Brigadier William Gough MC

‘One of the most aggressive and dynamic officers of the Regiment’ (Regimental History Volume III)

Brigadier William ‘Bill’ George Hugh Gough was born on 16 February 1897, the son of Lt Col Charles Gough, late 12th Bengal Lancers and Remount Department.  He was the nephew of Gen Sir Hubert de la P Gough (‘Goughie’) GCB GCMG KCVO and Brig Gen Sir ‘Johnnie‘ Gough VC KCB CMG, and grandson of Gen Sir Hugh Gough VC.  He was educated at Haileybury College and the Royal Military College Sandhurst and later married Miss Yolande Mackinnon.

Brigadier Gough as a Lieutenant Colonel

In November 1914 ‘Bill’ Gough was gazetted to the Unattached List for the Indian Army.  He arrived in India in January 1915 and was posted to the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Goorkhas.  In January 1916 he went with them to Mesopotamia as company officer No 1 Double Company (commanded by Captain H F Marsh MC) disembarking from the SS Thongwa on the River Tigris.  In March 1916 he was with No 1 Double Company in the assault on the Dujaila Redoubt for which he was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in despatches.  He was only 19 years and one month old and is the youngest member of the Regiment ever to have been awarded the Military Cross.

In April 1916 he was Commanding No 1 Double Company when the 1st Battalion returned to occupy the Twin Canal Redoubt.  While the Battalion was consolidating its position Gough was wounded during a bombing practice.  He sustained 27 shrapnel wounds, a broken arm and leg and the subsequent loss of an eye.  He returned to Dehra Dun to recover and in August 1917 was appointed as an instructor at the Central Bombing School, Mhow.

In September that year until March 1918 Gough was Adjutant of the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Gurkha Rifles (from 1921 the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles).  He then rejoined the 2nd Goorkhas and was posted to the 2nd Battalion at Burhan Camp on the North West Frontier.  In March he took part in the Marri Expedition and from May until August 1919 was a Company Commander during the 2nd Battalion’s involvement in the Third Afghan War and Waziristan operations.  It was reported that Gough was fined Rs100 for burning a village in British territory, but according to the 2nd Battalion’s Digest of Service ‘needless to say, the fine was not paid‘.  From November 1919 Gough commanded a Detachment consisting of B and C Companies at Karachi.

Gough was officiating DAA & QMG (Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General) of 19th Indian Infantry Brigade, Lucknow from January 1920 until June 1924.  He was then officiating Staff Captain of the Dehra Dehra Dun Brigade for two years, in April 1927 becoming Station Staff Officer and Officer Commanding Rest Camp at Bunnu.  He was Executive Officer and Military Estates Officer, Dehra Dun and Landour Cantonments until July 1928 when he was appointed Training Officer to the Resident’s Escort , Kathmandu until November 1932.  He was then an instructor at the Machine Gun Wing of the Small Arms school at Ahmednagar until October 1936 .

After seventeen years away from the Regiment, in November 1936 Gough rejoined the 1st Battalion in Dehra Dun as Second in Command.  In May 1937 he commanded the Regimental Contingent in the UK at the Coronation of King George VI and subsequently accompanied it to Nepal where it is believed the contingent carried out the ceremony of pani patiya or purification from having travelled overseas.  Later that year he was with the 1st Battalion during operations in Waziristan and being mentioned in despatches for his part in the action of 27 August 1937.  In January 1938 he was appointed Commandant of the 2nd Battalion in May 1938 and he took the battalion to Waziristan in October 1939 until December 1940 .

Volume III of the Regimental History Vol III described Gough as ‘one of the most aggressive and dynamic officers of the Regiment.  He was a forward thinker who foresaw the possibilities of specialist training.  He welcomed with avidity the experiments of his colleague (Colonel Tuker).’

Gough was detached from the 2nd Battalion for 3 months starting in December 1939 when he was appointed to the Personal Staff of His Highness The Maharajah of Nepal during his visit to Calcutta.  For his services Gough was awarded the Order of Gorkha Dakshin Bahu 3rd Class (Pravala).

In November 1940 Gough finished his tour in command and volunteered for  special duties in the UK.  He qualified as a parachutist but broke his leg on his final jump.  Undaunted, he returned to India in October 1941 and was given the task of raising the 50th Indian Parachute Brigade, the first of its kind.  The Brigade included 153 Gurkha Parachute Battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel F J Loftus – Tottenham of the 2nd Goorkhas.  The 2nd Battalion had volunteered en masse for parachute duty, attracted by the additional pay but possibly also in order to serve again under their previous Commandant – in any event, the request was rejected by the military authorities.

Following the loss of three Gurkha battalions in February 1942 in Singapore, it was Gough who suggested to GHQ India that three extra battalions namely the fifth battalions of 1st, 2nd and 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, should be raised to replace those held in captivity.

In September 1942 Gough was appointed to command Columbo Brigade Area in Ceylon from where he was moved to command Jhelum Sub Area in which post he remained until he retired in 1947.  He was tragically killed in an air crash in South Africa on 15 May 1948 and buried at Ladysmith.

Gough was a useful football player who represented the 2nd Bn in 1928 when it won the Gurkha Brigade Cup.  He was also a keen polo player despite being handicapped through having only one eye.  He was also a keen entomologist and published a list of butterflies caught in Nepal in the Bombay Natural History Journal 1935.

His busby and various uniforms and accoutrements are held in the National Army Museum Collection.  His decorations and medals are in the Regimental Medal Collection.


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