Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

In common with so many servicemen James Hobbs followed his father, also known as James, into the Royal Marine Artillery.
The earliest sighting of James snr. (b. 1852 at Potterne, near Devizes in Wiltshire) is in the 1881 census whilst he was serving at Fort Cumberland, Eastney. With him were his wife Jane (b. 1857, nee Underwood, also from Potterne) and their children Jonathan (b. 1878), George (also b. 1878) and Jane (b. 1881).
The family moved a short distance away, to 28 Henderson Road, Eastney in time for the 1891 census. There they had further children Annie (b. 1883) and Mary (b. 1890). James snr. died before the next census in 1901 which found the widow Jane at 13 Owen Street, still in Eastney, with Jane, Annie, Mary and recent arrival William (b. 1897). This census should also have recorded the presence of James who was born in 1893 but for some reason he is missing and as he does not appear anywhere else it must be assumed to be a recording error. Jonathan had by this time left the household and presumably joined the army as he does not appear in the census either.
By the 1911 census James William had joined the Royal Marine Artillery and was a bugler on board HMS Neptune, then moored in Portsmouth harbour. By the outbreak of the Great War James William had transferred to HMS Hogue which on 22nd September 1914 was patrolling the North Sea with HMS Aboukir and HMS Cressy. Aboukir was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-9 which broke her back, sinking her within 20 minutes. HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy came to her rescue but tragically U-9 managed to sink both of them with a combined loss of 62 officers and 1,397 ratings.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Gunner James William Biggs Hobbs, (RMA/12509), Royal Marine Artillery, HMS Hogue, died on 22/09/1914, age 21. Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Son of James Biggs Hobbs, and Jane Hobbs, of 32, Toker St., Eastney, Portsmouth.
James Hobbs is also remembered on a Family Gravestone in Highland Road Cemetery which also commemorates his brother Jonathan, the Royal Marines Museum WW1 Roll of Honour and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014