Saturday, 30 September 2017


Robert Thomas Hobrough M.M. (Sergeant No. 40782) - Royal Engineers
No. 7 Signal Section Royal Engineers
The family home of Robert Thomas Hobrough was in 25, Clifton Cottages, Eton Wick, although an address given for his widow at the time of his death was The Crescent, Slough. There was at least one younger brother, H.F., living with R.T.'s parents at 25, Clifton Cottages, who also served in the army as a Staff Sergeant with the Royal Garrison Artillery on a siege battery.
Robert was born in 1881 and was a regular soldier who saw considerable active service before the 1914—1918 war. He joined the Royal Engineers when he was 18 years old (1899) and served for a term of seven years, with a further three years on the reserve. He served in the South African war and also with the Somaliland Expedition, for which he received the Somaliland medal. He then went to Egypt and saw service in the Sudan for three years. After this he was engaged in the inspection of telegraphs on the West Coast of Africa.
With the outbreak of the Great War he rejoined his old regiment as a corporal. For service in 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal. The remainder of his service can best be given by quoting from the letter from his officer, received by his wife after his death, on September 30th 1917.
I am writing to offer you my sincerest sympathy in your great loss. Although I feel that little I can say will help to make up for the great sacrifice you have made, I should like you to know that in Sergeant Hobrough's death I have lost one of my best Brigade Signal Sergeants. I have had well over two years' experience in the Signal Service out here, and amongst all the many N.C. O. 's I have had under me, none have carried absolute fearlessness, combined with complete efficiency, to such a high, or anyway, to a higher standard. But perhaps his chief asset was his reliability. Never once in the ten months we worked together and under the most trying circumstances, did he let me down, and I had the most implicit faith in him, which was justified time after time.
However, apart from the technical loss which his death entails, I feel a very great personal loss, and so I can understand in some slight degree how much more you must be suffering from your bereavement. But it must be no inconsiderable consolation to you to know that he had died the most noble death a man can die, and you can have nothing but the happiest memories and greatest pride in him. He had an excellent command of men, all too rare an accomplishment nowadays, and about a month ago I recommended him for a Company Quartermaster Sergeants' position, which had been endorsed by the higher authorities.
He died instantaneously and entirely painlessly as the result of a nearly direct hit from a shell, and five other priceless men of my small section with him. We buried them all near the spot, and have erected a cross, simple, but suitable, to commemorate the resting place of six heroes who could ill be spared.
Allow me, therefore, once more, to offer you at the same time my sincerest sympathy in your bereavement, and heartiest congratulations in having had such a fine man for a husband in which sentiments all the section join me.
In The Windsor and Eton Express, seven months later dated April 27th 1918 we read:
Bravery In The Field Mrs Hobrough has now received from the King the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to her husband, the late Sergeant R. T. Hobrough (of Eton Wick) of the 7th Signal Company, Royal Engineers for bravery in the field. In 1916 when the same paper reported the award of the Military Medal, he was in No. 4 Signal Section; R.E.
Two days before the Armistice, on November 9th 1918, Robert's parents had more bad news when they were notified that their second son, Staff Sergeant H.F. Hobrough, was in a serious condition having been wounded in the arm and left leg, and that he also had a fractured hip. Fortunately these did not prove fatal. The injuries had been sustained on October 21st.
Robert's last active service was in the series of battles that came to be known as Third Ypres or Passchendaele, and the phase of the battle being fought on Tyne Cot Memorial and Cemetery September 30th 1917 was the Battle of Polygon Wood.
The fact that he and his five comrades were killed by a near direct shell hit means it would have been very
unlikely that their remains could be identified. Perhaps the common grave they shared could not be found, due to subsequent obliteration. Whatever the reason, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Panel 8, at Tyne Cot in Belgium. He is also commemorated locally on the Eton Wick Memorial and on the Eton Church Gates.
Thorough searching in The London Gazette Indexes have failed to find any mention of Robert Hobrough being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the newspaper report to that effect was probably inaccurate. The Gazette however did record the M.M. award and was dated 1.9.1916. A medal collector remembers purchasing the African General Service Medal awarded to Robert and subsequently researching his service career. The collector cannot recall mention that a D.C.M. had been awarded.
The Eton Wick address of 25 Clifton Cottages refers to the first house on the left hand side of The Walk, from the Eton Wick Road. Houses in The Walk were at that time known as Clifton Cottages, as were the terraced row of 15 houses on the Common Road between The Walk and Sheepcote Road. Robert was 37 years old and left a widow, Isobel (Dot), who continued to live in Slough. The Tyne Cot Memorial and Cemetery is in the Passchendaele area, five miles northeast of Ypres. The Wall Memorial commemorates nearly 35,000 soldiers without known graves and the cemetery contains nearly 12,000 graves.
 This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Robert Hobrough: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission page.
Robert Hobrough: The For King & Country page.

