Edgar Mobbs  1882 - 1917

The rugby player Edgar Mobbs was a man held in such high esteem that he not only had his own memorial raised after his death during the first world war, but also a commemorative match which has endured to the present day.  A man with a noted charismatic presence, he was a natural leader who captained club and country and helped raise then lead his own battalion after war came in 1914.

Born on the 29th June 1882, Mobbs' first-class rugby career did not start until he was well into his twenties.  He made his debut for Northampton on 23 September 1905.  After a couple of undistinguished appearances as a scrum half he moved to the wing.  In this position his muscular six-foot tall, fourteen stone physique, pacy high-stepping style and renowned hand-off made him a formidable opponent and initiated a brilliant career.

Mobbs became captain in June 1907 and remained so until his retirement in 1913.  He played 234 times for the club, scoring 177 tries.  He made his England debut on 9 January 1909 against Australia, scoring a try after only two minutes.  Mobbs played in six more internationals until his last on 3 March 1910, when he captained the team.  Never an establishment figure, it is probable that without his occasional criticism of the Rugby Football Union he would have won more caps.

When the first world war broke out Mobbs enlisted as a private soldier in early September 1914.  By the end of the month he had raised 264 recruits towards a Sportsmen's Battalion, the 7th Northamptonshire Regiment.  After training and the timely award of a commission, Mobbs went with the battalion to France in September 1915, where they saw action in the Battle of Loos.  By April 1916, his administrative skills and high quality of leadership saw Mobbs, now promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, in command of the battalion, which inevitably became known as "Mobbs Own".  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in January 1917.

Mobbs saw action in the Battle of the Somme (1916), Arras and Messines (1917), during which he was wounded several times, sometimes seriously.  On 31st July 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres, his battalion's assault was held up by one particular German machine gun.  As it was causing heavy casualties, Mobbs led a bombing party forward to destroy it.  In a courageous dash directly towards the gun he was shot and mortally wounded, before he could get near enough to hurl a grenade.  His body was never found.


The story of Edgar Mobbs is currently commemorated in the Imperial War Museum in a special display about sporting heroes in wartime, from where this material was taken.

The display in the Imperial War Museum

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