Talbot Hobbs
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Sir Joseph John Talbot Hobbs KCB, KCMG
Order of St Michael and St George
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

, VD
Volunteer Decoration
The Volunteer Officers' Decoration was created by Royal Warrant under command of Queen Victoria on 25 July 1892 to reward 'efficient and capable' officers of the Volunteer Force who had served for twenty years...

 (24 August 1864 – 21 April 1938) was an Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 and First World War general.

Early life

Hobbs was born in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, the son of Joseph and his wife Frances Ann Hobbs, née Wilson. Educated at St Mary's church school, Merton
London Borough of Merton
The London Borough of Merton is a borough in southwest London, England.The borough was formed under the London Government Act in 1965 by the merger of the Municipal Borough of Mitcham, the Municipal Borough of Wimbledon and the Merton and Morden Urban District, all formerly within Surrey...

, Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, Hobbs joined the volunteer artillery in 1883. He also worked as draughtsman
Technical drawing
Technical drawing, also known as drafting or draughting, is the act and discipline of composing plans that visually communicate how something functions or has to be constructed.Drafting is the language of industry....

 for a builder, John Hurst. In 1886 he emigrated with Hurst to Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 and established an architectural practice in Perth
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

 in 1887.

Hobbs designed many of the well known public buildings in Perth and Fremantle
Fremantle, Western Australia
Fremantle is a city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829...

 and was first treasurer of the Western Australian Institute of Architects in 1896, and later president from 1909 to 1911.

Hobbs also designed a number of private residences. The first of these is believed to be Samson House in Fremantle
Fremantle, Western Australia
Fremantle is a city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829...

, an example of late 19th century colonial style, which was built in two stages between 1888 and 1890. The house is registered with the National Trust
National Trust of Australia
The Australian Council of National Trusts is the peak body for community-based, non-government organisations committed to promoting and conserving Australia's indigenous, natural and historic heritage....

, and is in the Register of the National Estate
Register of the National Estate
The Register of the National Estate is a listing of natural and cultural heritage places in Australia. The listing was initially compiled between 1976 and 2003 by the Australian Heritage Commission. The register is now maintained by the Australian Heritage Council...


Military career

In 1893, Hobbs joined the volunteer artillery as a gunner, and rose to the command of the battery in 1897. In 1906 he was a Lieutenant Colonel commanding a West Australian mixed brigade, and in 1913 a colonel commanding the 22nd infantry brigade. On four occasions he went to England and did intensive courses in artillery training with the British army. He was thus thoroughly equipped when war broke out, and on 8 August 1914 was selected by General Bridges
William Throsby Bridges
Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges KCB, CMG served with Australian forces during World War I, and was the first Australian to reach general officer rank...

 to command the 1st Australian divisional artillery.
After training in Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, he was at the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and was soon ashore searching for positions for his guns. Hobbs clashed with Bridges over the placement of the guns. Hobbs was in command of the artillery until 9 November 1915 when he was struck down with dysentery and invalided to Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 despite his protests.

Hobbs was then promoted Brigadier General and made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. In March 1916 he went with the first Australian division to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and was in command of the Australian artillery when Pozières
Pozières is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:The commune is situated on the D929 road, some northeast of Amiens between Albert and Bapaume, on the Pozières ridge.-Population:-History:...

 was captured. On 1 January 1917 he was given command of the Australian 5th Division and was made a Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

. This division was in the thick of the fighting in the spring of 1917, and in September did magnificent work at Polygon Wood. It was a great piece of staff work in which every officer and man fitted into his allotted place, did his work with distinction, and together achieved a great victory. Hobbs was created both a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George on 1 January 1918. At the end of April his division fought a great fight at the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux
Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux
The Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux came during the period of the battle of Lys, 24–27 April 1918, but was launched against the British lines in front of Amiens.The Germans developed a small number of tanks, and used them in this offensive...

, which probably contributed to the abandonment of the German operations towards Amiens.

