top of page

 The USMC Challenge Trophy (The Tunney Cup)

Tunney Cup

Capt J.J. Tunney USMC  & General L. S. T. Halliday V.C., C.B., R.M., Adjutant General Royal Marines at the presentation of the Trophy on the 15th December 1928 on the parade ground of Portsmouth Division Royal Marines at Eastney Barracks Portsmouth.

The History of the Tunney Cup

When the Royal Marines gave the USMC a British Bulldog by the name of Private Pagett in 1927, Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune USMC wrote the following letter to General L. S. T. Halliday V.C., C.B., R.M., Adjutant General Royal Marines on 24th March 1928.

My Dear General Halliday, The recent visit of the Royal Marines in HMS Cairo & HMS Calcutta to our eastern ports; also the joint service of the two bodies of Marines in China, which occasion has afforded an opportunity to renew their acquaintance , has caused a desire among the officers & men of the United States Marine Corps to perpetuate this bond of friendship by offering to the Royal Marines an Association Football Trophy to be contested by athletic teams of the Royal Marines only. Accordingly, I am happy to submit this inquiry with the hope that a favourable reply will be forthcoming. At this time I wish to take the opportunity to report that Private Pagett is in the best of health & has already won many friends in America. At present he is with the Marine Corps Baseball Team at their training camp.

General L. S. T. Halliday V.C., C.B., R.M., Adjutant General Royal Marines replied on 18th April 1928. My Dear General Lejeune, On behalf of the Royal Marines permit me to thank you & the officers & men of your distinguished Corps for the kind thought which prompted the offer of an Association Football Trophy for competition among ourselves, which offer we are most happy to accept. I feel sure that generous action of the US Marine Corps will have lasting effect in further cementing the bonds of comradeship already existing between the two Marine Corps. Your report on Private Pagett has been promulgated, and all ranks are pleased to learn that he is well & developing into a good & efficient Marine.

Sergeant Major Charles Francis USMC

Sergeant Major Charles R. Francis USMC

(Retired at the time) Was chosen to accompany the Trophy from America to England on board the S.S Leviathan.

Charles R. Francis, retired Sergeant Major, USMC, who was selected by the Major General Commandant to accompany the Royal Marines Association Football Trophy to England, on the S.S. Leviathan, was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on May 19th 1875. Enlisted in the Marine Corps on April 21st 1898 at Philadelphia Pa. He served continuously until April 30th 1923 when he was retired as a Sergeant Major. During World War 1 he was commissioned a second Lieutenant (Temporary) & served with the Fifth Regiment in France. Sergeant Major Francis has served at practically every home & foreign station in the Corps, as well as on many battleships including the Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Dixie, Buffalo, Prairie & Tacoma.

In addition to receiving a good conduct medal & one bar, he has also been awarded the Navy Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism at Tientsin, China on June 21st 1900. Here he served side by side with the British Marines during the Boxer rising & was badly wounded. The Navy Congressional Medal is the equivalent to our V.C. He is the holder also of the West Indian campaign medal (the cable cutting at Santago de Cuba on May 18th 1898), and the Philippine campaign badge, China Relief Medal, Samoa Expedition, Nicagurua Expedition, World War 1 (with 5 stars), Sampson Medal (Jamaica Expedition). He also wears the badge of an "Expert Marksman," having shot for the US against Australia in an International contest. Sergeant Major Francis arrived at Southampton in S.S. Leviathan on Tuesday 11th December. He was met by the Brigade Major & Supt. Clerk (W.O) Halliwell and taken via customs to the Officers Mess at Eastney Barracks Portsmouth were the journey took just under an hour and Sergeant Major Francis commented "Some driver that Major of yours, he takes the corners on two wheels!"

The Cup was at once unpacked & the Sergt-Major introduced to the Commandant. As a Matinee Musical was in progress, opportunity was afforded to show the cup to the C.-in-C., Admiral Sir O. de B. Brock, to whom Sergt-Major Francis was also presented. Sergt-Major Francis, who was accommodated in the W.O.'s Mess, dined that night with his british confreres in their mess, and a very pleasant evening was spent. The very first thing that struck everybody about Sergt-Major Francis was his remarkable, likeable personality, as the more one knew of him, the more one liked him; & our only regret was that he could not stay longer than he did - if only he could have stayed until after the presentation of the magnificent trophy, which he had brought over, it wouldn't have been so bad, but arriving at 4 p.m. on the 11th Dec & having to be aboard again by 8 a.m. on Friday 14th Dec was some hustle.

