Edgar Roberts Mobbs was born in Northampton. He was one of six children of Oliver Linnel Mobbs and his wife Elizabeth Anne. His father was an engineer and his mother came from a background in shoemaking, for which Northampton was famous.
Edgar’s education was at Bedford Modern School, where records show him as a modest scholar who was taken away early and put to work, being at one time a car salesman and later director of the Pytchley Auto Car Company.
Although a promising sportsman, his early departure from school meant that he did not feature there in the 1st XV. He was soon playing rugby at club level though, first with Olney and then 234 times for Northampton, for whom he was captain from the 1907/08 season until 1913. He captained East Midlands (for whom he was also the RFU committee member) for a similar period and also played for the Barbarians. His seven caps for England came in 1909 and 1910, and included captaining the side to an 11-3 victory against France in Paris in 1910.
NOTE: A debutant for England on that day was Norman Wodehouse, who subsequently captained England to their first Grand Slam (1913) and survived the Battle of Jutland in 1916. In World War II, by then Vice Admiral, he was killed on convoy duty in 1941.
When the war came he immediately volunteered (aged 32) but was too old for a commission. Mobbs therefore formed his own special corps. 264 men (out of over 400 who volunteered) joined and, as the Sportsman’s Battalion, formed a large part of the 7th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. They took part in the Battles of Loos, Somme and Arras. Mobbs was wounded three times, Mentioned in Despatches twice and awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917. His return to his Battalion after his third injury, and by now as Colonel, coincided with the 3rd Battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele. Mobbs lost his life at Zillebeke.
Lt Colonel EDGAR ROBERTS MOBBS DSO has no known resting place.
He is remembered on the Menin Gate (Panel 43 and 45), and in Abingdon Square, Northampton via his own memorial. His name is on memorials in Northampton and Olney, as well as the Northampton club’s one in Franklin’s Gardens. Bedford Modern School has “Mobbs House” in his memory, and a connecting road from Northampton to the A45 is named “Edgar Mobbs Way”.
He also has the distinction of an annual “Mobbs Memorial match”, first played in 1921 and continuing to this day.
He did not marry.
For more information on the Rugby Football Union’s First World War commemorations visit http://www.englandrugby.com/about-the-rfu/ww1-commemorations
For details of the other 26 fallen England players click here.
The World Rugby Museum would like to thank Mike Hagger for researching and writing this article.