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!

February 10, 1915

Daily Express



An interesting sidelight is thrown on the finances of the Sportsman’s Battalions by a circular which Mrs. E. Cunliffe-Owen, the chief recruiting officer, sent to the men of the 1st Battalion at Hornchurch.

Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen stipulates that recruits shall belong to the “upper and middle classes,” and pay not less than three guineas each on enlistment.

The circular which Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen sent to the men at Hornchurch is dated Hotel Cecil, November 21, 1914, and it begins with the candid statement that “unfortunately the time has come when I am faced with a most serious problem, i.e., the Finance of the Sportsman’s Battalion.”

Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen proceeds to explain that she asked many rich and influential men to subscribe towards the battalion funds and necessaries required for the men over and above what the War Office allowed, but all in vain.

     “My husband and I lost our entire fortunes some ten years ago,” she proceeds. “Had we not done so, I should never have been forced to make any kind of appeal, as we should have been only too proud and glad to finance such a magnificent body of men as you are.
     “At yesterday’s finance meeting my hair nearly turned white, as I have to find sufficient money to pay for the enclosed list of things, for which the War Office will not pay.”

Then follows the list of “things,” which include canteens, hospital (thirty-three beds), barber’s shop, cupboards, mats, looking-glasses, and “administration right up to date.”

    “I do not know,” the circular continues, “if you are aware of the fact that our entire accounts are kept by Messrs. Deloitte, Plender, and Griffiths, chartered accountants, so that all expenditure is carefully watched.
     "Every little helps, and I suggest each hut subscribing whatever the inhabitants feel inclined and disposed to give.”

The circular concludes: “When the work is a little less I hope each hut will ask me to tea, as I should like to get to know each personally.”

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