british legion 100 years

Our Founding History. On Sunday 15 May 1921, a wet and dreary day, a small number of ex-Servicemen walked to the Cenotaph war memorial in London’s Whitehall. As Big Ben struck nine, four men representing societies that for three years had been rivals laid a wreath at the base of the memorial. On that wreath were the badges of the four organisations that would officially amalgamate to form the British Legion.

This moment was the starting gun for the Royal British Legion we know today. By Christmas of 1921 the ranks of our organisation had swelled to include 2,500 branches across the country, as well as overseas. These were the groups around which the armed forces community rallied after the First World War. They made change happen, fundraised during the Poppy Appeal, provided welfare locally and became the foundations for what has become the UK’s largest Armed Forces charity.

Centenary Wreath Laying. One hundred years later we are proud to still have 2,500 branches, some with a history reaching back to 1921 and others established in the last decade. Now we have branches across the world, in Japan, Spain, Cyprus, Hong Kong and China, Chile and Thailand to name a few. To mark the moment of our founding, we are recreating the activity of that day and our National President and serving personnel will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph at 0900 hours on Saturday 15th May, under the rule of six. That moment at the Cenotaph 100 years ago sparked the beginning of something much bigger – the Royal British Legion that we have today.

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