Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Howard MC DSO

Henry Howard won the MC in Palestine in 1936. He was a 2nd lieutenant in charge of a small party at a time when the 2nd Battalion was engaged in patrolling roads and clearing Arabs from the hills around Tarshiha. He and his men came under fire from a large group of rebels. Howard was shot in both thighs but carried on leading his platoon up the hill and holding the position for 4 hours until all the Arabs had dispersed.

He won a second MC in 1943. On the night of 21st Jan, having had no sleep for 4 consecutive nights, he led a moonlight attack through the Tarhuna Pass towards Tripoli and drove the enemy back two miles. Four nights later he seized the strongly defended Kidney Hill and held it in spite of heavy counter attacks. He was involved in many recce patrols that penetrated German defences and had several exchanges of fire.

Frederick Henry Howard was born on 25th Feb 1915, the son of a naval captain. He attended Gresham's School in Holt and after Sandhurst was commissioned into the Buffs in 1935. He was at one stage seconded into the King's African Rifles in the East African campaign against the Italians. He was mentioned in despatches for his work behind enemy lines in Kenya, Somaliland and Abyssinia. After the battle of Sidi Rezegh where the Buffs sustained heavy casualties he rejoined the regiment and was with the 1st Battalion through all the actions in the Western Desert, including Alamein and Mareth in which battle the Buffs were particularly successful.

He attended Staff College in Haifa and was appointed CO of 1st Battalion The Oxford and Bucks LI. He led them through the fighting in NW Europe and wrote that he considered the German resistance in the Ardennes the hardest that he had encountered. He was awarded the DSO for leading his battalion across the River Roer when there were heavy floods, securing many prisoners. He was always cheerful and led by example, displaying great courage and leadership.

After the War he commanded the 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment in Singapore. Whilst there he kept a tame pygmy elephant which was invited into the mess for parties. He soon after transferred to the 3rd Hussars where he was second in command at Bielefeld. Peacetime soldiering was dull for him so he tried to liven things up by behaving outrageously and generally failing to treat senior officers with due respect.

In civilian life he became a cattle and sheep farmer on the isle of Ulva near Mull. He was described as a large man and a natural athlete. He threw the javelin for the army, was a good golfer and shot, and loved fishing and sailing. He married Jean Parnell, second daughter of 6th Lord Congleton (The 4th Lord Congleton, Henry Parnell, commanded the 2nd battalion The Buffs from 1878 to 1883). They had two sons and a daughter. Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Howard died at the age of 85. His obituary was published in the Daily Telegraph on 24th July 2000 but it does not mention the date of his death.

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by Stephen Luscombe