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 7, 1914

Aberdeen Journal

The Sportsman’s Battalions.

Sir. – Great confusion has been caused by unauthorised persons writing to the press in connection with the 1st and 2nd Sportsman’s Battalions.

Will you kindly make the fact clear in your paper that the Hotel Cecil, Strand, London, is the only officially recognised office for both battalions.

I have sent an official representative to Edinburgh and Exeter, but all applications for enrolment for either battalion must be made in person or in writing to the head recruiting office here. – Yours, etc,

Chief Recruiting Officer.
Hotel Cecil, Strand, London
December 5, 1914

Devon Exeter Gazette

Sportsmen Wanted



Devonians pride themselves on being sportsmen, and over and over again they have proved themselves adepts in every branch of sport, but now the call is made to them to lend a hand in a sterner game, that of joining hands with our brave fellows who are busy on the Continent smashing the might of Prussian militarism, so that never again shall the Kaiser and his War Lords threaten the peace of the world. Away up at Hornchurch, the “Hard-as-nails” Battalion is busily training in order to be fit to take the field with the other units of the new armies when Lord Kitchener considers the opportune moment has arrived. To those who may not have heard of the “Hard-as-nails” Corps, we may mention that this is the nickname given to the Sportsman’s Battalion, a force which will prove its worth when it takes its place on the battlefield. Within its ranks are sportsmen of all classes between the ages of 19 and 45, and its members include authors, actors, doctors, ministers, merchants, farmers, architects, engineers, students, clerks, and shop assistants. Everyone is keen on his work, and animated with but one desire – that of serving his King and country. The Battalion is affiliated to the Royal Fusiliers, and is as much a unit of the Regular Army as any regiment of the line. The appeal to sportsmen to to join the corps has been so successful that the first battalion, under Colonel Viscount Maitland, is complete, and a start is now being made with a second battalion, under the command of Colonel Paget. Among the officers of this battalion is Lieut. Dunn, better known, perhaps, as A. E. Dunn. His love for the West Country naturally led Lieut. Dunn to hope that among the members of the 2nd Battalion will be found many of the sportsmen of Devon and Cornwall, and, in order to bring the matter prominently before the two counties, he is holding a recruiting campaign in the West. In appealing to Devon and Cornish sportsmen to form a special Western Company of the 2nd Battalion, Lieut. Dunn is not asking them to join a force about which he knows little, for he joined the 1st Battalion in the early days of the movement as a private, and for two months did his drills and fatigues like any other Tommy, and remarks that feels all the better for his experience.

Well, who is going to be the first to enlist as a result as a result of the new appeal! Sportsmen, from the very nature of their calling, are so trained as to understand the meaning of sacrifice and playing the game, and the present opportunity gives them the chance of proving to the world that sport makes a man of anyone. The fact that friends joining together, and, when the right time comes, will fight together, is sufficient to prove that congenial comradeship will be found in the corps, while those who have relatives – wives, children, mothers, fathers, or other kith and kin – dependent upon them can rest assured that their dear ones will be well looked after while they are away serving their country. But the appeal which is now addressed to West-Country sportsmen is made upon the highest grounds of all – “When duty calls or labour, be never wanting there.” All down the ages the men of the West have always sprung forward as one man at their country’s call to do or die in her cause, and we are confident that the sportsmen, to whom this appeal is addressed, will, in their imagination hear the stirring roll of Drake’s drum calling them to their post of duty, and come forward in a solid mass to swell the army which is gathering from all parts of the Empire, in response to the call of the Motherland in her hour of need.

Naturally, many men who are eager and willing to join will answer, “I am quite willing. I recognise my duty, but there are many details of business to which I am bound to attend before I don the khaki, and while I am doing this the Battalion may be full.” This difficulty has been fully recognised by headquarters, and Lieut. Dunn has been authorised to state that, in order to meet cases of this description, recruits may undergo their preliminary training for the first few days or a fortnight locally before proceeding to headquarters. This will naturally give business men ample opportunity of settling their affairs before joining the Battalion. At Hornchurch they will find that every provision has been made for their comfort, and they will have the satisfaction which comes to anyone when he realises the fact that he has done his duty. For the next fortnight recruiting offices will be opened at Castle House, Castle-street, Exeter, and Lieut. Dunn will be pleased to give any information to those who may be interested. A prompt response should be made, however, as already 300 or 400 members have joined the second Battalion, and if the West is to be well represented there must be no delay.

Evening Telegraph

Cricketer and Footballer Enlists.

