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. 2


By Our Special Correspondents.


I have spent many queer Yuletides—one in Samoa, another in a lumber camp in B.C., another in a German hospital in Africa—yet I think I shall remember more vividly than all of them this last Christmas at Hornchurch. The gaily decorated huts; the visitors; the groaning tables of good cheer; the genial conviviality of officers and men; toasts and cheers, sport and sword dances, champagne and girls—when I think of these things I am amazed. Men from the East and West; men who have run great business houses, financed powerful enterprises, built and mined and sapped in all quarters of the globe; lawyers, doctors, journalists, engineers,—all these were content to remain in little tin huts singing a few songs, drinking the health of present comrades and absent friends. And all for King and country, and that queer chivalry which is characteristic of our race!

Early in the morning the men were astir, cleaning, sweeping, preparing the place for visitors. Everyone lent a hand. There were no hut orderlies on Christmas Day. By eleven o’clock all was ship-shape and the visitors were beginning to arrive.

Dinner! In most of the huts this exceeded the power of pen to adequately describe. Turkeys, game-pies, hams, beef, Christmas puddings, sweets, champagne, coffee, cocktails—a menu as complete as it was satisfying.

The Colonel came round between 1 and 2 o’clock, accompanied by the Adjutant, the Medical Officer, the Quartermaster and others, not omitting McCluny our popular piper. Toasts were given and the loving cup passed from hand to band. This was a very successful part of the day’s entertainment for some of the younger officers.



Several of the huts were most originally and artistically decorated for the festive season. Huts No. 1a, 13, 15, 19, and the Abode of Love were among the most admired. It would be extremely hard to decide which of them should be awarded the place of honour, but Hut No. 1a certainly was A1. The table decorations in this hut were very elaborate; the piled arms in the centre of the table lending a military aspect to the festive board. The Walrus and the Carpenter were present at the banquet and did ample justice to the oysters,

In Hut 15 the mottoes were exceptionally choice, and among the most noticeable were: —

“All is not beer that’s bitter.”
“Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.”
A soldier’s countersign, “Nothing to come.”

Hut 19, otherwise known as Harmony Hall, looked very bright and gay with its Christmas bells and festoons of many colours, on which were hung Chinese lanterns. The popularity of our Regimental Sergeant-Major was testified by the motto “Merrick the Meritorious.” We noticed over the door the grim legend “We are Hundertakers.”

G.B.C. & J.W.R.M.


The great tussle in the football match, fully described in another column, had scarcely concluded, or rather, been postponed when, as if by magic, the rifle range was filled with visitors.

It was, unfortunately, impossible to find room for all who besieged the entrance.

The concert, due to commence at 4 o’clock, opened with a seasonable song, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind,” by Corpl. Gille, which justly merited the round of applause it received. Then Sergt. G. Almond gave a cornet rendering of “The Flight of Ages,” which was much appreciated, and as an encore, he excelled himself in that well-known song “Until.”

Special mention must be made of Pte. Ewart’s sympathetic singing of “A Little Grey Home in the West.” Pte. Ewart, who is a well-known professional singer, possesses a voice of rare charm, and his singing on this occasion did not fail to create a deep impression. Although called back several times for an encore, Pte. Ewart was unable to respond owing to lack of time.

Undoubtedly the most appreciated item of the programme was the Colonel’s sword dance, which was positively great, and astonished every member of the audience. There is no doubt about it, Lord Maitland is a superb dancer.

Other artistes included Privates Chilmayne, Pollard, Hadden, Curie and Davey, the irrepressible Sergeant Noyes, and Sergeant Reece. The stewards were Sergeant Jourdain and Private Davey, and the accompanists Privates Turner and Chilmayne. The committee are greatly to be congratulated on the complete success of all their arrangements.

There remains only the ball to describe. Everybody was there; everybody danced; everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves; everybody wants another ball. That is practically all there is to say on this subject, unless we mention the fact that several officers distinguished themselves, made speeches in the supper room, and were chaired round the hall. Long live Christmas!



No. 1 Right-Flank Company’s Team.


Kirtain, Kent County.

? W. Kirton (SPTS/937)

Higgins, Queens Park Rangers (Capt.)
Steele, Bath City & Carlisle United.
Bentley, Halifax Town.

