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. 6


I made up my mind as soon as the Battalion was formed to join, and here I am. I can tell you its quite a different game to cricket. Charlie Blythe, the Kent Cricketer, was telling us at Black- heath that we should all be soldiers before Christmas and you see that most of the county cricketers have joined the colours, Blythe himself having joined the Kent Garrison Artillery, and several of the Kent cricketers are with him. We have Hayes, Sandham, and the two Hendrens here, and several other well-known cricketers. Indeed, I think we could find a cricket XI. among the members of the Sportsman’s Battalion which could give some of the counties quite a good game. I myself was looking forward to a good time in Ceylon, where I was going coaching, Hayes was going to India, Sandham to Africa, but everything was cancelled owing to the war, which I hope will soon be ended, so that we can once more proceed with our National Sport.



Notes concerning members of the Sportsman's Battalion.

Bagshaw, W, E, D. (Private).—Son of the Rev. W. S. Bagshaw, late rector of Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire. Educated at Oundle School, Northants, afterwards emigrating to Canada, where he became experienced in every branch of Canadian farming. Returned to England in 1895. Has always been a keen follower of sport. At school he gained the first eleven colours both for football and cricket. Later life became a member of the Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, and captained the Peterborough Town Cricket Club for ten years.

Bevan, T. (Private).—Hydraulic and alluvial mining engineer. Lived for 13 years in the Republic of Columbia, South America, where he witnessed two revolutions. Has conducted five exploring expeditions to different quarters of the globe, on one of which he discovered the only diamond property in the West Coast of Africa. Private Bevan was for six years a pioneer farmer in Manitoba, at a time when the Canadian Pacific Railway only extended as far as Winnipeg. At the present moment his son, who was serving in the King’s Own Regiment, and was reported “wounded and missing,” early in the war was a prisoner at Crefelt in Germany. Private Bevan's passion is exploration in wild countries. He has been three times into the interior of Dutch Guiana, and has done much pioneer work in Liberia and on the French Ivory Coast.

Borwick, A. (Private).—Brother of Leonard Borwick, one of the finest amateur pianists in England. Was educated at Blackheath and Wellington. Has travelled very extensively on the Continent. Is very keen on fishing, and is fond of all kinds of sport. He is renowned for his efficiency at orderly duties.

Buchan, W. G. (Private).—A “Stalwart Scottie.” Was for five years in Canada in various occupations, lumbering, mining, railroad work, and in construction camps. He is an engineer by profession. His sports are Rugger and golf.

Butler, Hon. B. D. (Private).—Youngest son of the Earl of Lanesborough. Fond of all kinds of sport. Scratch golfer, ex-amateur champion of Sussex. Keen cricketer, member of M.C.C. and I. Zingari, and had a few of the best months of his life big game shooting in India and Kashmir.

Curle, J. H. (Private).—(St. Andrew’s and Trinity Hall). Mining Engineer and Mine Valuer. Has inspected over 500 mines in some forty countries. Was a member of the Johannesburg force during the Jameson Raid, and narrowly escaped the investments of Kimberley, Ladysmith, and Port Arthur. He is a Scotsman, forty-four years old, and is supposed to be the most widely travelled man on record. Has written “The Gold Mines of the World,” and “The Shadow Show.”

Denis-Turner (Private).—Educated at Tonbridge School. Scholar of Pembroke College, Cambridge. Private tutor. Contributor to well-known periodicals, including Punch, The Onlooker, etc. Author of “Fabulous Fables.” Interested in beagles. Allround sportsman.

Harris, F. (Private).—Nephew of the late General Harris, a distinguished officer of the Indian Mutiny. Financial journalist and stock broker in South Africa, where he first went at the age of 18 years. Educated at the Naval College, Southsea. Was one of the first members of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Has met Kruger many times. Served through the South African War with General Buller’s column. Was present at Spion Kop, Vaal Kranz, and the Relief of Ladysmith. There contracted enteric and was in Pietermaritzburg Hospital for two months, subsequently being invalided home. Rides and shoots well. Of his two sons, one is an officer in the Royal Naval Flying Corps, and the other is a private in Kitchener’s Army, having thrown up a lucrative position at Tampico, Mexico.

Hitch, J. W. (Private).—Surrey and All-England cricketer. Born at Radcliffe in Lancashire in 1886. First county match for Surrey v. Hampshire, May, 1906. Toured in Australia with P. F. Warner’s team, 1911—12. Has played in Triangular tests, England and Australia, and taken over 1,000 wickets for Surrey. At the present moment is undoubtedly the fastest bowler in England.

Keevil, C. H. Case—(Sergeant).—Yeoman farmer hailing from Wiltshire. Has travelled much in Africa, chiefly big-game hunting. Went through the South African Campaign with the 8th division, contracted enteric, was invalided home, and discharged as unfit for further military service. He rejoined the colours, however, a fortnight later. Sergeant Keevil is an all-round sportsman, plays cricket and football, swims well, and is particularly interested in machine-gun work, having been attached to a machine-gun section for twelve months.

Kendall, Richard (Private).—A Londoner by birth; is a brother of Miss Marie Kendall, the celebrated comedienne. Also a music hall artiste, specialising in character studies. Private Kendall has danced a great deal before the public, and was one of the early pioneers of Tango dancing. He was fulfilling an engagement in Vienna just before the outbreak of the war. Besides being a dancer he is an expert skater, having been private instructor in the art to the Duchess of Cumberland. Has travelled extensively in Europe and America, but for the last five years has toured almost exclusively on the Continent. While in Germany he had the unique experience of being interned in a German prison for thrashing a German subject who had deliberately insulted the British Flag.

Mance, H. G. (Acting Quartermaster-Sergeant).— Accountant. Sent out to Liberia by the Liberian Development Company as Bank Manager. Ultimately entered the Customs’ service under the Liberian Government, and held a commission in their army. For four years was colour-sergeant cyclist company, 4th Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. Is an ardent cyclist, and has done a great deal of pacemaking for all the great racers.

Stobbs, J. H. H. (Quartermaster-Sergeant).—Railway and motor engineer. Was for 18 years in the 7th Hussars and 20th Hussars. On the Egyptian Army Staff as an engineer in the Sudan. Was Lieutenant and Quartermaster in the Colonial Horse and South African Light Horse, and accompanied General Buller’s column during the South African War, in which he was seriously wounded.

West, Wm. Chas. (Sergeant).—Has been fourteen years associated with the medical profession, ten of which have been spent with the medical officer, Dr. Hill. His chief hobby is scientific research, though he has found time for out-door sports, particularly shooting and following the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds. As a marksman Sergeant West is no novice, for he is a winner of a prize at Bisley, while serving with the Middlesex Rifles Territorials, to which he belonged three years. Has travelled much in Spain and Portugal on behalf of the Admiralty Agency, and his adventures and experiences in these countries will (we are promised) be told in these pages.

Williams, P. A. (Private).—Was educated at Marlborough and the Royal Agricultural College. Has served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, South African Constabulary, and the Lancashire Fusiliers. Took part in the annexation of Pondoland. Went through the Langberg campaign, and the South African War, having received the Langberg Medal and the King’s and Queen’s South African medal. He has also received a badge for gallantry while serving in the South African Constabulary. Private Williams came from Ceylon, where he was engaged in tea planting, in order to join the Sportsman’s. His chief pastimes are cricket, shooting and polo.

Winchcombe, Frank (Private).—Chairman Greenwich Branch Junior Imperial League. Prime Minister Greenwich Parliament, well-known in Kent as “Pitcher.” Sports correspondent of the “Kentish Independent.” Member of big sports club at Woolwich. Captained his side at cricket, football, and running. Other hobbies tennis, hockey and golf. Had offer of a commission in the R.F.A. before joining Sportsman’s Battalion.


By kind invitation of Mr. G. F. Vincent a party from the Sportsman’s Battalion visited the Gidea Park Club on Saturday, 23rd January, where a most enjoyable evening was spent. The party included several officers, most of the Editorial Staff of the Gazette, and some other personal friends of Mr. Vincent. The function was in every way an unqualified success.


