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23 Royal Fusiliers - Sportsmans Shoulder Titles


Alan24
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Researching a recent medal purchase, has lead me to discover that on 4th April 1918 the 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers received a draft of 150 men, including a large group from the Border Regiment who had only arrived in France mid March. 

 

It got me thinking that by this time in the war that the 23rd Battalion would no longer be Sportsmen in the spirit in which the battalion was raised.

 

At some point I presume that they stopped using the '1 Sportsmans RF' shoulder title.

 

Does anyone know when they ceased to be know as Sportsmen and started using '23 RF' shoulder titles?

 

Regards

 

Alan

 

pics from IWM.

rf.JPG

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Not my forte-BUT- when doing the work for a local casualty who was a "Sporrtsman", I seem to recollect that it was marketed as being limited to 1000 men. Would that be a convenient place to look?

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3 hours ago, Alan24 said:

Researching a recent medal purchase, has lead me to discover that on 4th April 1918 the 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers received a draft of 150 men, including a large group from the Border Regiment who had only arrived in France mid March. 

 

It got me thinking that by this time in the war that the 23rd Battalion would no longer be Sportsmen in the spirit in which the battalion was raised.

 

At some point I presume that they stopped using the '1 Sportsmans RF' shoulder title.

 

Does anyone know when they ceased to be know as Sportsmen and started using '23 RF' shoulder titles?

 

Regards

 

Alan

 

pics from IWM.

rf.JPG


My guess is that it very likely changed after conscription was introduced early in 1916, although the time between decision and actual issue probably stretched until at least the end of that year.  The sportsmen’s moniker and identity was one of many (e.g. Hull Commercials) that were essentially ploys by local authorities to encourage men of a specific calling to join up.  Once introduced conscription rendered that kind of identity nugatory and sheer practicality led to men, now conscripts, being sent where required.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks again both of you. 

I suppose the Sportsman' tag only applies to the original 1914/15 members of the 23 & 24 RF Battalions. 

I suspect that the original shoulder titles would have been a badge of honour within the Battalion. 

How many originals were still serving in the Battalion in 1918, I wouldn't like to guess. 

Sportsmen I assume would have been good role models to encourage others to enlist.

I think it was 16 Royal Scots which were mainly footballers. 

 

Regards

Alan.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Alan24 said:

Thanks again both of you. 

I suppose the Sportsman' tag only applies to the original 1914/15 members of the 23 & 24 RF Battalions. 

I suspect that the original shoulder titles would have been a badge of honour within the Battalion. 

How many originals were still serving in the Battalion in 1918, I wouldn't like to guess. 

Sportsmen I assume would have been good role models to encourage others to enlist.

I think it was 16 Royal Scots which were mainly footballers. 

 

Regards

Alan.

 

 

 

Yes I think you’re right that it probably applied to just the original men and no doubt many of them treasured their shoulder titles as a reminder of their special origins.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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A play-around with SPTS numbers on the CWGC shows the lowest casualty with a number of SPTS 11  and then comfortably into the 4000s.  Of course, the use of the prefix may not be related to the shoulder titles. I am fairly sure in my memory that the "Sportsmen" were limited when first raised but, there again, which recruiting sergeant is going to turn men away. The introduction of conscription and the sorting out of training battalions - which the RF pooled and thereafter drew down on may thus be the key. Evidence may prove difficult to put together.

    I note CWGC also has has 4 men serving as 23 RF but with the SB -prefix- obviously stockbrokers who were good at footy....

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A play-around with SPTS numbers on the CWGC shows the lowest casualty with a number of SPTS 11  and then comfortably into the 4000s.  Of course, the use of the prefix may not be related to the shoulder titles. I am fairly sure in my memory that the "Sportsmen" were limited when first raised but, there again, which recruiting sergeant is going to turn men away. The introduction of conscription and the sorting out of training battalions - which the RF pooled and thereafter drew down on may thus be the key. Evidence may prove difficult to put together.

    I note CWGC also has has 4 men serving as 23 RF but with the SB -prefix- obviously stockbrokers who were good at footy....

The batch of men referred to in my OP were given GS/ numbers when transferred to 23RF.

If you search for GS/75584 in the RF medal rolls you'll see the men in alphabetical order.

Interestingly the said medal roll give the dates the men were with the Border Regt and period with 23RF. You don't often see these dates completed in BWM/VM rolls so that's a bonus.

War diary for 23RF shows their arrival on 4 April whist out of the line. 

 

Regards

 

Alan. 

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This probably won't help much other than to re-affirm your thoughts.  A relative of my wife enlisted in November 1915.  He was immediately posted to 30 (Sportsmen's) (Reserve) battalion of the RF.  On 29 February 1916 he was transferred to 23 RF.  He was not a sportsman! (unlike his brother who Manchester City FC wanted to sign).  He did not have any prefix to his number.  He was badly wounded (shrapnel) at Delville Wood towards the end of July 1916.  He was posted back to 15 (Reserve) RF in December 1916 and ultimately transferred to the Army Pay Corps at Cambridge and then Woolwich.

 

Reg

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