Dennis Higgins (SPTS/435)
? Fred J. Steele (SPTS/108)
? J. Bentley (SPTS/475)
Half-Backs Williams, Bristol Rovers (Vice-Capt.)
Walker, Kent County.
Farr, Leominster.
Louis Williams (SPTS/261)

John Phillip Farr (SPTS/478)

Lewis, Swansea.
Bates, Leeds City (Secry.)
Fatt, Ilford.
Hughes, Llandrindod Wells.
Emann, Antwerp University.

? G. V. Lewis (SPTS/359)
W. E. Bates (SPTS/919)
Charles Henry Fatt (SPTS/1093)

Leon Eugene Eeman (SPTS/280)


On Boxing Day a Golf Match had been arranged between a Battalion side and a side representing Romford Town. But, unfortunately, the weather was so inauspicious that most of the games had to be abandoned after the ninth hole. The only players who went right round were G. V. Lewis and his partner, Lewis winning his match by 1 up, after being 2 down and 4 to play. That hard and stalwart Scottie, W. G. Buchan, carried for Lewis and undoubtedly encouraged his man. The games were played on the Romford Club’s ground at Gidea Park, and the Battalion Team included the Adjutant (scratch), Lewis, the Hon. B. Butler, Hodd, Toogood, Stevenson and Bretherton. Hodd is a well-known golfer and the brother of Miss Hodd, who has won championships in archery, tennis and golf, an unsurpassed record for a woman. Toogood, who also won his game, is a noted professional. The Hon. B. Butler, who was all square at the turn, but abandoned the game at the 9th hole, is a clever amateur, while Bretherton is a plus 4 map and the winner of many scratch prizes,


Notes concerning members of the Sportsman’s Battalion.

Boys, Graham (Corporal).—Actor and professional singer. Lieut, in 1st Herts Territorials for six years. On the outbreak of war Corporal Boys applied to rejoin his old regiment, but there were no vacancies. Has visited and acted in many Continental towns. Went to Paris with Philip Carr’s company to open the Little English Theatre. It is interesting to note that Philip Carr himself is now serving with the Manchester Regiment as an interpreter. Corporal Boys has two brothers in the Army, one of whom is a doctor. His sports are lawn tennis and billiards.

Driver, G. D. (Private).—An Irishman and a Quaker. Well-known tennis player and umpire at Wimbledon; is a mechanical engineer, and, a member of the London Stock Exchange. Private Driver has travelled extensively.

Holloway, W. S. (Private).—Bedford. A mining engineer who has visited and lived in most countries, particularly in the Far East. He was for some years General Manager of the British Mining Concessions in Korea, and was in that country during the Russo-Japanese war. When the present war broke out Private Holloway was in Hungary.

Lewis, G. V. (Private).—A real sportsman who has hunted, shot and fished in many parts of the world. Won the Freshers’ Heavyweights at Cambridge (Trinity). Plays an excellent game of golf, and has gone in for archery. Private Lewis carried off the Trinity handicap at tennis with A. F. Wilding in 1904. Has lived in California for ten years, and travelled widely in Egypt, South America, Canada, Palestine, etc.

Maw, F. D. (Private).—Tonbridge and Crystal Palace School of Engineering. Is a civil engineer and director of several important companies, his interests being mainly in commercial and industrial railways and the manufacture of tiles. Private Maw was at one time captain of the well-known Kenley football club. His hobbies are fishing, shooting, and tennis. In company with a group of coal owners he has been accused in the press of providing a Zeppelin base in the Chiltern Hills, an accusation which, needless to say, he has had no difficulty in refuting.

Moore, C. A. (Private).—Master-mariner; has lived on the sea for over twenty years, commencing his career on the old Worcester when he was thirteen years old. Has been round the Horn eight times. His hobby is yachting, and his one trouble is a vague doubt as to the possibility of ever making an old sailor into an old soldier.

Nevill (Private)—No information forthcoming at present. Believed to be a relative of Gaby Deslys.

Osborne, E. (Private).—King Edward’s School and Masons. Has had a varied life in the tropics as a merchant in rubber, oils, ivory, etc., most of the time in the German Cameroon district. His business interests extend all along the line of the new Cameroon Railway, and he is the only Englishman who has travelled from one end of the line to the other. Private Osborne’s hobbies are motoring and elephant hunting.

