Death of Joseph Hobbs – one of The Alberts dead |
Joseph Victor Hobbs is commemorated on the Richmond War Memorial, which was erected in the early 1920s by the Old Town Hall. On the Roll of Honour site he has been identified as a Private in the Labour Corps who was killed in action near Amiens on 15 April 1918 and buried in St Pierre Cemetery. His name seems to have been put forward by his wife, Mrs E Hobbs of 5 Hyde Road, the Alberts.
However, it was difficult to match his name on the Commonwealth War Records. Using Joseph’s listed service number, 102184, produced results for Henry Rickard, a Royal Navy Stoker who had died serving on HMS Cressy, and for Liu Hsi Ju, a member of the Chinese Labour Corp, who was one of thousands of Chinese to die in British service.
There were several Joseph Hobbs, but none of whom matched the date or came from Richmond.
Using alternative service numbers, found on the Forces War Records site, produced similar results.
This underlines one of the problems of researching First World War casualties: Names can be misspelled and sometimes names on memorials can be family nicknames, rather than the official names men enrolled under. Service numbers can be written down incorrectly or are missing.
Another issue relates to the way names were put forward for inclusion on local memorials. In the years following the war families moved and widows remarried. This can mean that the place a person is recorded does not tie in to his biography, or the person listed as next of kin could have a different name.
Joseph was finally found as J Hobbs, service number 58430, by searching the men listed in St Pierre Cemetery, with the CWGC. A Private in the Labour Corps of the Devonshire Regiment, he was killed in fighting near Amiens on 15 April 1918.