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 7, 1915

Newcastle Daily Journal


Mr A. E. Keys-Wells, 28, Church Street, Durham, writes:- Mr E. Cunliffe-Owen, Chief Recruiting Officer for Sportsmen’s Battalions, has asked me to urge men up to 45 years of age, of the upper and middle classes, to join at once. I want to obtain 30 men in the counties of Yorkshire, Durham, etc. Thirty joining together will share the same hut, and will form a small “pals” corps. Application forms and particulars can be had on receipt of a post-card.

North Devon Journal


DEAR SIR, - In consequence of the letter as to age limits of recruits, which you kindly published the other day, I have received a large number of enquiries.

These have convinced me that a great deal of misapprehension and uncertainty still exists in the public mind as to the status of, and conditions of enlisting in, the Sportsman’s Battalions.

May I therefore once more crave your indulgence to set out the following facts:-

  1. The Sportsman’s Battalions are properly recognised units of the Regular Army, and their status is precisely the same as that of any other Regiment in His Majesty’s Forces.
  2. No one enlisting in the Sportsman’s Battalion is required to make any subscription or donation to the funds. He is supplied with a full kit, including a complete khaki uniform, which he receives within a week of enlistment.
  3. Being regular soldiers of the King, the “Sportsmen” receive the same pay, and their wives and dependents the same separation allowances, as other soldiers.
  4. While the Sportsman’s Battalions are the only British Regiments recruiting up to 45 years of age, the minimum is still 19, so that all fit men between 19 and 45 can join.
  5. Men wearing spectacles are eligible, provided that with their glasses they can pass the sight tests.

Yours Faithfully,

Recruiting and Enquiry Office, Castle House, Exeter, January 1st, 1915.

Daily Mail


A letter has been received by the “Mail” from the Rev Frank Edwards, who is now in London. He says: I have duly joined the Sportsmen’s Battalion, and am delighted with the comradeship of the men, and their keenness. They are drawn from all spheres of life, and comprise all types and professions. I met a clergyman of the Anglican Church, who told me that I was directly responsible for his joining, for he had seen the report in the Press that I had done so, and he at once decided to the same. I think I can transfer some of that credit on to your shoulders. Anyway, it shows how in various ways the Press assists in recruiting. No man can possibly do better than join the Sportsmen’s Battalion. It is a wonderfully fine body of men on the whole; all as hard as nails and keen as mustard. Another told me he had read my “farewell sermon” in a Hull paper sent him. I told him I had not seen it, and thought he was mistaken. Was any such report published? If so, kindly send me two or three copies. Please accept my sincere thanks for all the kind and most efficient help you rendered me in all my work in Jull by your courteous, unfailing, and most able services.”

Yorkshire Evening Post


Mr. C. E. Montague, of the “Manchester Guardian,” one of the ablest journalists of the day, has joined the Sportsmen’s Battalion for service at the front. Mr. Montague is not what would be called a “sportsman” in the usual sense, but he is a first rate climber, familiar with most of the Swiss snow-peaks and with the Westmorland and North Wales rock climbs, and keeps himself fit at home by tennis, cricket, and cycling. He is close on, if not already over, the age limit for service, but his physical activity is that of a much younger man. He was already in the Manchester special constables. Mrs. Montague is the only daughter of Mr. C. P. Scott.

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