The Scotsmen of the Battalion assembled at the Drill Hall, Hornchurch, on the evening of Monday, 25th inst., to celebrate Burns’ anniversary by a “Tattie and Herrin’” Supper. Private Cochran was in the chair, and was supported by Col. Viscount Maitland, Lt.-Col. Gibbons, Major Richey, Capt. Inglis, and several other officers.

The proceedings opened with the singing of the first verse of the “Old Hundredth.” Then business began. The “Tatties and Herrins” made their appearance, and judging by the remarks made, they were of true, good, Scotch descent. Next came that mysterious dish—Haggis—brought in procession by the stewards, led by a piper.

The second part of the programme followed. Then the usual toasts, songs, and some recitations from Burns. Privates Howarth and Morris entertained the assembly with songs, among which were “Lea Rig,” “Robin was a roomy boy,” “Ye Banks and Braes,” and “Scots wha’ Hae.” Sergt. Gille sang “Gae bring to me a pint o’ wine.”

The feature of the evening, however, was Peter Cairne’s inimitable rendering of “Tam O’Shanter.” The health of the immortal poet was drunk in silence and was responded to by Pte. Watt.

Lieuts. Hillcoat and Thompson’s speeches were both short and to the point, the toast being “The Lassies o’ Scotland.”

The Colonel’s health was proposed by Private Cochran, and was given with musical honours. Lord Maitland, in responding, said that four points for an after-dinner speaker were—

(1) To be able to stand up. (2) To be able to speak. (3) To shut up. (4) To prepare to sit down.

The next toast was proposed by Pte. Cochran and was that of the 2nd in command, the Adjutant and Major Richey, and was responded to by Lt.-Col. Gibbons.

Finally the health of the chairman was proposed by the Colonel, and the proceedings terminated with a song by Pte. Morris.



On Thursday, January 20th, Sergeant Bamkin on behalf of his comrades in Hut 35, presented Private James Cullen, on the occasion of his marriage, with a silver cigarette case, suitably engraved. Sergeant Bamkin’s words were few but well-chosen. In responding the recipient thanked his many friends in the hut and the battalion generally, and declared that the gift was more than he either expected or deserved, having known them so short a time, and he would certainly value it as “one of his greatest treasures, second only to his wife,”


As shewn by the Snow Man.


2 Lownay Road, Southsea, Hants,  21st January, 1915.

Col. Lord Maitland, 23rd Service Battalion Royal Fusiliers, Hornchurch.

     I have the honour to ask you, the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the above Battalion, to be kind enough to accept my sincere apologies for my unsoldierlike behaviour during my 95 days’ service with you all. I feel deeply that I am not now still amongst you. You would do me the greatest favour, sir, if you would have copies of th|s posted up in the usual places within the Camp.

I have the honour to remain, Sir,                   
     Your humble servant,         
          GEO. W. FRASER.

Late Private Right Flank Company, of Sheddocksley, Aberdeenshire.


To Editor, “First Sportsman’s Gazette.”

     Will you allow me a few lines of space in their own journal to make an urgent appeal to the gallant “Sportsmen” at Grey Towers on behalf of the funds of the above institution, which has been already of such valuable service to the Battalion. Personally, as a patient who found in it a temporary haven in a painful ailment needing careful nursing, can speak with experience and gratitude of the kindly treatment so readily and generously given; and at the time of which 1 write there had been many other of my comrades in arms received in the hospital in cases of emergency during quite a short while, including one who was just recovering from a somewhat serious operation, and who can speak with me as to the invaluable aid given him towards recovery.
     And now I am sure have said sufficient to buck the “Sportsmen” up to doing something, say in the way of a concert, or a “round robin,” to add to the very inadequate funds at present at the disposal of the Cottage Hospital; for, let every man remember, fit and “hard-as-nails” as he may be now, there’s always the possibility of striking a bad patch of road and of a nail coming loose.
     Now then, Sports !



Dear Sir,
     May I, through the medium of the Regimental Gazette, protest at the increase of dogs in the camp? They have become a veritable nuisance, and I think something ought to be done to get rid of them. Dogs are essentially dirty and unhealthy animals— and are doubtless the means of bringing much infection into homes and places where they congregate.

