Wednesday, 8 March 2017

On this day in 1917, Sergeant Nathaniel Lobb died.

Sergeant 5818
Nathaniel Lobb MM
Special Section, Special Brigade,
Royal Engineers
Died age 38
10th March 1917

Nathaniel Lobb was born in Tavistock in 1879, the son of Nathaniel and Annie Lobb, both of whom had long connections with Stoke Climsland and Downgate. Nathaniel Junior was a career soldier, joining up in 1900 and ending his career in France in 1917. The following obituary written just after his death gives a good summary of his military service.

 We regret to report that Mrs Lobb of Downgate, Stoke Climsland, has received the sad news of the death of her son, Sergeant Nathaniel Lobb RE in France. Sergeant Lobb, who joined that Royal Engineers on June 13th 1900, went through the South African War (Second Boer War) and went to France at the commencement of the present war.
He was reported wounded three times, the first time receiving wounds in the shoulder, knee, leg, hand and foot. Recovering from these he met the enemy and was wounded in the foot and, in a third effort, was wounded in the hand. He was at the Battle of the Somme and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. So recently as January, he was home on a well earned ten days’ leave but, on returning to the Front, he developed bronchial pneumonia brought on by exposure and died in a French Hospital (10th Stationary Hospital, St Omer) on March 10th 1917.
Sympathetic letters from Sergeant Lobb’s fellow officers and comrades have been received by his widowed mother testifying to his ‘fearlessness and gallantry in action’ and his being ‘a remarkably cool and collected leader’. The Reverend Alfred Coutts, Chaplain to the Forces, in a touching and highly appreciative letter received on March 20th says Sergeant Lobb ‘was one of the finest men I have ever met’. Much sympathy is felt for the relatives in their bereavement of one of such sterling qualities both as a man and a soldier.

Sergeant Lobb’s time in the Second Boer War entitled him to wear the Queen’s South Africa medal, with clasps for service in 1901 and 1902 and for the Transvaal, Orange Free State and Cape Colony campaigns. His medal, shown above, features prominently in a display at the Museum of the Royal Engineers at Gillingham in Kent.

Although we do not know the nature of his work in South Africa, his assignment to the Special Section of the Special Brigade of the Royal Engineers is very interesting. This indicates he was one of the engineers drafted in from other units, initially as volunteers, to develop and deliver poisonous gas. These moves were in retaliation to the Germans’ deployment of similar materials earlier on in the war. The British efforts started in 1915 and the British army employed poison gas for the first time in the opening barrage for the Battle of Loos, principally to overcome a shortage of artillery.
Sergeant Lobb’s final resting place is in the Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery, near St Omer. He is mentioned on his parents' headstone in the graveyard of Stoke Climsland church.

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