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 28, 1915

Toledo Blade


Woman’s Appeal Draws More Than 3,000 Into English Army.

London, Jan. 22 – Passengers on board the transatlantic liners need not be surprised if they are met at the pier here by recruiting officers for Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s Sportsman’s Battalions.” Polo players, tennis, cricket, football, and even baseball stars are joining with rowers, runners and boxing celebrities of the National Sporting Club, in responding to Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s appeal and needless to say these battalions, the first organized by a woman since Lady Gordon organized the Gordon Highlanders a hundred years ago, are getting on splendidly.

“Our call is being answered from far and near,” said Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen. “Incoming steamships from America bring us recruits and outgoing steamships carry our appeals for more. We have passed the three thousand mark, and Col. Viscount Maitland, commanding the First battalion, and Col. A de B. V. Page, commanding the Second, are greatly pleased.

Kitchener Approves Plan.

“The idea of forming the Sportsman’s Battalion occurred to me while I was on a shopping tour in Bond Street. I informed Lord Kitchener of it and he approved at once. Since then I have been at work every minute in the organization. Yes, it is quite true that I personally see every recruit and give my personal attention to every detail of our camps at Hare Hall and Romford, in Essex.

“See this rubber coat, for example. I have just ordered many of them at a good bargain. They are for practicing trench digging. I can’t have my men get soaking wet.”

Mrs. Cunliffe-Owwen explained that her love of outdoor life, before a severe illness last year, caused her to think of lovers of sport for her battalions. She how has to be wheeled about the camps in an arm chair, but she gets everywhere and finds time for her executive duties at headquarters besides.

Both Viscount Maitland and Col. Paget are member of the king’s bodyguard. The former was mentioned in despatches in the South African war, is a fine shot and one of the foremost billiard players in the country. Col. Paget commanded the Second battalion of the Durham light infantry, which was renowned for sport during its tour in India. Its polo team won everything before it four years in succession.

Imposing List of Recruits.

There is a spirit of democracy among all the sporting celebrities who have enlisted, boxers of local fame at the National Sporting Club fraternizing with polo players and college cricket champions.

Among those who have already enlisted are: W. Burlton Stuart, well known polo player; Reginald Cooper, big game hunter; P. G. Sadd, captain of the Burton Rugby football team and middleweight champion of the Midland counties; William H. Denton, skater, runner, boxing champion and swimmer and a son of “Charley” Mitchell, boxer; C. P. McGahey, formerly captain of the Essex cricket eleven; McIvor Jackson, the Surrey cricketer; Harry Packer, Welsh Rugby, forward; Lewis R. Lewis, Welsh international player; Robert M. Miles, captain of Pembroke college Cambridge cricket and football teams; “Jack” Cartmell, the Brentford football player, and E Henderson, the Middlesex cricketer.

Sir William Cooke, owner of Hornets Beauty, Gravelotte and other famous race horses, has enlisted as a private; S. Smith, formerly champion runner, has enlisted, and others who have joined include W. Albany, D. G. Cordery, T. Wingate and T. Robinson, the well known professional oarsmen.

Aberdeen Evening Express


Scottish Centres Compared.

There was again a heavy list of recruits at Castlehill Barracks, Aberdeen, yesterday. The 2nd Reserve Field Company of the Royal Engineers received an addition of about half a dozen men. This morning there were four enlistments in the city Territorial reserve battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, and the aggregate of recruits for the Naval Brigade (Aberdeen company) is mounting steadily.

The men who joined Kitchener’s Army numbered 13, as follows: --

William Watson – Banff (Army Service Corps).
William Bruce – Fraserburgh (Army Service Corps).
William Gilbert – Tough. (Army Service Corps).
Alexander Scorgie – Perty (Army Service Corps).
Matthew Gordon – Alford (Gordon Highlanders).
George Bonar – Peterhead (Army Service Corps).
Alexander Robertson – Logierart (Sportsman’s Battalion).
Robert Smith – Drumoak (Royal Engineers).
George C. Maitland – Peterhead (Army Service Corps).
Frederick B. Peddie – Peterhead (Army Service Corps).
Henry W. Johnson – Zetland (Scots Guards).
William Laird – Metbliek (Gordon Highlanders).
Jacob Carle – Fraserburgh (Army Service Corps).

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