Page 149 - Hornchurch-During-The-Great-War

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THE FIRST
SPORTSMAN'S
BATTALION
(z3 rd Royal Fusiliers) .
"This very day,
Great Mars, I put myself into thy file:
Make me but like my thoughts, and I shall prove
A lover of..thy dmm "-
Shakespeare
:-AII 's Well that Ends Well,
Ill.,
iii _
In November ,
I914 ,
a new era opened for our ancient village,
owing to the arrival of the First Sportsman's Battalion, the 23rd
Royal Fusiliers, under the command of Colonel ¥iscount Maitland,
and Hornchurch became for the first time in its hist ory a war–
time camp. The home of the late Colonel Holmes, "Grey
Towers," with its beautiful Park, was selected as the Head–
quarters of the Battalion. For several weeks before their
arrival, hundreds of workmen had been employed erecting huts
for their accommodation, and when
all
was completed, Grey
Towers was considered to be quite 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. Cun liffe-Owen) delivered an address of welcome to the
men- and on to Liverpool St reet Station, where they entrained,
the Battalion arrived on the afternoon of ovember 4 at the
Camp. 'Fheir reception in London was of a most enthusiastic
character , crowds of cheering citizens lining the streets, and ac–
cording them a splendid welcome. Hornchurch folk extended
a similar greeting to them, as, headed by the Cottage Homes
Band, they marched in magnificent order through Grey Towers
gates for the first time. The following verses were written
to commemorate the arrival of the Battalion :
WELCOME TO THE SPORTSMAN'S BATTALION.
November 4th , 1911.
We" 'e waited for you ·_ "
Hard as ,\"ails
"-and now at last you ' ve come,
We saw you march through London Town, we heard the fife and drum ,
We heard the tramp of martial feet, we saw the bunting fiy,
We heard the Lord Mayor's greeting as your ranks went swinging by,
We saw the throng of cheering folk, we heard their mighty shout,
And then we heard your answer ing cry :-
"We won't be bothered about! "
And now
Our
Villa~e
welcomes you, yes , every mother's son,
From the buck"
officially"
forty-five to the lad not twenty-one.
"',le love you, and we' re proud of you, for a nswering the Call
Of King a nd Home and Count ry-·Soldiers and Sportsmen a ll ,
And well we know you ' ll play the game when guns and cannon roar,
And , like true Sportsmen, do your bit to make a "inning score.
Fame have you won in times of peace on many a I?laying field,
Where mimic battles bravely fought but barren victories yield,
But now a sterner fight is your s, where you will show your grit,
And prove what manly sport can do to make a nation fit .
And when you make your fina l stand against the German Huns,
Just keep your wickets up, lads, while they make all the"
runs."
CHAS . THOS.
PERFECT.
139