A record of the Sportsman's Battalions during the First World War, including a database of soldiers who enlisted in - or served with - the 23rd, 24th and 30th Royal Fusiliers, originally raised by Mrs. Emma Cunliffe-Owen in September 1914. If you have any questions or comments, please send to fmsketches@macbrem.com, thanks!

September 26, 1914

Grantham Journal

The Recruiting Boom.

The boom in recruiting in London still continues. […] The Sportsmen Battalion (appropriately nicknamed the “Hard-as-Nails Corps”) is recruiting briskly at the Hotel Cecil. Every morning’s post brings hundreds of written applications, and there are, of course, large numbers of applicants who make personal enquiries at the hotel. Indeed, so heavy are the applications that difficulty is experienced in dealing with the recruits.

A well-known K.C.M.G. was amongst those who offered their services on Tuesday. He was willing to enlist as an ordinary private. He has had considerable experience, having commanded or served in numerous expeditions in Africa, and is the possessor of three medals and five clasps. Other well-known sportsmen and explorers of high social distinction have presented themselves. The post bag contained a letter from a young Belgian nobleman, a hunter, asking to be allowed to join, as he cannot, he said, serve in his own country, because he cannot obtain equipment there. A good many retired officers have offered their services, and the question is asked why their services are not accepted by the War Office. It is worth noting that a doctor who has visited many recruiting stations has declared that the men already in the Sportsmen’s Battalion are from the finest stamp of men he has seen. The Battalion is private and self-supporting, and was approved by the War Office before it was embodied. Mr. Cunliffe-Owen is the chief recruiting officer. Sir William Plender, it was announced, has consented to act as hon. treasurer.

Manchester Courier


Being the only corps in England in which the age limit has been extended to forty-five, the Sportsman’s Battalion now recruiting at the Hotel Cecil in London has attracted an immense number of applications of the highest type of men. At the same time the organisers will gladly welcome any further recruits, as many will no doubt be rejected by the doctor.

The corps is to be 1,300 strong, and will, when complete, be taken over by the War Office, by which it is directly sanctioned. It is composed of gentlemen up to the age of forty-five accustomed to sport and outdoor life and thoroughly fit and physically sound. The training will be the ordinary infantry training. The organisers wish to make it clear that the corps is an infantry, not a cavalry one, as many have applied under the impression that it was to be mounted.

Golf clubs which had intended abandoning their autumn meetings owing to the war have continued them instead, and given the value of the prizes to the Sportsman’s Battalion account. This enables members unable to serve to help their country, and it is hoped that other clubs will follow suit.

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