THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION – A BRIEF HISTORY
The British Legion was formed on 15th May 1921 by Earl Haig. The main purpose of the Legion was straightforward: to care for those who had suffered as a result of services in the 1914 to 1918 Great War (WW1), whether through their own service or through that of a husband, father or son.
The suffering took many forms: the effect of a war wound on a man’s ability to earn a living and support his family, or a war widow’s struggle to give her children an education.
Even those who had come through the war relatively unscathed struggled to find employment. As a result of the war Britain’s economy plummeted and in 1921 there were two million unemployed. Over six million people had served in the war – 725,000 never returned. Of those who did come back, 1.75 million had suffered some kind of disability and half were permanently disabled.
The Legion’s leaders realised the gigantic task in front of them, both to raise the funds to support those in need as well as reminding the nation of the effects of war.
By the time of the Legion’s formation in 1921, the tradition of an annual Two Minute Silence in memory of the dead had been established. The first ever Poppy Appeal was held that year, with the first Poppy Day on 11 November 1921.
In 1971 The Legion were granted ‘Royal’ status, and in 1981, extended the assistance to serving members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, as well as ex-service personnel.
The Horncastle Branch of the Royal British Legion was formed in 1922. The first Poppy Appeal raised £50/2/10 (£50-15 today). The Branch was disbanded in 1924, before being reformed in 1926.
Last year the Horncastle and District Branch raised just over £18,000.