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. 3


Congratulations from the press still continue to reach us as well as communications of a critical nature. In this latter connection the Staff of the Gazette would be pleased to receive suggestions for new features or notes of any kind, more especially from the many experienced journalists in the camp, which would help them in making the Regimental Journal worthy of such a unique battalion. We append a few more press reviews:—

The Daily News, December 26th, 1914.

“In a green cover, enclosing a score of pages of sparkling matter, the ‘First Sportsman’s Gazette’ is to hand. The journal of the '23rd (First Sportsman’s) Battalion Royal Fusiliers, those responsible for its publication, believe it to be the most interesting regimental gazette in existence.

Sir Robert Baden-Powell is represented by a contribution on ‘Scoutcraft in War,’ there is an M.A.P. column (a ‘Who’s Who’ of members of the battalion), poetry, fiction—and readable fiction, too!—a column of notes and news, and a joyous contribution under the caption ‘Things We Want to Know.’ ”

The Manchester Guardian, December 31st, 1914.


“This war has given us more than one unusual kind of literature; not only have we letters from soldiers and sailors who are fighting, but more formal essays from those who are waiting for their chances. Some of the Warships in the North Sea have their magazines, and how we have received the first number of the first volume of ‘The First Sportsman’s Gazette.’ This is the weekly journal of the 23rd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, which is now in training in Hornchurch. It may be bought for three pence, but whether it will ever run to volumes is doubtful, for, though you may dot many things in the trenches, the publication of a journal is not one of them! It is well known, of course, that one of the advantages of this Sportsman’s Battalion is that it has a notable stiffening of men that are, comparatively, of ripe years, and it is well that there should be some safety valve of the kind. As Ulysses said, ‘Old age’—but let us say middle age—‘has yet its honour and its toil,’ and there are some ardent and intrepid men with whom the record of years is an irrelevant formality. The Sportsmen are a fine mixture of athletes and scholars, but though they run football clubs they do not bother about learned associations or debating societies. We can imagine some anxiety to keep scholarship out of the way as possibly tainted with that ripeness that men of action are shy to claim. But they are proud of one another, and this first number consists in some part of appreciations of men in the battalion. There are international footballers, county cricketers, champion scullers; one private is the son of a general, another is Mr. F. E. Smith’s brother, another is the Editor of the magazine and its poet. A sergeant (of Harrow and Trinity) expresses the belief that 20 per cent of the men in the battalion will not stand the training, but to the others he would give two or three weeks’ rifle practice, and then send them to the front; we should suppose that he means that they have their share of disciplines and discretions and more than their share of intelligence already. It is not militarism, as we have generally conceived it, for discipline to give the rein to criticism in this fashion, but these Sportsmen are ready to learn from one another. They are full of gaiety, too, and of jokes that have no offensive superiority about them; they make articulate the good fellowship that is common to our army.”

The Daily Express, January 5th, 1915.

“ ‘The First Sportsman’s Gazette’ is the name of a new regimental weekly journal promoted by Colonel Lord Maitland and the officers and men of the Sportsman’s Battalion. The first number contains some excellent articles, and the whole production reflects great credit on the Editor.”

The Privates’ Mess.



The Quartermaster is the son of Richard Stacpoole, Esq., a well-known barrister, and a cousin of the celebrated author of “The Blue Lagoon,” and other novels which are as popular among the reading public as the subject of this sketch is in the Sportsman’s Battalion. Indeed, no officer serving with us possesses a livelier interest in the welfare of every individual, or is more proud of his association with the battalion! Those who have listened to his lectures to non-commissioned officers will best realise the dominant and intense personality of Capt. Enderby’s successor. A pleasing and cultivated voice, combined with animation and mobility of features, are the outstanding characteristics which draw and hold your interest, while behind and underlying the easy stream of words you sense something of the fire, the controlled enthusiasm of the man.

Lieut. Stacpoole belongs to that class of practical dreamers who are able by pure creative force to carry their dreams to successful realisation. This type is sometimes restless and variable—but it is the type which has made the Empire.

