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 5, 1915

Chelmsford Chronicle



At Romford yesterday Joseph Bysouth, 43, a cartage agent, of Milton Road, Romford, was charged with stealing 28lb. of bacon, 3lb. of mutton, 3lb. of beef, 1 ½ lb. of dripping, seven loaves of bread, and 1lb. of tea, value £2, the property of the Officer Commanding the Sportsman’s Battalion, at Hornchurch, on Jan. 30.

The case was begun on Monday, when Lieut. and Quartermaster Robert de Vere Stacpoole said that for a considerable time he had received complaints regarding a shortage of rations at the men’s meals. He knew that the full issue of rations had been made, so he suspected they were being stolen. On Saturday he instructed the sergeant of the guard to examine all vehicles leaving the barracks. The sergeant subsequently reported to him that the things mentioned in the charge had been found in the defendant’s van. Witness identified them as the property of Colonel Viscount Maitland, the officer commanding. Defendant had no authority to take the goods away.

Pt. C. F. Branson said he was on sentry duty, and he stopped the defendant’s van. He saw Sergt. Gille take a loaf of bread from a sack in the van. Defendant said, “That’s all I’ve got; I got it from the pig-tub.” Sergt. Gille found another loaf, and then took the accused to the guard-room.

Lance-Sergt. F. M. Gille said he asked the defendant what he had got in the van? Defendant replied, “Nothing, only some hay for the horses.” Witness found two loaves of bread. He also turned out two sacks that were in the van, and found the bacon, beef, tea, loaves, and other things. Defendant said, “I picked them up from the pig-tubs.”

Police-Sergt. Crowe said that when charged by Supt. Mules, the accused said, “I have a contract to take the swill away, and I saw two bags standing against the tub. I thought they were rubbish, and I put them in my van.”

Yesterday the case was again remanded for a week.

Daily Express




Mrs. E. Cunliffe-Owen has ceased to be amiable—to the “Daily Express.” Only yesterday we printed a letter from her in which she said, “ I have scarcely had breathing time this morning, and owe you an immense debt of gratitude for the wonders you are working for me. When you have the time, do come and see me. as I am sure we ,should work well together.”

When a “Daily Express” representative, glowing with pleasurable anticipation of the cordial welcome that awaited him, called yesterday at the Indian Room of the Hotel Cecil, however, Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen would not see him.

He might as well have been a postman – “a real, grimy, horny-handed son of toil,” to quote Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s own words.

The “Daily Express” representative went to the Indian Room, the recruiting headquarters of the Sportsman’s Battalions, for the purpose of receiving Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s reply to the questions asked in yesterday’s “Daily Express” with reference to the cost of raising and equipping the battalions, recruits for which are told that they must pay not less than three guineas each and be of the upper and middle classes.

The questions are: —
1. How much money has been received?
2. How has the money been spent?
3. What is the present balance or deficit ?


These seem very reasonable and pertinent questions, in view of Colonel Viscount .Maitland’s statement that he has recruited 255 men at an advertising cost of 7s.. while Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen has, as she has said, spent about £2,300 on recruiting, and altogether about £7,000 more than she expects the War Office to refund.

The “ Daily Express ” representative handed his card to the orderly in attendance inside the doors of the Indian Room. This is a very large apartment, the far corner of which is shut in with screens, so placed that the chair in which Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen sits at her desk commands a view of the area just inside the doors. Any one who steps beyond the waiting-corner comes “under fire.’’

The orderly took the card inside the screens, and after a few moments returned.

“Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen is too much engaged to see you,” he said with a faint smile.

The “Daily Express” representative asked the orderly to go back and say that he would like to see Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen at some later time.

“She can’t see you,” said the orderly, shaking his head.

“I should like to have Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s reply,” the “Daily Express” representative said.

“That is her reply,” the orderly answered; “she is unable to see you.”


Asked if the “Daily Express.” representative was to understand that Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen refused to see him at any time, the orderly repeated: “She is unable to see you.”

So for the present we are unable to give Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s answers to the above questions. Perhaps she will oblige our readers another day.

The “ Daily Express ” was told yesterday about a thoroughly good recruit, who would have been particularly useful in the regiment, but who was immediately rejected by Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen when he said that he could not pay.

It would be interesting to would-be recruits for the Sportsman’s Battalions if Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen would announce:

What rent has been paid, and is being paid, for the Hotel Cecil quarters?

The “ Daily Express ” representative intended yesterday to ask Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen if the rent is £40 a week, as it is said to be.

It might also be stated whether the usual rent includes the use of one of the largest rooms in the Hotel Cecil, in which the recruits of the 2nd Battalion drill on wet days—wearing rubber shoes in order to save the floor.


As to the taste of Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s announcement that the battalions are only for “gentlemen” of the “upper and middle classes,” the “Daily Express” continues to receive many letters of protest, among them the following:—


To the Editor of the “Daily Express.”
     Sir, – I am glad you have called attention to the preposterous suggestion of asking in future an entrance-fee of three guineas and upwards to the Sportsman’s Battalions, and that the recruiting should be confined to men of the upper and middle classes, as such a demand must surely be most “un-sportsman”-like.
     I prefer to think that the men of this country, from whatever class they may be drawn, enlist solely from patriotic motives, and in that case are willing and prepared to serve together and to face every kind of hardship that may fall to their lot.
     Those who could only be induced to join, to use Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s words, “by giving them the best that is procurable in the way of equipment, food, beds, and so on,” are not made of the the real fighting stuff, but when an important position as chief recruiting officer, requiring sound judgement and common sense, is usurped by a woman, it is not surprising such blunders arise.
     That such a fine body of gallant men as the Sportsman’s Battalions are known to be should be liable to misrepresentation, and may I say, ridicule, through no fault of their own, is much to be regretted.


T0 the Editor of the “Daily Express.”
     Sir, – one would gather from Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen that the Sportsman’s Battalion is hardly being prepared for the trenches.
     Of what service will clothes of a superior cut and the best of equipment in the way of beds, etc, be to them when the battalion takes its place on active service?
     I have had fifteen years in the Post Office service, but have not yet met the “real, grimy, horny-handed sons of toil,” but that may be because I have not met Sergeant Hogan, the Postman V.C.
     Would Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen inform him that he would be out of place and not at home among gentlemen?
          A. J. WEST.


To the Editor of the “Daily Express.”
     Sir. – You may well ask “ Why Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen?” for all of the snobbery I have ever read surely the very  limit and a bit more than has been reached in this case.
   Fancy having to tell two postmen “tactfully” that they were not “gentlemen”! Did you ever hear such inane rubbish?
     Hammersmith, E. CRABBE

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