I am, Sir,                   
Yours obediently,         

A BATTALION ASSOCIATION TEAM. (Played against the Officers).

KEY—Left to Right (standing)—Buxton, Aylward, Lewis, Harrison, Welford, Shayler, Monsieur X., Haigh, Fletcher.

Left to Right (sitting)—Picken, Glendenning, Williams, Bates, Pearce.



On January 23rd Brentford did not play the amateur team advertised, but put in their strongest eleven, in fact, the best team they have had out this season.

Unfortunately for the Sportsman’s, Higgin, the captain for the day, who is suffering from torn ligaments in his right leg, broke down soon after starting, and tried to play at outside right, but was evidently suffering much pain, and soon had to retire from the game altogether. Kirton was charged over against the goal-post and hurt; Clunas, our best forward, was badly kicked on the knee early in the second half. These injuries, with Lewis going lame, completed our misfortunes. The team was also much weakened through the illness of Lieut. Hayes and Private Owers, two of the best Battalion players. Brentford lost the toss and the Battalion team kicked off, nearly scoring in the first few minutes. Brentford, however, playing the one back game, upset their opponents forwards, the referee time after time giving them offside, and on three occasions when it was obvious to both teams and spectators his decisions were wrong.

The Battalion alter this could not seem to get going, and some of the players dropping out through injuries received, caused the game to be very onesided indeed.

The Brentford team were very fast and vigorous, playing exceedingly well, the backs kicking a good length, the forwards combining and giving our backs no rest. Littlewort and Rawlings showed fine form in defence, but it was of no avail, the Battalion being well beaten by 6 goals to 0. Other than those mentioned Hendren and Clunas alone showed the excellent form that has won the Sportsman’s so many matches.


This was played out on Sunday afternoon, January 24th, on the parade ground between the Right Flank and No. 2 Companies respectively. Captain Inglis kindly acted as referee.

The ground was in a wretched condition, in places being covered with snow and small lakes of water. It was more fit for a water polo match than football. Both sides took the field short of their regular players owing to injuries and sickness. Clunas and Atkinson from No. 2 Company and Higgin, Kirton and Fatt from the Right Flank Company, were the most notable of the absentees. Both teams, however, made the best of matters, and although the fine points of the game of football seen in the previous matches were missing, the players tried hard to make up for its loss by hard work and vigor.

To describe the game or players under such conditions would be unfair to both teams.

Right Flank Company did most of the attacking, Hughes, Bates and Stealey being perhaps the best. Bates scored Their only goal in the last minute of the game.

For No 2 Company Stilwell in goal, Hitch, Hendren and Sawden were the best, Hitch and Winchcombe doing the scoring. No. 2 Company eventually beat the Right Flank Company by 2 goals to 1 goal, and thus won the Cup.

It is worthy of note that No. 2 Company’s team included nine players from Hut 14.


Owing to the snowstorm on Friday last, the 22nd inst., the Rugby Football Match with the 17th Empire Battalion at Whythorpe had to be postponed. It is hoped, however,) to play the match on Saturday, the 6th prox.

Full information will be posted next week. For Saturday next, the 30th instant, the celebrated London Irish Football Club are bringing a team to Grey Towers, and it :is hoped all Rugby men will be present to give them a hearty reception. Ladies are specially invited. Kick off at 3.15 pun..

The following will represent the Battalion : —

Back—Pte. J. P. Farr. Three-quarters—Ptes. L. Williams, H. F. Wadham (Capt.), G. H. Salvesen, G. T. Franey. Half-Backs—Lieut. H. E. Taylor, Pte. P. R. Henri. Forwards—Capt. A. B. de Bourbel, Ptes. L. J. Sharland, W. J. Stretton, H. L. Lyster, G. V. Spurway, D. L. Clemetson, S. Thompson, J. M. Gilmour. Reserves—Ptes. Currie, Scott- Tucker. Referee—F. G. Harris.

The Hon. Treasurer, F. G. Harris, will be glad to receive subscriptions in Hut 13.

After the match the London Irish will be entertained to a “High Tea” and “Social” in Hut 13. Lieut. P. Suckling has kindly promised to preside.

All supporters of the Rugby Union will be cordially welcomed.


