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. 10


It is a curious fact that many of us—keen though we were on “getting a smack” at our friend the enemy in those feverish days which preceded enlistment, are now losing touch with the issues at stake in this world conflict.

The reason is not far to seek, for are we not putting our energies into, becoming efficient soldiers?

Our new mode of life scarcely permits of much reading or speculation as to what is happening abroad, and what is more, except on those rare occasions when our Navy gets busy, there is a terrible monotony in the news served up to us by the London papers—-trench fighting, does not permit of rapid progress—so, after a hurried glance at the headlines, our erstwhile favourite journal is tossed on one side.

I firmly believe that if we have each week in the “First Sportsman’s Gazette.” an article on the doings of our boys at the front, written by some member of the Battalion,, in whose soul burns the fire of literary genius, it will serve to keep our minds on the game we are learning to play.

You will remember our eagerness after hearing the news of Scarborough, and the thrill we experienced when we were told of that big fight off the Falkland Islands, and it just comes to this, I want someone to write an inspiriting weekly “leader” on the war, which, by chronicling the deeds of brave men, and telling of Britain’s greatness, shall re-invigorate us, and make us all the more determined to go in and win.

It’s rather nice to think that you and I are not like the man who ought to go and does not. We have left comfortable homes, and have made sacrifices of which we alone can know, in order to serve our country in our country’s need, and afterwards, when we come back—if we do—we shall be proud to say we did not shirk.

We have to rough it a little now—we shall have to rough it still more, but what of it? It is a grand and manly life, and we are doing something.

I know one man, a relative of General Paris, the defender of Antwerp, who almost cried when age precluded him from joining the army. He would say, “If only I could do something. Sitting on an East Coast rock with a gun in my hands would be loafing, but loafing with a difference, for I should feel that I was helping.” That man left for France on Saturday last as a Red Cross orderly, and when he told me the news he was overjoyed.

Thanks to a special concession, we older men in the First Sportsman’s should consider ourselves fortunate indeed.

Some there are amongst us who at the beginning of things took badly to saluting. Most of us regard it differently now, and it was only the other day that I found out why. I was going along the High Street when the strains of martial music told me that the boys were returning from trench digging. I stepped to the edge of the pavement sprang smartly to “attention,” and it was with a keen pleasure that I saluted Lord Maitland, and the officers who marched past at the head of their Companies; for in a flash it came to me that I was paying my respects to the might of Britain in the person of those who hold the commissions of His Majesty King George the Fifth. I may not have yet succeeded in mastering the subtle niceties of saluting, but I intend to do so, for it behoves us all so long as we are soldiers to cultivate that smartness which stamps the good soldier wherever you may see him.

The appointment of Sub-Editor, Financial Manager and Secretary, and Advertising Manager, has not been definitely settled, and the Editor will be pleased to receive further applications.

A Cartoonist, someone used to sporting journalism to report the Battalion Soccer matches and a “Things we want to know” reporter for most of the Huts are still urgently needed.

If improvements are to be effected in this our Battalion journal, volunteers should come forward without delay.

Contributions of interest are cordially invited, and it is pointed out that to facilitate early publication of the “Gazette” these should reach the Editor not later than 6 p.m. each Monday for publication in the next issue.


Private Jerry Delaney—our Jerry—easily defeats Jack Denny of New Orleans.

When first I saw Delaney I never imagined that I was looking at a truly tine boxer, who had studied the art, and fitted himself by strict training to more than hold his own at that Mecca of “the fancy,” the National Sporting Club.

Thanks to the concession to members of the 23rd, secured through the good offices of Mr. Bettinson, a large number of the boys booked seats, and being granted special leave, proceeded to town in time to enjoy a good dinner before occupying their seats at the Club.

My first impression of the ring was peculiar, it called up recollections of pictures I have seen showing the Roman populace in the amphitheatre awaiting some great contest of skill; but whilst in those bad old days cruelty was the thing most loudly applauded, now all brutality has gone and only science remains.

There were no villainous faces, as one has read of in books written by the early Victorian authors— just a gathering of well-bred gentlemen who love sport for its own sake, and have the courage to follow their inclinations.

The auditorium was almost full, and khaki strongly mingled with the black and white garb of peace.

I noticed more than one Staff Officer, whilst amongst those were several from our own Battalion,

After a little waiting the Gladiators entered the arena for the first bout. After two somewhat uninteresting bouts for the semi-finals of welter-weight novices, and a six-round contest in which Joe Conn of Bow beat Harry Moyes of New Cross in one round, there came the twenty-round contest between Young Fox of Leeds and Alec Lafferty of Glasgow, in which the former had an easy win on points.

Then came the great contest of the evening.

Jerry Delaney we all know, so there is no need to say much about him here. He's a good plucked ’un,” and a true “sport,” so all of us are glad to think he proved himself the better man.

