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 30, 1914

Essex County Chronicle


By invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Cunliffe Owen a large party of guests visited Grey Towers, Hornchurch, on Friday to inspect the barracks of the Sportsmen’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers constructed in Grey Towers Park, placed at the disposal of the Battalion by the family of the late Colonel Holmes.

The buildings are of timber framing covered with galvanised iron, and internally with matchboarding. The roofs are painted brick red, and the walls are either dark green or dark brown. The huts have boarded floors, and are lighted by electricity. Warmth and ventilation have both been adequately provided, and it is clear that the Battalion will have excellent quarters while training for the front.

The visitors on Friday were greatly interested. They were received at Grey Towers by Mr. and Mrs. Cunliff Owen, and were shown round the camp in parties. Grey Towers has been nicely fitted up for the officers, and the camp is in the park at the front. There are nearly fifty separate buildings, laid out in “streets,” which it is intended to name. The larger number of buildings are barrack huts, containing 30 beds each. There are also a hospital and a dispensary, a sergeants’ mess, guard room, regimental institute, canteen, store, cookhouse, drying room, ablution sheds, power station, coal shed, and latrines. The ovens in the cookhouse have each a capacity sufficient for 550 dinners to be baked at one time.

After a tour of the camp the visitors were entertained to tea.

Chelmsford Chronicle


WOUNDED BELGIANS ENTERTAINED. – At the camp of the Sportsmen’s Battalion, Grey Towers, on Monday, the advance party entertained twelve wounded Belgian soldiers who are being cared for at Ford Lodge, South Hornchurch. Dinner was served in Hut No. 4, the home of the advance party. Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen sent fruit and other dainties, Private Backhouse provided some items of the menu, and the remainder of the meal was contributed jointly by the “boys” of the hut.

Surrey Mirror


His beautiful place at Almers, Chertsey, has been offered to this battalion by Mr. Frank Gordon Geiger, of 6, Southwick Street, Hyde Park, London, W., as a base hospital, and his patriotic offer has been accepted with grateful thanks by the officer in command, Viscount Maitland. The grounds are exceptionally beautiful, and it is an ideal spot for invalids. Mr. Geiger and his friends will provide the equipment. The Grey Towers, Hornchurch, near Romford, Essex, the property of the family of the late Colonel Holmes, is the new headquarters of the corps. There are still a few vacancies for the right kind of men. The Sportsman’s Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) is a corps for the gentleman sportsman up to forty-five years of age, and on those thoroughly sound and fit have been accepted. It is the only corps in England for which the age limit has been extended to forty-five. The Chief Recruiting Officer has been Mr. E. Cunliffe-Owen, C.M.G., and much of the organising work during the raising of the corps has been in the hands of Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen. The head recruiting office has been the Indian Room at the Hotel Cecil, and other offices have been open at various provincial centres.

The corps is an infantry one, with pay at Army rates. The conditions of service are for the period of the war, unless the war lasts longer than three years, in which case the corps will serve until the war is over. If over before three years, a discharge will be given with all convenient speed.

The O.C. is Viscount Maitland, the eldest son of the Earl of Lauderdale, Lord Maitland has served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, in the 2nd Dragoons, and in the South African War was mentioned in despatches. He was appointed to the Hon. Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms in 1903, was assistant director Auxiliary Forces 1904-8, and is Hon. Colonel of the City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders).

Related article in getSurrey: The country homes that became WW1 hospitals.

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