Lieut. Stacpoole had seen much military service before joining the Sportsman's Battalion. He is a cavalryman, having been successively in the 21st Hussars, now Lancers, and the 6th Dragoon Guards, with the latter of whom he went through the whole of the South African campaign. Like certain other of our members he is naturally somewhat disappointed that the battalion is not mounted, but even allowing for this he would rather be a private with the Sports than an officer in any other unit. With his customary generosity Mr. Stacpoole could not refrain from putting in a good word for his capable and hardworking chief-of-Staff, Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant Scobell, and the writer left the two of them drawing up the Battalion menu for the following week.

W. J. H.


Few things are more necessary for the well-being of a military force than an adequate and efficient medical and surgical service. This fact is self- evident in the case of troops in the field; though, perhaps it is not so generally recognised with regard to soldiers still under training and not yet sent out to the front. But a moment’s consideration will show that the health of a training camp is a matter of as much importance as is the health of an army in the field.

Indeed, apart from the question of wounds and of the hardship and exposure incidental to present day warfare, it is in the training camp that the main work of the medical officer has to be done.

For the camp-hospital must not be considered merely as an infirmary containing so many beds for the reception and care of sick soldiers, with an out-patient department attached for the treatment of minor disorders. It is rather the head-quarters of an organisation charged with the duty of keeping the whole camp and all the men in it in the highest possible state of sanitary and medical fitness. Ideals, it is true, are not always realised; but that is the ideal which an army doctor is bound to set before him.

For this, as for pretty well everything else, two things are necessary, men and material, and here at Hornchurch we are fortunate in both respects.

The two hospital buildings—containing respectively twelve and twenty beds, with the various incidental equipments required by modern service, form a very respectable mise en scene for the medical work of the camp.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that no improvements or additions are desirable, but taking everything into account, we may claim that our hospital does us no little credit. It is not now the time to speak of the preparations of extension and experience for the work of active service; these we hope to describe on a future occasion.

The Hospital, it is pleasant to record, is never crowded, and serious cases have been rare. Not a few of the ailments treated have been due simply to the ’failure of various Sportsmen to recognize that, though still strenuous, they are no longer slender or supple enough for leap-frog or other delights of physical drill. Other minor maladies must be attributed to the pinching of the proverbial shoe: it is not in a moment that feet can become “hard as nails,” especially if nails are sticking in them. Yet another sickness, less easy to deal with, is attributable to the wet. External in some instances, but too often, it must be admitted, internal. But at Xmas time we must be charitable. Medical Battalion parades passed away wet afternoons, and drew on the sea food supplies of the Hospital dispenser,

A rumour that D’eath has been in our midst is quite unfounded—or rather, we imagine, founded upon a punning pleasantry. For hospital life is not without its humours, and even its little jokes. The initiated alone, we fear, will have an opportunity of laughing at what was said when a certain engine was oiled. But perhaps I shall be more generally understood if I venture to conclude with a discreet allusion to the Sergeants’ mess.

An article on our Hospital would not be complete without remembering that all the comforts we have are due to the untiring efforts of Mrs. Cunliffe Owen, who has omitted no detail.

We ought to be proud of the Battalion as the percentage of sick is far below the average of any other Battalion of the same strength.

          Medical Officer,
                    Lt., R.A.M.C.

Jan. 4th, 1914.


Any new recruits attached to Right Flank Company who desire a trial for any position in the Company football team should apply to Sergeant Williams, No. 7 Hut, or Pte. Higgins, No. la Hut. The Subscription for honorary or playing members is 2/-, and may be paid to Sergeant-Major Powney,


Last Monday evening a column of the regiment, 200 strong, fifty men from each company, headed by the Colonel, the Adjutant, band and pipers, travelled by train to Barking. There parading the streets, it was halted at central locations, while Sir John Bethell, the Local Member of Parliament, made recruiting speeches. His audiences were largely composed of women and children, for the men of Barking were not biting. Not that they were gone already, for whatever the town’s enlistment figures may be, its streets were still full of young men. The best looking girls hung on their arms, and they remained callous to all blandishments.

The Sportsmen were entertained in a public hall to bread and cheese and beer, the band played, several songs were sung, and the Colonel in a short speech called for three cheers for Sir John Bethell for his hospitality. The recruiting column returned to camp about eleven o’clock.



Dear Sir,

When looking through your admirable journal “The Sportsman’s Battalion” Gazette, the thought struck me how each branch of Sportsmen has a particular qualification.

Bowlers should be attached to “Transport” work where a good delivery is needed.

Batsmen usually make “scouters” run, sometimes making a “Hun dread” (excuse pun).

