Tom Adams was fascinated with telegraphy from an early age and was invited to witness the transmission of the first shore to ship message in the Southern Hemisphere, sent from Queenscliff to RMS Ophir carrying the Duke and Duchess of York and Cornwall for the opening of Federal Parliament in 1901.
Tom gained employment with the newly established Post Master General’s Department as a telegraphist and later gained a science diploma from the Melbourne Working Men’s College, later RMIT. Following the advent of wireless telegraphy he was appointed to the PMG’s Wireless Section and was instrumental in the development of the coastal wireless service following the sinking of the SS Titanic in 1912.
Sought out by Colonel John Monash to join the Australian Intelligence Corps, he established wireless stations to monitor German transmissions from Simpsonhafen, (Rabaul) in New Guinea, and later co-ordinated the capture of the German merchantman Pfalz attempting to escape from Port Phillip Bay, prior to the declaration of War in 1914.
In 1916 he was chosen to command the 1st Australian and New Zealand Wireless Signal Squadron and sent to a place sometimes referred to as the cradle of civilisation, the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Mesopotamia.