Edward Tompson MOBSBY

MOBSBY, Edward Tompson

Service Number: 407799
Enlisted: 6 January 1941, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Flying Officer
Last Unit: 90th Bombardment Squadron (USAF)
Born: Hints, England, 12 October 1910
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Pulteney Grammar School
Occupation: Bank clerk
Died: Flying Battle, New Guinea, 26 July 1942, aged 31 years
Cemetery: Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea
A7. B. 26.
Memorials: Adelaide Pulteney Grammar School WW2 Honour Roll, Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

6 Jan 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), 407799, Adelaide, South Australia
1 Mar 1941: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman
26 Jul 1942: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, 407799, 90th Bombardment Squadron (USAF), Air War SW Pacific 1941-45

Book about ET Mobsby's service and legacy

"Dear Grandpa Why? Reflections from Kokoda to Hiroshima' chronicles Mobs' life and sacrifice and chronicles his family's quest to understand the history behind the war and reconciliation with a Japanese family who experienced similar experiences, despair and asked similar questions.

Written by his grandson John Read and published by Wakefield Press, Dear Grandpa Why? was launched by Sir Eric Neal in 2018.

'This is a most unusual book but an insistently interesting one. This book’s strongest virtue is in Read’s wrestling with the past and his initial desire for accountability over the death of his grandfather, giving way to something akin to forgiveness.' - ~ Christopher Bantick, Weekly Times

'This compelling book is written from the heart, and easily draws the reader in on the journey with Read seeking answers about his grandfather's sacrifice. I recommend it to all readers. It provides a personal entry-point for understanding the events that led to the war in the Pacific and raises many questions about what causes war and what we should do in the future to prevent such terrible loss and waste of life.' - ~ Helen Eddy, Read Plus



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Biography contributed by Jenny Read


Oration by US General Carlisle

Today, we correct an oversight that is nearly three-quarters of a century old by properly honoring the gallantry and courage of Royal Australian Air Force Flying Officer (F/O) Edward Thompson Mobsby, presenting his family with his Silver Star.

The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy and is one of the highest .. decorations for valor that can be awarded in our armed forces.

It’s customary for us in the United States Air Force to say a few words about the individual receiving the award.  I am extremely humbled and honored to do so today. 

Please allow me to share with you a little bit about F/O Mobsby.  He was born in Staffordshire, England in 1910, the only child of Nellie and Edward.  In 1920, the family immigrated to Australia. 

As a young man, he took a job at the Bank of New South Wales in Adelaide.  It was there he met Erica Joyce Tassie; who also worked at the bank.  They were married on the 10th of October, 1936.  A few years later, they welcomed into the world beautiful twin daughters – Jenny and Rae.

And when war broke out around the world, Edward answered his nation’s call, enlisting as part of the RAAF Permanent Forces on 6 Jan, 1941. 

Sergeant Mobsby’s performance report describes him as “A keen hard worker [who] carries out his duties with energy and zeal.  A good airman pilot.”  His outstanding record was such that he was recommended for a commission in February of 1942.  Pilot Officer (P/O) Mobsby was “Detailed for Duty with [an] American Squadron.”

In those early days of WWII, Royal Australian Air Force personnel were sometimes attached to the U.S. Army Air Force, because we had a shortage of qualified crew members.  The personal diary of Gunner Cpl Walter Cook, who was part of P/O Mobsby’s crew, mentions that their Aussie mate was respected, greatly admired and loved for his sense of humor, energy, and willingness to serve. P/O Mobsby was attached to the 90th Bombardment Squadron.  This unit traces its origins to 1917, when it was organized as the 90th Aero Squadron.  By the time the 90th Squadron fought in WWII, they already had a proud history, fighting on the Western Front in the Great War, earning campaign streamers for Lorraine, St Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. 

The unit lives on today as the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska.  They fly the F-22 Raptor. The young men and women serving in the 90th Fighter Squadron today stand on the shoulders of the giants.F/O Mobsby was one of those giants.

Today, we honor his gallantry in action.  Let me share with you some of the details from his missions: 

On 25 July, 1942, P/O Mobsby’s B-25 was part of a flight of aircraft who departed his operating base at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to attack enemy convoys at Buna and Gona.  When they started their bombing run, there were no enemy aircraft in sight.  

The Squadron Combat Log recounts what happened next:

“Suddenly the flight was attacked without warning by ten to twelve, Japanese fighters.  Bombs were quickly salvoed [released all at once] and an echelon of diamonds was formed… Schmidt and Mobsby’s aircraft became the diamond point lead for one of the two flights.”  “…For fifteen minutes a running fight was carried on.  Three direct frontal attacks were made and completed by Zeros flying through the formation.”

The B-25 Mobsby was in was hit with a 20mm cannon shell in the right engine.  The engine exploded against the fire wall, breaking an oil line.  The plane eventually landed with low oil pressure and no electrical system, which meant it was defenseless. The next day, six B-25 crews were ordered to bomb Gasmata and strafe flying boats.  The Squadron Combat Log states, “This mission closely approached being an all-out suicide mission… [since Gasmata was] known to be too far for a safe operation.” 

Everyone on the mission was keenly aware that if the flight was intercepted on the way home, they wouldn’t have enough gas to return to Port Morseby. When the lead aircraft was unable to start one engine, Lt Schmidt and P/O Mobsby aircraft took the lead.  The formation was intercepted en-route by 20 to 30 Zero fighters. Let me read again from the Combat Logs:  “Lt Schmidt’s and P/O Mobsby aircraft was seen blazing as it left the formation.  P/O Mobsby was last seen trying to bail out of the top hatch.”

....  On 8 Jun, 1943, the remains of Edward Mobsby were recovered in New Guinea. Later that month, Mrs. Mobsby received a letter telling her that her husband is now classified as “having lost his life on 26 July, 1942.” That same letter informed her of husband’s posthumous promotion to Flying Officer.


For the full transcript please click  US General Carlisle's Oration 14 March 2014  in the Links and Documents list to the left



Biography contributed

Biography written by Aiden Chong, St Ignatius College, SA attached as a document. Winning entry for 2021 Premier's Anzac Spirit School Prize.