Tennis Players as are good for any “Service.”

Footballers can always reach the “Goal.”

Swimmers should be at home in the trenches.

Walkers could precede the transport wagons as they “cover the road well.”

Boxers generally make a “good impression.”

Fishermen could record the deeds of the regiment. They would not be then underrated.

While all know how to play the game.

          S. ROBSON.


Dear Sir,

On behalf of the. Committee of the Hornchurch Ladies’ Working Parties, I am writing to thank those members of the Sportsman’s Battalion who so kindly helped our funds by giving the splendid Concert in the Drill Hall on December 17th.

The Concert was greatly enjoyed by all present, and the amount realized by sale of Tickets and Programmes was £30 5s. 6d., which sum has been paid to our Treasurer, and in due course will be expended in the purchase of materials to provide comforts for our soldiers and sailors.

          Yours sincerely,
                    M. GARDNER,

Total number of garments sent away up to date, 1,174.


Notes concerning members of the Sportsman’s Battalion.

Bucknall, B. E. (Sergt.)—Marlborough and Brazenose. Has had an interesting and successful career, the last twelve years of which have been spent farming in the Argentine. Sergeant Bucknall has played Rugger for Marlborough as well as represented his school in gymnastics at Aldershot. Shoots well and plays golf.

Cockell, Norman A. L. (Lieut.).—Lieutenant Cockell has a record of all-round sport difficult to equal. He has played polo for many years; while pig-sticking and hunting have brought him many bad accidents. He is a remarkably fine shot, and was the winner of the Tikari Cup and other prizes with the service rifle; has had the distinction of being the best shot in his regiment. He holds the world’s record with the Martini-Henry, and in addition is well-known as a game shot.

At ball games he has excelled; is a fine lawn tennis player, being three times runner-up in the all India Tennis Championship.

He has compiled 37 centuries at cricket, while at golf he has a plus handicap at Walton Heath, Princes’ and other golf clubs, and has won the last scratch aggregate at Walton Heath. He was knocked out in the amateur championship by the Irish champion after a very good match.

In spite of his exceptional proficiency in the above-mentioned departments, it is at billiards that Lieut. Cockell stands out, perhaps more than at any other game as being very far in advance of the average amateur. There is no doubt that he could easily have won the amateur billiard championship had he wanted to enter it. He was on an equality with the second-class pros., and once in a match of 1,000 up with Bennett he averaged 47 each visit to the table and won easily.

Although originally in the ranks of this battalion he has had 16 years previous service, and our own Battalion may well feel gratified in possessing an officer whose career and character are so appropriately connected with the name of Sportsman.

Ewart, M. (Private).—Professional singer and actor. Has lived much in South Africa, and was for some time in the Natal Civil Service. Subsequently entered the theatrical world, playing successfully in musical comedy. Was with George Edwards for nine years, four of them at the Gaiety Theatre, London. On the day, that war was declared he was in Johannesburg. When asked his opinion of soldiering Private Ewart declared that “ it is a better game than the stage as one is always sure of one’s grub and pay; all the same, if I come through the war, I’m going back to the footlights.”

Franklin (Sergeant-Postmaster).—Educated privately, read for the medical profession; served apprenticeship to chemist and druggist. Has travelled extensively; visited Greenland with Arctic exploring party. Was in the West Indies when Prince George was serving in the gunboat Thrush and opened the Jamaica expedition. Sergeant Franklin’s hobbies are revolver and rifle shooting, and wrestling. On one occasion he nearly lost his life in the embrace of a brown bear, owing to the misfire of a faulty cartridge, and on another he was shipwrecked. He has fought three duels and come out unscathed. Sergeant Franklin was in the Royal Garrison Artillery 1892-93, and has held a commission in the Colonial forces. He is the winner of many trophies for rifle shooting; a member of the National Rifle Association and the Society of Military Rifle Clubs; holds the Donegal Bronze Badge and other shooting distinctions; is a member of Lord Roberts’ National Roll of Skilled Marksmen, and a prominent Freemason.

Lawes, A. E. (Private).—Formerly a member of the Ranelagh Harriers Water Polo Team and Serpentine Swimming Club. Played for Middlesex County from 1891 to 1897, and in several trial international games; was chosen to play for the South of England against the North in 1894. Won the West End Association 1,000 yards championship in 1892.

