Maj. Gen. Sir Percy Hobart

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Bodston, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    'Hobo', before Lee manages to work his way through all of the Generals :)
    I thought I would start a thread in praise of one of my favorites. Being made a Major General in 1937 he outranked many of his superior officers in 21st Army Group. He was of course older and many know that in 1940 he was retired and put out to grass. He joined the local defence volunteers as a Lance Corporal. It wasn't until this week that I found out where. He was in the Home Guard in his home town of Chipping Campden, the place where I went to school. He was also Monty's brother-in-law, Monty married his sister. Apparently the two men did not always see eye to eye. Recalled to the flag in 1941 by Winston Churchill after a campaign in 'The Sunday Pictorial' newspaper.
    Best known for his 'funnies' and his leadership of the 79th Armoured Division in Normandy and beyond, his vision regarding armoured engineering was second to none.
    I don't think that I have ever read a bad word said about him.

    Does anyone else have any opinions of the man?

    I must also read his biography 'Armoured Crusader', anybody read it?
  2. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    hobo was a wonderful man,a visionary.straight from prof horrocks.he is a nice bloke too.yours,lee.:)
  3. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The Funnies did stirling work, many of them RE or to be precise AVREs.
  4. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    Can't fault Hobart he stepped up did the job and got us off those beaches with his funnies as quick as possible just a pity the Americans hadn't taken on board more of his inventive and unusual ideas !!

  5. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    A brilliant mind and someone who had the guts to stick to his guns. The Americans would not have had the problems they did if they had taken some of those "funnies" to Omaha
  6. Donnie

    Donnie Remembering HHWH

    well when do the Americans ever listen to the Brits Eh?

  7. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    Good point Donnie !!!
  8. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    They might have said he was stubborn and eccentric, the big glasses and the leather jerkin,but the man had vision and the tenacity to stick to his guns. He may have had his detractors amongst his peers. The so - called "funnies" from flails to fascines etc might have been mocked, but like has been said they saved countless lives. He had his finger on the pulse and he knew what solutions fitted the problems. Saying that only place I hear of his contribution is from the Royal Tank Regiment history at Bovingdon.
    von Poop likes this.
  9. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    he also trained and/or commanded 3 of britains armoured divs.the mobile division-7th a/d,11th a/d and 79th a/d.great bloke.lee:)
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Hey Lancesergeant! Very good to see you back around, been wondering where you went.

    On Hobart, top bloke. A narrow escape that such a significant figure could have spent his time serving out his war in the home guard.
  11. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Thought I'd put this here rather than 'what are you reading', seems an appropriate spot.

    Armoured Crusader - The Biography of Major general Sir Percy 'Hobo' Hobart - kenneth Macksey.


    Very good. Written in a slightly old fashioned but eminently readable style and overall a tribute to a remarkable man and the strange machines he forced to effectiveness. Another book that's fascinating to cross-reference with Alanbrooke's diaries to see what the CIGS was thinking in contrast to Hobart's often paranoid perceptions.

    If I have a criticism of the book it's perhaps Mackseys's hesitance to offer any really critical appraisal of any of Hobart's actions. It appears that he's something of a 'friend of the family' and things can get a bit hagiographic as praise is heaped upon praise. Not that I don't think a great deal of praise is due for 'Hobo', and that he was ill-treated as a result of the pre-war 'armoured force' debates (and his own personality), just that one suspects there could be more to say on his less diplomatic & 'black dog' side, and many of the falling outs associated with it.
    I can however understand that there's likely something of an agenda going on in restating how ridiculous a situation that confined a brain like Hobart's to the Home Guard was. Perhaps something that needed saying in 1967 when the book was first published.

    What the book does confirm is that being an Imperial officer in the first 20 years of the C20th could involve as much 'derring-do' for an intelligent & ambitious young officer as the likes of Henty might imply :D.

    I also find myself curious as to whether Guderian really did openly praise Hobart as is 'attributed' in the book:
    "It was reported that, after a successful exercise Guderian had brushed aside the opinions of an anti-tank expert saying 'That is the old school and already old history. I put my faith in Hobart, the new man', and in champagne giving a toast - 'To Hobart!'. Guderian does not confirm the incident - but it is at least symbolic"
    (p.120 of the 2004 edition)
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  12. Macca

    Macca Member

    If you like Hobarts story try reading 'Churchill's Secret Weapons: The Story of Hobart's Funnies' by Patrick Delaforce I found it a fairly balanced account of both Hobart and 79th Ard Div.
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Well I know one who didn't think too highly of hobo - Lt Gen Gordon-Finlayson - didn't want him in Egypt and worked hard to get rid of him - which he did and hobo joined the Home Guard......

