Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Hobart, Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley (1885–1957)

British army general. Born in Naini, India, on 14 June 1885, Percy Hobart excelled in studies at Clifton College and then graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He was commissioned in the engineers in 1904 and posted to India in 1906, where he distinguished himself. Sent to France during World War I with the Indian Expeditionary Force in January 1915, Hobart fought on the Western Front and in Mesopotomia, where he was wounded in April 1916. He finished World War I as a major.

Hobart graduated from the Staff College, Camberley and then returned to India in 1921. Convinced that the future of ground warfare lay in tanks, he joined the Royal Tank Corps in 1923. An instructor at the Staff College, Quetta from 1923 to 1927, he was brevetted lieutenant colonel in 1922 and colonel in 1928. In 1927 and 1928, he was second in command of 4th Battalion, and in 1931 and 1932 he commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Tank Corps. First inspector and then commander of the corps in 1933 and 1934, Hobart raised the 1st Tank Brigade and commanded it from 1934 to 1937. Promoted to major general and appointed to head military training in 1938, he went to Egypt to raise what became the 7th Armored Division, championing its use apart from infantry formations. Hobart was retired from the army in 1939, largely because of his outspoken nature and zealous championing of tanks in armored doctrine and tactics.

Early in World War II, Hobart was serving as a colonel in the Home Guard when Prime Minister Winston L. S. Churchill recalled him to active duty to command first the 11th Armored Division in England in 1941 and 1942 and then the 79th Armored Division with its unique engineering equipment. These assignments gave Hobart opportunity to showcase his innovative talents. Equipment included forerunners to the modern combat engineer vehicle, specialized vehicles for minelaying and clearing, an amphibious tank, and a flamethrower tank (the Crocodile). Such special tanks were known as "Hobart's Funnies" or "Hobo's Funnies," which played on Hobart's nickname of "Old Hobo."

Hobart commanded his division in 21st Army Group through the campaign in northern Europe to the end of the war. He retired for a second time in 1946 but served as lieutenant governor of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, from 1948 until 1953. Hobart died at Farnham, Surrey, on 19 February 1957.

Robert Bateman and Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Futter, Geoffrey W. The Funnies: The 79th Armored Division and Its Specialized Equipment. Hemel Hempstead, UK: Model and Allied Publications, 1974.; Hart, Russell A. Clash of Arms: How the Allies Won in Normandy. Boulder, CO, and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001.; Macksey, Kenneth. Armored Crusader: A Biography of Major-General Sir Percy Hobart. London: Hutchinson, 1967.; Martel, Giffard le Q. An Outspoken Soldier: His Views and Memories. London: Silton Praed, 1949.
 

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