b. 14/11/1833 Calcutta, India. d. 12/05/1909 Tower of London.
Sir Hugh Henry Gough (1833-1909) is the second member of the Gough family from County Tipperary, Ireland to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Hugh was born in Calcutta, India on 14th November 1833, two years younger than Charles (also awarded the VC during the Indian Mutiny, for rescuing Hugh amongst other exploits). Gough was the son of Judge George Gough and Charlotte Margaret Becher. Hugh attended the East India College in Hertford Heath, which later reopened as Haileybury College. He passed his exams and, on 4th September 1853, was commissioned as a cornet in the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry. It was amongst this regiment that the Indian Mutiny broke out on 9th May 1857 at Meerut. Lieutenant Hugh Gough was amongst those sent to the Delhi Ridge, where he was appointed adjutant of the newly formed irregular cavalry regiment, Hodson’s Horse, named after its leader, Lieutenant William Hodson, the head of the Intelligence Department.
After the fall of Delhi, he was attached to Colonel Greathed’s Flying Column and involved in the battles of Bulundshahr and Agra before it made its way to Cawnpore where it was absorbed into Sir Colin Campbell’s relieving force.
The advance had met little resistance and by 12th November 1857 it had reached the Alumbagh, a large walled estate on the southern approaches to Lucknow. The first part of Gough’s citation for the VC (published on 24th December 1858) covers what happened that day. Gough and his small body of men were tasked with a charge against a body of rebels (roughly 2000 men) and two guns. Gough led a surprise flank attack, taking a detour under cover of fields of tall corn and sugar cane and managed to arrive on the enemy’s left flank unseen. The guns were posted on a small mound; and a group of the enemy were to the rear of the mound. Gough gave the order to “Draw swords!” and charged into the midst of the enemy aboard his horse “Tearaway” and in the surprise, they managed to defeat the enemy swiftly and take the guns. As Gough was to later state in his book “Sir Colin Campbell, who witnessed the charge, got me a VC for it.”
The second incident of the citation was 3 months later, on 24th February 1858 when the order was given to march to the Alumbagh to support General Outram, who was being threatened by a large army of rebels. The following morning, Gough and the Hodson’s Horse were ordered to charge the enemy’s guns. He engaged himself in several single combats, until he was disabled by a musket ball through the leg. He had two horses shot out from under him during the action, and a musket ball passed through his helmet. Another shot also went through his scabbard. The shot through helmet missed his head by “mere hair space” according to Gough.
In addition to his VC, Gough was mentioned in despatches five times. There is no record of an investiture so it is possible it was received in the mail. When Hugh recovered from his wound, he was made second in command of the newly raised 2nd Mahratta Horse, which went in pursuit of Tantia Topi during the last phase of the Mutiny.
After the Mutiny, Hugh was given command of the 12th Regiment of Bengal Cavalry and took part in the expedition to Abyssinia in 1868. He was on the staff of General Frederick Sleigh Roberts VC in the Afghan War 1879-1880 and retired as a full general and a KCB. He was further honoured when he was appointed the Keeper of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London and made Lieutenant Governor of the Channel Islands.
At the age of 75, Hugh died in the grounds of the Tower of London on 12th May 1909, and was buried with full military honours in Kensal Green Cemetery. A parade took place from the Tower of London to the cemetery. His pall bearers included fellow Mutiny VCs, Earl Roberts and Sir James Hill-Johnes. His medals are not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: KENSAL GREEN CEMETERY, LONDON.
SQUARE 175/RS, GRAVE 42112
Kevin Brazier – Kensal Green Cemetery Map.
Paul Deeprose – Haileybury College Memorial.