Towards the end of May, General Monash
John Monash
General Sir John Monash GCMG, KCB, VD was a civil engineer who became the Australian military commander in the First World War. He commanded the 13th Infantry Brigade before the War and then became commander of the 4th Brigade in Egypt shortly after the outbreak of the War with whom he took part...

 was placed in command of the Australian Army Corps, and Hobbs became the senior divisional commander in the corps. His division was then given a well-earned rest but took a worthy share in the great counter attack which began on 8 August. It did not take a leading part in the capture of Mont St Quentin, one of the greatest and most important feats of the war, but Monash, in his The Australian Victories in France, stated that he was "concerned . . . that the fine performance of the Fifth Division should not be underrated. The circumstances under which general Hobbs was called upon to intervene in the battle, at very short notice, imposed upon him, personally, difficulties of no mean order". One of his tasks it may be mentioned was the crossing of the Somme in the face of strong opposition, and when Hobbs sent a message to the men of his war-worn division on its beginning a rest period on 8 September, he was able to say that they had "earned imperishable fame for their gallantry and valour". It was but a short rest, for they were in the line again later on in the same month, and Hobbs was making careful plans for the attack on the Hindenburg line which was successfully breached by the 3rd and 5th divisions on 30 September and 1 October. The Australians had done the work allotted to them and were not called upon to fight again. Monash was put in charge of the repatriation and demobilization of the Australian troops, and Hobbs succeeded him in the command of the Army Corps until this was completed in May 1919.


After the Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

, Hobbs decided to return to his former profession; architecture. With a keen interest in the construction of war memorials, Hobbs was responsible for designing the West Australian War Memorial in Kings Park
Kings Park, Western Australia
Kings Park is a park located on the western edge of Perth, Western Australia central business district. The park is a mixture of grassed parkland, botanical gardens and natural bushland on Mount Eliza with two thirds of the grounds conserved as native bushland. With panoramic views of the Swan...

, Perth, St George's College, Crawley and the Temperance and General and Royal Insurance buildings.

Hobbs died at sea of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 while en route to the unveiling of a war memorial built to his design at Villers-Bretonneux
Villers–Bretonneux Australian National Memorial
The Villers–Bretonneux Australian National Memorial is a World War I memorial, located near the commune of Villers-Bretonneux, in the Somme département of France. The memorial lists 10,773 names of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force with no known grave who were killed between 1916, when...

, a French town recaptured under his command in World War I.

Hobbs was a short and slight man, whose civilian life was that of a successful citizen who had a full realization of his responsibilities to the society of which he was a member. Hobbs was capable, self-sacrificing and measured his life by high standards. From his youth he seems to have realized that some day his country might need him as a soldier, and he set to work to qualify himself for the highest positions. This knowledge was invaluable in France, and when he became a divisional commander his kindliness, tact and firmness gained the affection and respect of his men, while his carefulness of preparation and knowledge made him an excellent divisional commander. Monash said of him that he "succeeded fully as the Commander of a Division by his sound common sense and his sane attitude towards every problem that confronted him". The eulogy of General
General (Australia)
General is the second highest rank, and the highest active rank, of the Australian Army and was created as a direct equivalent of the British military rank of General; it is also considered a four-star rank....

 Sir Brudenell White
Brudenell White
General Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White KCB, KCMG, KCVO, DSO was a senior officer in the Australian Army, who served as Chief of the General Staff from 1920 to 1923 and again from March to August 1940, when he was killed in the Canberra air disaster.-Early Life and career:White was born in St...

was "he was not only a soldier, he was also a great citizen, and a great Christian gentleman . . . who knew none other than the straight path".

New interest

Australian interest in Hobbs' role as architect and soldier has shown a recent revival with the publication of the book The Lionheart Lieutenant - General Sir Talbot Hobbs by David Coombes (AMHP Australian Military History Publications 2007) and doctoral work in Australia. Anzac Day was commemorated in Villers-Bretonneux in July 2008; the local school still has a kangaroo as its symbol and signs declaring 'Never forget Australia.'
Hobbs' great-granddaughter is the British Australian poet and writer Bridget Talbot Hobbs Khursheed.
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