Jack Denny is game enough too, but he was out-boxed by one who is cleverer than he, and he knew it before the first round was over. When they stripped I somehow felt that our man had a tough job in front of him, for the American seemed to be better developed; however, as the fight progressed, it was easy to see that Jerry’s wiry frame represented hard training and genuine fitness.

I do not pretend in this article to minutely describe the various phases of the right—you have already read of it in the pages of the sporting papers, but I will instead record the impressions of an eye-witness for the benefit of those who were not present.

In the very first round Jerry’s superiority showed, and although Denny kept up to it, Jerry put in some clever two-handed work, which began to have real effect.

In the third round Jerry quickly scored, and the bell only just saved Denny, as was the case in many of the succeeding rounds.

There was a good deal more holding on in the fourth round, in which Jerry’s right fist made constant acquaintance with the American’s jaw.

Delaney seemed to do just what he liked with the American in the two next rounds, and I firmly believe that had he pressed his advantage the contest would have ended with the sixth round.

Denny “came up to it” a little in the seventh round, but Jerry’s lightning left became very busy, and the American was very badly punished. All through those left-hand jabs of Jerry had a nasty habit of finding their mark, and Denny knew about it, for as the fight progressed he showed signs of the severe gruelling he was experiencing, and the audience expressed no wonder when after the fourteenth round his seconds announced that he had “given in.”

All honour to “our” Jerry, and may he find just as easy a victory when he meets Freddy Welsh.

There can be no doubt that Jerry owes a good deal to his trainer, Private Joe Jagger, whose solicitude and care during the last few weeks have been most marked. Some mention must be made of Private Hooper, who recently defeated Kid Vinton of Gateshead at St. James’ Hall, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Hooper has been one of Jerry’s sparring partners, and I hope to reproduce a photograph of the trio in my next issue.

Jerry is back in camp again, still wearing the smile which worried Denny so much; and he said when I asked him to put his impressions on paper that he’d much sooner fight a round than write a single line—so as “A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse,” I pleaded urgent business at the Editorial sanctum and cleared.


In the report of “C” Company’s dinner which appeared in our last issue, the Chairman was reported to have stated that it was the first occasion on which the health of His Majesty the King had been drunk by the 23rd Royal Fusiliers.

“Ichabod” points out that this toast was proposed by our Colonel at the Burns’ Anniversary Dinner on January 23rd last, and loyally drunk by the Scottish contingent of the Regiment.




A fortnight ago the Sportsman’s Battalion, quartered at Hornchurch, sustained its first defeat at the hands of the 17th (Service) Battalion R.F. at Whyteleafe. The conditions were shocking, but the play was excellent, and neither side deserved to lose. The visitors, just when they seemed all over the 17th, were beaten on the post by the only try scored in the game, and they naturally looked forward eagerly to the return. Meanwhile, on Saturday week, at Walton-on-Thames, they beat the undefeated H.A.C. The latter had such a big reputation that the Sportsman’s had some misgivings as to the result, but right away from the kick-off a scrum was formed on the H.A.C. line, and Henri nipped over. Henri is an old Shirburnian, and should he be given a fair trial is sure to make a great name for himself. Only a few minutes had elapsed when Wadham, the old U.C.S. boy, who played for Middlesex in 1903 and 1904 (not in the “nineties,” as given by a slip of the pen in these notes last week), added to the visitors’ lead. They continued to force the pace. Wadham on one occasion running over the line with three men hanging to him, but being adjudged “held up.” There was no further score, the Sportsman’s winning a fine game on their merits.

They were naturally elated by this, and as the side, reconstituted in the three-quarter line, where Pearce has immensely strengthened the attack, is improving every week, they fully expected to get their own back against the 17th on Saturday. Farr, the Christ’s Hospital boy, who played—and played well— at full back, has been replaced by R. G. Scott, who represented Queensland, and is one of the cleverest and safest full backs in the country. The ground was in excellent condition except for one bad spot in the centre, and the Sportsman’s had the satisfaction of reversing the verdict. Henri was again very conspicuous, and shortly after the start he scored a typical try—dropping over very cleverly. Then after Williams had converted from a wide angle a really brilliant try was gained. The Shirburnian set his line going, Wadham passing to Pearce, who gave to Henri, the latter returning the compliment, and Pearce scored. In the second half Pearce ran in again after good combination, and Cook, the Black- heathen, kicking a very fine goal from a penalty for the visitors, the Sportsman’s won by 11 points to 3.

The Rugby Club on Saturday the 27th inst. play St. Thomas’s Hospital at Chiswick. The team and supporters will meet on the Drive at 9.15 a.m.



