b. 25/10/1871 Muree, India. d. 22/02/1915 Fauquissart, France.
Sir John Edmond “Johnnie” Gough (1871-1915) was born on 25th October 1871 in Muree, India, the son of General Sir Charles John Stanley Gough VC, and nephew of General Sir Hugh Henry Gough VC, both of whom were awarded their VCs during the Indian Mutiny in 1857. This gave the family the rare distinction of holding the VC simultaneously by father, brother and (father’s) son. He was also the younger brother of General Sir Hubert Gough (1870–1963), who led the British Fifth Army on the Western Front during the First World War.
Gough served in British Central Africa (1896); the Sudan (1898); 1898 Occupation of Crete (1898–99), the Second Boer War (1899–1902); and in British Somaliland (1903 and again in 1909). It was whilst he was in British Somaliland in 1903, that he would be awarded the Victoria Cross.
On 22 April 1903, Gough was in command of a column on the march which was attacked by an enemy force in superior numbers led by Mohammed Abdullah Hassan near Daratoleh, British Somaliland. After conducting a successful defence, then a fighting withdrawal, Gough came back to help two captains (William George Walker and George Murray Rolland). The captains were helping a mortally wounded officer. They managed to get the wounded officer onto a camel, but then he was wounded again and died immediately.
However, Gough played down his own part in the event. It was not until late in the year that the true story came out indicating that Gough was equally deserving of recognition. He was subsequently awarded the VC in January 1904. The King presented the medal to him at Buckingham Palace on 29 February 1904. He attended the Army Staff College at Camberley in 1904-05, then returned to the College as a highly influential teacher from 1909-1913. He was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the King in August 1907.
Gough went to France as a Brigadier-General with the British Expeditionary Force and Chief of Staff to Douglas Haig's I Corps. In early 1915 he continued as Haig’s principal staff officer when Haig was given command of the newly created British First Army. By February 1915 whilst working on planning for the forthcoming attack at Neuve Chapelle, Gough was chosen to command one of the New Army divisions. This appointment was due to commence sometime in March and would have meant his promotion to Major General.
On 20th February 1915 Gough was visiting his old battalion, the 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, at Fauquissart, north of Neuve Chapelle on the front line. His mortal wounding by a sniper there was very unlucky since the single shot that struck him in the abdomen was thought to have been a ricochet fired from approximately 1000 yards distance. He was moved to the 25th Field Ambulance at nearby Estaires. he eventually succumbed to his wound and died in the early morning of 22 February. He was buried that afternoon in Estaires Communal Cemetery, France located 7 miles south west of Armentieres in Plot II. Row A. Grave 7. Gough was also posthumously knighted, being gazetted KCB on 22 April 1915. His medals are held by the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL GREEN JACKETS MUSEUM, WINCHESTER, HAMPSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: ESTAIRES COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE.
John Gough's medals including VC on display at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire (August 2012).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT II, ROW A, GRAVE 7
War Illustrated, 2nd June 1917
War Illustrated, 2nd June 1917
RMA Sandhurst Chapel
The Rifle Brigade Memorial, Winchester