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. 4


A is our Adjutant; how he can ride!
B’s our Battalion, his worry and pride.
C the Canteens; when you’re dry, try the wet,
D is our Doctor; good man and good “vet.”
E is our Empire; for her we must fight,
F’s for “Form Fours”; can we yet do it right?
G is the Guard Room; beware of its cell,
H is for Hornchurch, the place where we dwell.
I is the Institute; I call it draughty;
J are the Jim Jams; O shun them, ye crafty!
K’s for the Kaiser; we’ll fair give him sox,
L is for London; we liked the “Coal Box.”
M is John Merrick, of merit he’s full
N’s Private Neville, who saw a sick bull.
O’s Mrs. Owen; we owe her our thanks,
P is for Pitsea, where we’ve trenched and made banks
Q’s the Query if soon to the war we’re away,
R the Rifles we’re hoping to handle some day.
S are the Sportsmen; who said “hard as nails”?
T (ea) the mixture (plus extras) they give us in pails
U, I hope, are each doing your bit, every one,
V’s the Viscount, our Colonel, we’ve proved him A1.
W is the War; at tis end we shall cheer,
X with a minus, the strength of our beer.
Y’s is the man who takes things as they come,
Z is the Zeppelin, pride of the Hun !

I. F. W.


Our representative visited the Hotel Cecil last Saturday. Recruiting is proceeding at a satisfactory rate, and Capt. Enderby, the Adjutant, expressed the opinion that in three weeks time the 2nd Battalion might be expected to arrive at its new Headquarters, Hare Hall, near Gidea Park, Romford. Many famous sportsmen have joined during the last few weeks. Among others there are C. P. McGahey, ex-captain of the Essex County cricket eleven; Mclvor Jackson, the Surrey cricketer; Harry Packer, Welsh Rugby forward; Lewis R. Lewis, Welsh International player; Robert M. Miles, late captain of Pembroke College Cricket and Football teams; Jack Cartmell, Brentford footballer, and E. Henderson, Middlesex cricketer. Other recruits include W. Burlton Stuart, a well-known pig-sticker and polo player; Reginald Cooper, big game hunter; P. G. Sadd, Captain of the Burton Rugby Football team and twice middleweight champion of the Midland Counties; William H. Denton, a skater, runner, and champion swimmer; Rev. Frank Edwards, of Brunswick Church, Hull; and finally, a young son of Charley Mitchell, the boxer.



To the Editor, “First Sportsman’s Gazette.”


Since the appearance in a recent issue of the “Daily Express” of an article dealing with the above perhaps too popular sporting ballad some of my gallant brothers-in-arms of our honoured Battalion inform me that a good deal of discussion— of a more or less heated character, as it would be in so electric an atmosphere—has been going on as to whom the guilt was to be attached of having given to the world, in its every habitable part, the irrepressible “ Kissing-Cup’s Race.” Well, naturally, being a “Sportsman,” I am undesirous that the blame of so heinous a literary crime should fall on innocent shoulders, and I herewith hasten to own that I alone did it. But let me also hasten to add that it was, after all, a very youthful indiscretion—as you may believe when 1 tell you it was thrown off at a single sitting in a fit of red-hot sporting enthusiasm after, as a mere lad, having seen my first Derby; moreover, it was one of the grandest struggles ever witnessed for the much- coveted “Blue Riband,” in which that greatest of all jockeys in a tight finish, Fred Archer, on the Duke of Westminster’s Bend ’Or beat Rossiter on Messrs. Brewster & Blanton’s Robert the Devil by a short head. The year? Perhaps I don’t—or won’t—remember that. It will amuse some of my mellower comrades of “Ours” to look it up for themselves. But I should like to say here that the story of the ballad in question is purely an imaginary one, though many have thought they could trace in it the life-romance of one or another of the then reckless young “sports” of the peerage, the notorious Marquis of Hastings of that time for instance. But this is not so; and if I may be allowed to say so, I think the fact of the “plot ” of the piece being such a characteristically familiar one to all those knowing anything of sporting life is what made it from the first a favourite recitation in all classes of Society; to strike the human note, that is the great thing in all dramatic pieces.

“ Kissing-Cup’s Race ” first appeared in the “ Sporting Times,” better known as the “Pink ’Un,” then owned and edited by my dear old friend John Corlett, and to whose spicy pages I afterwards became a fairly regular contributor; the piece was then published in book form with many of my other ballads of a like nature, by the well-known publishers, Messrs. Samuel French, Ltd., and It was then that it became so widely popular as to prove rather a nuisance to myself as I am sure it must have done to many others. The late Duke of Westminster called one of his racing fillies Kissing-Cup after it; she won the New Stakes at Ascot, by the way, and became the dam of many good winners; and then—to crown all—“The Follies” did a burlesque on it, and now it’s on the “Pictures,” and if that doesn’t kill it nothing will—except a full-blown play I have prepared on the subject, and which, had it not been for the war, would have been duly produced.

As I say, I’m sorry I did it; though it is some consolation to me to think that, out of the twenty or so novels, thirty plays and sketches, and several battalions of pieces for recitation that bear my name, “ Kissing-Cup ” is the only one for which I have felt called upon to apologise.

And now, assuring you, sir, that I would not have ventured to so far trespass on your valuable space save to decide a question on which I have been informed many of your gallant readers are good enough to feel interested.

I am,
          Yours in sackcloth and khaki,
                    C. CAMPBELL RAE-BROWN,
                    (Private) Sportsman’s Battalion.


Dear Sir,

I had no idea that I was such a devil of a fellow until I saw it all in your last number. I hasten, however, to correct your correspondent in one detail. I do not hold the world’s record with the M.H. rifle as that is obviously a mistake. I believe I do hold the record at 600 yards with the M.H. carbine. Trusting that you will oblige me by making this correction.

I am, Sir,
         Yours faithfully,
                    NORMAN COCKELL, Lieut.


Notes concerning members of the Sportsman’s Battalion.

Aston, Wm, Francis (Private).—Actor and Stage Manager Professionally known as Wallace Aston. Educated at Dulwich Grammar School and travelled extensively in U.S.A. and Canada, and United Kingdom, mostly with that celebrated actress, Mrs. Patrick Campbell; playing the character parts in “ The Second Mrs. Tanqueray,” “ Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith,” “ Magda,” “ Electra,” and “ Flower of Yamatoo.” Was for several years Stage Manager with Wilson Barrett’s renowned play “The Silver King.” Has also been associated with Lady Tree, Ben Webster, and the late Laurence Irving in numerous West-end successes. Private Aston is no stranger to the Music Hall—having produced and played in his own dramatic sketches at most of the principal Halls in London and provinces. His favourite pastimes—hockey, walking and shooting.

Cooper, V. A. (Private).—Left home when he was 16 and went to South Africa. Has been in turn civil servant, farmer, locomotive engineer, brewer, cook, steward, store-keeper, purser, and soldier. Was in the Cape Civil Service for some time; then farmed in partnership with a Boer at Tulbaagh. Went to sea as a cook’s boy; first journey was a voyage of 10 months from Barry (Wales) to New Zealand and Australia via the United States. Was a store-keeper on a cable ship in Pacific (’Frisco Manilla cable). Worked his way to a pursership and on his last trip had charge of 600 passengers. Has made 18 trips to Australia, an average of 3 a year. His steamer arrived at Antwerp on the night the Belgian army mobilised, but did not drop anchor, escaping under cover of darkness. Private Cooper speaks Dutch and Spanish.

Gibson, C. S. (Private).—Artist, chiefly in landscape painting and reproduction. Useful at military sketching. His sports are tennis and cricket, and his principal hobby is competition motor cycling. Private Gibson is anxious to see a corps of dispatch riders attached to the Battalion, and to join them when they are formed! Is a good shot and oarsman.

Jourdain, Raymond Oliver (Sergeant).—Descended from an old Huguenot family. Born near Manchester and educated at Derby School. Open classical scholar of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Took Classical Tripos. Has travelled in West Indies and parts of South America. One of his brothers commands the 47th Loyal North Lancashire Regt., and another the 5th (Service) Battalion, Connaught Rangers. Sergt. Jourdain is a successful breeder of pedigree cattle (British Holsteins). He has taken a leading part in politics in the West of England, being an Imperialist and a Tariff Reformer.

Kendall, J. M. (Private).—Antiquary; interested in architecture and kindred subjects. A Fellow of the Society of Archaeologists. Has written considerably on archaeological subjects, and done much expert work in that direction for the Government. Spent ten years ranching in California. Educated at University College School and the University of California.

Leigh, H. E. (Sergeant).—Educated at Dulwich College. For some time farmer in Africa, and was for three years in the Natal Carbineers. Was on active service in Zululand when Dinizula was taken prisoner. His hobby is motoring, and his sports include tennis and football. Was in his college fifteen at Rugger.


(2nd Sportsman’s Battalion).

During the South African War Mr. Edwards acted as chaplain with the South Wales Borderers, and was promoted to the rank of Captain on the battlefield by Lord Roberts for an act of bravery in carrying despatches. In the Zand River fight he had the lower part of his face badly damaged by a Boer shell, and in consequence was in hospital for some weeks. The next bed was occupied by an old cavalry major of the “Blue” school who generally expressed himself in very sultry superlatives. The major and Mr. Edwards soon became “pals,” and one day the former called out, “Padre, I’ve been thinking.”

“What about, Major,” Mr. Edwards asked.
“What d— good shots those-- Boers are! ”
“Why, Major.”
“Well, they not only hit us fellows, but they jolly well hit us on our strong points. I’m a cavalry man; they’ve got me in the knee and spoiled my saddle grip. You’re a parson; and they’ve got you in the jaw.”


The committee of the Gazette are more than gratified at the cordial reception given to their first three issues. The circulation reveals a steady improvement, more particularly outside the camp. We now have regular subscribers in all parts of the Kingdom, and there is little doubt that no other regimental journal has been more widely distributed. It only remains for those responsible for its production to maintain the standard which has been set, and for the readers to continue their support, both financially and by way of literary contributions, helpful criticism, and the suggestion of new features. The committee confidently leave these and all kindred matters in connection with the Gazette in the hands of men who are not only soldiers but also sportsmen.


Back Row (Left to Right)—Lieut. Williams, Dr. Hill, Lieuts. Hillcoat, Suckling, Murray, Thompson and Taylor. Sitting (Left to Right)—Major Richey, Capt. Inglis, Lord Maitland, Lieuts. Hayes and Foy.


The Battalion played the London Caledonians on Saturday, January 2nd, and suffered their first defeat by 5 goals to 1. Our team was a weak one, Clunas, Littlewort, E. H. Hendren, Lewis, and Bates all being away recruiting. The Callies had a strong team out to meet our boys. We held out till two minutes from half-time before the first goal was scored. The second half our team went to pieces rather more than we expected. Higgins, however, played like a Trojan—but without avail, our opponents improving, and eventually won as stated.

The Battalion eleven paid a visit on Saturday, January 9th, to Dulwich, and played the well-known amateur team Dulwich Hamlet, both teams being well represented, and, as expected, a fine game was witnessed by a considerable number of spectators. Owing to indisposition Lieut. Hayes was unable to play, and Pte. Higgins captained the team.

The game was started at a very fast rate, the ground being in good condition, if somewhat wet. The Sportsman’s, however, played with determination and a combination that had not hitherto been seen in any other match, and which was noticeable particularly among the forwards. After twelve minutes’ play Hendren, with a fine shot, scored the first goal; Owers scored the second, and Hendren the third. This finished the scoring in the first half. Upon changing ends the Hamlet played up and made some spirited attacks, but the defence of Higgins, Rawlings, and Littlewort was superb, time after time robbing the Dulwich forwards and breaking up their combination.


Back Row (Left to Right)—Stillwell, Sandham, Parkes, Lee, Atkinson, Lient. Foy, Sawden, Sgt.-Major Merrick.
Sitting (Left to Right)—Williams, Hendren, Sergt. Skewes, Baillon.

Towards the finish, after a combined run of the forwards from the Sportsman’s goal to the half-way line, the ball was passed to Clunas, who worked his way through the Hamlet backs and, after being charged off the ball on three occasions, with a marvellous shot scored the fourth and last goal.

Result—Sportsman’s, 4; Dulwich Hamlet, 0.

The Dulwich officials were much impressed by the play of the Battalion team, being quite certain that it was the best football played at Dulwich this year, and were anxious to arrange a return match, on February 27th, which date was accepted conditionally by the Battalion Secretary.

On Sunday, January 10th, the 2nd Battalion Football Club paid a visit to the camp in order to play the 1st Battalion Club. Notwithstanding heavy rain Lord Maitland, Mrs. Cunliffe Owen, and the officers of both Battalions were present.

Much to the disappointment of the many spectators and the 1st Battalion players, the visitors were poorly represented, and two substitutes had to be found, Sergt. Williams and Private Moffat ably assisting them. The game needs little description. At half-time the 1st Battalion led by six goals to none. The game eventually resulted as follows:—1st Battalion, 8 goals. 2nd Battalion, 2 goals. The ground towards the finish was in a dreadful condition and prevented accurate play.

On Saturday the 1st Battalion Eleven play one of the strongest amateur teams in the London District, e.g., Leytonstone.

The railway fare is sevenpence provided a certain number travel, and 45 minutes from Hornchurch is the utmost time taken. The Leytonstone ground adjoins the Midland Station. The kick-off is at 2.45 p.m.



