Howell Moore-Gwyn followed in the footsteps of his father, Joseph, by playing county cricket for Glamorgan between 1903 and 1912 before having a distinguished military career.
Howell’s debut at county level, against Berkshire at Reading, came as a seventeen year-old wicket-keeper batsman following some decent performances in school cricket, as well as for Neath. He had just left Winchester College when he next appeared in August 1905, against Monmouthshire at Newport, and by the time of four further appearances in August 1906, Howell had become a cadet at Sandhurst. The summer also saw his finest innings in Glamorgan’s colours, with a composed innings of 63 during the end of season match against Devon at the Devonport Services ground in Plymouth.
He subsequently became a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade and for the next few years mixed his military duties in Malta with visits back home, allowing him to make occasional appearances for Glamorgan in the Minor County Championship, plus the all-amateur Gentlemen of Glamorgan side, as well as club cricket for Neath, the MCC and other military teams. His final appearance in a Minor County game took place in 1912 at Swansea, where he kept wicket against Staffordshire.
The following year the gentleman from Duffryn House in Bryncoch near Clydach became an Adjutant in the 4th Battalion and in August 1914 he travelled across the English Channel with the British Expeditionary Force where he duly fought in France and Belgium. After being promoted to the rank of Major, Howell won the Military Cross in June 1915 following his brave actions in the skirmishes at St. Eloi and Hooge. He then served with the Battalion in Salonika and briefly acted as commander, besides winning the Croix de Guerre in May 1917.
Around this time, he was briefly transferred to the War Office in London before spending time with the Mediterranean Expedition Force between July 1917 and May 1918, before returning to the Continent for the final throws of the Great War. He remained on French soil until August 1919, during which time he had added the DSO to his decorations.
Known to his military friends as ‘Croppy’, he subsequently served in Dublin between 1919 and 1921 before becoming a Staff Officer at Sandhurst. He then spent time with the King’s African Rifles from 1924 to 1928, yet despite his many duties, he still found time to play plenty of cricket, appearing for the MCC, the Army and I Zingari,. During this period, he also won the Army racquets doubles championship on eight occasions.
In 1928 ‘Croppy’ joined the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade in India, and the following year appeared for the Free Foresters on their tour of India in 1929/30 where he played in a first-class game against the Punjab Governors XI at Lahore. In 1931 Howell was in charge of the Battalion during the Kashmir disturbances, with his prompt and outstanding actions helping to avoid a critical situation and earning a personal congratulatory message from the Viceroy.
In 1934 he was promoted again to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel whilst serving in Sudan before becoming a Colonel in May 1940. ‘Croppy’ retired in October 1942 but retained a keen interest in the sporting activities of servicemen by acting as Hon. Secretary of the Green Jackets club – a position he held until his death in July 1956. Howell’s brother John also played county cricket for Glamorgan. T
heir grandfather Howel Gwyn had been Conservative MP for Penrhyn, Falmouth and Brecon between 1847 and 1868, before playing a leading role in the public life of Neath and encouraging the playing of cricket at The Gnoll. Howell’s wife Winifred Gilbertson also came from a prominent family in sport, industry and politics in Neath.
MOORE-GWYN, Howell Gwyn.
Born – Duffryn Clydach, Neath, 7 July 1886.
Died – Midhurst, Eastbourne, 31 July 1956.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 63 v Devon at Devonport, 1906.
Minor County Friendlies – 2 v Sussex at St. Helen’s, Swansea, 1910.