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The Diary of Petty Officer Samuel Hobbs 1914-1916 Part 1: Declaration of War

Posted by Ben Hodges, on April 16th, 2019

Abstract

This article comprises the diary of P.O. Samuel Hobbs between September 1912 and November 1916, supplemented with information about his early life and his time after leaving the Navy.

Cornishman Hobbs joined the RN in 1900 and over the next twelve years served in successive warships, working up to the rank of Petty Officer by 1910 when he first served under Captain (later Rear-Admiral) John Luce, who became a significant influence on his future career and life.

Two years later, when the diary begins, Hobbs was onboard HMS Glasgow under Luce’s command, preparing to leave for South America. The narrative demonstrates that Hobbs had the ‘ear of the Captain’ and thus was able to convey an intimate portrait of the life of the officer classes on peace-time cruises of that kind. Hobbs himself looked down on younger ratings suffering from seasickness and hangovers, whilst his apparently racist views simply reflected commonly held views of the time.

The war-time phase of the diary recounts actions off Coronel, the Falklands Islands and Juan Fernandez Islands. Hobbs’ four years on foreign service ended in 1917. Thereafter, he continued to work alongside Luce until retirement when he became the Admiral’s personal chauffeur in Malta.

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