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!

The First Sportsman’s Gazette – No. 1


Colonel Viscount Maitland and Capt. H. J. H. Inglis.

These two officers, to whom the Sportsman’s Battalion already owes so much, need no introduction to the readers of the Regimental Gazette, whose Editor wishes to take this opportunity of placing on record his admiration for the careful thought and organisation which have made our first weeks of training so conspicuously successful. The committee at the same time wish to express their thanks for the assistance and encouragement which have been given them in bringing out this first number of our Battalion journal.

Lord Maitland’s career as an officer in the Scots Greys and Scots Guards is too well known to call for repetition here. During the South African War the Colonel served as an Adjutant of cavalry, subsequently commanding the City of London Yeomanry for seven years. He is a member of the King’s Body Guard, and among his decorations is that of Officier d’Academie de France. Lord Maitland is a very fine rider, an enthusiastic polo player, and a good shot. He is reputed to be one of the best billiard players in the army. In younger days he often played for the M.C.C. at cricket. When asked to express his opinion of the First Sportsman’s Battalion, the Colonel replied, “ I am proud to command them, and I consider that we can justifiably call ourselves one of the corps d’elite of Kitchener’s Army, by reason of our high average of physical hardihood, our fitness, and our enthusiasm. The discipline on the whole is excellent, and I believe we shall give a good account of ourselves when we eventually reach the firing line.

I only hope the men will not forget the question of esprit de corps. Many of them are qualified for commissions and could render their country great service as officers, but on the other hand, if the battalion is ever to reach the front we must stay and work together, in the spirit of sacrifice that has been so nationally conspicuous since the outbreak of war. Death may wait for some of us out yonder in Flanders or Germany, but it will be death on the field of honour, where Field Marshal and private are one in a bond of common trial and fellowship.”

The Adjutant, whose cheeriness rarely deserts him even amid the trying and arduous duties which accompany the business side of military organisation, re-echoed the Colonel’s sentiments on this and other matters. Capt. Inglis possesses a genuine —almost proprietary—admiration for the battalion. In the course of his duty it may occasionally fall to his lot to grumble or be arbitrary, but behind it all he recognises the personal sacrifice, the patriotism, and the underlying chivalry of the men who have come from all quarters of the globe to play their part in this epoch-making struggle.

Capt. Inglis has many sporting qualifications for membership of a battalion such as ours. He has held the Championship of Scotland at Badminton (men’s doubles) for the last three years. Further, last year he gained the mixed doubles and the Open Championship of Scotland. His other games and sporting pastimes include Soccer and Rugby, fishing and shooting, golf, lawn-tennis, and billiards.

The First Sportsman’s Gazette and all its readers sincerely hope that when we march back to the Coal Hole from Berlin, Lord Maitland and Capt. Inglis will still be leading us.


A Personal Appreciation.

The Battalion Sergeant-Major is a leader of men who has achieved success because of sterling qualities and not by reason of bounce and bully as is unfortunately so often the case in all spheres of energy. A ready wit; perfect control; an inexhaustible fund of dry but good-natured satire; a quick and sympathetic understanding; and, to use one of his own expressions, “keenness and ginger" — these are the things which have enabled John Merrick to win through to the highest non-commissioned rank in the British Army, and which will yet carry him further in his chosen profession. Merrick entered the army in 1890, joining the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment. From

1891 to 1901 he served in Malta and India, being invalided home in the latter year as the result of an attack of dysentery. During those ten strenuous years he had attained to the rank of sergeant. On arrival in England he joined the home battalion then stationed at Shorncliff, proceeding again to Malta in April, 1904. In 1906 he became Colour-Sergeant or, as it is now termed, Company Sergeant-Major, and in the same year returned from Malta to Dover. On the 22nd July, 1914, Merrick was discharged to a pension and soon after took up a position as caretaker to the Kent Territorial Force Association at Maidstone. His retirement was not to last long, however, for on the 10th October, 1914, he returned to the colours as a member of the Sportsman's Battalion with the rank of Company Sergeant-Major. His promotion to the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major is dated 25th November—a promotion as popular in the battalion as it is well-earned.

Sergeant-Major Merrick possesses many military and athletic distinctions. In 1894, at Lucknow, he qualified as an instructor in gymnastics and fencing, and in 1898 as an instructor in swordsmanship. In 1896 he was the best man-at-arms (dismounted) in India, winning the three following events: — (a) sword v. sword; (b) bayonet v. bayonet; (c) bayonet (dismounted) v. sword (mounted).

Merrick has represented his regiment at all sports including cricket, football, hockey and tug-of-war, while of late years he has filled in his time as a well-known referee in the Kent district.

When asked his opinion of the Sportsman's Battalion, Merrick replied, “They are gluttons for work and streets ahead of the ordinary recruit in peace time, both as regards keenness and ability to assimilate instruction. Their progress exceeds all my anticipations, and I am proud to consider myself a member of the battalion."


Notes concerning members of the Sportsman’s Battalion.

Alexander, A. P. (Quarter-Master-Sergeant).— Joined the Manchester Regiment in 1882, and after only three months service had attained to the rank of full sergeant. He was one of the first N.C.O.'s in the British Army to obtain a certificate for minor tactics and military typography, and claims to be one of the few men left who saw a whole regiment march out of barracks for guard duty. This was in the time of the dynamite outrages when the Law Courts, Westminster Palace, and other public buildings were guarded continually by soldiers. These were arduous times for Thomas Atkins, and men were often on guard duty three times every week. Alexander has seen service in India and Malta. He was the first man in Aldershot to learn the new physical drill (1887), and he can remember the present Kaiser’s father riding down the lines at a brilliant review of troops. In 1888 he left Aldershot for Tipperary (It's a long long way), and lived in barracks there which had been designed and built for Hong-Kong, the plans having been interchanged. In the Tipperary barracks every room had 32 windows, and curious to relate it was Col. A. G. H. Church, cousin of our own Capt. Church, who secured the bricking up of 16 of them. Alexander was in Tipperary during the celebrated State trials of 38 M.P.'s when the troops guarded the streets, each man having 20 rounds of ball ammunition. He has seen further service in Cork, Kinsale, Preston, the Isle of Man, and Stirling Castle. For nearly three years he was on the recruiting staff at Manchester, .and was the second successful recruiter in the district.

Cole, T. (Quarter-Master-Sergeant).—Has served in the Suffolks, and during the South African War in the Mounted Infantry; was wounded twice in skirmishes and transferred to the New Makuland Border Scouts as a transport-sergeant. On his return to England he joined the Royal West Surrey Regiment (4th Battalion) which he left on the formation of territorial units, becoming Organising-Secretary of the Lambeth National Volunteer Reserve. Cole is the senior Scoutmaster in Lambeth, and his troop was the only troop in London present at King Edward's funeral. He has been a scoutmaster for 6 years, and twenty of his boys are now serving in the forces in different capacities. On the outbreak of the present war he joined Capt. Whiffen in a recruiting campaign at Lambeth Town Hall, from thence proceeded to Camberwell, and was the first man to be sworn in at Whitehall on the formation of the Sportsman’s Battalion.

The Officers of the First Sportsman’s Battalion

Cooper, P. H. (Sergeant).—Harrow and Trinity. Sergeant Cooper is an Anglican clergyman. On the outbreak of war he was in Switzerland, and was held up there for a month. Joined the Public Schools Special Corps at Epsom; transferred after three weeks’ training to Sportsman’s Battalion. Interested in many forms of sport, the chief of which is hunting with Beagles. Sergeant Cooper believes that about twenty per cent, of the men in the battalion will not stand the training, and that the remainder should be given two or three weeks’ rifle practice, and sent to the front immediately.

