28749 Private 1st Class Percival George Hobbs, Royal Flying Corps, later Royal Air Force
Born on 17th November 1897 in Little Gaddesden
Died on 9th March 1964 in Aylesbury
Percival George (Percy) Hobbs was born in Little Gaddesden, the younger child of Frederick Louis Hobbs and Edith née Chappin. He was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 6th February 1898.
Percy’s sister Maud May Hobbs was born on 18th June 1894.
Percy’s father was a Dairyman and the family lived very near Home Farm, Little Gaddesden. However, the specific address is not given in either the 1901 or the 1911 Census.
On 7th March 1901, the Little Gaddesden School Log Book records: “Admitted Percy Hobbs & Gladys Gentle (Infts) both of Little Gaddesden.” Percy was 3 years 3 months old.
During the Harvest (Summer) Holiday 1906, Percy met with an accident. The Log Book entry for 14th September records:
Began School again with 114 children… Maggie Bunn is sick – thrown off a bicycle. Percy Hobbs has gone to the Infirmary with an injured hand.
Percy and Margaret returned to school on 2nd October, but the Log Book entry for 6th November reads:
Received notice that Percy Hobbs (St. 2) is not (to) be pressed in his work. He met with an accident in the Holidays and is an out patient of the West Herts Infirmary.
Joining the Little Gaddesden Scouts 6
Percy Hobbs joined the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop at its start, October 26th 1911. He was a member of the Wolf Patrol, Patrol Leader Francis (Frank) Whitman. The Scouts first met in the Reading Room at John o’Gaddesden’s House. However, meetings soon moved to the Armoury, at 27 Little Gaddesden, the home of their Scout Master, Harry Temple, who was assisted by 17 year old Bernard Phillips. Miss Bridget Talbot was the Scouts’ President and Mr Humphrey Talbot their Treasurer.
Scouts in the other Patrols who served were: Stanley Austin, Albert Basford, Sidney Bellamy, Edward Bunn, Philip Collier, Kenneth Edge, Donald Goodman, Francis Green, Gerald Green, Arthur Halsey, Frank (Henry F.) Johnson, Arthur Pinnock, George Pinnock, Arthur Whitman and Jim Whitman.
Boy Scouts’ Cook’s Badge – First skin your Rabbit 6
The Little Gaddesden Scout Diary records that, in Autumn 1912:
14 boys of the LG Troop were examined in the Park at Ashridge for their cook’s badges. Lord Brownlow presented a rabbit apiece to each boy. Fourteen fires were then lit, made up on some bricks + each boy proceeded to skin and boil his rabbit, adding vegetables + dumplings into his stew. The judges on this occasion were Lord Brownlow, Mrs Temple, Mrs Bridle, Mrs Flowers + Mr Jim Rodgers. Mr J Parsons presented 3 prizes for the best 3 saucepans of rabbit stew. Arthur Pinnock won the 1st prize.
We do not know who won 2nd and 3rd prizes, but the diary records that Percy was one of the 14 boys awarded his Cook’s Badge. Other Scout Cooks included Albert Basford, Edward Bunn, Francis Green, Gerald Green, Bernard Halsey, Frank Johnson and Archie Wells.
On 16th May 1916, Percival George Hobbs, a Motor Cyclist in civilian life, enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps for the duration of the War. He was 18 years 6 months old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and had a 32½ inch chest, brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. His RAF Airmen’s Service Record states that he previously served in the Army, but no trace of that service has been found. That record also gives his date of birth as 17th November 1898, but 1898 does not fit with his age of 18½, nor with his Baptism record.
By May 1916 Percy’s parents lived at 59 Walton Street, Aylesbury where his father was Publican of the Ship Inn.
Percy is listed as a Motor Cyclist in the Royal Flying Corps with the initial rank of Air Mechanic 2nd Class. However, on 1st July 1917, he was promoted to Air Mechanic 1st Class.
Then, on 1st April 1918, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force, in which his rank was Private 1st Class.
On 1st January 1919, Percy was reclassified as an Aircraftman 1st Class; he continued to serve as a Motor Cyclist. His RAF Airmen’s Service Record then shows that, from 6th June 1919, he served overseas:
- 6th June to 3rd July 1919 – Marseilles
- 3rd July to 19th August 1919 – Port Said, Egypt
- 19th August to 26th November 1919 – Mesopotamia, after which he returned to England.
Transfer to the Reserve 7
Percy transferred to the RAF Reserve on 7th January 1920 and was deemed to have been discharged from the RAF on 30th April that year.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Percy Hobbs is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His entry reads: Hobbs Percy, Royal Flying Corps and he is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
After the War, Percy returned to Aylesbury, initially to The Ship Inn, 59 Walton Street, where his father was the Publican. In 1921 and early 1922, he lived at 40 Walton Street, Aylesbury.
On 14th May 1921 Percival George Hobbs married Beatrice Maud Wooster at the Parish Church, Wealdstone, Middlesex. Percy, 23, was a Motor Engineer. Beatrice, 21, of 18 Greta Road, Wealdstone, was the daughter of George Wooster, Labourer.
Percy and Beatrice lived in Aylesbury. Their son Desmond George Hobbs was born on 12th April 1922 and, during that year, they moved to 2 Madeley Road, Aylesbury. Several more moves within Aylesbury followed; Electoral Registers show Percy at 37 Chiltern Street from 1923 to 1925, at 41 Market Square in 1926 and at 44 Lee Road from 1927. However, by 1938, he had taken over from his father as Publican of the Ship Inn, Walton Street.
In the 1939 Register, Percival is not at the Ship Inn with his wife and son. The probable reason for this is shown in his RAF Airmen’s Service Record, which states that he enlisted in Class E Reserve for 4 years from 7th November 1938. Class E Reserve was for ex-regular airmen; men like Percy, who were employed in ground trades, were to do 14 days training per year if required.
His record notes that he was a Publican and is stamped “does not volunteer for reserve training“. An undated comment reads “not capable of driving a motor cycle“, which he had done in the First World War. However, no reason for that is given. Percy was discharged from the RAF at the end of February 1942.
On 9th March 1964, 66 year old Percival George Hobbs, a Licenced Victualler (retired), died at 109A New Street, Aylesbury. The cause of his death was congestive heart failure and arteriosclerosis. His widow Beatrice lived until 1988 and her death was registered in the Aylesbury Vale District.
5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
6. Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922, HALS, Hertford, Acc 3131
9. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury Division
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson