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!

December 12, 1914

London Evening News

Sportsman’s Battalion Marching through London.

British Sportsmen

Here is a chance for Varsity Men, Old Public School Boys, and all British Sportsmen up to 45 years of age, to serve their King and Country with their brother Sporting-men. Join the

Sportsman’s Battalion

Royal Fusiliers

Colonel-in-Chief – THE KING

The War Office has now called for a second battalion of this splendid corps. There are hundreds of Sportsmen fit and ready to serve – able men who have fitted themselves for the hard life of a soldier by vigorous pursuit of sport.

How to Join.

A special increase of 500 men per Battalion over and above the usual 1,100, having been asked for by the War Office, there are now vacancies for this number in the 1st Battalion. For 1st Battalion apply C.O., Hornchurch Camp, Essex. Other candidates apply in person or in writing to Chief Recruiting Officer, Indian Room, Hotel Cecil, London for Enrolment Form.

Sportsmen from 19 to 45 Years of Age – Join To-Day.

Pay at Army Rates.     Financial obligation optional.

Show the King’s enemies what British Sportsmen are.

The Glasgow Herald


A further opportunity is being afforded in Glasgow for enlistment in the Sportsman’s Battalion Royal Fusiliers. The battalion is one of the most attractive units which are being raised for active service, and it has already obtained a large number of men of a very fine type, which are now undergoing training in the South of England. Only men of a high standard of physique are eligible, and the class who are specially invited to join are sportsmen and others who have been accustomed to an out-of-door life, such as gamekeepers and ghillies. The 1st Battalion attained full strength some time ago, but since then instructions have been received from the War Office to secure an additional 300 men and an entire 2nd Battalion. Lord Maitland, son of the Earl of Lauderdale, is in command of the 1st Battalion, and the commander of the 2nd Battalion is Colonel Paget. Captain C. G. Westhead, who is in charge of the recruiting, was recently in Glasgow, and on that occasion he was successful in making a large number of enrolments. He has now returned to the city, and from to-day will be in attendance at his office in the Central Station Hotel for the purpose of interviewing men who are desirous of enlisting. His visit will probably be limited to a few days, and it is therefore hoped that all who wish to avail themselves of the present opportunity will do so without delay. The minimum height is 5ft. 6in., the chest measurement 36in., and the age limit from 19 to 45 years. In addition to men for the ranks Captain Westhead is endeavouring to obtain a pipe-major and six pipers.

The Bellman

The Sportsman’s Battalion has recently gone into training, receiving a rousing send-off as it marched through London on its way to entrain for its quarters in Essex. As its name implies, the corps is composed of men familiar with all kinds of outdoor sports. Fox hunters and cricketers, boxing experts and football players are soldiering shoulder to shoulder with Canadian baseball players and gentlemen jockeys. This “hard-as-nails” battalion. as it has been called, ought to give a good account of itself in active service.

Photograph of Pte. Sidney Smith with Brothers

From the book ‘Frederick Edwin, Earl of Birkenhead: the First Phase' by his son, Frederick Winston Furneaux Smith. The book was published in 1933. The photograph was probably taken on December 12th, 1914, as the Sportsman’s Gazette reported later that month:

“We learn with interest that the Rt. Hon. F. E. Smith, M.P., visited the camp on Saturday, December 12th, accompanied by his brother, Mr. Harold Smith, M.P. They were shown over the camp by another brother, Private Sydney Smith, who is a member of our own battalion.”

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