Darley-Crozier, F. (Pte.).—The son of Major- General H. Darley-Crozier. He has had a varied life as a tropical planter, chiefly in tea, rubber,, cocoanuts, vanilla, cloves and cardamons; has lived abroad for sixteen years in Ceylon and the Federated Malay States. Three of his brothers hold commissions at the present moment, while one of his brothers—a retired officer living in South Africa— is also probably serving. Private Crozier is a good shot, having often pulled down deer at 400 yards in rough country. It is interesting to note that Crozier’s father was the first engineer officer in the British Army who obtained a commission by examination, after the abolition of the purchase system, while his grandfather, Captain Francis Crozier, F.R.S. was 2nd in command of Franklin’s fatal 1845 expedition. When Franklin died, Capt. Crozier assumed command of the remnant of the expedition until he too perished amid the Arctic snows. In this connection it may be noted that as Private Crozier was marching a month ago from the Hotel Cecil to Hyde Park he entered into conversation with the man who happened to be by his side, and curious to relate Crozier was at the time wearing a ring which had been presented to his grandfather (Capt. Crozier of the Franklin expedition) by the Marquis of Downshire, the grandfather of the man with whom he was conversing. The two men had never previously met. Now they are serving together in the Sportsman’s Battalion.

Dunn, A. E. (Lieut.)—A well-known traveller and publicist; late Mayor of Exeter. Ex-M.P. Lieut. Dunn, who is a linguist, joined the Sportsman’s Battalion as a private, but has recently been given his commission in the 2nd Battalion.

Ewan, F. W. (Private).—At an early age went to India and remained in Calcutta for over fifteen years. Joined the Calcutta Light Horse. Has visited many training camps in this country, India, and South Africa, and is of opinion that, with the exception of perhaps “Roberts Heights,” in Pretoria, “Grey Towers” is the best he has seen. Private Ewan’s only regret seems to be that the Sportsman’s Battalion is not mounted.

Marsden, E. L. (Sergeant).—An old Tonbridge boy who has played cricket and hockey for Middlesex, travelled much in Africa, Canada and Russia, contributed articles to the Sportsman and Badminton, and worked on the Stock Exchange.


It might interest our readers to know that the correct regimental badge is a united red and white rose within the garter and surmounted by the crown. In each of the four corners is a white horse. The uniform is scarlet with blue facings. The headquarters of the regiment are at Hounslow, and the normal strength is four regular battalions, three battalions of special reserve, four territorial battalions, and one cadet corps. The King is the Colonel-in-Chief.

Brigadier-General Sir Hugh Stewart wishes to convey to the Sportsman’s Battalion his keen regret that such a fine body of men is not serving in the brigade which he commands at Bristol.

Sergeant Cummings, of the Grenadier Guards, who is one of the most famous walkers in the world, contributes to this number an article entitled “Walking as an Exercise.” Other contributions from his pen will be “A Definition of Walking,” “ How to become a Champion Walker,” and “Why Walking is beneficial to a Sprinter.” Sergeant Cummings, in addition to being a great athlete, has made a big name for himself in sporting journalism.

We hear that Private James Broughton, the Battalion Kaiser, has received several indignant letters from a lady who claims to be his lawful spouse, and that he has had some trouble in convincing her that it is a case of mistaken identity. That is the worst of being a public man whose photographs are scattered broadcast over the country. Still it is rather remarkable that two men exist in England with the peculiarly mobile and beautiful cast of countenance possessed by our friend Broughton, and, as the ladies say when their husbands arrive home with the dawn, “we have our suspicions.”

The Committee are very grateful to Sir Robert Baden-Powell for his kindly message to the Gazette and to the Battalion generally. What a treat it would be if the Chief Scout could come down either to review us or deliver a lecture!

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.

On Sunday, December 13th, Private F. Hardie, of Hut 18, was married at St. Asalphs, Greenwich, a large contingent from his hut attending at the church. Subsequently at a reception held in the house of the father of the bridegroom, Private Sydney Smith delivered an eloquent speech. Prior to his leaving the camp Private Hardie had been presented with a silver cigarette case, subscribed for by the members of his hut. The short honeymoon is being spent at Brighton. Our congratulations to the happy couple.

On Christmas Day there is to be a camp concert in the afternoon and a Regimental ball in the evening, the latter to be held in the Institute. A strong committee is arranging the programme, as also that of the New Year’s Eve ball. We understand that tickets, including admission for two lady friends, will be three shillings; tickets admitting one person only will cost eighteen pence.

