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 8, 1914

Devon Exeter Gazette

Lieut. A. E. Dunn, of the Sportsman’s Battalion, spoke of the efforts he was making to raise a West-country Company as part of the 2nd Sportsman’s Battalion, now being formed. He wished the “Exeter’s Own” movement every success, and pointed out that the two movements need not clash, as the “Exeter’s Own” had a different age-limit, while in the case of the Sportsman’s Battalion men could be accepted up to 45. He would be in Exeter recruiting for a few days, and hoped that men who were too old for Exeter’s Own, would be passed on to the Sportsman’s Battalion.

Western Times


Effort 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 is his ambition to get a West-country Company. He recognises the love of country, and believes that when they know that they will be able to work together, with West-country 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 recognized that while in some instances the recruit will be able to at once proceed to London, in others a little time to settle up home affairs may be necessary. In such cases 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 and office has been opened at Castle House, Castlestreet, Exeter, continuing open for a month. It is hoped and believed that the 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 has financed and made the business arrangements for the Sportsman’s Battalion.

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