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 14, 1914


Mr. R. Sargood Williams has sent us the following interesting insight to the Sportsman’s Battalion which he has just joined.

Mr Sargood Williams lived in Hastings for 13 years, and made a great many friends in walks of life, and he will be long remembered for his energetic connection with the Hastings and St. Leonards Cycling Club.

He is now soldiering, and local people will wish him the best of luck. In his letter he says: –

“The Battalion was formed about the beginning of October, and until last Wednesday the Headquarters and most of the Battalion were in London. Daily marches were made to various parts of London to harden the men whilst the camp at Hornchurch was being prepared. Anyone who has not seen what an enormous amount of work is required to complete a Battalion in every detail can have no conception what a tremendous task it is.

Last Wednesday, 4th November, as reported in the daily papers, we marched 1,300 strong, from headquarters, the Cecil Hotel, to Hyde Park, where we were reviewed, and then marched through the City to Liverpool station, and entrained to Romford. Grey Towers Camp is well situated on a gentle slope. The huts are built of corrugated iron, lined with match boarding, and are very comfortable. Each hut holds 30 men, 15 beds on a side, and a long table down the centre. There is a large institute or concert hall, hospital, and all of the usual offices connected with a camp. The whole place is lighted with electricity, generated in the camp. The morning Reveille sounds at six o’clock. The fall in for Swedish drill and exercises from 7 to 8, 8 to 9 breakfast, 9 to 12.30 roll call, inspection, and drill, 12.30 to 2.30 dinner, 2.30 to 4.30 drill or march out, 4.30 to 5.30 tea and on fine nights a route march of one or two hours, so you can see our time is well occupied.

In the Battalion are many of the leading sportsmen and athletes in the kingdom, and “The Hard as Nails” Battalion as a nickname is well earned. All the men are very keen at their drill, and are making wonderful progress. The commanding Officer and other Officers are doing their very best for our comfort and proficiency, and we hope to be a credit for to their training. The Sportsman’s Battalion has been incorporated in the Regular Army with the Royal Fusiliers.

“I should also be very glad to receive and distribute any presents of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes, etc, which any kind friends are willing to send for the Privates in the Battalion.

“Our great ambition is to be able to enter Berlin with the rest of the troops when the German menace is crushed, as it surely will be.”

Mr. Sargood Williams’ friends will be interested to hear that his address is: Hut 29, Sportsman’s Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, Grey Towers Camp, Hornchurch, Essex.

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