but Hobart was capable, very capable.
There is a big difference between a theorist and a do-er
Here we go again...
However, as well as being one of the most skilled, Hobart was also perhaps one of the most controversial general officers in the British Army. Originally commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1904, he had served with distinction in France where he was awarded the Military Cross, and then the Mesopotamian Campaign (Iraq), where he received the Distinguished Service Order. He was also mentioned in dispatches five times, but was captured on 12 December 1916 and held by the Turks until 2 October 1918. Between the wars he led the push for an independent and powerful tank force, supported by the likes of Martel, Basil Henry Liddell Hart and John Frederick Charles Fuller, and in the process had made numerous enemies in the War Office, partly due to his unconventional thinking, but also because of his acid tongue – he refused to suffer fools, or incompetent officers, gladly. Nevertheless on 27 September 1938 he had been given a magnificent opportunity: the task of forming a “Mobile Division” in Egypt that eventually became the 7th Armoured Division of “Desert Rats” fame, Britain’s first armored division. There he clashed with his immediate superior, Lieutenant General Henry Maitland Wilson, who believed Hobart to be “self-opinionated” and “lacking in stability”. Wilson recommended Hobart for relief on 10 November 1938 to General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander of British Forces Middle East. On 8 December 1939, barely three months into the war, he was summarily relieved and placed into the “Regular Army Reserve of Officers [age limit]”, which was effectively a forced retirement.
In addition to the clash with Wilson there seems to be some reason for believing that Hobart was relieved because of whom he was rather than how old he was. Hobart was just fifty-four when relieved and yet the official retirement age for major generals had just been reduced by the Secretary of State for War, Leslie Hore-Belisha, to fifty-seven, in August 1938. The average age of major generals appointed to division command between the outbreak of war and 1 June 1940 was fifty-three, just a year younger than Hobart.
Unemployed except by the Home Guard, Hobart spent fourteen quiet months until Churchill, goaded by a timely editorial from Liddell Hart in the London Sunday Pictorial, insisted to the War Office that Hobo be given an armored division to command. So on 14 February 1941 Hobart took command of the newly forming 11th Armoured Division, and was also given a position as an advisor to Winston Churchill’s “Tank Parliament”, a group the Prime Minister formed to discuss problems associated with tank production, production expansion, and organization.
Unfortunately just a year later on 22 February 1942, he was forced to step down due to ill health and was unable to resume his post until 17 May 1942. As a result, when the War Office began to develop plans to send the 11th Armoured Division to Egypt in September 1942 to join Lieutenant General Bernard Law Montgomery’s Eighth Army (few in the Army were apparently aware that Montgomery’s late wife was Hobart’s sister) their plans did not include Hobart. On 10 October Hobart was told that he was to stay in England, turning command over to Major General Montagu Brocas Burrows, and that he would again go on the retired list since he was considered too old for field service. However, once again Churchill intervened and on 16 October 1942 Hobo was instead given command of the 79th Armoured Division. In any event the 11th Armoured Division never went to North Africa.
The 79th Armoured Division had begun forming on 14 August 1942 with the 27th Armoured Brigade, which came from the 9th Armoured Division, and the 185th Infantry Brigade, which had been engaged in the defense of Britain since the dark days of 1940, joining later on 8 September. Other divisional units included the 142nd and 150th Field Regiments Royal Artillery (R.A.), the 55th Antitank Regiment R.A., and the 119th Light Antiaircraft Regiment R.A. Initially the division was commanded by Brigadier George McIllree Stanton Bruce, the commander of the 185th Brigade, but he was considered too junior to be given the responsibility of division command permanently, leaving the opportunity open for Hobart.
 Maj. Michael J. Daniels, Innovation in the Face of Adversity: Major-General Sir Percy Hobart and the 79th Armoured Division (British), MMAS Thesis, (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College: Fort Leavenworth, KS, 2003), p. 5.
 David French, “Colonel Blimp and the British Army: British Divisional Commanders in the War against Germany, 1939-1945”, The English Historical Review, Vol. 111, No. 444 (November 1996), p. 1185.
 Lord Alanbrooke, War Diaries, 1939-1945 Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001), pp. 155-156. Brooke was Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS).
 Alanbrooke, pp. 319-320. To be fair, since there has long been intimation of a concerted anti-Hobart cabal in the War Office, Brooke specifically recorded discussing the matter with Churchill on 9 September 1942. The Prime Minister was pressing to send Hobart with his division to North Africa, but Brooke remarked that the “doctors and medical board [considered Hobart] as being a very doubtful medical case.”
 Hobart was given the news by Brooke personally, but the CIGS didn’t record Hobos reaction in his diary. Alanbrooke, p. 328.
 Hobart thus commanded, organized, and trained three of the nine British armored divisions that saw service overseas and three of the six that were in existence at wars end. Coincidentally, on the same day that Hobart received command of the 79th Armoured Division, Montgomery’s rank of Lieutenant General was confirmed.
 Formerly the 204th Independent Infantry Brigade.