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 21, 1914

The Dundee Courier


At Hornchurch, in Essex, the new quarters for the Sportsman’s Battalion Royal Fusiliers, which is recruiting in Scotland, will, it is hoped, prove among the finest in the country, and very complete in detail. Each of the huts holds 30 men. There are a guardroom, store, cookhouse, drying-rooms, canteen, ablution sheds, hospital with 12 beds, and, last but not least, the regimental institute for the recreation of the soldiers, which is nowadays carefully looked after. The camp will be lit by electricity generated on the site by a dynamo.

Within a fortnight of the time when the first operations were begun the whole was complete. Mr Michael J. Weekes, M.Inst.C.E., engineer of the corps, together with Mrs Cunliffe Owen (who was the organiser during the formation of the battalion), has designed and patented a new and simple form of bedstead, which forms a bed at night and comfortable seat during the daytime.

Mrs Cunliffe Owen is, as far as is known, the only lady who has ever raised a military corps and her husband, the chief recruiting officer, is the son of the late Col. Cunliffe Owen, R.E., V.C., who went through the Crimean war. Mr Cunliffe Owen, C.M.G., is a barrister-at-law, and secretary to the Metropolitan Electric Lighting Company.

There has been some doubt as to the status of such battalions as the Sportsman’s Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). A War Office order states that, “with reference to the new local battalions which communities and individuals have been authorised to raise, it would appear that, from communications which have been received by the War Office, some doubt exists as to the status of these units and the relationship between them and the Infantry Record Offices. It is, therefore, notified for the information of all concerned that these battalions are part of the regular army, and consequently are affiliated to the Regular Record Offices of the regiments to which they belong.”


ROYAL FUSILIERS (City of London Regiment).

Officer Commanding – Col. VISCOUNT MAITLAND

Age up to 45.

To enable Scotsmen who are who are thoroughly fit (height preferred – 5’ 9” to 5’ 11”) to join the above Battalion, the following arrangements have been made for special recruiting in Scotland. Recruiting Offices will be opened from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., as under:–

Wed and Thursday, Oct. 21st and 22nd, ABERDEEN – Palace Railway Station Hotel.
Friday and Saturday Oct. 23rd and 24th, EDINBURGH – Royal Hotel.
Monday and Tues., Oct. 26th and 27th, GLASGOW – Central Station Hotel.

Chief Recruiting Officer and Attendant – Captain C. G. Westhead.

Now is YOUR chance to join a company of Brother Sportsmen!

Aberdeen Journal

Sportsman’s Battalion.

In our columns to-day there appears an advertisement inviting recruits for the Sportsman’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, now going into camp in Essex. It should appeal to many very specially in the North of Scotland. Surely no such regimental roll-call ever figured in the archives at Whitehall! There are now enrolled two sons of peers, three baronets, a K.C.M.G., and a peer’s brother. On the other hand, there is a hotel cook who can speak several languages, and who will make an excellent interpreter at the front. A famous boxer, many cricketers and footballers, both amateur and professional, and a number of rowing men are about to devote their energies to mastering military evolutions. One notable recruit has been making a living for years as a music-hall “Apollo”.

A London Appeal

It is seldom that those resident in Scotland are invited to join one or other of the London regiments, but that opportunity has been given on behalf of the Sportsman’s Battalion of the City of London Royal Fusiliers. Captain Westhead, one of the officers of the battalion, is now.  on a recruiting tour in Scotland, and today and tomorrow he will be in attendance at the Palace Hotel, Aberdeen, for the purpose of enrolling men. £10,000 has been raised for the fitting-out of the battalion, and when the necessary numbers have been secured they will take the field as one of the best equipped units in Lord Kitchener’s Army.

Liverpool Echo



John Brown and James Brown let us call them. Those are not their real names, but they will serve as convenient labels for two well-known Liverpool brother who a few years ago were prominent in every kind of field sport. They are strong, hardy men (says the “Day to Day” column of the “Daily Post”), and when they heard that, a Sportsman’s Battalion was being raised for military service they determined to enlist. The maximum age for volunteers was forty-five, and they both happened to be over fifty.

Still, that was not a serious obstacle. Everybody can tell a little fib some time or other, if he screws himself up to it. John was the first to seek out a recruiting sergeant. When the question of age was mentioned, he explained that he was just turned forty-four – forty-four and three months to be precise. And so he was passed.

James, unaware that John had preceded him, turned up at the recruiting office a little later the same day. “Your age?” asked the officer. “Forty-four and six months,” said James firmly, and without even the even the faintest blush. “By the way,” pursued the officer, glancing through some forms on his desk, “are you related to John Brown?” “Brother,” said James, proudly. “H’m,” was the official comment. “Well, you’re two very excellent men, and, having regard to your ages, you must have had, if I may say so, a very remarkable mother.” And then James was passed, too.

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