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Crooked Hooker helps fund new Mobbs memorial in Belgium

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

The Crooked Hooker, the home of former Northampton Saints players, has helped fund a new memorial to mark the area where club legend Edgar Mobbs was killed during World War I.

The new memorial was unveiled today (Monday, July 31st) to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Mobbs’s death on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele by a group representing the club and East Midlands Rugby Union, including assistant coach Phil Dowson, former Saints, England and British Lions player David Powell and Peter Larter from the East Midlands Rugby Union, as well as Philip and Alexander Mobbs (Edgar’s great-nephew and great-great-nephew respectively).

Mobbs, who played over 200 times for the Saints and was the first player from the club to captain England, was killed while attempting to storm a German machine gun post in Shrewsbury Forest, located to the south-east of Ypres.

Aged just 35 when he died, Mobbs had established himself as one of the most recognised people in Northampton. As well as his exploits on the rugby field, he inspired hundreds of men to join what became the Sportsman’s Battalion, part of the Northamptonshire Regiment, and by 1917 he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Mobbs’s body was never recovered from the forest, and with no grave the Mobbs family decided to place a memorial in the location. It is a simple wooden cross with a plaque including the words ‘Hereabouts lies Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Roberts Mobbs DSO. Indomitable Sportsman, Gallant Soldier’.

“Mobbs’s name was something of a catalyst, going right back to the early days,” Powell told BBC Radio Northampton. “We were always made aware by the senior men in the club what he’d done and what his name meant. The likes of Don White and Gordon Sturtridge were keen to keep his memory alive.

“Then when you’re here and to see where it happened it’s very touching and I had a tear in my eye. He came out here, went home, came out here again, and took the spirit of rugby into battle.”

Mobbs’s name lives on as part of the Northampton Saints and World Rugby Halls of Fame, on the Franklin’s Gardens war memorial, and through the Mobbs Memorial Match, which this season will be played between the Saints and British Army at Franklin’s Gardens in spring 2018.