CWG: Private Frederick Hobbs

Private Frederick Hobbs

Frederick Hobbs was born in December 1886, the fourth of ten children to William and Martha Hobbs, from Bridgwater in Somerset. William was a mason, and all of his children seemed to be good with their hands. Frederick went on to become a plumber’s apprentice, while his siblings worked as a mason, a dressmaker and a carpenter.

The 1911 census found him living in Polden Street, Bridgwater with his mother and youngest sibling, Florrie. William, however, was living round the corner in Bath Road, with three of his other children, Clara, Tom and George. Both of Frederick’s parents are listed as married, which adds to the confusion of them being in separate houses.

Frederick enlisted with weeks of was being declared; he joined the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment and, after a year on home soil, his troop was shipped to France. This wasn’t the end of the Private Hobbs’ journey, however as, within a couple of months, he journeyed on as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, finally arriving in Salonica, Greece, in November 1915.

Private Hobbs has only been serving for a month when he was admitted to the Hospital Ship Asturias in Alexandria, with lacerations to his cheeks and eyelids. The initial report seemed to suggest the wounds were as a result of gunshot, although a more detailed report later confirmed that the injuries were caused by barbed wire.

While in hospital, Frederick’s urine was found to include a high level of sugar. He also confirmed having lost a lot of weight in recent months, but could not confirm when this had begun. He was diagnosed with diabetes, and was evacuated back to England for treatment for both his injuries and his illness.

The damage to his left eye healed, but he was left with significant ptosis, or drooping of the eyelid. When it came to his diabetes, specialists back in England determined that, while it could not be put down to Private Hobbs’ service, it had definitely been aggravated by it. He was deemed no longer fit for military service and furloughed in June 1916, with a follow-up report confirming this three months later.

Sadly, whether Frederick’s life returned to normal is not recorded. It seems likely, however, that the diabetes got the better of him, and he passed away on 25th November 1916, aged just 29 years old.

Frederick Hobbs lies at rest in St John’s Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater, Somerset.

Frederick’s younger brother Herbert Hobbs also fought in the Great War. He enrolled in the Royal Marines Light Infantry and fought on the Western Front. Caught up in the Battle of Gavrelle Windmill, he was one of 335 Royal Marines to be killed in that skirmish. He lies buried at the Arras Memorial in Northern France.

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