While going to press we learn that a Battalion Golf team, containing three officers and five men, is to play a Romford team shortly. The Adjutant and Lieutenants Roberts and Hayes are included in the Battalion side.

F.M.S. and Straits men are asked to communicate with No. 909 (Hut 1a).

We congratulate Lance-Corporal C. G. Brett on obtaining his commission in the 2nd Battalion.


A meeting was held on the 11th November, Lieut. Philip Suckling in the chair, to form a Rugby Football Club.

The attendance was not particularly good, but the keen men were present. Colonel Viscount Maitland was elected President and Colonel Paget Vice-president and Hon. Treasurer. Pte. Lyster Secretary, and Pte. Harris Acting Treasurer.

Most of the officers of the battalion kindly subscribed to the Club as honorary members, and Lieut. Suckling offered a silver cup, to be played for by 'inter-company competitions. The “Daily Express ” kindly sent the Club a ball.

At the subsequent meeting, held on the 26th November, a sub-committee was formed, consisting of one representative for each company:—Ptes. Williams, Henri, Hopkins, and Nicholson were elected to represent Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 Cos. respectively.

The members of the sub-committee at once set to work, and a fair number of good players were found, so that after several trial games, on Saturday last 3 and 4 Cos. played 1 and 2, the latter side winning by a try.

Nos. 1 and 2 Companies seem to be the strongest at present, and it is for the committeemen of 3 and 4 to see that their sides are better represented in the future.

Any man desiring to play should apply to his respective committee man, or to the Hon. Secretary, Pte. H. N. Lyster in Hut 30, who will be pleased to give him a game every Saturday.

At present only one pitch is available, but a second and better ground has been promised for rugby on the new drill ground, and this will be marked as soon as enough players are available.

It is up to all rugby men, past and present, to help the Committee in making the Sportsman’s Rugby Football Club a success.

An inter-company match will be played on Saturday, 19th instant, and a match against a Londen team is arranged for December 26th. Members wishing to play should send in their names as soon as possible.

The Sergeants of the First Sportsman’s Battalion


The Commanding Officer (Viscount Maitland) having generously presented Silver Medals and a Silver Cup to the Club, a Competition for the same will take place on Christmas Day between the Football Clubs attached to each Company of the Battalion. The Cup will be competed for on the knock-out principle. A Draw will be made to decide the Clubs that are to play each other in the first round. The first round games will be played on Christmas morning, first tie 10 to 11 a.m.; second 11.15 a.m. to 12.15 p.m. The final tie on Christmas Day, afternoon at 2.30 to 4 p.m. All matches will be played on the Battalion ground. The Colonel is also giving a small replica Cup to each member of the winning team.

The Hon. Secretary wishes to draw the attention of the Battalion generally to the fact that owing to the large initial expense in connection with the formation, equipping, and working of the Battalion and the four Company Football Clubs, it is earnestly requested that all members of the Sportsman’s Battalion interested in Sports, and especially Association Football, will become members of the Club, either playing or Honorary—the subscription is nominally two shillings, but larger subscriptions will be received with thanks.

It is expected (with the consent of the Commanding Officer) that a number of Battalion matches will be played against several well-known clubs during our stay in Hornchurch Barracks.


The following temporary commissions have been given in the First Sportsman’s Battalion since Dec. 1st, 1914:—H. A. Taylor (2nd Lieut.), A. St. H. Gibbons (Major and 2nd in command, G. P. Roberts (2nd Lieut.), E. Cragg (2nd Lieut.), N. A. L., Cockell (2nd Lieut.), B. A. de Bourbel (Lieut.), F. H. Cox (2nd Lieut.).

The undermentioned officers and men have been transferred from the 1st to 2nd Sportsman’s Battalion:—2nd Lieut. A. H. Jackson, Lieut. P. Elwell, Pte. W. Maughan, Pte. A. E. Dunn, Quarter-Master and Hon. Lieut. H. H. Enderby, Lance-Corporal M. C. Young, Lance-Corporal C. G. Brett.

