Born in 1891 Horace Edward Hobbs was the son of Alice Mary Ann Hobbs and William John, a builder’s proprietor. In 1911, the family was living at 16 Earlham Grove, Forest Gate. He attended Coopers Company School in Bow in 1903 to 1908 and went on to study architectural drawing, before joining his father’s business in the building firm.
According to Horace’s service records, he was residing in Ilford in 1916 and his father is living at 40 Emerson Road in the 1915 Kelly’s Directory of Ilford.
During the First World War he served as a sapper in the Royal Engineers 154th Field Company. His role was to work underground constructing tunnels in preparation for the explosion of mines. On the opening day of the Battle of the Somme at 7.20 am, the huge mine under Hawthorn Ridge near Beaumont Hamel, was set off. It would seem likely that he was killed in action during the prelude to the mine explosion, possibly by enemy shellfire or a sniper bullet.
Horace Hobbs’ died on the 1st July 1916, but the circumstances of his death are not known in detail. Unlike so many other soldiers who died on the first day of The Somme, however, Hobbs’ body was identified, and he is buried in a marked grave at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, France. This is near to the area where the mine exploded.
Some information / extracts have been reproduced with kind permission of Karen Pack from her book ‘Coopers’ Boys & Coborn Girls: Their Part in the Great War’ © Karen Pack, 2015
ICHS school records and magazines
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Kelly’s Directory of Ilford