Quartermaster-Sergeant Stobbs has been transferred to the Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport Section), as Acting Staff Sergeant.

We learn with regret that 2nd Lieut. Murray-Thompson is shortly leaving us in order to take up a commission as full Lieutenant in a popular Irish regiment.


Jerry Delaney is the present Light-weight (9 stones 9 lbs.) Champion of England, and one of the latest recruits to the First Sportsman’s. He is anxiously awaiting the return of Freddie Welsh so that he may box him for the championship of the world and the Lord Lonsdale Belt.

Delaney has taken part in thirty-three contests, and has won them all, mostly by the “short route.” Amongst the men he has fought are Ferdinand Quendreux, Light-weight Champion of France, Eugene Volair, Will Galley, Danny Hughes, Willie Farrell, Jack Ward, and Harry Stone of America, who was his last opponent at the National Sporting Club.

He is now matched to meet lack Denny of New Orleans, who has come to this country with a challenge to all English Light-weights, and the contest will take place, (with the kind permission of his Commanding Officer), at the National Sporting Club, on the 22nd of February next. Delaney is open to meet any man in the world at 9 stones 91bs. for £500 a side, and during his training here, if any men in the Battalion would like to box with him, he will be very pleased to meet them, as he is rather short of sparring partners. Those desiring fame in this direction are invited to hand their names to Pte. J. Jagger, Hut 13.


Which, although not in the Drill Book, may be of service to some of our recruits.

  • Always wear the same puttee on the same leg. Mark the puttees so that you may know the right one from the left.
  • To make a sleeping bag of your blanket fold it once and sew it down the side and along the bottom.
  • To take grease out of khaki cloth, smear the spot with mud, and when the mud has dried brush it off.
  • The best way of cleaning greasy mess tins when hot water is not available is to rub them with mud or a clod of turf. This absorbs the grease and the tins can be rinsed in cold water.
  • A good substitute for a button stick can be made from a piece of cardboard.
  • Unless you have been used to manual work, wear gloves while trench digging. They will save you blisters.
  • If you haven’t started wearing a body belt, don’t! The same applies to sleeping caps, mufflers, etc. They make you more susceptible to cold if worn when they are not wanted.
  • Change your socks often. Wear a thin pair under a thick pair. Change your right sock to your left foot and vice versa every other day.
  • To dry wet boots clear away all the mud, fill them as tightly as possible with newspaper, and hang them up.
  • Always carry some extra bootlaces with you.
  • Learn all the bugle calls as soon as you possibly can.
  • It is a good plan to carry an old sock, from which the foot has been cut away, in the haversack. You can pull it over the bolt of your rifle when you want to protect it from rain or dust.
  • When wearing full kit over an overcoat put a sock under the braces on each shoulder. This acts as a pad and prevents the straps from pressing into and hurting the shoulders.
  • If possible carry your clean clothes in a waterproof bag inside your kit-bag. Open transports are sometimes used for moving kits, and if it rains the waterproof bag will ensure a clean and dry change.
  • Attend to your rifle before you attend to yourself.
  • Leave unbuttoned the top button of your trousers while on a route march. You will feel much easier.
  • Don’t criticise orders given you. Carry them out. You will have plenty of scope for using your brains when carrying out the order. If you get what appears to you (a rotten order, carry it out as if it were the best one possible. The man who issued the order probably knows more about the game than you Bo. It is discipline that carries regiments through.


It has been decided that the Dramatic Entertainment, so kindly offered by Miss Taylor and her friends, as mentioned in our last issue, shall be given in the Drill Hall, Hornchurch, on the 2nd and 3rd of February, at 7.30 on each occasion.

The same programme will be given at the two performances, and will consist of three short plays: —

The Biter Bit," “The Bishop's Candlestick ,” and “Three Common People.”

Miss Stephanie Bell and Miss Moira from the “Peter Pan” caste at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, will contribute dance and song items between the plays.

The charge for seats will be 1/6 reserved and 1 /- unreserved, and the proceeds will be given to the Battalion Benevolent Fund.

We hope that all the members of the Regiment will make a point of taking a ticket for one or other of the two evenings.

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