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 8, 1915

Daily Express




Five days have come and gone, and no more letters to the “Daily Express” from Mrs. E. Cunliffe-Owen! No offer to tell an admiring country all about the terrible expense of raising and equipping the Sportsman’s Battalions, of which Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen is “chief recruiting officer.”

Having roused the wonder and sympathy of her fellow-countrymen by announcing that she has spent £7,000 more than she expects to recover from the War Office, Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen coyly abstains from confiding in the public the little details which might persuade it to throw its money at her feet.

“ Please don’t imagine that we have made any money out of it,” Mrs. Cunliffe- Owen said to a “Daily Express" representative, "for we have not made a single farthing out of it.”

That being so—and Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen volunteered the statement—would it not be better in every way if Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen were to invite the public to come to her aid. instead of asking recruits to pay part of the expense? If the public were told what the money was for, it might subscribe.

Is it that Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen is so busy that she has no time to go into the matter ? If so, the “Daily Express” would be glad to go through the accounts and draw up a statement of receipts and expenditure.


We understand that many hundreds of pounds have been given—single cheques as large as £200, at least—by men who have joined the Sportsman’s Battalions.

If Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen cared to announce the items on which the money has been spent, some patriotic millionaire might step in and provide for any remaining needs.

She assured a “Daily Express” representative that money has not been spent on luxuries.

“The money in the first instance.” she said last week, “has been expended in clothing, boots, etc., of superior cut and quality.”

It would be interesting to know exactly what price has been paid for these outfits “of superior cut and quality.”

     How much for tunics and trousers? How much for overcoats?
     How much for boots?
     How much for cups?

We understand the War Office allows about £7 10s. for kit per man. Men who think of joining the Sportsman’s—and of paying something towards the £8 to £10 “extra’’—will be glad to know by how much the cost of kit exceeds the War Office figure.

Will Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen say how far these figures differ from those she has paid:

Tunics and trousers ................... 29s.
Overcoats ................................... 35s.
Boots ........................................... 15s.
Caps ............................................ 3s.

That would make a total of £4 2s., leaving £3 8s. for the rest of the kit.

As the “Daily Express” has already stated, Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen and her staff occupy a very large apartment in the Hotel Cecil—large enough for a carriage to drive round in—and on wet days one of the largest halls in the hotel is used for drilling (in rubber shoes); there are said to be a couple of rooms for typists.


It would perhaps induce the public to put up some money if Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen would state:—

How much per week does the recruiting office and work cost?
What allowances are made for expenses?
How much is paid for motor-car hire for the use of the recruiting staff?

The answers to these questions would, at any rate, satisfy the curiosity of men who may have thought of joining the Sportsman's, and may have been deterred from joining by doubt as to bow their money would be spent.

Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen speaks proudly of the camp of the 1st Sportsman’s at Hornchurch.

The expenditure on this camp would, we are sure, be of widespread interest, especially to other less fortunate battalions. How much, for instance, was the furnishers’ bill? What about the officers’ mess?

Were men ever invited to subscribe for plate for the officers’ mess?


To the Editor of the " Daily Express.”
     Sir,—As one who has something to do with the control of postmen I must protest against what considerable experience has proved to be an altogether unjustifiable attack on a large portion of the members of his Majesty’s Post Office staff'.
     Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen may have been carried away by the enthusiasm of the cause she has taken up, but surely such au utterance was neither tactful nor called for, and is calculated to cause considerable resentment among a generally cleanly and well-conducted body of public servants.
     Also, judging from the tone of Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen’s statement of Monday night, there appear to be a great risk of one forming the opinion that a strong snobbish element exists in the Sportsman's Battalions—which I, for one, would be extremely sorry to think is so.

[There is no reason to suppose that any of the men are snobs.—Ed., “D.E.”]

“ J. F. W.” writes to the “ Daily Express” asking how men can join the Sportsman's Battalions without paying three guineas.

Men are still wanted for the 1st Battalion, of which Viscount Maitland is colonel. The camp is at Hornchurch, Essex. There is no fee for admission.

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