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 21, 1914

The War Illustrated

Sportsmen of Peace for the Grim Game of War

After an inspection in Hyde Park, London, by their colonel, Lord Maitland, the Sportsman’s Battalion marches out to entrain for their camp. Many noted sportsmen and athletes have joined its ranks.

A RESPONSIBLE German Paper recently complained that the British carried the spirit of sport everywhere, and looked at everything from a sporting point of view. She has found that our fighting men are sportsmen, and she will that our sportsmen are warriors – equal to, and better, than the disciples of culture.

The Sportsman’s Battalion of Lord Kitchener’s army owed its inception to the efforts of Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen, and there was a rush of recruiting that speedily filled up its ranks. Its camp is as Hornchurch, in Essex, where it is getting the necessary initiation in drill, discipline, and the practice of arms.

The battalion is attached to the Royal Fusiliers, and it consists of picked men and trained athletes, many of them at championship rank. Two of the companies consist solely of giants over six feet tall. They have already been nicknamed the “Hard-as-Nails,” and we may expect them to justify this sobriquet.

Officers of the Sportsman’s Battalion. On the left, Viscount Maitland; in the centre, Captain H. J. J. Inglis, adjutant; and on the right, Lieutenant Enderby, quartermaster.

With the men of the Sportsman’s Battalion in camp at Hornchurch. A professional cricketer, a professional singer, an angler, and a City merchant assist in gathering firewood. In the upper picture on the right a Cambridge University Blue carries a log in performing the same necessary task.


Then and Now


The above cartoon, which is reproduced in “The men of Great St Mary's Cambridge in the Great War”, is a fictional reworking of the photograph in the War Illustrated newspaper of November 21st. In the cartoon, each of the recruits is shown in the typical garb of his civilian profession or calling. From left to right, they are: W.E. Bates, SPTS/919 (professional cricketer); unidentified, possibly A.B. Wharton, SPTS/6 (professional singer); C. Armstrong, (angler) SPTS/936; unidentified (City merchant).

Whitstable Times



THAT Mr. Weekes, of the firm of Messrs. Strachan and Weekes, the engineer responsible for the Whitstable sewage scheme, has joined the Sportsman’s Battalion of the new Army and has been appointed a pioneer sergeant.

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