Lieut. H. A. Taylor was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh. In 1908-9 he obtained his football colours as a full back, but later on, secured the position of scrum half. Judging from his play for the Sportsman’s Club, this is his correct place as the skill he has displayed during the season has been highly commendable. Since leaving school he played regularly for Edinburgh Dental Hospital. He has always been associated with good class football and both the captain and vice-captain of his school during the time he was in residence obtained their caps for Scotland, viz., J. Hume (scrum half) and A. D. Laing (forward).



The 1st Sportsman’s Battalion are rapidly making themselves acquainted with the cream of London’s amateur clubs. Their opponents last week-end were Bromley, whom they succeeded in defeating, after a capitally contested game, by live goals to two. Both sides were well represented, Bromley, save for the continued absence of McWhirter, being at full strength. They made the running in the first half, and scored two excellent goals (through the agency of James and Harkness) to one by the Battalion (Littlewort).

The visitors showed to excellent advantage from the time Owers headed an equalising goal for them a quarter of an hour from the restart. Yet, although the subsequent goals scored by Owers, Clunas, and Hendren were all well worked for, they never deserved to win by a three-goal margin. E. Hendren was the most prominent player on the ground, his touch-line runs and centres betraying the master mind. Littlewort was predominant in defence, and held up the Bromley forwards time after time.


Will twelve members of the First Sportsman’s Battalion who are good shots on the Miniature Range send in their names and hut number to Sergt.-Major Williams (Musketry Instructor), as it is intended to arrange a match with the members of the Gidea Park Riile Club at an early date.


Letters are despatched daily at 10 a.m., 12.45, 6.30 and 8 p.m. from Camp Post Office. All registered letters and packages should be applied for daily between 9 a.m. and 12.45 p.m., also between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Office is open on Sundays from 5.30 to 6.15 p.m., and letters are despatched at 6.30 p.m. Telegrams are despatched about every half-hour during the hours the Post Office is open, but the Sergeant in charge is in no way responsible for delay in transmission after handing them to the Government authorities.



An Impression.

The Battalion boasts many celebrities, but none is more famous, perhaps, than Ernest G. Hayes, the well-known Surrey County and All England cricketer, now a private in “B” Company.

Upon first acquaintance Hayes does not exactly fill the imagination as a performer of doughty deeds, the dear-cut lace and square jaw which. usually betokens the successful athlete are missing, but the quick eye is there, and somehow the sense of his thoroughness grows upon you. The workmanlike manner in which he applies himself to his present training gives some little indication of the qualities which have made his name a household word in the held of sport.

First into prominence with the Honour Oak Club where he had a habit of scoring a century every week, he was invited to join the Surrey Club Start in 1895. He quickly proved his worth by scoring 130 against Northampton in his first 2nd XI match. Promoted to the senior side in the following season, his first match for the County was against a very strong Australian combination. For a man with the century habit this presented no terrors, and he totalled the excellent score of 60 before being' dismissed. It is almost unnecessary to add that he has been in the side ever since with credit both to the County and himself.

His first trip abroad was made in 1898, when he went as a coach to the Craddock Cricket Club in Cape Colony.

His experiences since have been as varied as they have been interesting, for he has represented England with Lord Brackley’s team in the West Indies, Mr. P. F. Warner’s team in South Africa, and Mr. A. O. Jones’ team in Australia, besides figuring prominently against Australia and the South Africans at Home.

Hayes for several years has been an early choice for the Players in the representative matches against the Gentlemen, and last year he captained the professional side.

He has distributed his favours equally, his highest score of 2/6 being made against Hampshire, while his best bowling performance of 7 wickets for 25 runs was registered against Middlesex. His best all-round performance was perhaps the scoring of 120 runs, followed by 8 wickets for 13 and 5 wickets for 40 at the expense of Somerset. Truly Hayes’ day out.

When Surrey last season gained championship honours after being in the wilderness for so long, Hayes and the veteran Tom Hayward were the only members of the championship side of 15 years ago. He did his share in the revival too, scoring 1,300 runs, with an average of 38, and taking a fair proportion of wickets. This record might have been even better, but illness kept him out of the side for a month.

There would appear to be some connection between the bat and the shovel, for Hayes on ,his showing at Benfleet can wield one equally as well as the other.

Amongst his other hobbies he has the habit of occasionally conceiving the hut to be a menagerie, and while his descriptions of the inmates of the various cages can hardly be described as things of beauty, they are certainly to those fortunate enough to hear them, a joy for ever.

A thorough sportsman and a true friend, Hayes possesses in an exceptional degree that steadiness which is demanded of all of us when on parade.

It is doubtful whether the Battalion, “B” Company, or hut 14, are the more proud of him as a member.


An institution which has been of service to the Battalion, and for which subscriptions were recently invited by a “ Private Patient” in the pages of this journal.


The Village, Hornchurch.

