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Boreenatra

First Sportsman's Battalion

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Anyone have any info on 1st Sportsman's Battalion ( 23rd Royal Fusiliers). Regards Steve.

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PhilB   
PhilB

Like what, Steve? Phil B

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Like.....why didn't the men join regular battalions.So I suppose my question really is why a Sportsman's Battalion. I noticed that a cousin of Haig's, Pte D.R. Warner was a member. "A good Shot and Golfer, and travelled 6000 miles to join the Battalion." Regards Steve.

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Dear Steve ( this is in answer to my own question!!!!)

"The Sportsman's Battalion was raised by Mrs. Cunliffe-Owen, who obtained a special concession from the King for men up to 45 years of age to join. This opened up the way for a large number of men, hitherto ineligible to become soldiers of the King. It was a sine qua non that a man who joined this Battalion should in reality be adept in some branch of national sport,and so it came about that men whose fame was known around the world were brougt together to train for a rather more serious game."

So now I know!!!!!

If anyone is interested I have a list of some of the members and their " claims to fame"

Thanks for your replies. Regards Steve.

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

And here are the First Officers of the 1st Sportsman's Battalion. Regards Steve.

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PhilB   
PhilB

Just a couple of points, Steve. There was a second Sportsman`s Bn - the 24th. Both raised by E.Cunliffe-Owen, the 23rd on 25/9/14 when recruits enrolled at the Hotel Cecil, Strand, London and the 24th on 20/11/14 by the same man in London. Both Bns went to 99 brig, 2 div, though 24Bn moved to 5Bde, 2 Div on 13/12/15. I get the impression that these 2 Bns were a kind of upper class Pals Bn, like the Bankers, Frontiersmen, and Public School Bns of the R Fus, formed so that men could serve with like minded comrades. I would imagine that many of the original members went on to take commissions. Phil B

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Dear Phil Thanks for your reply. Just an article which says about the introduction of the 23rds to Hornchurch where they were stationed.

In November 1914 a new era opened up for our ancient village, owing to the arrival of the F.SB. under the command of Colonel Viscount Maitland and Hornchurch became for the first time in its history a war time camp. The home of the late Colonel Holmes Grey Towers, with is's beautiful park was selected as the Headquarters of the battalion. For several weeks before their arrival, hundreds of workmen had been employed erecting huts for their accommodation and when completed, Grey Towers was considered to be a model camp, and at that time probably the best in the kingdom.

After a march through London, from Hyde Park to the City, past the Mansion House- where the Lord Mayor ( with whom was Mrs. Cunliff-Owen) delivered an address of welcome to the men- and on to Liverpool Street Station where they entrained.Their reception in London was of a most enthusiastic character, crowds of cheering citizens lining the streets and according them a splendid welcome.

Regards Steve.

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Simon Jones   
Simon Jones
If anyone is interested I have a list of some of the members and their " claims to fame"

Steve

Have you come across Edward Frank Harrison, the man most responsible for developing the Small Box Respirator who joined the Sportsmans Battalion aged 45 in 1915?

He died on 4/11/18 largely as a result of gas inhalation and overwork.

post-1722-1115233687.jpg

He is buried in Brompton Cemetery and is my all-time unsung hero of WW1 and I hope one of the subjects of a future book...

Regards

Simon

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Dear Simon. Great pic. Sorry, my list only covers about 50 men. There is a Harrison there but he is Pte. Jack Harrison, well known boxer, winner of the Lonsdale belt for the middle weight Championship 1912. Was in the Grenadier Guards 1907-1910.

A couple of other entries include Private Douglas Henderson.He had ridden across the Andes where previous to the outbreak of war he had been travelling for six years.

Private J.J. Williams (Julian Brandon) Well known Conjurer and Entertainer.Journalist and lecturer on Psychology.

Private J.H.Curle. Big game hunter and all round sport. In the Matabele Mounted Police. Went through the Jameson Raid and the Matabele War.

Regards Steve.

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Team of the First Sportsman's Battalion Sat June 12th Lords played against the Hon Artillery Company. Regards Steve.

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Steven Broomfield   
Steven Broomfield
Anyone have any info on 1st Sportsman's Battalion ( 23rd Royal Fusiliers). Regards Steve.

The Battalion History (Fred W Ward) has a full nominal roll, Roll of Honour (quite detailed) and an Honours List. Happy to look up if you want.

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Thanks for your reply Steve, I'll let you know. Well done for your century!!!

Regards Steve

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Steven Broomfield   
Steven Broomfield
Thanks for your reply Steve, I'll let you know. Well done for your century!!!

Regards Steve

I hadn't noticed. Do I get a long-service stripe? I guess if this was the US Army I'd have about six rows of ribbons on my chest (big chest, son of a gun.....)

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Sportsman's Battalion June 26th 1915. Regards Steve.

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Steven Broomfield   
Steven Broomfield
Sportsman's Battalion June 26th 1915. Regards Steve.

That is just a wonderful picture!

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Brigantian   
Brigantian

Steve & Steve

I am researching Private G/82 Christopher Dobree Benson, 23rd Battalion RF, who is recorded on the Ranmoor War Memorial in Sheffield. He died of wounds on 18/02/17 and is buried in Varennes Military Cemetery, Somme.

His father, a prominent local solicitor, was a keen golfer and a former captain of the Sheffield and District Golf Club, but I have no idea what Christopher’s claim to fame was. Any further information would be much appreciated.

Any idea where the June 15 picture was taken?

Regards

Mark

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Hi Mark. The picture is all the more remarkable because of the following.