Vincer, E. (Private).—Marine Engineer. The only Englishman in modern times who has been into the bull ring in Spain or elsewhere and killed his bull in open fight. This was at Carthagena in the summer of 1913, and was in reply to a challenge from the local athletes, who averred that no Englishman would have the courage to engage in a bull fight. We hope to induce Private Vincer to relate the full story in a subsequent issue.

Worship, N. (Private).—Rugby. A tea planter; has resided in Ceylon for upwards of twenty-two years; shoots and rides well.


It might seem at first sight unnecessary to describe so familiar an institution. But a Military Hospital is not like an ordinary hospital. It has its special rites, like the Quartermaster’s Stores; and the Pay Office. Before being admitted into a Military Hospital you have to go sick. You must go sick at a certain specified hour. This does not necessarily mean that you must be sick. But you must go officially sick at a certain time, generally about 9 a.m., no matter what time you really began to feel sick or ill. This rule is relaxed in serious cases, such as broken leg, cholera, etc., when you may go sick at any time. Soldiers who go sick are formed up in a waiting-room, stripped to the waist and with bare feet. Care must be taken at this stage to prevent Go sick developing into Be sick. A soldier is allowed to attend the hospital, without being actually admitted, and may be given “Medicine and Duty ’'’—that is to say he must go on with his duty but be filled up with medicine, or he may be given “light duty.”

An officer who “goes sick” must go to hospital or be confined to his room; in any case he cannot use the Mess whilst he is officially “sick,” even though that term may only cover an attack of neuralgia or a bad toe. It is thought that this is due to a mistaken idea of the term “sick,” and that the clerk who drew up the King’s Regulations years ago quite naturally thought that an officer must not be sick in the Mess, though it would be an excess of refinement to prevent a man being- sick in a barrack-room. Consequently the anomaly has crept in that an officer who goes “sick” must be a whole-hogger, and not show himself outside his quarters. The natural result of this rule is that the officer who goes “sick,” say for a bad knee, becomes really ill from eating cold and scrappy foods left over from the Mess table, and so finally has to be admitted into hospital, suffering from varied complications. An agitation was set on Toot a short time ago to get the new clerk at the War Office, who is so fond of altering the King’s Regulations, to get the officer placed on the same footing as the man as regards attending hospital. After careful consideration, however, he decided, after consultation with the General Officer in charge of “Operations ” at the War Office, that the experience gained by the Medical Officers in the treatment of these unusual maladies was too great to be thrown away on insufficient grounds. The officers, therefore, will have to continue going thoroughly sick for the good of the Service.

The food at a Military Hospital is prepared and apportioned according to a fixed code of laws, called Diets. All have to obey the Diet Law; even the Medical Officers themselves cannot afford to break it in favour of any patient, without incurring the wrath of the local Superior of their Sect.

There are various diets, such as chicken, fish, meat, vegetables, etc., etc, "It is absolutely forbidden to mix the diets. Thus chicken diet includes potato chips, and vegetable diet includes cabbage, beans, etc., etc., as well as potatoes; but the patient cannot have cabbages with his chicken, as he can only enjoy one diet at a time, even if the longing for cabbages should send him into a rapid decline.


During the week the Battalion Association Football Club has played several matches. The Competition for the Commanding Officer’s Cup took place on Christmas Day. In the morning two ties were played, No. 1 Company meeting No. 4, and after a fast and hard game, No. 1 defeated No. 4 by 5 to nil. The Referee was Regt. Sergt-Major Merrick. The second tie was worth watching and for a time neither side could gain any advantage. No. 2, however, 'lasted well, and despite the splendid half-back play of Lieut. Hayes and Private Littlewort for No. 3 Company, they gained a fine victory by 3 goals to nil. The Referee was Private F. C. Buxton.

At 2.30 p.m. on Christmas Day the struggle began for the Cup in the final tie. At the match between No. 1 and No. 2 Companies, which was' attended by Viscount Maitland and the Officers, both teams gave a fine exhibition of fast, vigorous and clean football, and so evenly were the teams matched that after twice extra time the match resulted in a draw (one all). In such a game, where all played so well, it would be invidious to make any distinctions. The Referee was Private Littlewort.

