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!

November 10, 1914

Orlando Morning Sentinel


F. H. Williams’ Brother a Member of Sportsman’s Brigade of London Royal Fusiliers

Mr. Rippon Sargood Williams, brother of Mr. Frank H. Williams, of this city, and who for many years lived at Oakland, in this country, has gone to the front as a member of the Sportsman’s Brigade of the London Royal Fusiliers. This is a brigade of seasoned men and all with family ties. Mr. Williams says that by the New Year there will be one million men ready to send wherever needed in the present strife, and if another million is needed they will be ready next March.
London Standard





One mile and a-half from Hornchurch, in Essex, are the new winter quarters of the Sportsman’s Battalion of Lord Kitchener’s Army. Here, in a wide domain, encircling one of the old stately homes of England, some 1270 men, clad in Khaki, eager, trained to quickness of eye and certainty of judgement, are rapidly becoming a skilled body of soldiers/ Greystone Towers, which is the headquarters of the battalion, is an ivy-covered mansion. A river runs through the grounds, on one side of which have just been erected numerous huts to accommodate these soldier-sportsmen.

The huts are built on streets, and ensure the comfort of the occupants. They have been arranged by Mrs. Cunliffe Owen, who cannot but be proud of the result of her patriotic work for King and country. “Welcome to the Sportsman’s Battalion” appears in bold letters over the establishment of one tradesman, while all through the day people from far and near flock to watch the drilling of men who have won fame on every field of sport. They are men whose ages range from 19 to 45, and who, when they entered on their training, were physically of the fittest.

Colonel Viscount Maitland is in command of the battalion, and he can find no words strong enough to express his appreciation of the men under his command. The second in command is Colonel A. de B. V. Paget, a veteran of the Tirah campaign on the North-West Frontier. “We have the finest material here,” he said; “men of intelligence, brain, and muscle. Each one is anxious to do his part. I say now, honestly, that I never met a finer body of men.” Colonel Pagetx` spoke feelingly, and courteously conducted one of our representatives around the camp. “We have,” he said, “seventy five acres of splendid ground, which, as you see, afford ideal conditions for training men. The officers’ quarters are at the Towers, and the huts where the men are quartered are really fine.” The adjutant is Captain Inglis.

Sergeant-Major McRedmond, whose home is at Orpington, is a predominant figure in this camp of soldier-sportsmen. He stands 6ft. 2in. in height, has been on the retired list for two years, and is an Irishman with a highly creditable career behind him. He fought in Egypt in 1882, in the Nile Expedition from 1184 to 1886, in India, and through the Boer War. He stood gazing with some pride on the companies of the battalion. “They are fine boys,” he said; “I do not want a better body of men. They don’t want telling twice.

The Sportsman’s Battalion on parade yesterday near their new quarters at Hornchurch.

They are willing and eager to get to the front.”

The giant sergeant-major expressed the view of the whole camp. “We are ‘get-theres’” said Mr. N. H. Benjamin. “That is what makes us so eager in our drill, so willing to do anything and everything that will bring us to the place where the fighting is.”

At every turn in the camp one meets men who have won renown in the varied fields of sport. In one company are Hayes and Hitch, of Surrey county cricket fame. Yorkshire is represented by Bates. Here are Albany, the sculler; F. W. Terry, the Devon water polo champion; and Barton, who was captain of the Southfields Hockey Club. “We sportsmen,” said Mr. E. G. Mitchell, a well-known walker, “want to give whatever our athletic prowess and training may mean to our country.” Here, too, is Mercer, of the Sussex cricket colts, who has just won his cap in the Sussex Football League.

There are representatives of the stage and music-halls, too, in the Sportsman’s Battalion. Our representative, for instance, met Mr. Richard Kendall, the brother of Miss Marie Kendall, who declared that he had found soldiering to be his real bent. “The stage is child’s play,” he said, “compared to this. I have made an audience laugh, but I imagine I will make the Germans I meet laugh – with a whimper.” In this camp of sportsmen is Mr. G. Fraser, late manager of the Waldorf and Simpson’s.

Scrubbing the floor of the hut with all the energy of a charwoman was Mr. N. H. Benjamin, who father was the owner of Wild Aster, and who frankly admitted that this type of work was new to him. Mr. T. Heathorn, an old public school boy well known in West-end circles, was an assistant barber plastering on lather in readiness for razor operations by the already-mentioned Mr. Benjamin, who has the reputation of being an expert amateur shaver. Colour-Sergeant R. de Vere Stacpoole, the cousin of the famous novelist, is busy helping to train these all-willing recruits.

The youngest recruit is Leonard Norman Skuse, of London, who is nineteen years of age, joined the battalion ten days ago, and is already a sergeant, and bids fair to rise to eminence in his newly adopted profession. It goes without saying that there are many Scotsmen. They have the bagpipe, too, which makes weird battle music each night.

One cannot help remarking the most prominent humorist of the camp, Mr. James Broughton, who is credited with having walked 17 miles in 3 hours and 5 minutes. He possesses a particularly mobile face, and his speciality performance is a representation of the Kaiser after his first experience of “General French’s contemptible little army.” He and Richard Kendall make much fun when the day’s work is over.

There are men who have come from different parts, such as Mr. W. G. L. Hammond, who sailed from Bermuda to enlist. Others are from Australia, Canada, and the West Indies. There are boxers, fencers, golfers, revolver shots, racehorse owners, and, indeed, men who have won laurels as sportsmen in every country of the world. Such is the battalion of which Colonel Viscount Maitland is so justly proud, and who, as Mr. Benjamin put it, “are sportsmen and fighters all.”

Colonel Viscount Maitland (in command) and the Adjutant, Captain Inglis, of the Sportsman’s Battalion.

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