British Legion Formed
As the debate about the military covenant continues it is instructive to consider that the British Legion was formed a few years after the end of WWI when servicemen faced similar problems to those still met.
The British Legion was essentially an amalgamation of four bodies: The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers; Comrades of the Great War; The Officers’ Association; and the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers. Another grouping, the National Union of Ex-servicemen participated in early discussions but withdrew before they bore fruit. Earl Haig was a central figure in the foundation of ‘The Legion’, proving rather more useful in that regard than as a military tactician.
Certain of those organisations had been involved in political campaigning; even putting up candidates for elections to the House of Commons, but the British Legion was apolitical, seeking to work by varied means to support ex-servicemen and women and those still serving, along with their dependents. Pensions, helping those maimed in combat, and justice for those ill-used during their service were key to the early Legion; sadly such matters remain significant for the group today.
Unity talks at the Queen’s Hall in Langham Place began on May 14 1921, and continued to the next day, agreeing a draft constitution. At 9am on Sunday May 15th the agreement was symbolically sealed at the Cenotaph.
The organisation was granted a Royal Charter in 1925 and in 1971 to mark the Golden Anniversary was allowed to use the Royal prefix in its title.
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