John Dudley Bartlett (1907-1967) was a Welsh rugby international, who later became a naval chaplain.

Bartlett was born on 6 August 1907 in Carmarthen, the son of John and Elizabeth Anne Bartlett. The 1911 census lists his father’s occupation as printer’s manager. The younger John was educated at St David’s College School, Lampeter, and then Llandovery College. Whilst at Llandovery, he won a Welsh Schools cap as a wing three-quarter. He next attended Jesus College, Cambridge. He was never awarded a ‘Blue’ at Cambridge; however, by the 1926-27 season, he was playing regularly for Llanelli.  

He was picked for the Wales team to face Scotland on 5 February 1927 at Cardiff Arms Park. The Times newspaper commented that his selection showed that ‘the Selectors are quite frankly out to make experiments with young players of a new type.’ However, the conditions for the match were described as ‘about as bad as could be imagined … although the playing field, greatly improved by drainage, was not actually waterlogged, the mud churned up into a black paste …’ Wales were defeated, losing by five points to nil. The Times said of Bartlett that he tackled W.M. Simmers, the Scottish three quarters, well. The Guardian described him as doing ‘excellent work against Simmers’. However, he wasted a good chance to score, with a missed attempt at a drop goal.  

Bartlett did not play for Wales again that season. For the next season, he left Llanelli in favour of London Welsh. His next international match was against England, at St Helen’s Ground Swansea, on 21 January 1928. The Times described him as ‘not fast enough,’ but The Guardian as ‘quite good.’ He was also the scorer of a try, the result of ‘a splendidly swift forward rush.’ However, England still beat Wales by ten points to eight. 

Wales’ next match was against Scotland at Murrayfield on 4 February 1928. This time Bartlett was on the victorious side. Wales won by thirteen points to nil, their first success in Scotland since 1913. Although Bartlett was selected for the next match against Ireland, injury forced him to withdraw. He was not to play international rugby again. 

In October 1929, Bartlett returned to Lampeter to study as a postgraduate at St David’s College. He was part of the rugby side that defeated Aberystwyth University College for the first time in many years. The college magazine commented, ‘J.D. Bartlett, who returned after a long absence due to knee trouble, can be said to have won the game with his strong running.’ He was ordained deacon in 1930 and priest in 1931. After spending four years as curate at St Mary’s church, Cardigan, he enlisted as a chaplain in the Royal Navy. His first ship was the heavy cruiser, HMS Devonshire. Over the years, he served on a variety of boats, spending the Second World War first on HMS Cochrane and then with the Royal Navy Patrol Service. He next worked in several shore establishments, including HMS Terror and HMS Vernon. In 1954, he went back to sea, on the Dido-class cruiser, HMS Cleopatra, moving to HMS Vanguard in 1956. From 1959 onwards Bartlett served in HMS Dryad, the home of the Royal Navy’s Maritime Warfare School. 

Bartlett died at Hayling Island on 17 January 1967. He left a widow, Elizabeth. 

Sources 

Walters, S. (2016). The fighting parsons: the role of St David’s College, Lampeter, in the early development of rugby football in Wales. Carmarthen: Canolfan Peniarth 

150 Llambed man geni rygbi yng Nghymru = Lampeter the birthplace of Welsh rugby. [Lampeter]: Prifysgol Cymru y Drindod Dewi Sant 

Rugby football. Today’s international match. (5 February 1927). The Times 5. Retrieved October 21 2021 from https://go.gale.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=Newspapers&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&hitCount=27&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=9&docId=GALE%7CCS84089925&docType=Sports+news&sort=Pub+Date+Forward+Chron&contentSegment=ZTMA-MOD1&prodId=TTDA&pageNum=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCS84089925&searchId=R7&userGroupName=nlw_ttda&inPS=true 

Rugby football. Scotland’s victory in the mud. (7 February 1927). The Times 6. Retrieved October 21 2021 from https://go.gale.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=Newspapers&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&hitCount=27&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=10&docId=GALE%7CCS100867143&docType=Sports+news&sort=Pub+Date+Forward+Chron&contentSegment=ZTMA-MOD1&prodId=TTDA&pageNum=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCS100867143&searchId=R7&userGroupName=nlw_ttda&inPS=true 

Wales disappoint at Cardiff. (7 February 1927). The Manchester Guardian 4. Retrieved October 21 2021 from https://www.proquest.com/hnpguardianobserver/docview/477341352/4DF232701B014A69PQ/1?accountid=12799 

Rugby football. England’s lucky victory. (23 January 1928). The Times 5. Retrieved October 21 2021 from https://go.gale.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=Newspapers&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&hitCount=65&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=29&docId=GALE%7CCS84090423&docType=Sports+news&sort=Pub+Date+Forward+Chron&contentSegment=ZTMA-MOD1&prodId=TTDA&pageNum=2&contentSet=GALE%7CCS84090423&searchId=R12&userGroupName=nlw_ttda&inPS=true 

Yesterday’s rugby games. England wins again. (23 January 1928). The Observer 24. Retrieved October 21 2021 from https://www.proquest.com/hnpguardianobserver/docview/481206178/F104163D0A12445DPQ/3?accountid=12799 

Rugby football club. (1930). St David’s College magazine, 12(9),24