A century on, paving stone for WWI hero Frederick John Hobson
24 August, 2017 — By Chloe Livadeas
Frederick John Hobson
A FIRST World War sergeant whose bravery helped turn a battle in northern France before he was shot down has been honoured with a paving stone in King’s Cross.
Camden Mayor Richard Cotton unveiled a memorial for Frederick John Hobson in Argyle Walk on Friday morning. It is part of a government campaign to recognise those awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest gong in the country’s honours system. Sergeant Hobson, who was born close to where the stone was laid and baptised in Saint Peter’s Old Church, Regent’s Square, joined the army aged 24 and was deployed to fight in the Boer War.
After he was discharged, he spent a period living with his wife and children in Canada before returning to England to rejoin British forces. He then fought in France, where he was killed in action. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions facing an enemy counter-attack near Lens on 18 August 1917. After a shell killed all but one of his comrades, Sergeant Hobson, despite not being a gunner, grabbed a weapon and leapt from the trench at the advancing enemy. He was killed by a gunshot wound, but by then he had delayed enemy forces long enough for reinforcements to arrive.
Victoria Cross award citation for Frederick John Hobson (London Gazette, 17 October, 1917)
“During a strong enemy counter-attack a Lewis gun in a forward post in a communication trench leading to the enemy lines, was buried by a shell, and the crew, with the exception of one man, killed. “Sergeant Hobson, though not a gunner, grasping the great importance of the post, rushed from his trench, dug out the gun, and got it into action against the enemy who were now advancing down the trench and across the open. “A jam caused the gun to stop firing. Though wounded, he left the gunner to correct the stoppage, rushed forward at the advancing enemy and, with bayonet and clubbed rifle, single handed, held them back until he himself was killed by a rifle shot. By this time however, the Lewis gun was again in action and reinforcements shortly afterwards arriving, the enemy were beaten off. “The valour and devotion to duty displayed by this non-commissioned Officer gave the gunner the time required to again get the gun into action, and saved a most serious situation.”