Hobbs, James

I believe that James Hobbs was born in the September quarter of 1912 and his birth was registered in Oswestry (Oswestry Vol. 6a Page 1147).    He was the son of Charles Henry & Rachel May Hobbs (nee English), who married in the Parish Church (Christ Church) at Barnston, Wirral in 1909 (Wirral BK64/1/71).

The 1911 census sees Charles Henry and Rachel May living at Oldport, Oswestry, Shropshire (10 rooms).    Charles Henry, 45, was head of the household and a Farmer born in Goggeshall, Essex.   His wife Rachel May, 26 had been born in Liverpool, there were 2 servants, a General Servant and a Housemaid.  This census was to give me the clue that Charles had been married before.   Charles and Rachel had only been married 2 years and 2 children had been born, both sadly died, but there was an Elizabeth Hobbs, age 6, a daughter to the head of the household, Charles.

Elizabeth Hobbs was born in the September quarter of 1904, in the West Derby District (Lancashire Vol: 8b Page: 352).   I have some documents about Elizabeth’s life after 1911, if anyone wants to contact the website.   She sailed from Liverpool to Chile at 19 years of age, 1st Class on the “Oriana” on the 6th September 1923, her future country of intended future permanent residence.

In the September quarter of 1925 Elizabeth married Alfred W. Spooner in Oswestry (Oswestry Vol.  6a Page 1673).   On the 24th September 1925, she sailed from London on the “Highland Rover” with her new husband to Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Alfred’s occupation was described as a Sheep Farmer. Their address was given as AberTanat, Llanyblodad, Nr. Oswestry.

Five years later, Alfred & Elizabeth returned on the R.M.S. “Orita,” sailing from Magallanes. Arriving at Liverpool on the 26th May 1930.   This time the proposed address in the United Kingdom was given as c/o Spearing & Waldon, 101, Leadenhall Street, London.  E.C.3.   Alfred was still a Sheep Farmer.  The couple didn’t arrive alone, there were 2 daughters, both age 1 on the Manifest, June E. & Diana R. Spooner.   They were all travelling First Class.  Again, the manifest says that Chile was the country of permanent residence.

I found a 1901 census with Charles Henry Hobbs, 35, a Team? Owner (Cars) and an employer, born Mark’s Hill, Essex living with his wife, Alice Maud, 35, born in Bootle, in her father’s house, 40, Balliol Road, Bootle-cum-Linacre, Lancashire.  Her father, Alexander Riddock, 79 and a widower, was living on his own means and had been born in Newhaven, Scotland.   Also with Charles & Alice Maud was their child, Charles Edward, age 6 and born in Bootle.     There were also 2 servants, a housemaid and Cook.

It seems that Charles Henry Hobbs & Alice Maud Riddock had married in 1894 at Christ Church, Bootle (South Sefton A4/1/365).

Sadly, it seems, Alice  Maud was to die in the June quarter of 1906, age 40 years, her death was registered in Woodchurch, (Wirral WOO/17/31).

Charles was then to meet and marry Rachel May English and they married in the March quarter of 1909 at Barnston, Christ Church  (Wirral  BK64/1/71).

There is a Charles Henry Hobbs in the Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962 in 1910, living at 39, Miles Road, Epsom, Surrey, but I do not know for certain if he is “our” Charles Henry Hobbs.

However by the 1911 census, above, he was living at Oldport, Oswestry, Shropshire with 10 rooms.    And a year later in 1912 James Hobbs was born, but I have no information on James Hobbs in his young life or his teenage years. Any information would be gratefully received.

Charles Henry Hobbs in the England, United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers, 1751-1921 shows Charles becoming a member in 1915 at the age of 45 years.  He was in the Lodge of St. Oswald and his occupation was “Contractor.”

Sadly again,Charles was to suffer bereavement,  Rachel May was to die age 47 years in the December quarter of 1931(Shropshire Vol. 6a Page 751).

By the 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939, James’s father, Charles Henry was seen living at Shordley Hall, Hope, Caergwrle, Hawarden.   This source gives the dates of birth and shows that Charles Henry was born on the 5th July 1865 and he was an Estate Agent Farm Manager (Retired) and widowed.   Also in the household was Mildred E. Reynolds, who was born on the 13th February 1891, widowed and a Housekeeper.

I cannot find James on any National Register, so he may have been already in the R.A.F.  I did however find a possible marriage for James and Vera Winifred.    In the September quarter of 1939 at Ploughley.*  Vera W. Barrett married a James Hobbs (Ploughley Vol. 3a Page 6696).