"Beautiful weather favoured the dawn of the 26th of June, when the great majority of the Sportsman's Battalion took their departure from the little Essex village of Hornchurch where they had been encamped for the last nine months. At an early hour, every man strong and keen, fit and eager, fell into his right place in every section of every platoon.They lined up to the roll of the drums. A glow of pride was in the eye of every officer as they surveyed the men before them.

It was 6.15 am precisely when marching orders were given at Hornchurch. The band, playing better than ever before, struck up, and the finest body of men in training marched out of Grey Towers Barracks, Colonel Viscount Maitland riding at their head, accompanied by his Adjutant ,Captain Inglis.

Notwithstanding the early hour, there stood outside a throng of men and women, boys and girls to cheer the Sportsmen on. A line of motor cars stretched as far as the eye could reach, and every member of D and E Company lined the fences to bid their comrades goodbye. The scene was both wonderful and impressive when Right Flank and C Companies marched by to entrain for the new camp.

Hornchurch was more crowded than ever when the time came for B and Left Flank Companies to march in the same tracks as their comrades an hour and a half earlier. At 7.45 the sound of the bagpipes and the marching of men could be heard. Those remaining inside the camp ( D and E.Co's and hospital staff) were despondant. Friends were now parting, for how long no one could tell. Men lined the drive and eagerly gripped a hutmate or chum's hand as the companies marched by.

B and Left Flank Companies are now on the road heading for the station. Lieut-Col Gibbons rides proudly at the head of his men,with Lieut Taylor, RSM Merrick and Sergeant Major Blumenthal in attendance.

On the platform at the Station is Major Ritchie DSO, Captain Cockell and Lieut Eeman.Fall in two deep- March comes the order and away the men march. Carriages are allotted to each section, and with snorting steam and steaming whistle the train pulls away from Hornchurch Station"

Great stuff, you could almost be there!!

Perhaps some of the other Pals might be able to help you with your Pte Benson. I have a short list ( about 50 or so ) men at Hornchurch but your man is not there.

Good luck with your research. Regards Steve.

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Steven Broomfield   
Steven Broomfield

Hi guys.

According to the Bn History, Pte C Benson, Regtl No. 82, died of wounds, 47 Casualty Clearing Station, 11.2.17, though (oddly) the nominal roll at the back of the book states that No 82 was a chap called F Wheildon. Looking at the list, it appears that there are other discrepancies: some men on the Roll of Honour have the same number as those enlisted at the Hotel cecil, while others, like Benson, don't.

Any ideas when benson enlisted? Is it possible that numbers were re-used? The list isn't in alphabetical order, so working through it will take some time, but at a glance, there appears to be no reason - numbers range from low (i.e. 82), to very high (over the 1800 mark).

I would also say benson must have been on a working party or similar - the Bn was out of the Line, at Senlis, and had been for a week.

The number thing interests me now...I'll start digging.

Still love the picture of Hornchurch!

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Brigantian   
Brigantian

Steve & Steve

Thanks for the information – much appreciated.

I have very little additional information about Benson’s service history, other than SDGW shows that he enlisted at Westminster and his MIC says that he arrived in France on 14 November 1915 – unfortunately his soldier’s papers have not survived.

I wonder whether the Battalion history is mistaken with the date of his death. Both CWGC and SDGW have him dying on 18 February 1917. This would be consistent with his wounds being received in the Battalion’s attack at Miraumont on 17 February.

Regards

Mark

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Steven Broomfield   
Steven Broomfield
Steve & Steve

Thanks for the information – much appreciated.

I have very little additional information about Benson’s service history, other than SDGW shows that he enlisted at Westminster and his MIC says that he arrived in France on 14 November 1915 – unfortunately his soldier’s papers have not survived.

I wonder whether the Battalion history is mistaken with the date of his death. Both CWGC and SDGW have him dying on 18 February 1917. This would be consistent with his wounds being received in the Battalion’s attack at Miraumont on 17 February.

Regards

Mark

Almost certainly wrong, I would say. He must have gone over with the Bn when it first left these shores, and if he joined in Wesminster, I guess that must mean he joined at the Hotel Cecil, which makes the reference to this chap Wheildon even more odd

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Steve. Does the Battalion History give any info regarding Sergeant R.T.Noyes, who was noted as being " an all round sport". Born in Winnipeg and was with the Gordon Relief Expedition to Khartoum. Known as Canada and was " a brilliant raconteur and a great traveller, and was one of the most popular men in the Battalion"

Any info appreciated.Regards Steve.

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Steven Broomfield   
Steven Broomfield
Steve. Does the Battalion History give any info regarding Sergeant R.T.Noyes, who was noted as being " an all round sport". Born in Winnipeg and was with the Gordon Relief Expedition to Khartoum. Known as Canada and was " a brilliant raconteur and a great traveller, and was one of the most popular men in the Battalion"

Any info appreciated.Regards Steve.

Nothing obvious. No Honours, and the only Noyes in the Roll of Honour was a Private A A Noyes. Any idea of a number? There's no Index, but I will go through the service roll (which is in numerical rather than alpahbetical order) over the weekend and let you know if I see anything.

Steven

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Boreenatra   
Boreenatra

Steve. Possibly Robert T. Noyes Serjeant Royal Fusiliers 923. ( from MIC) Regards Steve.

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Steven Broomfield   
Steven Broomfield
Steve. Possibly Robert T. Noyes Serjeant Royal Fusiliers 923. ( from MIC) Regards Steve.

Hi Steve - I'm (ahem) "working from home" today, so I just had a look and found him through ploughing through the Membership Roll - definitely 923, so I would guess he joined at the Hotel Cecil. I'm afraid, however, that there is no further mention of him in the book by name, although the author does make many references in the early days to members of the battalion, but not by name, damn him!

Don't think I can help much more, I'm afraid.

Steven

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