Happy 100th Birthday Royal British Legion

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For 100 years the Royal British Legion has been a symbol of hope for the Armed Forces community. Today they celebrate their 100th birthday.

After the First World War, Britain’s economy plummeted, leaving two million people unemployed in 1921. Over six million men had served in the war. Of those who came back, 1.75 million had suffered some kind of disability and half of these were permanently disabled.

A hundred years ago today on 15 May 1921 The British Legion was formed, bringing together four national organisations of ex-Servicemen that had established themselves to support those who had suffered as a result of service during the First World War.

The Women’s Section of the British Legion was also swiftly established. In September 1921 Anna Guérin arrived from Canada and persuaded the Legion to adopt the Poppy as a symbol of Remembrance. That same year the first Poppy Appeal raised £106,000 (the equivalent of £5.21m in 2021) and 2,500 branches of the British Legion were established across the country.

The following year the Legion’s Poppy Factory opened on the Old Kent Road, London where 40 disabled men manufactured 1,000 poppies a week.

The first Festival of Remembrance was held at the Royal Albert Hall in 1927, with the first Field of Remembrance appeared on the lawns outside Westminster Abbey in London a year later. 

Through the 1930s the Poppy Appeal grew from strength to strength and the British Legion purchased Haig House in Ypres, Belgium to provide a base for pilgrims visiting the battlefields of the First World War.

In 1938 the Poppy Appeal raised £600,000 (£40m in 2021) and it was spent on supporting those who continued to suffer as a result of service during the First World War. Today that figure stands at over £100 million.

Since 1921 the Royal British Legion have continued their good work and fought for the rights of those who gave so much for our country and often came back to so little. Every year in November, they distribute their paper poppies to raise vital funds to help today’s Armed Forces community. 

Today they stand as the country’s largest Armed Forces charity, with 235,000 members, 110,000 volunteers and a network of partners and charities; helping give support wherever and whenever it’s needed.

A statement on their website says:

“We take pride in our heritage on which we have built the RBL of today; an organisation fit for the future and ready to continue its work for another 100 years and beyond.

“As we reflect on our achievements over the last century, we know they are not ours alone. The RBL has always been supported by a network of volunteers, members, fundraisers, and corporate partners who share our passion for bringing people together to support, commemorate and celebrate our Armed Forces community.​

“Join us in celebrating our rich history, the difference we’ve made, and looking forward to the next 100 years.”

Source: Royal British Legion

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