|Lieutenant Colonel Ion Malise GOFF (111)|
The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) attached to the Royal Ulster Rifles attached to 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles
Date of birth: 7th February 1902
Date of death: 15th May 1944
Died of wounds aged 42
Buried at Cassino War Cemetery Plot XVI Row A Grave 1
|Ion Malise Goff was born at Billingshurst in Sussex on the 7th of February 1902 the younger son of Ewen Cameron Robert Goff and Ellen Clara (nee Constable) Goff of “The Grey House” Lewes in Sussex.
He was educated at Dorset House School, Littlehampton and at Lancing College where he was in Seconds House from September 1916 to December 1918. He served as a Private in the Officer Training Corps.
He entered the Royal Military College Sandhurst in 1920 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Hampshire Regiment on the 23rd of December 1921. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 23rd of December 1923.
He was appointed as an Instructor at the Army School of Signals at Maresfield and at Catterick from the 27th of June 1925 to the 27th of June 1928 following which he went to India where he was attached to the 1st Battalion of his regiment who were based at Multan in the Punjab.
In November 1930 the battalion was due to be moved from garrison duty to the North West Frontier and two advance parties were sent to Razmak in advance of the rest of the battalion. Ion Goff was a member of the second party which went there in May. When they arrived at Razmak they found the camp deserted as the Brigade which was stationed there was away on operations against local tribesmen. The officers complained about not being able to take part in these operations and were attached to Indian regiments in order to take part. Ion Goff was attached to the 2/4th Gurkhas. During their time in action they came under occasional sniper fire but casualties were few. Attempts at negotiating with local tribal elders in order to bring a halt to the fighting failed and the Brigade moved to Ladha and from there they moved deeper into tribal territories. After a number of village towers were blown up the elders called an end to the fighting. The battalion left Razmak for Nowshera on the 24th of November 1931 and Goff was appointed as Adjutant of the battalion on the 29th of November 1931.
On Christmas Eve 1931 Ion Goff and the Battalion Quartermaster, Lieutenant Jeffrey, were watching a football match when their commanding officer, Colonel Frisby, called them to a briefing. There had been disturbances in the Pabbi area caused by followers of Abdul Gaffar Khan, who were known as "Red Shirts", and the civil authorities there had asked for assistance from the military. A force was being gathered under the name of "Pabbi Force which would consist of A and C Companies Hampshire Regiment along with a squadron of the Poona Horse. The column left Nowshera at 11.30am on Christmas Day and arrived in Pabbi where they spent four days dispersing the "Red Shirts" and making a number of arrests. The situation soon returned to normal and the force returned to Nowshera on the 9th of January 1932.
On the 1st of October 1932 he was promoted to Captain and transferred to the King’s Liverpool Regiment.
He went to the Staff College in Camberley from the 21st of January 1936 until the 22nd of December 1937. On the 29th of September 1938 he was promoted to Brigade Major and was posted to the Malta Infantry Brigade until 1940.
He was married at Kensington in 1940 to Dorothea June (nee Taylor) of Kensington in London.
He was then posted as an Instructor at the Staff College in Haifa in 1941, served in Libya in 1942 and in Baghdad in 1943. He was mentioned in despatches on the 5th of August 1943 for services in Persia and Asia.
He was appointed as Commanding Officer of the London Irish Rifles in July 1943 and commanded the battalion during the Battle of Monte Cassino in March and April 1944.
On the 11th of May 1944 the British launched an assault in Italy which in effect signalled the race for Rome. The attack was to break the German defensive line known as the “Gustav Line” and the London Irish joined the assault on the 14th of May assembling behind Monte Trocchio where they paused as hundreds of guns began pounding the German front lines.
German artillery responded with counter fire but the Irish were protected in their slit trenches and casualties were few. A bridgehead was forced across the River Rapido and the London Irish crossed it on a bridge built by the Royal Engineers. Conditions on the roads were poor with trucks and guns having to be manhandled on the muddy roads.
On the morning of the 15th of May the first part of a three part attack, Operation “Grafton” began with the Iniskillings and 16/5th Lancers smashing their way through the Gustav Line. The second part of the attack was codenamed Operation “Pytchley” which targeted a ridge between Sinagoga and Colle Momache and was the objective of the 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles. As they formed up for their part in the attack the Germans rained artillery fire down on them and on the rear tanks of the Lancers causing around 40 casualties The Commanding Officer's armoured carrier was hit at about 4.30pm which wounded, Major Philips, three other ranks and Ion Goff who died a short time later.
The battalion history reads:-
“Losing their Commanding Officer at the commencement of what was likely to be one of their toughest battles was a great blow to the battalion. Lieut.-Colonel Goff throughout the previous few months had handled the battalion with tremendous skill and energy. He had imparted much of his own personal ability and bravery to the men he commanded, and his loss was a sad one. It reflected the greatest credit on the 2nd Battalion that in spite of losing their trusted leader on the eve of a vital battle, it in no way detracted from the magnificent fight they put up. Lieut.-Colonel Goff never doubted it would have been otherwise.”
He is commemorated on the memorial at the Royal Military College Sandhurst.