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. 9


It is not my intention in this, my first, Editorial to comment upon matters which led to my being asked to occupy the Editorial chair;

I received my orders, and obeyed them as a soldier should. My duty, then, is to the “First Sportsman’s Gazette,” which journal is intended to interest and amuse every member of the Battalion.

To those responsible for the inception of the journal all credit is due, and the eight numbers which have already appeared are proof enough of the immense amount of time and thought which have been expended. The weekly production of a paper containing at least 15,000 words is no light task, and the Editorial Staff is to be congratulated on the success they have established.

Under these circumstances, although it is not an easy matter to gather together in a moment all the threads of this somewhat complex organisation, I have confidence in the future.

Let us all remember we are soldiers. It may be a difficult task for many of us who have been at the head of big organisations to get into the way of taking orders without kicking, but we joined Lord Kitchener’s Army with the express intention of serving our King and country; it therefore follows that we can best do so by dropping criticism, personal opinions, and all other things which are not in accord with discipline, and by putting our best into becoming efficient soldiers.

We are sportsmen, I take it? Then let us play the game. We are all Tommy Atkins—we were proud to think we were in the old Hotel Cecil days. Then let us act as Tommy Atkins acts, by showing our loyalty to our Commanding Officer, for by so doing we show our loyalty to our King-—God bless him—at a time when loyalty counts.

There can be no discussion of controversial subjects in these pages. There can be no more criticism of those in command. You and I, and all of us, are here to take orders and not to question the wisdom of those who give them. It is war time, our country is lighting for its very existence in the biggest war the world has ever known. We all must “do our bit” and as sportsmen and gentlemen, let us do it cheerfully.

I invite contributions, particularly items connected with sport and military subjects. I know that there are many able pens in the Battalion, and I want you to regard the “Gazette” as a huge camp lire around which we can sit and swap experiences. With such a varied collection of men, I am convinced our Battalion journal can be made one of the most interesting publications in Great Britain.



By the Editor.

This particular issue of the “First Sportsman’s Gazette” has been produced under difficulties.

There has been a dearth of “copy” and consequently your new Editor has had to chase about the camp in his effort to dig up literary genius.

Over and above this small trouble new men have had to be found to fill the vacant posts on the staff which became vacant when the old management resigned. .

Just because of those things, if the Battalion “Gazette” is lacking in interest this week—if it is at all below the excellent average—I hope that my readers will be good-natured enough to understand and excuse me.

I will not at this juncture make any promises for the future, but you can rest assured that the staff will do all possible to make our weekly paper have a real connection with the best interests of every member of the Battalion.

New features are in course of preparation, and of these I hope to speak in the next issue.


Adjutant, 23rd (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (1st Sportsman’s). No letterpress is required to accompany the above photograph of our Adjutant, whose untiring energies in connection with the organisation of the “First Sportsman’s” are well-known to us all.


Members of the Battalion who would like to have copies of the “Gazette” regularly posted to their friends both at home and abroad, need only give their addresses, together with a sum to cover subscription and postage to Pte. E. C. Sheffield, Hut 13.


That Major Richey has rapidly won the hearts of all his men in C Company since he first took over their command, was once more revealed at the hearty reception he received at the Dinner given last Wednesday at the White Hart, Romford, in honour of his forthcoming marriage.

At 7.15 Capt. Church took the Chair, the other Officers present being Lieut. The Hon. R. Yorke, Lieut. Hayes, and Lieut. Cross. The guests also included Coy. Serg.-Major Blundell and Coy. Qtr.- Master Serg. Mann, Serg. Jourdain and other N.C.Os. and men from C Company; the guests altogether numbering just over a hundred.

From beginning to end the evening was a huge success, and this was undoubtedly duo to the whole arrangements being organised by Serg. Jourdain, who, as is characteristic of him, even went to the trouble of chartering a special train to and from Romford, via the Halt, for the convenience of the men.

During dinner music was supplied by Sergeant Almond (violin) and Private Sullivan (cornet), assisted by Private May at the piano.