On Saturday the Battalion played Clapton, the winners of the Amateur Cup. The Clapton ground was covered with miniature lakes, which caused the (game to be rather slow, and after the very hard games on Friday the Battalion Team did not start with the usual dash, being 2 goals down at half time. In the second half the Battalion Team, like real sportsmen, rose to the occasion and played with great vim and cleverness, Clapton during this period rarely getting beyond the halfway line, Lieut. Hayes and Private Littlewort proving a serious stumbling block to the Clapton forwards. Hendren scored from a penalty for a bad foul near the post on Bramley, and a few seconds from the finish, from a fine burst by all the forwards, ably assisted by the backs, Bramley headed into the Clapton goal, making the game a draw. Score: Clapton 2; Sportsman Battalion 2.

It is expected that with the consent of the Commanding Officer the outstanding tie for the Maitland Cup will be played at an early date in, the New Year, when both competing teams can play at full strength.

On Saturday, January 2nd, the Battalion Team' play London Caledonians at Tufnell Park, and January 9th, Dulwich Hamlet, at Dulwich.

The Hon. Secretary would like all members to pay their subscriptions at an early date.



The Gazette wishes heartily to congratulate Sergeant Signaller J. Taylor on the splendid record achieved by his family in connection with the King’s forces. He himself is an old Scots Guardsman, temporarily attached to the Sportsman’s Battalion, and has five sons serving either in the Army or the Navy. Two of them are in the Royal Field Artillery; one is serving on H.M.S. Lion; another on H.M.S. King George V.; and one is in the trenches with the London Scottish. This we believe, is a record, difficult to equal—if it can be equalled—by any other battalion in the British Army.

Can anyone solve the following? My first is a cape; my second a captain; my whole a village.

Private W. E. Starkey has two sons serving in the Army, one of whom is now in the trenches.

Hut 20 is to be congratulated (or commiserated) on the number of its members who have recently been commissioned. There are Lieutenants Hillcoat and Taylor, who have remained with our own battalion; Lieut. G. M. Brown, now of the Gordon Highlanders, and Lieut. C. L. Green, of the Essex Regiment.

Privates Ritchie, Steedman and Kemp, have recently journeyed over 3,000 miles from the Malay States to join the Sportsman’s Battalion. We understand that they have been associated in business and travel for very many years, and we sincerely hope that they will all use the return halves of their tickets from Berlin. Good luck to the Three Musketeers !

We congratulate Sergeant C. Denton upon his recovery from a very acute attack of bronchitis.

Our second list of notable men who have joined our ranks is not yet complete, and is therefore held over for the week.

Mr. and Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen demonstrated their continued interest in the battalion by coming down to the camp on Christmas Day.

Lance-Corporal Rice is to be congratulated on the fact that of all the Gazette’s agents he was the most successful.

The following label attached to a Christmas parcel (which fortunately reached its destination) strikes us as distinctly original. It runs : —

          Ralph Beard, Esq.,
                    Box 16,
                              Public School Batt.,
                                        The Camp,
                                                  Horn castle.



Dear Mr. Editor,

Permit me a few pertinent words. I am a Scotchman who has lived for ten years in the States. I joined the Sportsman’s Battalion exactly seven weeks ago. So far I have received a pair of trousers too tight for me, a tunic too large, half a set of underclothing (the most essential part missing) and no badges of any kind whatever. When I visited some friends in London a few days before Christmas, they were convulsed with merriment at my appearance, and said that if the others in the Battalion were fitted out in a similar fashion the Germans would be annihilated when they saw us.

Another point, Mr. Editor, during my stay here. I have on three occasions been detailed to fatigue work in the canteen; and I think it is nothing- short of a scandal that men from the battalion should be compelled to scrub floors, etc., for a private contractor, while his own employees stand by and watch. On the same principle why not detail a few of us to clean the floors of the White Hart ?

Finally, to my Americanised instincts the method of dealing out coal adopted by the Sportsman’s Battalion seems most stupid and unwieldy. Instead of allowing the hut orderlies to fetch coal in: boxes of varying sizes, why not arrange with a coal merchant to deliver a standard quantity per week to each hut on specified days ?

I won’t trespass on your valuable space much further, except to say that in my judgment the men in the battalion are just the finest crowd I’ve struck in my wanderings. The only thing that’s wrong is the method and the organisation, and I guess old England will have to get a move on if she wants to win this blamed war.



[Editor’s Note:—We are not responsible for the opinions of any individual contributor. We would advise our Yankee friend to exercise patience, a very useful virtue in the trenches. There are many units who have been in training equally as long as we have, and haven’t even a shoulder strap between them. With regard to canteen fatigues and coal issues, we will express no opinion this week, but we may have occasion to refer to them later.]

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