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!

March 1, 1915

Hull Daily Mail




The Rev Frank Edwards, now sergeant in the 2nd Sportsman’s Battalion in London, left Hull to-day after a brief furlough. Since the Rev Edwards enlisted, other ministers have followed his example. Formerly minister at Brunswick Wesleyan Chapel, Sergeant Edwards would hardly be recognized in his khaki, a well-se up broad figure with the ruddy glow of the open-air life on his face. He had not wasted his short leave, for yesterday afternoon he addressed a large gathering of men. The Rev Edward has had other experiences of being with the troops, for he was a chaplain, or “padrie” as the men say, in South Africa, and had the unique experience for a chaplain of being promoted by Lord Roberts to a captaincy on the field for distinguished conduct. In that campaign he got too near the firing line and was wounded. He joined the Sportsman as a private, and admits that, having had his title changed so many time, it is quite confusing. “I have been called so many names during the last month,” he said, “that I have difficulty in determining my proper title. It is a very short while ago, indeed, that I was minister at Brunswick Chapel. Then I joined the Sportsman’s Battalion as a private; I was promoted to lance-corporal, and swaggered about as such for a fortnight, when they made me corporal, and now I am on the list as a sergeant.”


When the Rev Sergeant Frank Edwards yesterday afternoon, found himself on the platform of the King’s Hall he should have been inspired by his audience. The bottom of the hall was occupied by the members of the Brotherhood, and in the capacious galleries was a great proportion of the elder children of the 1,500 Sunday School scholars. It was no easy matter to address so diversified an audience, and Sergt. Edwards reminded them that it was a long time since he had addressed a public gathering. He was, however, soon at home, relating little incidents of the South African War, and deducing spiritual lessons. “We are all sportsmen in this great international crisis,” he remarked, “and God and our country is calling us to play the game – the greatest international game ever played. We are living in the greatest time since the birth of Christ. We are playing for the English Cup – the cup from which you and your children must drink for generations to come, and now is the time to determine whether it shall be the cup of liberty, freedom, and honour, or whether it is to be the cup of tyranny, oppression, and servile feat. God and our country is calling upon us to ‘play the game.’”


The call which is now coming to us as men and women of England is to do our best for our country; and there is much in common with the call that also comes to us to play our part in the Kingdom of Christ in the great conflict with darkness all around us in this world. Speaking of his battalion, Sergt. Edwards remarked that one of the bases of it was sacrifice. They had men of all professions in it – men who had given up their professions and everything at the call of King, country, and duty. They had a member of Parliament and a millionaire as privates, and the latter was to be seen in his shirt sleeves like the rest, working at the humblest tasks. They had men from all parts of the world – Corea, Japan, South America, the backwoods of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Shanghai, Russia and Texas, and there had been some remarkable re-unions amongst these travellers.

Sergeant Edwards made a great impression with his address. He was accompanied by his wife, and on the platform were the Rev R. M. Kedward (president of the Brotherhood), Mr Fred Till (the chairman), Mr Fred J. Craft, Mr J. Brown (vice president), Mr R. H. lee, Mr Bowman (stewards), and others. Miss Winnie Henson sang a solo most effectively.

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