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!

January 11, 1915

Daily Mirror


Recruits of the Sportsman’s Battalion Training at the Hotel Cecil.


Even ballrooms are being used now for war purposes, and where formerly dancers glided over the polished floors, recruits now march with heads erect and measured tramp.

It is on the beautiful dancing floor of the Victoria Hall in the Hotel Cecil that recruits to the 2nd Sportsman’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers receive their first lessons in drill.

After the new recruit has passed the medical examination the first order he receives is this: “Take this card and get measured for your uniform”.

He takes the card, which has his number on it, and goes to a West End tailors. where he is duly measured. Then he is initiated into the mysteries of drill in the ballroom.

In rubber soled shoes he is taught to right turn, right about turn, right incline, form fours, and march.

Then later he is sent with his company on marches through London and to drills in the courtyard at Somerset House or in Hyde Park.

These sportsmen are probably the most cosmopolitan body of men recruited for the new Army, comprising as they do swimmers, footballers, cricketers, cyclists, athletes, actors, theatrical agents and journalists in the ranks.

They have travelled from all parts of the world to join. One athletic figure, the bearer of which cannot be mistaken for anything but an old soldier, came from Shanghai. Another, who left England at a very early age, and who travelled the world for eighteen years, was in America at the outbreak of war. He came home immediately and joined.

More recruits are needed, and anyone with athletic qualification at all can join. The headquarters are at the Hotel Cecil. J.W.H.

The Victoria Hall, Hotel Cecil (date unknown)

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