Much amusement was caused by the failure, after two attempts, of the photographers engaged to take the assembly, in producing the necessary flash at the critical moment. The percussion cap, possibly made in Germany, refused to “go off,” the magnesium powder having ultimately to be ignited with a taper. Anyone desiring a photo of the guests will be able to obtain one for 2/6 from Serg. Jourdain in about a week’s time.

In giving the Toast to the King, the Chairman remarked that this occasion marked an epoch in the history of the regiment, in that it was the first occasion the King’s health had been drunk by the 23rd Royal Fusiliers. Then the Speaker proposed the health of Major Richey and his future wife, amid clamorous applause.

Notable among the speeches of the evening was Serg. Jourdain’s tribute in his presentation of the wedding gifts from C Company. The presents consisted of a fine pair of prismatic binoculars, a silver cigar case with an inscription, a silver match-box, and a box of cigars from two admirers in “B Company. Serg. Jourdain eloquently expressed the sentiments of the men when he declared his heartfelt confidence in following the Major even unto death. When for the first time he met Major Richey on the parade ground he knew that before him was a born leader, a soldier and a man, and during the short time the guest of the evening had been associated with the Battalion Serg. Jourdain had found his presentiments to be fully justified.

Answering to requests for a speech, Major Richey, in a few short sentences thanked the Company for their splendid ovation, but confessed that he was not a speech-maker. However, he said, he was proud to command such a fine set of men, and he expressed his assurance that they would soon see the Front. Some would go under (here he gave a significant glance in the direction of the ceiling), but everyone would render a good account of himself. Loud applause followed as the Major took his seat.

For the concert, which concluded the evening, we are indebted to the following artistes:— Serg. Almond (cornet solo), Serg. Wainwright (song), Pte. Pippett (recitation), Pte. Hamilton (song and humourous stories), Pte. Chilmaid (humourous recitation), Pte. Haddon (song), Pte. Kilpatrick (song), Pte. Sullivan (cornet and concertina solos), Pte. Morris (song), Pte. McDonald (humourous song), and Pte. Hartley (at the piano). It may be mentioned that all the above artistes belong to C. Company.

Before dispersing, a vote of thanks was proposed to the Chairman by Major Richey and seconded by Pte. Wrixon, amid much cheering.

Lieut. Hayes then proposed a vote of thanks to Serg. Jourdain, which was warmly responded to. Next came a toast; to Serg.-Major Blundell, proposed by Lieut. Cross.

At the well-known strains of “Auld Lang Syne,” what must have been the happiest gathering Company 3 has experienced since they came, to Hornchurch, was brought to a close. On returning to Camp the behaviour of the men was a credit both to the Battalion and the popularity of Serg. Jourdain, whose wise admonitions were obeyed in the true spirit of men who know how to play the game.

Standing (from Left to Right)—Higgins, Lewis, Owers, Buxton, Kirton, Steele, Fatt. Sitting (from Left to Right) Sandham, Hendren, Clunas, Lieut. Hayes, Hendren, Rawlings, Bates.




Played on Wednesday, February 17th, at Chatham, before a large company of officers and men.

The match was played in aid of the funds for providing comforts for men of the West Kents at the front in the fighting line. The Battalion team was delighted to help in such a good cause; over £40 was obtained. The teams met on a very wet ground, in a downpour of rain, but it was a real sporty match, and ended in a win for the Sportsman’s Battalion by 3 goals to 1.



The work of the Sportsman’s Battalion scrummage made for victory against the H.A.C. on Saturday by two tries to nothing. It was just such a day when forwards, if they have weight and grit, must turn the match against all manner of skill outside. The wind swept the field; driving the rain before it just as it did in England v. Wales at Cardiff two years ago; just as it did at Balmoral, Belfast, in Ireland v. Wales last March. But now, as then, the forward play was splendid to watch. If they have developed their military skill as well as they have their Rugby game these Sportsmen at Hornchurch must be tough soldiers. From Captain A. B. de Bourbel right through the pack the men kept together, getting on the first shove and breaking as one man on the ball. It is a long time since we saw such stirring forward play. Opportunities have not been many this season: but it was pleasant on this occasion to mark play that recalled the merits of those wonderful packs that Wales and Scotland and England (in order of excellence) had last season. “Who is the coach and manager at Hornchurch?” asked a famous Harlequin. Well, just think it over.

