Lt. Colonel Charles James Willoughby Hobbs DSO

2nd Bn, The Notts and Derby Regiment (The Sherwood Foresters), 71st Brigade, 6th Division, B.E.F.

Malvern Commemoration: Christchurch,

Burial/Commemoration: Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte

Nature of Death: Died of wounds Flanders 16/10/1916

Age: 40

Next of Kin: Eldest surviving son of Capt and Mrs Hobbs of Kylemore, Avenue Road, Malvern; husband of Mrs Dorethea Hobbs of 20 Tisbury Road, Hove, Sussex

Education: Rossall School and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Previous Employment: Regular Army Officer having served in the Boer War

Lt Colonel Charles James Willoughby Hobbs DSO

Early years

Charles James Willoughby Hobbs, born at Fylde in 1876, and was the eldest surviving son of Capt and Mrs Hobbs of Kylemore, Malvern.  He was educated at Rossall School, Fylde and later at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Service in India and Africa

He was commissioned into the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment in September 1896.  Soon overseas, Charles saw active service at Tirah 1897-8 on the North West Frontier and was present at the action Arhaga. During the Boer War he commanded a company of Mounted Infantry and was mentioned in despatches.  He was promoted Captain in 1901.

Marriage and family

He married Dorethea Bell at St Mary Abbots, Kensington in November 1906 and the couple had two children – Rosemary and Dorothea.  In 1911 the family were living at Wardour, Crownhill, Plymouth, near Plumer Barracks where his battalion were stationed.

First World War

Captain Hobbs landed in France on 20th October 1914 as an early officer reinforcement to the 2nd Notts & Derby Regiment, part of the 6th Division.  This formation arrived in time to reinforce the hard-pressed British Expeditionary Force on the Aisne front, before the whole BEF was moved north into Flanders.  Hobbs was with his unit in time to fight around Armentières.  He was mentioned in dispatches with the 2nd Battalion on 17th February 1915.

Promotion to Major shortly followed and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in the 1916 New Years Honours list.


By October 1916 he was in command of the 2nd, Notts and Derby Regiment, with the acting rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. On the 15th October, the battalion attacked the German line at 5.35 am near Montauban.

From the beginning of the attack communication was problematic – only runners could get messages back to the Battalion HQ where Colonel Hobbs was trying to coordinate the attack. One objective had been taken, (gun pits in front of the German line) but the German line was proving more difficult to overcome. The commander of D Company, Major Street had been severely wounded early in the morning, so Hobbs sent Captain Backhouse from the HQ to take over command and report the Company’s situation. At 11 am Hobbs personally went up to the line to assess the situation for himself. He returned three hours later and sent forward reinforcements.

Orders came from Brigade at 3 pm that the outposts in a section of line called Cloudy Trench should be connected together to make better defence possible, a company of Leicesters and a section of Royal Engineers came forward to do this, but Hobbs was concerned that he had heard nothing from Captain Backhouse since 7.30 am. At 6 he went to the front line again [original emphasis from Battalion War Diary] and was severely wounded whilst moving between the gun pits and Cloudy Trench and died the following day.

Perhaps for this very action, Charles Hobbs was posthumously mentioned in dispatches on 4th January 1917.


A/Lt Colonel Charles James Willoughby Hobbs' grave at Grove Town Cemetery, Mealte

A/Lt Colonel Charles James Willoughby Hobbs’ grave at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte

Today, Charles Hobbs lies at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte.  In addition to commemoration at Christchurch, he is also remembered on the St. Peter’s Church War Memorial, Littleover, Derbyshire and at All Saints Church, Hove.

2nd N&D War Diary
Malvern News 21/10/16
London Gazette
UK, Officer Service Records, 1764-1932
Illustrated London News 4/11/1916

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