Preece, T. C. (Private).—Linguist and traveller. Has spent many years on the Continent. Has often been with the French troops on manoeuvres. His intimate knowledge of France and Belgium should prove invaluable when the Battalion moves over the water.

Warner, D. R. (Private).—Educated at Bradfield. A motor-engineer by profession, who was for nearly three years engaged in the motor haulage business in Vancouver. Is a good shot, plays some golf, and is the most noted early riser in the battalion. Private Warner, who is a cousin of General Sir Douglas Haig, came nearly 6,000 miles to join the colours. He arrived in England one Sunday morning and on the following Wednesday morning he did his first drill at the Hotel Cecil.



From a letter which we recently received from a friend now in training on the East Coast we extract two useful suggestions. He writes, “As a means of passing a pleasant hour or two, while at the same time gaining some useful knowledge, I can strongly recommend placing your huts or the buildings in which you are billeted into a state of defence. It is an occupation especially suitable for wet weather, of which we are having our full dose down here.” As it is not improbable that when we get to Germany we may occasionally have to defend isolated positions, or be trapped in farmhouses and have to hold them until relief arrives, we pass on the suggestion for all it is worth.

The other suggestion of our correspondent is that the Gazette organises a Battalion paper chase, say ten miles, starting two of our celebrated runners as hares. The writer concludes that “the first man should be home in under the hour, and it would greatly increase the interest if the event were fully reported in your columns and the names given of the first twenty in, together with their numbers.”

We congratulate our friend, G. V. Lewis, whose biography appeared in our M.A.P. column last week, on obtaining his commission in the 4th Dragoon Guards.

We learn that Brigadier-General R. O. Kellet who inspected the battalion just before Christmas, has issued a report very gratifying to our officers, complimenting all concerned upon their excellent behaviour on parade and general smartness during the inspection.

In our last issue we published a communication from An Admirer of Yankee Methods, and, although we do not accept responsibility for the opinions of any individual contributor, we must express regret that the communication in question lent itself to unfavourable interpretation.

Sergeant Cummings, late of the Grenadier Guards, is now definitely attached to the Sportsman's Battalion.

In printing Right Flank Company's Soccer team last week we described Pte. Eeman as of Antwerp University. There is no university at Antwerp, and the notice should have read Brussels University.

Regimental Sergeant-Major Merrick has just received a post-card from a friend in the trenches who writes that our first issue has been received there, and proved a welcome relaxation.

          THE LOOK-OUT MAN.


The weakest point in the efficiency of the Battalion at the present time is saluting, and this is calculated to greatly mitigate against the opinion that Staff and other Officers might form of the Battalion; it is therefore deemed advisable to publish a few points in connection with the same through the medium of the Regimental Gazette.

  1. N.C.O.'s and Men must invariably salute all Officers whether belonging to their own Regiment or not. A great many men do not salute if they think their salute is not likely to be observed, but this is entirely wrong, and can be no excuse for not saluting. N.C.O.'s and Men must salute even if the Officer be 50 yards or even more away.
  2. If a party, or group, of N.C.O.'s or Men are standing together, the senior, or if the senior cannot be immediately decided on, any one of the group should call the party loudly to attention and salute, whilst the rest of the party would stand to attention facing the direction the Officer is about to pass.
  3. If a N.C.O. or man should not be properly dressed, i.e., if he is not wearing his coat or his overcoat, or if he is without his cap, he will stand simply to attention while the Officer is passing. If he is meeting or passing an Officer, he will simply turn his head and eyes in the direction of the Officer.
  4. When walking out in the street, all N.C.O.’s and men will salute with the hand furthest away from the Officer, taking the time, if more than one are together, from the N.C.O. or man nearest the Officer.
  5. When walking out in the street and meeting a Regiment or party under an Officer, all N.C.O.’s and men will halt at the edge of the pavement and salute all the Officers as they pass, with the right hand. N.C.O.'s or men on duty walking along the street need not halt but simply salute the Officers with the hand furthest away, as if there were no troops passing.
  6. If a N.C.O. or man happens to be smoking, the pipe or cigarette is to be held in the non-saluting hand while saluting. This is a most important rule and is very often disregarded.


An Officer seeing a salute will immediately return the same in a proper manner. Should there be two or more Officers together, only the senior Officer will return the salute.

No comments :

Post a Comment