E. Hendren, the Brentford outside left and Middlesex County cricketer, has joined the Sportsman’s Battalion and gone into camp at Hornchurch. No objection to his joining the forces was raised by the club, although they will receive a severe blow if he is unable to play for them. It is expected, however, that he will be available for Brentford whilst stationed at Hornchurch.

Exeter Plymouth Gazette



Shall Drake’s Drum beat in Vain?


Do Your Duty and Do It Now.

YOU are not too old. The Sportsman’s Battalion if the Royal Fusiliers welcome all fit men from 19 to 45 years of age. YOUR Comrades will be Congenial. Serving in the ranks of the Sportsman’s Battalion are Authors, Actors, Doctors, Lawyers, Ministers, Merchants, Farmers, Architects, Engineers, Students, Clerks, and Shop Assistants.

THOSE you leave at Home will be Provided For. In addition to pay, Separation Allowances are made, not only to Wives and Children, but to Fathers, Mothers, and the dependants of the soldiers.

YOU Will Not Be Lonely. Friends joining together will be kept together.

All particulars can be obtained at the Local Headquarters of the Sportsman’s Battalion, CASTLE HOUSE, CASTLE STREET, EXETER. Open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Seeking information commits you to nothing.

Western Times


Efforts to Interest Devon and Cornwall

During the next month a special effort is to be made to arouse interest in the Sportsman’s Battalion recently inaugurated in London, and which is recognised by the War Office, and is, in fact, a regiment of Regulars. In the Metropolis the scheme has met with such pronounced success that the first battalion, under Colonel Viscount Maitland, has been established, and a start made with the second battalion under Colonel Paget. It is for this second battalion that the special Western effort is now being made. Already three or four hundred members have joined, so that there is no time for delay if the West-country is to be adequately represented.

Among those who early joined the battalion is Mr. A. E. Dunn, who is so well-known in Exeter and the West, besides having a big connection in London. Mr. Dunn joined in the rank of a private, and for a couple of months took his part in the daily routine – rising at 6 for drill and march – after which he was pressed to take a commission. This he did, and hopes thereby to be even more useful in strengthening the battalion. In Mr. Dunn’s able hands has been placed the work of recruiting in Devon and Cornwall, and in order to make the objects and possibilities of the battalion known he is arranging a series of meetings in town and country, of which more anon.

Meanwhile Mr. Dunn has granted us an interview, in the course of which he pointed out that it his ambition to get a West-country Company. He recognizes the love of county, and believes that when they know that they will be able to work together, with West-county officers who would be thoroughly alive to local traditions, sportsmen of all kinds and degrees will be eager to register. Sportsmen of every kind are eligible up to 45, and everyone who takes an interest in sport.

At present the 1st Battalion is encamped at Hornchurch, Essex, where barracks were specially built. They are the last word in building science, and everything has been done to secure comfort and to add to the efficiency of the troops. A short distance away huts are being constructed for the 2nd Battalion now being formed, and all the latest scientific developments in the sanitary science are being applied. Mr. Dunn has been given a very free hand with regard to the West-country Company. It is recognised that while in some instances the recruit will be able to have the preliminary drills locally for, say, ten days or a fortnight, and then proceed to London, whence in a body they will proceed to camp. The attestation can be carried through immediately on enlistment. The headquarters in London are at the Hotel Cecil, while for the Western recruiting an office has been opened at the Castle House, Castle-street, Exeter, continuing open for a month. It is hoped and believed that sportsmen will rally to the flag now that they are sure of sympathetic treatment, but Mr. Dunn hopes, naturally, that there will be an early response. Full particulars of the terms of service can be obtained from Castle House, Exeter. By-the-bye, Mr. Dunn expressed indebtedness to Mrs. Cunliffe Owen, who had financed and made the business arrangements for the Sportsman’s Battalion.

Daily Telegraph

Men of the 1st SPORTSMAN’S BATTALION at Hornchurch, Essex. All are Sportsmen.

A Chance for British Sportsmen

Hunting-men, Golfers, Cricketers – in fact every line of Sport is represented in the first Corps of the

Sportsman’s Battalion

Royal Fusiliers

Colonel-in-Chief – THE KING

The War Office has now called for a 2nd Battalion. As the 1st attained its full strength in three weeks – all Varisty men, Old Public School Boys – men who are hardened to the soldier’s life by strenuous pursuit of sport should enlist at once in this splendid corps.

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

Candidates should in the first instance apply in person or in writing to the Chief Recruiting Officer, Indian Room, Hotel Cecil, London, for Enrolment Form, which, when duly approved at Headquarters, can be presented at the nearest Recruiting Office, when candidate will be immediately examined and attested.

Pay at Amy Rates. Financial obligation optional.

Show the King’s enemies what British Sportsmen are.

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