Brigadier Eric Whitlock Goodman, D.S.O., M.C.
Gunner March 1982
Brigadier Goodman already had a distinguished career when I served as his Brigade Major when he was CRA 9th Indian Division in the Malayan Campaign off 1941/1942. He had been awarded the MC with 9 Bde RGA in France in the 1914/18 War. He later served in Iraq, India and as an IG at the School. In the Waziristan campaign of 1937 with 5 Mountain Battery he was awarded the DSO.
He was the senior Gunner officer in Malaya and commanded all the artillery until the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942. It is not possible without writing a complete history of the campaign to cover the degree of success Brigadier Goodman achieved against all odds, but perhaps two simple facts will bring home his skill, foresight and indomitable courage.
The two Indian Divisions that fought the Japs all the way down Malaya arrived in Singapore decimated to a few skeletal battalions, but the two Divisional Artillery formations arrived in full fighting order and were highly skilled fighters both with their guns and small arms. On surrender we had fired all but some five rounds per gun – the last ammunition on the island. Two rounds per gun were used to deny the guns to the Japs though, as I later learnt from him, Brigadier Goodman was himself unable to give the order to do so for ethical reasons, so it had to be arranged otherwise.
The second, is that despite all statements to the contrary, EVERY gun in Singapore engaged the enemy from 15” downwards though Coast Guns are not ideal weapons in a ground role, but I know they were fired as I actually controlled their fire. Brigadier Goodman achieved all this from the front, not the rear, and to my certain knowledge he personally took command and repulsed an enemy flank attack from the sea which, if successful, could have cut both divisions off just North of Kuala Lumpur. Whenever things looked hopeless he was sure to appear in person and by his apparent unconcern for danger restored the confidence of all ranks. To accompany him on these visits was an experience I cherish.
A man held in the highest respect and admiration by all whom he served and all whom he commanded; a man whose military skills averted many a potential disaster, whose personal integrity was clear to all – in brief, a true leader of men.
Note: FJHN is Major Frederick James Howard Nelson, RA