Who is Huff Hobbs?

Continuing my story about the military photo with my great-grandfather, Arthur Bird Griffin’s unit, I’ve been working to find “Huff” Hobbs. I have not been able to locate an enlistment with the name “Huff” Hobbs and assume that “Huff” was a nickname.

Things we know about Huff Hobbs:

  1. He likely had a residence in Toronto at the time the photo was taken.
  2. He appears to be about the same height as James Garfield Warner (5’8″), featured in the picture to the right of “Huff.”
  3. He enlisted before May 1917.
  4. He was in France in May 1917.
  5. He was a member of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade (Observers).
  6. He appears to be older than Frank Ellingham, but younger than some of the other members.

Using Ancestry’s “Military” search function, I searched all enlisted men with the last name “Hobbs” who claimed a Toronto address. I have eliminated these men as possibilities:

Alfred Frederick Hobbs, Regimental Number 201189, was born on July 7, 1885, in Cardiff, Wales, and appears to have been too old to be the man in the photo. Although he resided in Toronto at the time of his enlistment (with his wife Gwendoline), further documents suggest he was in England during the period the photo was taken, which excludes him.

Charles Hobbs, Regimental Number 775091, lists his date of birth as February 27, 1897 on his enlistment paperwork in December 1915. A note on the paperwork suggests that a birth certificate was later provided which suggested he was actually born on February 27, 1900. Although he was living in Toronto at the time of enlistment, the fact that he would have been 17 at the time of the photo suggested to me that this was not Huff Hobbs. A further review of his paperwork suggests he was sent overseas, but was in Seaford, England between April 1917 and August 1917, which excludes him.

George David Hobbs, Regimental Number 136473 and 3057548 was born February 3, 1896. He has two regimental numbers because he attempted to enlist twice, first in November 1915, when he was “struck off” as “undesirable,” and again in March 1918. Interestingly, his first enlistment suggests that he’s 5’3 1/2″ (which would suggest that he was not tall enough to be Huff), and the second form suggests he was 5’7 1/2″. Both forms list his occupation as Tailor, and his birthdate and next of kin are the same. He appears to have deserted after his second enlistment. So, given he was not accepted and would not have been in France after his first enlistment, and his second enlistment was after the photo was taken, this is not Huff Hobbs.

George Emeric Hobbs, Regimental Number 3035619, born November 5, 1894 (age is right) and living in Toronto (location is right) at the time of his enlistment. However, George did not enlist until 1918, which is too late.

Harry Elmer Hobbs, Regimental Number 310726, born July 16, 1894 (age is right) and living in Toronto (location is right) at the time of his enlistment. However, Harry was in Canada until October 1917, and could not have been in France at the time of the photo.

James George Hobbs, Regimental Number 4064, enlisted in 1916. He was born May 29, 1873, in Northamptonshire, England, which suggests he was too old to be the man in the photo. He did live in Toronto with his wife, Maude Alice Hobbs, but his records suggest he was in Shorncliffe, England at the time the photo was taken.

Norman Bertram Hobbs, Regimental Number 317044, born December 24, 1897 (age is right) and living in Toronto (location is right) at the time of enlistment. Norman was shipped overseas, but was in Britain’s Milford Camp at the time of the photo.

Robert Eling Hobbs appeared to be a possibility. Robert, Regimental Number 163735, was born January 24, 1878. In his late thirties, he was older than most of the soldiers I’ve identified in the photo. But I couldn’t eliminate him for that reason alone. Robert was living in Toronto (location is right) at the time of enlistment, and a member of the 75th Batallion (which several of the other members have listed in their military documents. Robert was shot in the right shoulder in 1916 while in France. Several of the records suggest he was only in France for only the two months before he was shot in 1916. This information suggests that Robert is not Huff.

Walter George Hobbs was also a possibility. Walter, Regimental Number 228231, was born February 8, 1898, in Swindon, England (age is right) and living in Toronto (location is right) at the time of enlistment. He was a street railway conductor who enlisted in March 1916 and was sent overseas in April 1917. It appears he was in Havre, France. He was 5’6 1/4″ (which is a bit short…but still possible). There is no specific link to the regiments that the other known members of the unit. Walter was discharged in May 1918 as medically unfit—having gunshot wounds in both of his legs. A document from the Department of Veteran Affairs suggests that Walter died on February 25, 1962. I am unable to confirm whether or not Walter is Huff Hobbs. But my feeling is that given his height and the lack of a specific link to the area of France where the photo was taken that this is not the right soldier.

Wilfred Hobbs, Regiment Number 2607009, born on August 1, 1899 (could be right) and living in Toronto (location is right) at the time of enlistment. However, Wilfred did not enlist until 1919, which is too late.

This exhausts all of the records Ancestry lists for men with the surname “Hobbs” who were living in Toronto at the time of enlistment. I will look further into Robert Eling and Walter George and see if I can identify photos of either men to rule them out. Another possibility is that Mr. Hobbs did not list his address as Toronto, which means I’d have a lot more records to look through.

Are you related to this family? Do you have photos or stories you’d be willing to share? Please contact me using the comment form below or find me on Facebook!


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AG Knapper

I’ve been researching my tree for over twenty years…and I’ve found some easy branches, and some gnarly ones…

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