As the unrelenting rushes were executed it seemed as if there were eight Internationals forming this pack. With the wind behind them they did so much work that some of the onlookers began to question whether they would stay through the second half. But military training has wrought wonders, and when the Sportsman’s Battalion turned to play into the gale they did as well as ever.

Great Defence.

No wonder the H.A.C. failed to live up to reputation. The Sportsmen came sweeping on to the halves and three-quarters and full back of the H.A.C., reducing them to mere tacklers or performers of saving kicks. The H.A.C. made a courageous fight of it. A. K. Horan, of “Club” fame, the scrummage half-back, and C. W. R. Pantlin, the flying man, did great things in defence as they saw their own scrummage swept aside; the three-quarters tackled hard; Bristowe, of Eton and Christ Church, at full back never tired of going down to the rushes. To keep the score down to two tries speaks for itself in regard to the merits of the defence. But forwards and “feet” triumphed over skill outside the scrummage. The Sportsmen forwards went on with the ball, leaving their backs to shift for themselves. But this game paid. For behind the scrummage P. R. Henri, who was flying man, fielded the ball as if it had been a dry day; he had pace and swerve too, and his unfaltering foothold was always beating several men. It was he who scored the first try; it was H. F. Wadham who made the second after a bullocking run in the manner of W. N. Bolton or Basil Maclear.

And so the H.A.C never had a chance. They were beaten forward; their backs alone saved them from a worse defeat. The H.A.C. since they went into quarters at Walton-on-Thames have come on tremendously in Rugby, but they have obviously neglected to some extent the necessities of weight in the pack. They may have great skill outside, but much of it goes for nothing unless they have weight forward as well.

On Saturday, 20th February, the Rugby team will again meet on the Grey Towers ground the 17th (Empire) Battalion from Whyteleafe, who had such a lucky victory on their home ground by winning the match with a single try during the last minute and a half.


The first Annual Dinner of the B Company will be held at the White Hart Hotel, Romford, on Friday, the 5th March, at 6.30 p.m. Tickets, 5/- each, to be obtained from the Hon. Sec., Pte. F. G. Harris, Hut 13. The chair will be taken by Capt. Owen Williams.


On Monday next, at the National Sporting Club, two very important bouts are due for decision. Jerry Delaney, who is now a private in the Sportsman’s Battalion, will meet Jack Denny, of New Orleans, in a twenty-rounds contest, at 9st. 9lbs., for £330, and Young Fox, of Leeds, will be opposed to Alex Lafferty, of Scotland, in a bantam-weight eliminating contest, in which £303 is involved.

Chief interest, of course, will centre in the meeting between Delaney arid Denny. The Englishman has long had an eye on the light-weight championship, but owing to a variety of circumstances he has never been able to get on a match with the holder of the trophy. Should he prove successful against Denny, however, the way will be cleared to a great extent, as the only remaining obstacle in his path will be Kid Lewis, who is due in this country early next month.

Denny is quite a stranger in England, but his record in America is a good one, for he has disposed of such good men as Johnny Dundee and Knockout Brown. With a view to getting into the best possible condition he began work three weeks ago at Welling, in Kent, and he is now finishing off his preparation at Whetstone. It is worthy of remark that Johnny Summers, who had a week with Denny in Kent, has a very high opinion of the American.

Delaney, who has only recently joined the Sportsman’s Battalion, rubbed the rough corners off at his camping ground at Hornchurch, but by special permission of his officers he is putting on the final polish at Brighton in company with Young Fox, and I hear that he is particularly well and easy at the weight.


Financial Manager and Secretary for the “First Sportsman’s Gazette.”
Advertisement Manager for the “First Sportsman’s Gazette.”
Cartoonist for the “First Sportsman’s Gazette.”
Sub-Editor for the “First Sportsman’s Gazette.”
Articles on all subjects of interest for the “First Sportsman’s Gazette.”
Football Reporter to follow the Rugby Team.
Football Reporter to follow the Battalion Association Team.
Someone in each Hut to furnish “Things we want to know” each week.

All applications to be made to the Editor at the Lodge between 6 and 7 p.m., or by letter addressed to Hut 13.

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