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Rifleman Norman Patrick Gould

Not all of the 1700 London Irish Riflemen who are named on the Regiment’s War Memorial at Connaught House were serving with one of its battalions when they were killed. For example, during the First World War, a number of men were attached to the Royal Irish Rifles during the final months of the war and in turn some men were attached to the LIR from other battalions. This trend continued in the Second World War with attachments of several officers, including Colonel Ion Goff and Major Kevin O’Connor who were both killed in Italy.

One other such case is Rifleman Norman Patrick Gould, known as Patrick to his comrades, who transferred from the 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles (2 LIR) to No 2. Commando who would take a lead role in Operation Avalanche, the 5th Army’s landings near Salerno in mid September 1943. Rifleman Gould was one of a number of Commandos who were killed on 12th/13th September 1943 and all these men are buried at the Salerno War Cemetery. In reviewing the CWGC records, it is also noted that Patrick Gould is the only one with a clear London Irish Rifles connection who is buried at Salerno.

We do not have access to Rifleman Gould’s service records but it is possible that he was called up in the early months of the war and served with 2 LIR during their period of training and home front defence in the UK. It is highly likely that he was transferred to the Commandos during this time.

Although clearly designated as a Commando at the time of his death, Patrick is rightly included on the LIR’s War Memorial and, as we mark the 80th anniversary of the Salerno landings, we shall certainly pause to remember the valour shown by Rifleman Gould and all his friends and comrades in their fight to liberate Italy.

Quis Separabit

Corporal Marcus George Beattie 2 LIR

On the occasion of Father’s Day, we are pleased to have received a note from Les Beattie, the son of Corporal Marcus Beattie who served with the 2nd Battalion in the UK, North Africa, Italy and Austria.

“My father was born on 19th March 1921 in Belfast, N. Ireland.

He served in the Army from 11th March 1939 until 7th August 1946 (Royal Ulster Rifles 1939-1940), then in the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles (1940-1946). During this period, he took part in various campaigns including those in Tunisia and Sicily and at Monte Cassino amongst others.

While taking part in the Monte Cassino battle, Dad was wounded on 16th May and spent a few days in hospital before returning to service. Rome was liberated on 4th June 1944 after a 8 week battle at Monte Cassino and he did mention marching into Rome and seeing Pope Pius XII at St. Peter’s.

Following the war, he transferred from the RUR to Army Emergency Reserve on 8th August 1946 and served for almost 20 years until being discharged on 14th July 1966.

For his service in the war, Dad was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the Italy Star, the War Medal 1939-45 and the Defence Medal.

After the war Dad married my Mum (Kathleen) on 21st August 1953 and I was born two years later’ He then worked as a postman for over 25 years before retiring in 1986.

Unfortunately, in March 2019, Dad had a fall from which he mostly recovered, though, sadly, he had a stroke while in hospital and passed away three weeks later on 13th June 2019 (at the ripe old age of 98).

Sometime after Dad died, I applied for and received his war records which filled in a few blanks but didn’t really give much new information. I also discovered a box containing documents related to Dad’s time in the Army, neither Mum nor I knew these existed.

Documents found include:
– A booklet entitled “The Road Home” containing details of the long journey taken homeward bound after the war ended, starting in Austria, going through Germany and France and ending in Calais.

– An Order of Service (front cover shown below) for a “Final Parade Service of 2nd Battalion The London Irish Rifles (RUR) on Sunday 20th January 1946 in The British Church, Villach, Karnten, Austria”.

Also found were Dad’s diaries for 1943/44 – he was a very private man so the contents will remain so,. Suffice to say, reading some of the entries, I am not surprised Dad did not talk about the experience. Another, fascinating discovery was a number of photos taken In Italy 1943/44, Dad was a keen photographer but I have no idea how the camera was transported safely or even survived in what I can only guess were extremely dangerous circumstances. Some of the photos are shown here, including the captions Dad had written on the back of the photo.

Even aged 98, Dad was still sharp as a tack. We all thought he would make it to the ‘Big 100’ and receive the infamous telegram but it was not meant to be. But what a remarkably long life. I believe he enjoyed every moment apart from, perhaps, the 1939-1945 years that he rarely mentioned. Such a shame as I’m sure he had lots of tales I would have loved to have listened to.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. You are missed always by Mum and I. Leslie x”

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The London Regiment in Iraq

We have received a set of very evocative photographs from 2014 during the deployment of members of the London Regiment to Iraq. They show Messines Company carrying out their duties in the southern sector of Iraq near Basra and Kuwait and have been kindly passed over to us by Geraint “Taff” Hughes, who has been a stalwart member of the London Irish Rifles for many years.

We would like to pay tribute to all the men and women who served in Iraq over many years and would particularly like to thank Taff Hughes for sharing some of the memories from his time in the country.

Quis Separabit.

‘One-Three Delta’, 4 Platoon, Messines Company; Telic 4 – May to November 2004).

Messines Company Homecoming Parade at the London Scottish – 4th December 2004.

Monty inspects the 1st Battalion at Ashford, June 1941

1st Battalion in Ashdown Forest, 1939/40

1st Battalion in Kent, December 1940

New Recruits at the Duke of York’s

Some more photographs of men of the London Irish Rifles – this set from the IWM collection are new recruits being shown what’s what at the Duke of York’s HQ in November 1939.

Training in London in 1939

Some interesting photos of the London Irish Rifles, probably members the 1st Battalion, training in London during November 1939.

The London Irish Rifles training in Wales in 1940

Some excellent photographs have been discovered at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) showing the intensive training manoeuvres undertaken by the 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles on the cliffs near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire during October 1940.

(H 5139) Men of the 2nd London Irish Rifles advancing with fixed bayonets after climbing up the cliffs during training at Little Haven near Haverfordwest. Copyright: © IWM.

As the ‘London Irish at War’ noted:

“Following Dunkirk, invasion became even more likely and work on the defences of Britain was intensified. The 2nd Battalion spent several weeks on local-defence duties in Knutsford, Cheshire, and subsequently underwent hard training at Haverfordwest. At the same time they had to be prepared to join in coast defence.

CQMS Edmund O’Sullivan recalled that period in Wales:

“Company training followed. We were bussed to Newgale Sands for a fortnight’s intensive battle preparation. This involved forced marches and long runs that culminated in nude bathing in the cold sea, watched appreciatively from a distance by local ladies. Route marches with full packs, stalking and crawling and field-firing using live ammunition were among the pleasures we endured under Captain Geoffrey Phillips, our temporary Company Commander. On the final Friday evening, he treated the whole company in the local hostelry as a mark of his appreciation for our efforts.”

There were occasional moments of ill-discipline. Rifleman Waddy Weir, worse for drink, attempted on three occasions to swim home to his wife in Ireland. After pulling him out of the shallow sea twice, I said on his third attempt: ‘Drown then.’ He did not, as the next day he was once more asking to borrow ‘fippence’ for a drink. We returned to Haverfordwest feeling more like soldiers, tough and prepared for anything.”

Rifleman Donald Zec, 2 LIR

We have learnt of the recent death of former Rifleman Donald Zec, who served alongside his brother Philip with the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles. Although we do not have full details (nor any pictures) of Rifleman Zec’s service period with the LIR, we do know that he created an illustrious post-war career with the Daily Mirror.

You can read an obituary from the Guardian here:

Donald David Zec, journalist, born 12 March 1919; died 6 September 2021

Quis Separabit