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Group Captain L.T.N.Gould MC RFC/RAF Presentation Plaque
An absolutely unique item my own personal collection and now being offered for rehoming for the first time. When purchased back in 2012 it came with no history but fortunately Lionel Thomas Nutcombe Gould is easily researched on line and with the key aspects of his service career vividly hand painted on our plaque it has been simple to corroborate the facts. Young Lionel Gould was born in Alveston, near Stratford on Avon, in 1893 and was educated at Marlborough College and on leaving volunteered for War Service with the Royal Garrison Artillery. In 1915 he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, initially as an Observer but subsequently won his coveted RFC Pilots brevet in March 1916. He served initially at Gosport and then on active duty in France from 1915 and by July 1917 he was appointed CO of 21 Squadron. Whilst in France Major Gould was awarded the Military Cross announced in the London Gazette 18 July 1917 with the citation :- "He has done consistent, good, and valuable work while co-operating with the artillery, often under most difficult conditions. He always set a splendid example by his exceptional pluck and determination."
Gould beat the odds and survived the war and in May 1918 he married Barbara Harriet Sperling. He transferred to the fledgling RAF and went on to serve at Worthy Down (1919) Flower Down (1920) Baghdad (1921-22) Delhi & Simla (1923-24) Grantham (1925 & 27) Weston Zoyland (1926 & 27) (our local base just down the road from our HQ), Bicester (1928) Andover (1929) before moving to the Air Ministry 1930-31. He was then promoted to Wing Commander in 1928 with subsequent appointments to command 502 Ulster Squadron, a heavy night bomber Sqn based at RAF Aldergrove, Belfast (1932-33). Further promotion followed to Group Captain and he took command of the School of Naval Cooperation at Lee on Solent (1934-35). He was at Coastal Command (1936-39) then RAF Cranwell (1940-41). The final posting detailed on our plaque was RAF Penrhos (an advanced flying training unit in North Wales) during 1942 and later he served in India, Iraq and in the Air Ministry Signals Branch. Interestingly in 1943 he was given the temporary rank of Commander in the Royal Navy but we have no idea of the background to this and is worthy of further research.
Lionel's s son Auriol Stephen Nutcombe Gould born in Sudbury, Essex in 1922 also became an aviator signing up with the RAF as a pilot in WWII. Sadly on 24 January 1943, flying a Hawker Typhoon of 197 Sqn from RAF Drem it crashed Queenside Hill, south west of Glasgow and he was killed aged just 21. The Father outlived the son and Group Captain Gould retired from the RAF after the War but in 1947 lady luck finally left his side. It is recorded in January 1947 he visited his brother, Commander JC Gould of the Royal Navy, at his home in Radlett, Hertfordshire. The very next morning after his arrival his brother found him dead in a gas filled room. It was suggested that a gas pipe had become disconnected as he tried to light the fire but who can tell the reason for his tragic demise. He is buried in Fulbeck Churchyard in Lincolnshire and not far from RAF Cranwell where he also served in the early years of WWII; his wife was much later buried beside him. He was just 54 when he died.
Our plaque is handmade and depicts the RAF eagle to the centre surmounted by a Kings Crown. In diamond shaped form it is made from solid oak using two pieces cemented together and carries a brass hanging plate to the reverse. The scrollwork either side clearly details all his significant service appointments and we can only assume this was made up and presented to him as a memento of his RFC/RAF service when he finally retired. The edge of the plaque is bevelled and is picked out in red, white and blue although the paint here is now showing its age. The rest of the scrollwork is remarkably bright and we would imagine it was treasured by this great aviator as a reminder of his very significant service career. It measures 9"x 9" (23 cm x 23 cm) and I will be sad to see this piece of history go but it will undoubtedly sit happily in a top end RFC or RAF collection. An ideal solution would be for it to be reunited and displayed with Group Captain Gould's impressive medals, wherever they may now be.