John Harold Adams was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne on 19 December 1918 and was educated at Glenalmond.
In 1936 he joined the Navy, serving with the Home Fleet, (1937-39); and during the Second World War in the Western Approaches, Channel and North Africa (1939-42) for which he was mentioned in despatches. His naval positions and work included: Staff Captain (D) at Liverpool (1943-45); Staff Course, Greenwich (1945); Commander HM Yacht Britannia (1954-57); Assistant Director of the Underwater Weapons Matériel Department (1957-58); Captain (SM) 3rd Submarine Squadron, HMS Adamant (1958-60) and Captain Superintendent, Underwater Detection Establishment, Portland. He subsequently worked for the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment (1960-62); commanded HMS Albion (1964-66); and became Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy) from 1966-68. Adams became a Lieutenant in 1941; Lieutenant-Commander in 1949; Commander in 1951; Captain in 1957; and Rear-Admiral in 1966. He retired from the Navy in 1968.
Adams' other positions included Director of the Paper and Paper Products Industry Training Board (1968-71); Director of the Employers' Federation of Papermakers and Boardmakers (1972-73); and Director General of the British Paper and Board Industry Federation (1974-83).
In 1943 Adams married Mary Parker (the marriage was dissolved in 1961) with whom he had one son (deceased). He married his second wife, Ione Eadie, in 1961, with whom he has two sons and two daughters. He died in November 2008.
The collection primarily consists of papers relating to Adams' involvement with submarine warfare and includes papers on anti-submarine warfare and the Admiralty underwater weapons establishment.