We think the following paragraph, quoted from Mr. Solomon Eagle’s notes on current literature in The New Statesman, worthy of still wider circulation:—

That vivacious periodical, the Book Lover, of Sydney, has just printed what it regards as the real Australian national anthem. It’s author’s name is given as “ Den,” and, although it is cryptic, it is immeasurably superior to most national anthems, and especially to the Canadian song,“The Maple Leaf,” of which both the words and the music are vapid to the last degree. The i Australaise ’ is too long to be quoted in full, but here is a typical verse and its chorus: —

Fellers of Australia,
Blokes an’ coves an’ coots,
Shift yer — carcases,
Move yer — boots,
Gird yer — loins up,
Get yer — gun,
Set the — enemy,
An’ watch the — run.

          Get a — move on,
          Have some — sense ;
          Learn the — art of
          Self de — fence.

I cannot for the life of me fill in the missing words, but probably most of my readers will be quicker- witted than I. Mr. Shaw might, perhaps, be able to suggest something.”

One of our correspondents writes: Why, oh why did you call the Gazette by its present title which means nothing to anyone outside the Camp? Had it a more general title it might have been worked into a good general sporting newspaper property. And how could it be the “First Sportsman’s Gazette” ? Surely the first sportsman by a very long chalk is not a member of the present battalion? Why not “The Sportsman’s Battalion Gazette ? ” But I think a good chance of securing a future good press property has been lost in not calling it something like “The Sporting and Military Gazette,” being the Organ of the Sportsman’s Battalions. Trusting my remarks may not appear presumptuous, C. C. R-B.

The Hon. Secretary of the Sportsman’s Battalion Football Club desires us to acknowledge the kindness of the following:—F. H. Wall, Esq., Football Association, for the gift of two new balls; The Daily Express, gift of two new balls and one pair of boxing gloves. The Secretary is anxious also to hear from the Company secretaries regarding subscriptions. He may be found in Hut 37.

The formation of a Rink Hockey Club has been suggested. Those desirous of joining are requested to communicate with the Editor.

The Scotch pipers have approached us on what is to them a very important matter. There are eight of them, and they are extremely anxious to wear the kilts (Lord Maitland’s clan). Not a bad idea!

Will any B.P. warrant scoutmasters now serving in the Sportsman’s Battalion kindly send in their names to Quartermaster-Sergeant Cole, together with the troops they represent. This information is required at the Scouts’ Headquarters.



Why must the Soldier wear a Moustache ?

it is a fair assumption that the men forming the Sportsman's battalion are animated by a common desire to do their part in upholding the honour of British arms and in overthrowing the power which seeks to dominate not only Europe but the world.

Now, nobody with any sense joined for the fun of the thing, or (expected to have a rosy time.

The period or training was regarded as a necessary but unpleasant prelude to the active service abroad which, we take it, is the goal of every man’s ambition, and the determination is keen so to work as to make this period as short as possible. Always keeping in sight the object for which we joined, every duty is weighed, consciously or unconsciously, by the test of its utility for the end in view. Thus, the cook-house fatigue is not one which is in any way sought after by reason of its inherent attractiveness, but its necessity is so obvious for the achievement of our purpose that it is accepted cheerfully and performed, we think, efficiently. It requires but a small effort of imagination to see in every onion peeled a potential nail in the. Kaiser’s coffin. We are prepared to believe that there may be a definite connection between our reiterated attempts to achieve “a steady ’alt, bringing the right foot up to the left,” or the ability to do the “three distinct motions in the erect slope” and the smashing of Prussian militarism. This, too, is accepted cheerfully, and performed, we trust, efficiently.

But it passes the wit of man to discover any possible connection between the reason for which we joined and the army regulation which compels us all to submit to the disfigurement of a moustache. Many of us have attained maturity cherishing a clean upper lip as a woman cherishes her virtue, and now every morning beholding our unnatural face in a glass, we are constrained to register silently or otherwise, another item to the Kaiser’s account.

It would be interesting to know when and by whom this order was promulgated. It certainly has no great force of tradition behind it. We know that the Duke of Wellington did not wear a moustache, and he died little more than sixty years ago. Nor does the practise seem to have been obligatory in the Crimean days, so the custom is of quite recent growth, and open, we think, to criticism on many grounds. It cannot be enforced for reason of cleanliness, nor for the sake of uniformity. A glance down the ranks on any parade ground would show that uniformity could be achieved only by a ruthless sacrifice of all the fantastic excrescences which their owners dignify by the name of moustaches.

Why then is this rule enforced? It has been suggested that it is to prevent the intrusion of adventurous females into the ranks, several authentic cases of which are on record.

(Incidentally we venture the assertion that any enterprising lady who could worm her way into the ranks of the Sportsman’s Battalion would have the time of her life—but this is by the way).

Perhaps somebody with knowledge of this regulation will enlighten us as to its inner meaning. We do not mind doing things, but we do like to know why we do them. J. I. H.

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