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!

October 1, 1914

Birmingham Evening Dispatch



Fine, well-built, athletic young men, who are fond of outdoor pastimes, made their way to the Stork Hotel, Birmingham, to-day, in order to enrol themselves f0r the Sportsman’s Battalion, a recruiting office having been opened at the hotel for to-day only.

This unit will be composed entirely of sportsmen, and will number 1,300 all told. Devotees of all kinds of sport are to be found in the ranks, and the battalion has appealed to sportsmen form all over the United Kingdom.

The special battalion has been sanctioned by Lord Kitchener for active service, and sportsmen of up to 45 years of age are accepted on the usual terms obtaining for Kitchener’s Army, of which the battalion when completed will form a unit.

Among those who have already enrolled their names in the battalion are 350 men who have seen active service. More than the required number have filled in the necessary forms, but many have since enlisted in other regiments to get away more quickly, and a percentage of medical rejects is allowed for.


Within the first hour of the office being opened at the Stork Hotel there were quite twenty applicants anxious to register their names as willing to serve. Golfers, oarsmen, and cricketers attended to learn the conditions and subscribe their name to the roll. The men who presented themselves in Birmingham to-day were of splendid physique, brought about by their love of outdoor games, and the officers in charge of the recruiting were well satisfied by their labours of the morning. Some well-known sportsmen from the city and the neighbouring districts attended during the morning, and it was anticipated that ere the office closes at 8 p.m there will be quite a goodly number of Birmingham names among the sportsman’s battalion.

Applicants are only required to fill up forms giving particulars of themselves at present.

On or before 9 October they will receive a communication from London inviting them to attend at the nearest Army recruiting office for the purpose of undergoing the medical test, and, if passed by the doctors, they will be instructed where to present themselves for training, which is expected to commence in twelve days’ time. A training ground has been secured near London, and when the recruiting is completed it is hoped to have one of the finest battalions in the country.

Up to the present 1,000 men have joined the Sportsman’s Battalion which is being organised at the Hotel Cecil, London.

Nottingham Evening Post



The raising of the standard to 5ft. 6in. and the chest measurement to 36in. coupled with the fact that certain regiments are closed for recruiting, probably accounts for the circumstance than in Nottingham as elsewhere there is a temporary decline in the number offering themselves for military service.

[…] There was a satisfactory response to the appeal to join the Sportsman’s Battalion yesterday, and if the applicants were not very numerous the right type of man put in an a appearance, including many young farmers from the country. An infantry battalion, the unit is intended for active service, and there is no ground for the impression which seems to have been formed in some quarters that those enlisting will be required to incur a lot of expenses or that they need necessarily be men of means.

Western Daily Press


A recruiting officer attended at the Royal Hotel yesterday to receive applications from those desirous of enlisting in the Sportsmen’s Battalion, which has been sanctioned by Lord Kitchener with an age limit up to 45 years. Already over 1,000 names have been sent in from various parts of the country, and these include well-known foxhound men and explorers, as well as prominent representatives of cricket, football, and other branches of sport. Only those used to outdoor sports who are thoroughly sound and fit are asked to apply, and candidates upon registering are provided with the following printed instructions with conditions of service: –

You will receive written notice asking you to attend a given place within certain dates for the purpose of medical examination and attestation by the War Office.

The conditions of service will be for a period of three years, unless war lasts longer than three years, in which case you will be retained until the war is over. If, however, you the war is over in less than three years, you will be discharged with all convenient speed.

The battalion will be housed, fed, clothed, and drilled until fit for active service, at a place to be notified later, when the name of the battalion will also be announced.

Donations towards the cost of raising and equipping the battalion will be gratefully received: but this is not a condition of enlistment. Everything will be found free of charge.

Pay at Army rates.

During the day a number of applicants for enlistment were received at the Royal Hotel.

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