti-submarine warfare division, among other staff appointments.[1] He was promoted to lieutenant commander on 1 June 1948,[3] and commander on 31 December 1950.[4] He was then given command of the Royal Yacht Britannia, which included taking Princess Margaret to the West Indies, Queen Elizabeth II to Portugal and a world tour for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, serving from 1954 to 1957.[1] As a result, he was appointed a Member of the Fourth Class of the Royal Victorian Order in the 1957 Queen's Birthday Honours.[5] He was promoted captain on 31 December 1956.[6]

Adams commanded Albion from May 1964 to January 1966. The ship was deployed in the Indian Ocean and the Far East. She arrived east of Suez with 848 Naval Air Squadron and a strong force of Royal Marines. During the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, Albion sent two flights of Wessex helicopters to support marine and army border patrols from bases in Borneo and Sarawak.[1] He was promoted rear admiral on 7 January 1966.[7]

In 1966, serving as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy), Adams was assigned to the Ministry of Defence and became chairman of the Future Fleet Working Party, reporting to Admiral of the Fleet Sir Varyl Begg. Building on his experience with the Albion, Adams' working party recommended a "through-deck cruiser" that would carry vertical take-off jet fighters and deploy helicopters, insisting that this approach was the logical conclusion of his research. Begg, who believed that missiles would replace planes, exploded with anger and rejected Adams's report publicly. Begg told told him that he would never be employed again.[1] Adams retired on 12 February 1968,[8] and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in that year's Queen's Birthday Honours,[9] but was invited to the launch of the aircraft carrier Invincible in 1977, which was a vindication of his approach.[1]


After leaving the Royal Navy, Adams served as Director of the Paper and Paper Products Industry Training Board from 1968 to 1971. From 1972 to 1973, he was Director of the Employers' Federation of Papermakers and Boardmakers and then served from 1974 to 1983 as Director General of the British Paper and Board Industry Federation.[10]

Adams was the author of The Adventure of Charlie the Cone, stories about a traffic cone that he made up for his children during long car trips.[1]

He married the former Mary Parker in 1943. The two had one son and the marriage ended in 1961. He married Ione Eadie later in 1961 and had two sons and two daughters together.[10]

Adams died on 3 November 2008(2008-11-03) (aged 89).[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Staff. "Rear-Admiral John Adams: Highly efficient captain in the Indonesian conflict who was eventually sacked for defending the role of aircraft carriers", The Daily Telegraph, 9 November 2008. Accessed 10 November 2008.
  2. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35823. p. 5462. 11 December 1942. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  3. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38335. p. 3723. 25 June 1948. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 39127. p. 365. 19 January 1951. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41089. pp. 3371–3372. 4 June 1957. Retrieved 11 November 2008. Membership of the Fourth Class was subsequently renamed as Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, entitling holders to the postnominal letters LVO.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 40977. p. 362. 15 January 1957. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 43819. p. 10843. 19 November 1965. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  8. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44523. p. 1763. 9 February 1968. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44326. p. 6270. 2 June 1967. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Papers of Rear-Admiral John Adams, Cambridge University. Accessed 10 November 2008.

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