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 28, 1914

The Daily Telegraph



SIR – Without entering into the controversy as to whether football should cease or not, may I point out that there is an honorable alternative for the man who ought to serve his country and yet must play and talk football – namely, to join the 2nd Sportsman’s Battalion Royal Fusiliers, the battalion which is now recruiting at this hotel.

The corps already contains well-known footballers, and friends joining at the same time, who have interests in common, can be kept together, live in the same hut, and so on. They need not altogether sacrifice their love of sport while training for the great international now being played in Northern France.

Provided the applicant is a gentleman and thoroughly fit, expense need not stand in his way, for he is not asked to pay for anything. The age limit, specially extended in this case by the War Office to 45, will attract many who are willing to serve, but unable to enter any other corps.

The battalion is an infantry one, and, of course, part of the Regular Army. – I am, yours faithfully,
E. CUNLIFFE OWEN, Chief Recruiting Officer.
Hotel Cecil, Strand, W.C., Nov. 28.

Grantham Journal

Official sanction has been received for the formation of a second Sportsmen’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, and sportsmen, University and old Public School boys are invited to join, by first applying to Mr. E. Cunliffe Owen, Chief Recruiting Officer, Hotel Cecil, London.

The Indianapolis Star


Officer Gives Remarkably Vivid Picture of Life at Front in Sodden Ditches Under Shell Fire.


False Conception of What Is Going on Leads to Ranks Being Filled With Wrong Kind of Soldiers.

LONDON, Nov. 28. – Something of the inner feelings and impressions of the men actually engaged in the trenches at the front are contained in the following extracts from a letter sent to a friend in London by an officer with the British expeditionary force.

“Sitting here and reading the English papers that arrive, one can not help feeling that England, at any rate, has not yet succeeded in banishing the spectacular and romantic conceptions of war, which no longer bear any resemblance to the actuality. The papers still give the impression that war is an affair of dash and clash. Incidents are invented, like the charge of the Bengal cavalry. Other incidents, true in themselves, but isolated and not characteristic, such as the engagement of the London Scottish, are made to convey a picture of the whole battle.


Kind of Men Needed.

“This false conception of what is going on creates a false picture of the soldiers that are wanted. I read of the Sportsmen Battalion, all athletes and so forth. All very nice if individual prowess were in question. But it is not. What is wanted is ordinary men trained to discipline and trained to shoot, and plenty of them – men who can be held in not to shoot until the proper moment; not men who are going to whoop and slash and kill two Germans at one stroke.


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