  14. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    The response of Finlayson that typifies the whole Gentlemen Vs Players mentality of the officer class of the British army of that time. As if falling in love with a fellow chap's wife wasn't hard enough without being blackballed at the officers club.
    If only the tank arm had a little more tradition, like the Corps of Engineers or the Royal Artillery. Then a lot of very worthy, technically minded officers would not have been wasted at a time when we could not afford to lose them.
    Oh for a meritocracy.
    von Poop likes this.
  15. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Tom Hanks as Hobo
    Ian Mckellan as Churchill
    Tom Cruise as Rommel
    Christopher Lee as Hitler
    Captain Mannering as Captain Mannering.

    WHeres the movie? Im there!!!
  16. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Hobo, according to IWM photo Collections:

    Major General Sir Percy Hobart, commander of 79th Armoured Division, who was made responsible in March 1943 for the development of specialised armoured vehicles, known as 'funnies', to spearhead the assault phase of the invasion.

    Field Marshal Montgomery examines the remains of a German V2 rocket near the HQ of Major General Percy Hobart, GOC 79th Armoured Division (left), 30 October 1944.

    Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey, GOC-in-C Second Army (left), with Major-General Percy Hobart, GOC 79th Armoured Division, during an invasion exercise, 1 May 1944. A Ford GPA amphibious jeep can be seen behind.

    The RE Museum's brief biography:
    Royal Engineers Museum - Biography - Major General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart (1885-1967)

    Interesting career summary:
    British Army Officers 1939-1945X -- H

    I was intrigued by his medal ribbons before seeing the above, 9 mentions in Dispatches must be rather above average, no matter how long the career or high the rank? - has anyone seen a full list of Hobart's awards & honourifics?
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  17. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Interesting career summary:
    British Army Officers 1939-1945X -- H

    A strange omission from that list would be Hobo's nephew Lieutenant Colonel Pat Hobart, commander of 1st Royal Tank Regiment.
  18. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Thought people might be interested to read an extract from my Dad's memoirs about his experience of Hobart's machines. When Dad was in Normandy after D-Day, his unit were making their way into France and tackling the enemy:
    One of our main objectives, about noon, was a rocket site, which was hidden in a wood about three miles inland. Heavy, intensive machine gun fire was directed towards us from here and, as the wood was isolated, we couldn’t get near it. They seemed to be making a real effort to harass us and, in order to avoid any loss of life, our CO called up support. It came in the form of a Churchill tank. At a later date, when the RAF had airfields in Normandy, a Typhoon would quickly have been on the scene. Anyway, the tank advanced towards the wood and soon came under anti-tank fire and since it was not hit it retaliated, as quick as a flash. It stopped about forty yards from me and before you could bat your eyes – whoosh – it threw a huge tongue of flame towards the wood, doing so three times. Flaming Germans came running out from all sides with their hands up. The ones who survived were taken prisoner. Needless to say, the opposition ceased, enabling us to now move forward. Up to that moment we had never seen a flame-throwing tank in action. It was fantastic."
    So Hobart certainly helped my Dad in the war. Prior to this incident on Gold Beach, Dad tells:
    "Onto the soft sand and the boys in front and behind of me went down. Hell, get moving! Halfway up the beach, about ten yards from the sand dunes, I saw an amphibious Sherman flail tank at a standstill, its chains hanging helpless like some monster, one track was off its sprockets. It had gone into the assault on the beach before us to make a path through the minefield which ran along behind the beaches. The crew had bailed out and had continued, under fire, to make a path across the minefield and had taped it."
    Read more about Dad's war via the links in my signature below.

    Attached Files:

  19. dochealy

    dochealy New Member

    Would anyone know where Sir Percy Hobarts papers from his Indian Army days and the First World War might be held? The late Kenneth Macksey had access to them and cited them in ARMOURED CRUSADER.

    The Liddell Hart Centre has Hobo's papers after 1926, but not before.

    Many thanks!
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

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