There are many in our Battalion whose relatives and friends Will welcome some particulars of this wonderful Essex village in which we are quartered, so I have persuaded the Editor to grant me some space for the reproduction of pictorial representations of the Parish Church and the High Street.

The village is pleasantly placed on the main road between Romford and Upminster, and is bounded on east and west by the rivers Ingrebourne and Rom.

The Church of Saint Andrew is a relic of past ages, intimately connected with the days of knightly chivalry. The curious carving of the Bull’s head with horns is a feature that is unique, and savants interested in archaeology make pilgrimages to view it.

The old village in the days of Edward the Confessor, was of greater importance than Romford, and many are the Royal personages famed in history who have visited the neighbourhood.

Mayhap in those early days of Britain’s history this delightful and well-wooded countryside was the haven to which the Vikings steered after effecting a landing on the coast of this fair county.

Perhaps some local gentleman blessed with a better knowledge of the neighbourhood may now be induced to contribute an article which contains a fuller account of our present home to a future number of the “Gazette.”

Lastly, I would just venture a word on another matter. We must think of those at home who are naturally anxious to see pictures of the camp in which we live, so I have asked the Editor to reproduce pictures of the Cook House, Institute, &c., and he has promised to comply with my wishes.

Hornchurch Parish Church.



February 23rd, 1915.

Dear Mr. Freer,
     I hasten to answer your letter of Feb. 2'2nd, and while I should like very much to do exactly as you say, I am, as you quite understand, extremely busy and to take the necessary hour or two or three to prepare properly an article for your paper is really something (as much as I regret it) I am unable to do.
     If there is anything in the following lines, however, which you. can use, you are welcome to: —
     If War was always taking place as it was in the Middle Ages—if we were, as a Nation, always either trying to take something from someone else, or were trying to protect, from some encroaching hand, that which we have, then there would be but one career open to the men of red blood and energy, viz., that of a soldier or sailor. Fortunately, however, War has become only an occasional catastrophe and the life of a soldier as full of excitement and of credit and of glory as it is, at this moment, cannot continue indefinitely in the opportunity to do the brave or glorious things.
     Next in the list of opportunities seems to me to stand the great game of Commerce, which holds its arms out to the whole world and says, “Come into my sphere, there is room and to spare for all.”
     A day’s business may be as exciting, as interesting, as full of novelty and of charm as any day’s work can be and the whole thing can be considered a great, splendid game and played with the same energy, aggressiveness and goodwill as is a game of football or cricket.
     I hope, when the War is over, that those men who have proved their worth and courage in the defence of their country, will find themselves drawn toward that great sphere of activity, “ Commerce,” second only to that of a soldier, and by their everlasting energy help win and hold for Great Britain always the leading place in the world’s Commerce.
     Yours faithfully

February 22nd.

Dear Mr. Editor,
     May I offer a word of congratulation to you and the other very “Sporty” Sportsmen who have decided to “carry on” with the Gazette, notwithstanding innumerable difficulties.
     I like your leading article, it is manly and tolerant. Long may you occupy the Editorial Chair, and may the ink flow from your pen Freer and Freer. (Excuse me). . !
     This is the sincere wish of,
     (Or rather)

To the Editor, “ First Sportsman’s Gazette.”
     I have thought out a great scheme to end the war, if it can be worked. It suggested itself whilst looking back on many happy days of fishing on the Gulf, and of which I hope to write you later. If at first sight it should appear treasonable I must explain that I have been out of England for the past 25 years; and the prevailing climate “ makes me tired”; for whilst I gave up everything and came over 3,000 miles to try and do my bit, the climate and malaria knocked me out of the “ Sportsman’s/’ and as the authorities will not recognise my many extraordinary qualities, I am “ frozen out.” Therefore, if I cannot win a V.C.—and V.H.C. at Cruft’s seems to be as near as I can get to it—I don’t see why I should not try for an iron Cross ! Do you ? eh ! what ! This scheme would be far more effective than the present German blockade and must 'bring England to her “ marrow bones,” and give her 11 cold feet.” It is so simple that I wonder they have not threatened us with it before. My only uncertainty is as to whether to offer it to the Kaiser or to Messrs. Haldane, McKenna & Co. I thought of L.G., but he would want to tax me on “ unearned increment” or something*. If you or any of your readers can advise me as to this ! shall be glad to let you in on the Iron Cross business. Any of you who know the _game of “freeze out” should be able to advise.
     This scheme would find employment to the hyphenated—-a long word with a short meaning— Americans. Sorry I forgot, I have not told you yet what it is. Simply divert the course of the Gulf Stream from these shores, and there you are ! So-long and good luck
     Yours, MALARIA,
         “Brookroyd,” Ilkley, Yorks.
P.S.—None of your readers have told me where I can get some Rack pointers yet !


The Editor would like to hear from Freemasons in the Battalion as to whether a re-union dinner of all Members of the Craft is desirable.

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