Maurice Turnbull was born in Cardiff on 16 March 1906, the third of the six children of Philip Bernard Turnbull (1879-1930), ship-owner, and his wife Annie Marie Hennessy Oates (c.1879-1942). His father was a Welsh international hockey player who won a bronze medal with the Welsh team at the 1908 Olympics. Maurice was educated at Downside School and Cambridge University. He married Elizabeth Brooke, Scunthorpe in 1939, and they had three children: Sara, Simon and Georgina.
Maurice Turnbull played his first match for Glamorgan in 1924 at the age of 18 whilst still at school, and, scoring 40 runs in the first innings contributed significantly to his team's victory over Lancashire. In 1926 he won his Blue at Cambridge University and scored his maiden first-class century, an unbeaten 106 against Worcestershire at the Cardiff Arms Park. In 1929 he captained Cambridge University and scored over 1,000 runs for the university team. He was selected for the MCC tour to Australia and New Zealand, and made his Test debut in the first Test match against New Zealand at Christchurch in January 1930, thereby becoming Glamorgan's first Test cricketer born in the county. He played a total of nine Test matches, including all five Tests against South Africa in 1930-31; on this tour he scored 139 against Western Province. Accounts of his MCC tours were published in the two volumes of which he was the co-author with M. J. C. Allom, The book of the two Maurices (1930) and The two Maurices again (1931).
He had led Glamorgan in August 1929, and, appointed captain in 1930, led the county for ten seasons and was renowned as an inspirational captain. In his first season, he scored 1,665 runs, and the county finished eleventh in the Championship table. His finest innings for Glamorgan was achieved in 1932 when he scored 205 against Nottinghamshire, whose team included Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, the fearsome ‘bodyline’ bowlers. He agreed to serve as county secretary at this time, and with his friend, J. C. Clay, strenuously endeavoured during the 1932-3 winter to secure sufficient funds to ensure the survival of the county team. In 1933 he scored 1,542 runs, including an unbeaten 200 against Northamptonshire, and he was recalled to the England team for the Test matches against the West Indies at Lord's and the Oval. In 1934 his initiative resulted in the amalgamation of Glamorgan with Monmouthshire, thereby extending the club's catchment area. He played against India in 1936 and served as a Test selector in 1938 and 1939. In 1939, his last season with Glamorgan, he scored 1,234 runs at an average of 28.69, with a highest score of 156 against Leicestershire in the final match of the season.
In 1933, he played at scrum-half for Wales against England in the memorable rugby match when Wales beat England for the first time at Twickenham, and he thereby became the only person ever to have played Test cricket for England and international rugby for Wales: another Glamorgan cricketer who played in this match was Wilfred Wooller. Turnbull had previously played rugby for Downside School, and whilst at Cambridge University, and he played his first match for the Cardiff team during the 1931-32 season. He also played hockey and squash for Wales and, one of the founders of the Cardiff Squash Rackets Club, won the squash rackets championship of South Wales.
Maurice Turnbull served in the Welsh Guards in the Second World War. A major in the First Battalion he was killed near the village of Montchamp on 5 August 1944 whilst leading a small group during a German counter-attack following the D-Day landings in Normandy.
Published date: 2015-02-20
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