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 23, 1915


The Sportsmen’s Battalion – Raised by a Lady.

A very interesting account is given in the “British Australasian” just to hand of the raising of the Sportsmen’s Battalion in England by Mrs. E. Cunliffe-Owen. Like so many of the important things of life, it all apparently happened by chance. The lady in question was walking down Bond Street with her son when she met two well-known big game hunters of her acquaintance and gently rallied them upon not being at the front. They told her they had volunteered but had been rejected because of the age limit. Half-humorously, half-seriously, the suggestion was made that Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen should raise a corps of sportsmen without giving undue prominence to their birth certificates. The lady communicated with Lord Kitchener and, to shorten the story, the Secretary of War gave permission for a battalion of 1600 to be formed.

The duties of recruiting officer were performed by Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen herself, with headquarters at the Hotel Cecil, and so efficiently did she discharge them that on the full strength of the first battalion having been enrolled the War Office requested that a second battalion, also 1600 strong, should be formed, and to this second voluntary task the lady, with the assistance of a competent staff, is now devoting herself. The second battalion is under the command of Colonel a. de V. B. Paget, and both battalions enjoy the distinction of having the King as their honorary colonel. Mrs. Cunliffe Owen is therefore the first lady to raise a regiment since the beautiful and famous Duchess of Gordon “raised the Gay Gordons with a kiss” a century or so ago. A further interesting feature of this battalion is the fact that a very large number of Australians and New Zealanders figure among the commissioned and non-commissioned officers as well as among the ranks. Colonel Viscount Maitland is in command of the first battalion.

Western Times

Sportsman’s Battalion

Although the 2nd Sportsman’s Battalion are now in camp, E Company has still its headquarters at the Hotel Cecil, London, awaiting completion of the extra huts , which, owing to the difficulty of getting supplies of wood, etc., has been delayed. Recruiting is still going on at the Hotel Cecil as before for men up to 4t years of age, and all applicants are greatly welcomed.

E Company is under the command of Capt. A. E. Dunn, who raised an entire West of England company for the Sportsman’s Battalion in the Exeter District. Capt. Dunn served three months in the ranks of the 1st Sportsman’s Battalion. The character of the battalion has attracted recruits quite as much as the extension made by the War Office in the Age limit.

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