With the formation of the 23 Service Battalion Royal Fusiliers it will be admitted quite a new type of man was brought into the British Army. Public Schools battalions, the Chums, the Footballers, and other battalions were formed. But to the First Sportsman’s belongs the honor of introducing an actually new type.
To begin with, it was cosmopolitan. Practically every grade of life was represented, from the peer to the peasant; class distinctions were swept away, every man turned to and pulled his bit. To illustrate what is meant one hut of thirty men at Hornchurch may be mentioned.
In this hut the first bed was occupied by the brother of a peer. The second was occupied by the man who formerly drove his motor-car. Both had enlisted at the same time at the Hotel Cecil, had passed the doctor at the same time at St. Paul’s Churchyard, and had drawn their service money when they signed their papers. Other beds in this hut were occupied by a mechanical engineer, an old Blundell School boy, planters, a mine overseer from Scotland, a man in possession of a flying pilot’s certificate secured in France, a photographer, a poultry farmer, an old sea dog who had rounded Cape Horn on no fewer than nine occasions, a man who had hunted seals, “with more patches on his trousers than he could count,” as he described it himself, a bank clerk, and so on.
The 23 Service Battalion Royal Fusiliers
Movements of the battalion and battles in which it took part
- November: Bethune sector.
- December: Cambrin sector.
- January: Festubert sector.
- February: Givenchy sector.
- March: Souchez sector.
- April: Souchez sector.
- May: Souchez sector.
- June: Carency sector.
- July: Somme and Battle of Delville Wood.
- August: Somme, in support.
- September: Hebuterne sector.
- October: Redan.
- November: Battle of Beaumont Hamel.
- December: Battalion resting.
- January: Courcelette sector.
- February: Battle of Miraumont.
- March: Battles of Greyvillers and Lady’s Leg Ravine.
- April: Vimy Ridge and battle in front of Oppy.
- May: Battle for and capture of Oppy-Fresnoy line.
- June: Cambrin sector.
- September: Givenchy.
- October: Battalion resting.
- November: Battalion moved to Herzeele, behind Passchendale, ready to go in, and was then moved south to meet the German counter-attack at Bourlon Wood.
- December: Holding Hindenburg line.
- January: Highland Ridge.
- February: Highland Ridge.
- March: German attack. Battalion fought a rearguard action from Highland Ridge to Mailly-Mailly.
- April: Battalion holding line at Blairville and Adnifer.
- May: Battalion holding line at Blairville and Adnifer.
- June: Holding line at Adnifer and Ayette.
- July: Holding line at Adnifer and Ayette.
- August: Battalion led off for the Third Army on 21st inst., attacking and capturing enemy positions near Courcelles.
- September: Battalion attacked and captured part of the Hindenburg line at Doignes, and later helped to capture Noyelles, and attacked Mount sur l’Œuvres.
- October: Battalion attacked and captured Forenville.
- November: Battalion attacked and captured Ruesnes.
- November and December: Battalion marched forward into Germany.
- Battalion in Cologne area as part of Army of Occupation.
- Battalion in Cologne area until it was disbanded in March.