Robert Hobrough: Lives of the First World War as yet.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Eton Wick Census 1901

The United Kingdom Census of 1901 was taken on Sunday 31st March, that year and was the seventh of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total number of persons returned as living in England and Wales at midnight on Sunday, March 31st, 1901, was 32,526,075. This shows an increase of 3,523,550 upon the number enumerated on April 5th, 1891, and gives a decennial rate of increase of 12.17 percent.

Details collected include:

Place: street name, house number or house name.

Houses: inhabited, uninhabited or a building and the number of rooms.

Names of each person who was resident in the house on the night preceding the census.

Age and sex of each person: The actual age in years or months for babies under one year are recorded in the 1901 census.

Rank, Profession or Occupation.

Birthplace, county and country.

Whether Blind, Deaf or Dumb.

The Superintend Registrar's District was Eton, Bucks and the Registrar's district was Eton. Enumeration District No. 6. The enumerator was John Langridge.

The area for the 1901 census included was the entire parish of Eton Wick comprising The Eton College Sanatorium, Eton Pumping Station, The village of Eton Wick, Bell Farm, Saddocks Farm, Manor Farm and Eton Great and Little Commons and half the River Thames between Deadwater Cut and the point opposite Clewer Mills.

The 1901 Census reveals that there were 104 households and 414 people in residence in the village at midnight on the 31st March. The oldest person, Mary Greenwood at the age of 83, she was born in 1818. There was one other resident in their 80’s. Florance Giles was youngest at one month, she was the only child of William and Ada. Sarah Ann was the only baby born in the first three months of 1901 within the civil parish of Eton Wick.

Click on this link to see our transcription of the 1901 census records for Eton Wick. We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles.

Consolidated Census spreadsheet.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Henry Hill - H.M.S. Aster

Henry Charles Hill (Stoker 1st Class No. 1</18991) - H.M.S. Pembroke
Chatham - Royal Navy

Henry Hill was born on July 16th 1894 and it is believed he attended the Eton Wick Infants' School until at the
age of seven he went to Eton Porny. His parents were Alfred and Sarah and their home was No. I Albert Place, Common Road. When Henry was 10 years old the family moved beyond Dorney Common and he then left the Porny School and his school chums and presumably attended the Dorney Village School.

Sometime later they returned to Eton Wick and lived in 12, Castle View Terrace, Victoria Road. Father, Alf, was very well known and generally referred to as General Hill. Apparently, this was a nickname accorded him on account of being a handyman or tinker and was in no way a military achievement. His workshop was across the road from Castle View Terrace and a few years later it became William Hearn's garage-cum-workshop and bungalow home. This established the rights for later industrial use.

A register in the Kew Public Record Office records Henry as joining the Royal Navy for an engagement of 12 years in April 1913, 16 months before the Great War started. His age was given as 19 years, his height as 5 feet 3¾ inches and his civilian occupation as a cycle fitter.

Initial training was at Chatham Naval Barracks H.M.S. Pembroke before being posted to H.M.S. St. George. Four months later, in April 1914, he joined the battleship King George V. In January 1915, with the war five months old, Henry returned to H.M.S. Pembroke (Chatham) for further training. From May 1915 until July 1917 he served on H.M.S. Aster. The village memorial misleadingly records "H. Hill. - H.M.S. ASTER" perhaps inferring it was on Aster he lost his life. In fact, H.M.S. Aster was sunk on 4th July 1917 and almost certainly Henry was on the ship but survived the tragedy. Another man named Henry Hill was also a crew member, but he was a Devonshire man and 35 years old - he did not survive. On 26th July Henry returned to the familiar shore base of H.M.S. Pembroke.

An Eton Wick lady remembered Henry who she thought may have joined the Navy together with her brother Roland Bond and Arthur Morrell. She said that he was killed in an air raid on Portsmouth. There was in fact no air raid on Portsmouth causing Navy casualties during the Great War, but there was such a raid on Chatham on 3rd September 1917. The raid was by four giant Gotha bombers, each carrying a 300 pound bomb load, at first attacking Margate and causing little damage before altering course for Sheerness and Chatham. About Il p.m. a bomb fell on the Chatham Naval Barracks killing 131 sailors and injuring a further 90. It was with a touch of irony that the village man escaped death at sea in July only to be killed in an air raid a few weeks later. It has not been established that the three young men did join together. Certainly in 1913 when Henry Hill enlisted Roland Bond was only 15 years old. He could have joined, but he was four years younger than Hill. He was amongst the guard of honour when the Eton Wick Memorial was unveiled in 1920 and it is not difficult
to imagine his thoughts as he stood proudly at one corner of the memorial and the haunting call of the Last Post rang out.

Henry was one of Eton Wick's and Boveney's two air raid fatalities of the Great War, both killed by German Gothas, and he was also one of the village's two sailors to lose their lives. The headstones in the Gillingham Naval Plot are very different to most C.W.G.C. headstones, being grey in colour and appreciably larger.

Henry's grave is No. 16 Row 837. He is commemorated on the Eton Wick and Boveney Memorial and on the bronze Memorial Plaques attached to the pillars of the Eton Church gates. He was single and 23 years old.

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  

and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Henry Hill: There no record of Henry Hill on the Lives of the First World War as yet.

The Eton Wick War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website