G'day All, I just thought I would tell the story of one of my uncles. His name was Arthur "Roy" Hobman, service number: NX11563.
Roy enlisted for military service with the Royal Australian army on the 28th of march, 1940 at Paddington N.S.W. and was assigned to the 2/4th Australian infantry Battalion. Roy and the 2/4th embarked for overseas service and sailed out of Sydney Harbour on 31/8/1940 and disembarked in Palestine on 11/10/1940 where they commenced training with the rest of the Australian 6th Division. The 2/4th played a small role at Bardia on the 3rd - 5th of January 1941 but was more active during the battle for Tobruk on 21st - 22nd of January and had to fight especially hard to secure the Wadi Dema on 26th - 30th january. The 2/4th was the first Australian unit to enter Benghazi on the 6th of February 1941 and garrisoned the town until the 22nd of February.
Bardia was particularly hard on Roy on a personal level because he lost one of his brothers, Stan, who was K.I.A. fighting in the 2/7th infantry Battalion.
In April 1941 the 2/4th with the rest of the Australian 6th Division was deployed to Greece in an effort to thwart the anticipated invasion by Hitlers armies. Roy and his mates were so confident of their fighting capabilities after their victories in North Africa that they even studied maps of Europe during the passage on the troopship to see the quickest route from Athens to Vienna to speed up their expected victory!
On arrival in Greece the 6th Division was split up and Roy and the 2/4th were sent to Vevi Pass. This was to be a wakeup call for them, and all the Australians when the invasion took place. They were no longer fighting the Italians but 10 battle hardened German Divisions fresh from victories in Poland, Holland, Belgium and France. Vevi Pass was a complete disaster, the start of many to come. The SS Leibstandarte decided that Vevi Pass was where they would move through making Roy and the 2/4th the only Australian troops during the war to fight the SS. After only 3 weeks, the same bunch of blokes that were so confident of marching into Vienna were being evacuated to the island of Crete, the date, even more painful was the 25th of April - ANZAC day.
Many of the boys arrived on Crete litterally with the uniforms they were wearing, many having left behind rifles, helmets, field kit etc.. making the journey to Crete even more eventful as men with 303's shot at harrassing German aircraft while they made good their escape.
The 2/4th with Roy were sent to Herraklion to await the expected German invasion. For weeks before the German assault the Luftwaffe paid the Australians a morning visit daily to soften them up with the use of Stukas bombing and ME110's shooting the place up. On the morning of the 24th of May the Luftwaffe turned up again and caught many unprepared including Roy. An ME110 firing explosive rounds tore through Heraklion, Roy dived into a roadside trench but was hit in the left shoulder, the explosive round ripped through his chest, the left side of his face, his left eye and shoulder. His mate, Pte Millar from Parramatta, carried him down to the Australian field hospital where he was treated by the units medical officer. Heraklion was in chaos, the Germans were dropping from the sky and shortly after the hospital fell into enemy hands.
Roy was evacuated from Crete in a JU52, one of the planes that carried the invaders, and was flown to Athens where he was operated on by a German surgeon. He was officially reported wounded in action and missing by the Australian army and remained listed as missing for several months before being listed as P.O.W. and given the prisoner of war number: 22931. He was transferred and interned at the hospital at Kokinia, Greece, this information was communicated, much to the relief of his family, by the international Red Cross. When he was considered well enough for travel by his captors he was transferred to and interned at Stalag V111B Lamsdorf.
Roy was considered medically unfit for further military service due to multiple gunshot wounds which made him elligible for repatriation according to an international agreement, which was also signed by a Mr A. Hitler.
On the 20th of October 1943, Roy began his journey home, he was first transported courtesy of the Reichbahn to Marseilles and then sailed to Barcelona, Spain, onboard the "Aquileia." He, with other wounded P.O.W.'s then marched off the ship past wounded German P.O.W.'s before embarking on a R.N. ship on the 2/11/1943. He Arrived in Alexandria on the 3/11/1943 and disembarked. He was sent to the N.Z.G.H. because of gunshot wounds to "head and chest." Roy finally embarked on the hospital ship "Orange" bound for Australia. He arrived home on 19th of December 1943 and was discharged from the Royal Australian Army due to severe disability incured from multiple gunshot wounds on the 7th of August 1944. Of the 1594 days Roy spent in the service of King and country, 1207 were spent overseas and 232 were spent in Australia.
Roy died on the 24th of August 1961 due to long term complications from the injuries he suffered on Crete.