Gough, John Edmond (‘Johnnie’) (1871–1915), brigadier general in the British army, was born 25 October 1871 at Murree, India, second son of Gen. Sir Charles Stanley Gough (qv), VC, of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, and his wife Harriette Anastatia, daughter of John W. Power, MP, of Garteen, Co. Waterford. In 1881 Gough entered Buckland's school in Laleham, Middlesex, England, before entering Eton in 1885. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Westmeath Militia in April 1890, he resigned from the militia in February 1891 and entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. In March 1892 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade and joined the 1st Battalion in India. Promoted to full lieutenant in December 1893, he transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade in Ireland in March 1895. After a period on special service in British Central Africa (1896–7), he returned to regimental duty and served during the Nile expedition of 1898, being promoted to captain in December 1898.
In October 1899 he was posted with his battalion to South Africa and served during the second Boer war. He took part in the defence of Ladysmith and later served as ADC to Maj.-gen. Francis Howard of the 8th Brigade and as signals officer to the brigade. In October 1900 he was appointed district commissioner at Lydenburg in the Transvaal and was promoted to brevet major (November 1900). After leave in England, he was posted to Somaliland to take part in the operations against the forces of Mohammed-bin-Abdullah Hassan (the ‘Mad Mullah’) which were raiding into British territory. Placed in command of the Bohotle column, his force engaged the Mullah's troops at Daratoleh on 22 April 1903. During the course of this action, Gough went out under heavy fire to help one of his officers, Capt. C. M. Bruce, who had been fatally wounded. In January 1904 he was awarded the VC for his actions at Daratoleh and promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel. As his father and his uncle, Gen. Sir Hugh Henry Gough (qv), had both been previously awarded the VC, this created the unique situation in which three living members of the same family held the VC at the same time.
After a course at the staff college in Camberley, he was appointed as deputy assistant adjutant-general in Ireland in December 1905. Promoted to brevet colonel in August 1907, he was appointed ADC to King Edward VII. In January 1909 he was appointed officer commanding British troops in Somaliland but was invalided home because of ill health in June. After a period at the staff college and on half pay, he was appointed chief of staff of the Aldershot command in October 1913, with the rank of brigadier general. His commanding officer was Lt-gen. Sir Douglas Haig. Concerned with the increasingly volatile political situation in Ireland, he began to voice his anxieties regarding the position of the army in any future crisis. In November 1913 he had a meeting in Buckingham Palace with Lord Stamfordham, the king's private secretary, during which he stated that he thought it was unlikely that the army would act against the UVF if ordered to do so. In March 1914 his elder brother, Brig.-gen. Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough (qv), was in command of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade at the Curragh, where his refusal to contemplate suppressing resistance to home rule in Ulster was supported by many of his officers, leading to the ‘Curragh mutiny’. A series of telegrams passed between the two brothers, and in England John Edmond Gough obtained the support of officers in the Aldershot and London commands. He also made a series of telephone calls to, and had meetings with, Field marshal Sir John French (qv), chief of the imperial general staff, Field marshal Lord Roberts (qv), and Gen. Sir Henry Wilson (qv), explaining his own attitude and the stand that his fellow officers were prepared to take. It soon became apparent to French and to J. E. B. Seely, secretary of state for war, that the majority of army officers were not prepared to act against Ulster, and at an historic meeting at the War Office (23 March 1914) the Gough brothers were given an assurance that officers would not be compelled to do so. While the government decided not to attempt to coerce Ulster unionists, both Seely and French had to resign over the affair. Although his brother is often cast as the ringleader of the Curragh mutiny, it is now clear that ‘Johnnie’ Gough played a major role, organising officers in the English commands to apply further pressure.
In May 1914, perhaps due to the strain he had been under during the Curragh mutiny, Gough collapsed with severe abdominal pains and underwent surgery. It was a recurrence of a problem that had plagued him since his time in Somaliland. He recovered sufficiently to be appointed chief-of-staff of I Corps, BEF, on the outbreak of war in August; he took part in the retreat from Mons, and was mentioned in dispatches. In December 1914 he was appointed chief-of-staff of First Army and was gazetted CB in February 1915. On 20 February 1915 he was wounded by a sniper's bullet while inspecting the trench system near Fauquissart crossroads. After emergency surgery at the field hospital at Estaires, he suffered a heart attack and died 22 February 1915. He was buried at Estaires communal cemetery, and on 22 April 1915 was posthumously gazetted with the KCB. He was commemorated on memorials in Winchester cathedral, at Eton, RMC Sandhurst, and the staff college, Camberley. Fred Oliver's Ordeal by battle (1915) was dedicated to him and Lt col. Hugh Dawnay.
He married (June 1907) Dorothea Keyes (1874–1961), daughter of Gen. Sir Charles Patton Keyes (1823–96) and sister of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Keyes. They had one daughter, Diana. In 1922 his widow presented a commemorative shield to the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. The papers of John Edmond Gough are in the possession of the family. In addition to his Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville (1913), a study of these two battles of the American civil war, he also published articles in journals such as the Army Review and the Rifle Brigade Chronicle.