After looking around the Sgt's Mess & meeting the Sgt's who had turned out in force to greet him he was then taken to the W.O.'s Mess, where a good meal had been prepared, & 14 members sat down to partake of it, with our guest. An impromptu concert was held in the Billiard Room, with great success. A first class jazz band from the R.N. School of Music had much to do with the success of the evening, and concerted items on piano & violin by B.M. (W.O.'s) Green & Kenward were rendered in an exceptional manner. R.M. G. Layzell sprung the surprise of the night when he jumped up and sung the "Star Spangled Banner" which fitted in most appropriately. On the following day, Sergt-Major Francis was placed in the care of Sergt-Major Attwood, who took around the Barracks to see the various Departments working at "full preasure?" He was taken to the Commandant who presented him with something which he was not to open until he was aboard the S.S. Leviathan (what this was I dont know). He was then taken to the Dockyard & shown over H.M.S. Victory (the Sergt-Major of the Victory, Clr.-Sergt. Thomas acted as guide) & made the visit most interesting. He was greatly impressed when standing in the cock-pit where Lord Nelson died. It so happened that the original piece of oak known as the "Knee" (where Nelson's head rested when he died) which had recently been returned to H.M.S. Victory, was being replaced, & a small piece of this was given to Sergt-Major Francis. This precious piece of oak will be greatly treasured by him.

From the Victory he was taken aboard H.M.S. Nelson to lunch with the W.O.'s. He left the ship with several souvenirs given by the W.O.'s including a large photo of the ship, a portrait of Lord Nelson, autographed by all the W.O.'s aboard, and a Ships Badge (Nelson's Head). On Wednesday night he was the guest at the Sergeants Mess on the occasion of a smoking concert specially arranged. Q.M.S.I  B.P. Foster presided, & proposed the toast of the "United States Marines & Sergeant Major Francis"  He welcomed their guest & said it was the first occasion they had had a member of the American Corps in the Mess, but he hoped it would be remembered every time the trophy was played for. Members of the two Corps of Marines had met all over the world, hence they both wore the globe, and they had always been good comrades. He hoped the good feeling would continue throughout the ages. The toast was received with musical honours. Sergt-Major Francis in response, said the first thing he wanted to say was "I hope your King will recover" (Cheers). He could not express his admiration for the great gentleman they had at the head of their Empire. As to the Royal Marine Corps, it was marvellous. He was one of them by blood, for his mother was English & his Father was Scottish. They all had a small duty: to breed "honest to goodness" men & to live up to the blood that was in them. He had to serve his President & they to serve their King, & if they did that who was going to drop in & seperate them ?  The Marines were the finest branch of fighting forces of the United States, and the Royal Marines occupied a similar position with regard to the Imperial forces. He honoured them. When either Corps was ordered to do thing they did it.

The next morning accompanied by Mr. Halliwell, he proceeded to London & called on the U.S. Embassy, Capt J.J. Tunney, & the Adjutant-General, RM at the R.M.O., where he was presented with some souveniers & a warm welcome. Together with Mr. Halliwell, Sergeant Major Francis proceeded to Southampton on Friday morning & went on board the S.S. Leviathan.

Tunney Cup Eastney Barracks

The Presentation of the Trophy 15th December 1928

There was an impressive ceremony on the parade ground of the Portsmouth Division Royal Marines at Eastney on Saturday, 15th December 1928, when Capt J.J. Tunney, better known as Gene Tunney, the world's heavy weight boxing champion, attended on behalf of the United States Marine Corps to present the very fine trophy to the Royal Marines for Inter-Divisional competition at football. The trophy stands 26 inches high & weighs in all 86lbs. It has a marble plinth, with bronze base, and two bronze figures, representing footballers, supporting a massive silver cup. Captain Tunney - who was in mufti - travelled down from London, accompanied by the American Assistant Naval Attache (Lieut-Comdr H. F. Kingman, US Navy), & the Second Secretary at the American Embassy (Mr Raymond E Cox). They were met at the Officers Mess by the Commandant of Portsmouth Division (Brigadier A. G. Little, C.M.G) & his staff & were afterwards joined by the Adjutant Gerneral of the the Royal Marines, General L. S. T. Halliday, V.C., C.B., who inspected the guard drawn up in front of the Officers Mess.

On the parade ground there was a representative party of officers, N.C.O.'s & Marines from all divisions formed in a hollow square to witness the presentation of the trophy. The Commandant introduced Captain Tunney, not he said, that any introduction was necessary, because they all knew of his distinction in the boxing ring. But he had another distinction, which perhaps, everyone did not know. Captain Tunney was a US Marine, and had fought in France. That meant a lot to them. He had come all the way from Italy to present to them the magnificient cup on behalf of the USMC. He was sure that all would join with him in thanking Captain Tunney for putting himself to so much inconvenience to be there.