The First Sportsman’s Gazette congratulates Lieuts. H. E. F. Richardson and E. A. Winter on their recent promotion; also Sergt.-Major H. H. Enderby, the son of our late Quarter-Master.

It may be of interest to note that Mr. Rose, of Guy’s Hospital, attends the Camp Hospital every Monday at 2 p.m., and that any man wishing to avail himself of his services will only be charged a nominal fee. All names of intending consultants should be given to the Orderly-Sergeant of the Hospital before 12 noon each Monday.

Two notes of warning are contained in the Orders for Sunday, 13th December, 1914. The first refers to the fact that no wooden grating placed in position by the Pioneer Sergeant may be removed except by special authority of the Officer Commanding. The second reads as follows:—“All men of the Battalion are particularly warned that under King’s Regulations they are on no account to communicate in any way with Higher Authorities, except through the proper channel, i.e., the Battalion Orderly Room.”

The Committee of the Hornchurch Chess Club invite men of the Battalion to the club at North Street Schools, Hornchurch, any Thursday evening (Christmas Eve excepted).


Albany—World’s Champion Sculler. Bates—Yorkshire County Cricket XL. Benjamin, N. H.—Well-known racing man; his father was the owner of Wild Aster. Broughton, James—Celebrated walker and athlete. Has walked 17 miles in 3 hours 5 minutes. Barton—Captain Southfields Hockey Club. Burton, H.—Well-known comedian. Day, R. B.—World’s Champion Runner. Dillon, Charlie—Comedian. Evans—Represented Wales v. England at Amateur Soccer. Fraser, G.—Late manager Waldorf and Simpson’s. Fenton—Well-known Runner. Hayes—Surrey County Cricket XI. Hitch—Surrey County Cricket XI. Kingswell—Cambridge Soccer Blue. Kendall, Richard—Actor; brother of Miss Marie Kendall. Littlewort—West Norwood and Glossop (soccer). Mercer—Sussex Cricket colt. Just gained his cap in Sussex Football League. Mitchell, E. G.—Well-known amateur walker. Oxberry, H.—Comedian in Fred Karno’s Company. Spurway—International footballer. Sandham—Surrey County Cricket XI. Stacpoole, Lieut. R. de Vere.—Cousin of the famous novelist. Smart—Amateur Golfer. Smith, Sydney—Brother of the Rt. Hon. F. E. Smith, M.P. Terry, F. W.—Devon water-polo champion. Whitelaw—Running blue. Yorke, The Hon. Bernard—Son of Lord Hardwicke. Well-known sportsman and big game hunter.


On Thursday evening, December 17th, Sergeant Noyes arranged a concert in the Drill Hill at Hornchurch, in aid of the funds, of the Hornchurch Ladies’ Working Party for the provision of Comforts for Soldiers and Sailors. The hall was filled with officers and men of the battalion, their friends, and all the well-known people in the locality. The programme was excellent, many well-known professionals in our ranks generously giving their services. The artistes included Privates, Brown, Hodden, Howarth, Bates, and Davey, in songs grave and gay. Lance-Corporal Beeson and Sergeant Arnold distinguished themselves on the cornet, while Sergeant Noyes demonstrated once more his ability as a raconteur. Sergeant Reece sang that fine old song, “The Blue Dragoon,” with spirit and gusto. Dramatic recitations were delivered with intensity and quick power by Privates Curwen, Steele, and Winchcombe. But the two most popular items on the programme were those of Corporal Wharton and that favourite comedian, Charlie Dillon. The former, during the evening, sang at least half-a-dozen songs, the most amusing of which was that in which he cleverly impersonated a country curate, while Private Dillon’s references to drill and brawn and sundry other regimental matters convulsed even the Colonel, who was sitting in a front seat with Lady Maitland and the chairman, Mr. Thomas Gardner, J.P. Other performers included Corporals Gille and Moir and Bugler Picken. Among the officers present were Dr. Hill, Majors Gibbon and Richey, Capt. Holmes, Lieutenants Winter, Stacpoole, Roberts and Foy. The Vicar of Hornchurch and Mr. W. Varco-Williams, J.P., represented the organisers of the Hornchurch Ladies’ Working Party.

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