*The district Ploughley is an alternative name for Ploughley & Bullingdon and it is in the county of Oxfordshire

James found himself in Warboys, and on the Record of Events, Operational Records, which I downloaded from the Nation Archives, the first flight in September was on the 4th September 1942 when James was Sqdn/Ld on a Bombing Attack flying a Wellington 111 (B.J.600) when they took off with 4 other crew to Bremen at 23.50 and landed at 05.15 –Task. Bremen. Target identified by pin points and marker flares.   All bombs hung over target 01.55 hrs at 16,000ft owing to electrical failure.   Gee blow up.    A good many fires seen scattered over target and visible 60 miles after leaving target.    Approx 80 miles from English coast at 03.45hrs 10,000 ft.  I.F.F. burst into flames necessitating use of fire extinguisher.   Bombs carried and brought back, 9 x3 flares, 8 x 250 incens.

The second time in September was on the 6th when he was piloting the same plane to a bombing attack on Duisberg.   Then again on the 8th September he was flying  a Wellington 111 (X.3422) a bombing attack on Frankfurt.   Again on the 10th September he was again piloting a Wellington 111 (B.J.617) on a bombing attack on Dusseldorf.

His crew on that flight were P/C R.S. LONGUET, F/S SAYNER A., Sgt. CUNNINGHAM, H.A., AND F/S BAIRD, D.D.  (please contact website for separate list)  This crew were on the 4th September mission, and on the 8th September Sgt. STRONG replaced Sgt. H.A. CUNNINGHAM.   On the 10th September, his old crew were back together.

I couldn’t find any flights that James was on with 156 squadron after the 10th September, till his fatal flight on the 15th October when he piloted a Wellington 111 (B.K 339), taking off at 19.15 on a bombing raid to Cologne. “This aircraft failed to return.    Bomb load 18 x 3 flares.”

His crew including himself were – Flight Sergeant Arthur Sayner. Age 22, Awarded – Distinguished Flying Medal, Air Force Medal.

Flying Officer Russell Stronach Longuet, age 26, from New Zealand.

Pilot Officer Alan Henry Cunningham, age 33, from New Zealand

Flight Sergeant Douglas Drennan Baird, age 23.

James, as well as the others are remembered on the International Bomber Command website –



Start Date            15-10-1942

End Date              15-10-1942

Takeoff Station Warboys

Day/Night Raid  Night

Operation  -Cologne. 289 aircraft, 18 losses (6.2%). PFF had difficulty in identifying the target and as a result were unable to draw the main force from a decoy fire.

Reason for Loss                – Lost without trace

The aircrews of RAF Bomber Command during World War II operated a fleet of bomber aircraft carried strategic bombing operations from September 1939 to May 1945, on behalf of the Allied powers. The crews were men from the United Kingdom, other Commonwealth countries, and occupied Europe, especially Poland, France, Czechoslovakia and Norway, as well as other foreign volunteers. While the majority of Bomber Command personnel were members of the RAF, many belonged to other air forces – especially the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). Under Article XV of the 1939 Air Training Agreement, squadrons belonging officially to the RCAF, RAAF, and RNZAF were formed, equipped and financed by the RAF, for service in Europe. While it was intended that RCAF, RAAF, and RNZAF personnel would serve only with their respective “Article XV squadrons”, in practice many were posted to units of the RAF or other air forces. Likewise many RAF personnel served in Article XV squadrons.

A total of 126 squadrons served with Bomber Command. Of these, 32 were officially non-British units: 15 RCAF squadrons, eight RAAF squadrons, four Polish squadrons, two French squadrons, two RNZAF/”New Zealand” squadrons,[1] and one Czechoslovakian squadron.

Most aircrew were aged between 19 and 25, although some were as young as 16, and at least one was in his sixties. (For more details, see “Aircrew Ages” section below.)

In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown and 8,325 aircraft lost in action. Bomber Command aircrews suffered a high casualty rate: of a total of 125,000 aircrew, 57,205 were killed (a 46 percent death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Therefore, a total of 75,446 airmen (60 percent of operational airmen) were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.[2] A memorial in Green Park in London was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 June 2012 to highlight the heavy casualties suffered by the aircrews during the war.[3]

James’s father Charles Henry Hobbs may have been alive when the Hope WW2 War Memorial was unveiled, but sadly I do not know when that was, but he died on the 10th April 1960 and he was cremated in Liverpool on the 14th April 1960, he was 94 years old.

Charles Henry Hobbs in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995

HOBBS, Charles Henry of Peel House, Overton, Flintshire died 10th April 1960.   Probate Liverpool 27th May to Alfred William SPOONER sheep farmer & Stephen Ratcliff LYNCH Solicitor

This probate confirms that Elizabeth Hobbs, James’s half sister, did marry Alfred W. Spooner as he was granted probate.

I believe that Vera Winifred Hobbs (nee Barrett) remarried in the December quarter of 1945 to an Eric C. Dawnay in Exexter (Exeter  Vol. 5b Page163)

James must not be forgotten, and his family made sure of that by adding him to the War Memorial. James and his crew are remembered also on the Runnymede Memorial.

Back to top