Captain Tunney said it was quite a privilege for him to be there on behalf of the United States Marine Corps to present the football trophy. The Brigadier mentioned something about inconvenience caused him in coming from Italy. He could assure them that it was no inconvenience, but on the contrary a great pleasure, and he appreciated the privilege of that assembly. The Trophy was presented to the British Marines by the American Marines as a token of friendship, the seed of which was sown 28 years earlier in China during the Boxer rebellion, where the two Corps of Marines fought side by side to suppress the trouble there. A friendship which had as a foundation the mutual admiration & respect of two bodies of fighting men was bound to endure anything. It was as a further token of their friendship that he was making that presentation. The officers & men of the United States Marine Corps joined him when he said he hoped the Cup would bring lots of good cheer, of goodwill, & merriment to the British Marine Corps. Capt Tunney ended by saying, At this time I should like to ask of you the privilege to bow my head in prayer for the speedy recovery of your King. The famous boxer then stood reverentlly with bowed head for several moments in silent prayer.

The Adjutant General replied, On behalf of the Royal Marines I thank the officers & men of the United States Marine Corps for sending us this splendid trophy, and I thank you, Captain Tunney, for having been so very kind as to come here to present it.

Tuefen-Hunden, Sergeant Major Jiggs & Private Pagett, USMC.


The following extracts are taken from an article by Brigadier General Dion Williams, USMC, entitled "PRIVATE PAGETT" - US Marine, which appeared in the Marine Corps gazette of September 1927

Soldiers & Sailors have from time immemorial been especially fond of pets & every barracks & ship has its mascot for whom the men often acquire a very sincere regard. Thus the Navy has its Goat & the Army has its Mule as every one who has attended one of the annual struggles on the football field between the teams representing the two great academies of the services at West Point & Annapolis must have observed. The Marine Corps is no exception to this custom & the older members of the service can remember many of the dogs that have been famous mascots of Marine Regiments & Detachments at home & abroad, afloat & ashore.

In May 1918, when the Allies were stubbornly holding the long line of the West Front & the forces of the United States were being assembled & trained in France to take their share of the work to bring the Central Powers to their knees, the Germans suddenly launched their third great offensive with such startling success as to bring great depression & despair, to the Allies. Rapidly the German forces crossed the Chemin des-Dames west of Rheims, captured Soissons after a stubborn defence by the Allies, and the last day of May 1918 found them marching in what appeared to be overwhelming force down the Valley of the Marne toward Paris. At this critical time when cause of the Allies appeared to be desperate, the Second Division of the A.E.F. which included the fourth Brigade of Marines, and certain elements of the Third & Twenty-Eighth Divisions were hurriedly thrown into the battle line & took position in the Chateau-Thierry Sector to aid the hard pressed French forces in their efforts to halt the German advance.

Tuefel-Hunden (Devil Dogs)

The Week's Defensive of the Marine Brigade in the vicinity of the Bois de Belleau Wood by the Marine Brigade so stubbornly contended that they styled the Marine "Tuefel-Hunden" This term was immediately taken up by the Marines and their friends at home and translated into the English equivalent of "Devil Dogs" and ever since the term has been often applied to the American Marines. For this reason the Dog appears to be particularly appropriate as the mascot for the Marines.

Sgt Maj Jiggs USMC.jpg

Sergeant Major Jiggs USMC (Formerly named King Bulwark)

In the early fall of 1922 when the Marine Corps Football Team was preparing for its fall campaign at the Marine Base at Quantico Virginia, Brigadier General Smedley D Butler, then Commanding General of the station determined that there should be a real mascot for the station and the team, and as a result an English Bulldog of fine pedigree named "King Bulwark" was purchased from a well known kennel & brought to Quantico. The registered name of this fine dog "King Bulwark" did not appeal to the fancy of the Marines & from his resemblance to the countenance of "Mr Jiggs" as portrayed in the popular "Maggie & Jiggs" cartoons his name was changed to "Jiggs" and under that name he was enlisted into the Marine Corps on 7th October 1922 and given a service record book as is custom with mascots in the Navy & Marine Corps. 

