I had lunch today with my friend Arlene at Shelly’s in London. We talked for two hours. It seemed clear to me that what brings her the most happiness is her two grandchildren. Juliette is 10 and I think Hobson is 7. The smile across the table said it all.
I thought Arlene said “Thompson” but, no, that wasn’t right. It was “Hobson”. Such an unusual name. The young man’s parents, Lydia and Chris, are in the Canadian Forces, stationed at Petawawa, Ontario. They met long ago when they both joined the Hobson Platoon. I wondered what inspired them to give their son that name.
Frederick Hobson emigrated here from England and enlisted when Canada entered World War I. He was sent overseas and fought the Germans. He died in Lens, France in 1917 and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. Here’s a newspaper account:
During a strong enemy counterattack, a Lewis gun in a forward post in a communication trench leading to the enemy lines was buried by a shell, and the crew, with the exception of one man, was killed. Sergeant Hobson, though not a gunner, grasping the great importance of the post, rushed from his trench, dug out the gun, and got it into action against the enemy who were now advancing down the trench and across the open. A jam caused the gun to stop firing. Though wounded, he left the gunner to correct the stoppage, rushed forward at the advancing enemy and with bayonet and clubbed rifle single-handedly held them back until he himself was killed by a rifle shot. By this time however, the Lewis gun was again in action and with reinforcements shortly afterwards arriving, the enemy were beaten off. The valour and devotion to duty displayed by this non-commissioned officer gave the gunner the time required to again get the gun into action, and saved a most serious situation.
Chris and Lydia were so moved by Sergeant Hobson’s sacrifice that they wanted his name to live on. A happy young boy now carries it.
Lydia was pregnant in 2008. She had learned about General Romeo Dallaire, a general in the Canadian Forces.
Dallaire served as Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force for Rwanda, between 1993 and 1994, and attempted to stop the genocide that was being waged by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi people and Hutu moderates.
Seeing the impact of this great humanitarian, Lydia wanted to name her future son “Romeo”. Except that a girl was placed in her arms. Mom and dad knew what to do. They chose the name “Juliet”. Since Chris’ mom was French-Canadian, the parents expanded the name to the Francophone version “Juliette”.
I sat enthralled as the grandkids came alive for me. “They love each other so much,” said grandma. Juliette and Hobson are at the same school but on a different recess schedule. As Juliette’s recess ends, she lingers on the yard until Hobson emerges from the school … to give him a hug and a kiss.
Ahh, love. Where would we be without it?