Alexander Jobson was born on 2 Aril 1875 in Clunes, Victoria, the son of a merchant. He was educated at Clunes State School and Eton (Queensland) Public School and at the age of 14 he started working as a junior clerk with the Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP) in Melbourne. He studied accountancy and qualified as an Associate of the Institute of Actuaries (London) and a Fellow of the Australian Corporation of Public Accountants. Jobson moved to Sydney in 1902 and became actuary for Australasia for an American firm, the Equitable Life Insurance Society. He established his own business as an accountant and actuary in 1906. From 1910 to 1916, he also wrote a financial column in the Sydney Sun. His frank analysis resulted in the paper being sued (unsuccessfully) for £50,000 in 1914.
Jobson enlisted in the Scottish Rifles in August 1898 and was commissioned as a lieutenant on 2 December 1899. He was promoted to captain on 29 August 1902. After moving to Sydney he joined the New South Wales Scottish Rifles with the rank of lieutenant on 1 January 1903 and was promoted to captain again on 1 July. He was promoted major on 13 September 1909. On 1 July 1912 he transferred to the 25th Infantry and on 1 July 1913 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel; and appointed to command the 34th Infantry Regiment. On 1 July 1915 he was transferred to the 35th Infantry regiment.
Jobson was appointed to the AIF on 10 February 1916 with the rank of colonel and given command of the 9th Infantry Brigade. He was promoted to temporary brigadier general on 1 May 1916, shortly before departing Sydney on HMAT Marathon on 4 May 1916, arriving in London by way of South Africa and Dakar on 11 July 1916. The brigade trained on England's Salisbury Plain before moving to France in November. The brigade entered the line in the "Nursery Sector" at Armentieres on 26 November 1916.
Twice, during the absence of Major General J. Monash in early 1917, Jobson was acting commander of the 3rd Division. His brigade was involved in a number of raids and Jobson was mentioned in dispatches for his part. At the Battle of Messines in June 1917, Jobson's planning and performance was excellent, but afterwards Jobson seemed badly affected by the stress of the situation. At a conference on 24 July 1917, Jobson appeared to be in an agitated state and Monash felt that his friend was losing his grip. "At Messines", wrote Official Historian C. E. W. Bean, "Monash laid great faith in Jobson's leadership, but after that battle Jobson's attitude failed to satisfy him. In the actual matter of the difference between them -- an inclination on the brigadier's part to believe that his battalions had been overtried by comparison with others -- Jobson was not altogether without justification; but he felt his own deficiencies and when Monash offered him an opportunity to resign, he was not sorry to accept."
Jobson relinquished command on 25 August 1917 and returned to Australia where his appointment was terminated on 9 December. Monash arranged for him to be again mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Order in the 1918 New Year's List.
In October 1918, Jobson was appointed to command the 2nd Battalion, 53rd Infantry Regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel and honorary brigadier general. Failure in the field was apparently considered no bar to promotion and he was promoted to colonel in December 1919 and transferred to the Reserve of Officers in 1921.
After the war, Jobson held a number of company directorates, most notably director of AMP in 1925 and Vice Chairman in 1932.
Jobson collapsed and died from a coronary occlusion in King Street, Sydney on 7 November 1933 and was cremated.
Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 9, pp. 488-489; AWM 183/27; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume V: The AIF In France During the German Offensives 1918, p. 300
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Last update 8 June 2010