Carrying out the traditions of the Corps with their mascots "Jiggs" was promoted from Private to Corporal & then to Sergeant, & on July 16th 1924, upon the occasion of the first visit of the Hon. Curtis Wilbur, Secretary of the Navy, to Quantico, he was by order of the Secretary promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major."Sergeant Major Jiggs" was born on May 22 1921, so that he reached his high rank at a comparatively early age, even for a dog. He was of a very amiable disposition & thoroughly enjoyed life with the Marines. In fact, his enjoyment of the rations provided probably hastened his end, for December 1926 he became afflicted with a serious gastritis & was transferred to the care of a veterinary in Washington. In spite of the best of care "Sergeant Major Jiggs" died on January 7th 1927. His body was taken from Washington to his home station at Quantico by Aeroplane & he was buried there with appropriate ceremonies.

During his five years of service with the Marines he travelled far & wide with the Marine Corps Football Team, and as he paraded up & down the side lines in his blanket of the Corps colours & a jaunty Marine cap or a small steel helmet on his fine head, he became a familiar figure to thousands who witnessed the Marines win at football on many a gridded field. He was a good dog & a good friend & the Marines cared for him with the affection that all real men have for such faithful animals. He did his bi to help the Marine team win its games & added much to the picturesqueness of many gatherings where thousands cheered the Marine Football team on to victory. All over America the press chronicled the death of "Sergeant Major Jiggs" & many friends of the Corps voiced their regret when they heard of his untimely death. One of these friends Mr Allan Cedric Mowbray, an Englishman residing in Boston, Mass, was so impressed with the circumstances of the case that he addressed a letter to the General of the Royal Marines in England Lieut General L.S.T. Halliday V.C., C.B Adjutant General Royal Marines and it was from this letter that the idea to present the USMC with Private Pagett was born.

Pte Pagett USMC.jpg

Private Pagett USMC

(Pictured aboard HMS Cairo in 1927 during the ships visit to Washington)

Upon hearing the news that "Sergeant Major Jiggs" had passed away Lieut General L.S.T. Halliday V.C., C.B., Adjutant General Royal Marines decided to give the USMC a British Bulldog by the name of Private Pagett.

From Commodore Hartley, Commander of America's greatest passenger ship of its time, the Leviathan, it was learned that "Private Pagett" was escorted aboard the Leviathan by a detachment of Royal Marines from Eastney Barracks Portsmouth & turned over to the care of the Commodore with appropriate ceremonies. During the passage the distinguished passenger fared well & was the centre of interest for the host of passengers that filled the great ship to capacity. On June 27th 1927, the Leviathan arrived at Ney York where, "Private Pagett" was met by the representatives of the US Marine Corps, headed by Major J. C. Fegan, Athletic Officer of the Corps. These representatives consisted of officers of the regular service & the Reserves & a detachment of enlisted men from Brooklyn Barracks. Commodore Hartley turned "Pagett" over to Major Fegan with a few well chosen remarks & he soon boarded a train for the journey to Washington, where on the following day he reported at the Major General Commandant & paid a call upon the Secretary of the Navy. The representative of the press were present & the news of the noted dog's arrival was published throughout the country.

Several rolls of moving picture films were made depicting the arrival of "Private Pagett" at New York & Washington, and these together with a collection of clippings from the press recounting the incidents of his reception & induction into the US Marine Corps were forwarded to the Adjutant General of the Royal Marines Lieut General L.S.T. Halliday V.C., C.B.

Private Pagett is undoubtedly one of the finest dogs of his class in the world & his fine points are admired by all the dog fanciers & dog lovers who have seen him. He stands nineteen inches high & at present weighs just an even sixty pounds without an ounce of superfluous flesh, in fine form & fettle he is ready for a fight or a frolic & has taken his station at Quantico where he will accompany the Marine Corps Football Team upon its Fall Tour of 1927 & help to cheer them on to victory. Private Pagett also accompanies the Marine Corps Baseball team. No other animal has the traditional courage, bravery, tenacity of purpose, combined with true loyalty, which form the characteristics of the British Bulldog, & this makes "Private Pagett" a fitting mascot for the United States Marines. The Corps esteems him highly for his fine lineage & sterling qualities, but more on account of the fact that he comes to them from another famous Corps of Marines, whose duties are similar, whose language is the same, & whose aspirations & espirit are marked by the same loyalty to flag & country & devotion to the service.The whole Marine Corps will soon become acquainted with "Private Pagett" & will find him a fitting successor to the late lamented "Sergeant Major Jiggs" who won so many friends in & out of service during his 5 years service with the Marines.

The Descendants of Private Pagett, who was Presented to the U.S. Marine Corps by the Royal Marines in 1927.

Descendants of Pte Pagett USMC.jpg

The Marine Corps mascots that took part in the celebration of Armistice Day: Bill, Sergeant Thunder & Jiggs the second watch the Football game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia between the Quantico Marines & the American Legion All Stars.

bottom of page