In May The Royal British Legion was celebrating its 100 year anniversary which was formed to support those who have served in his Majesty’s Armed Forces and fell on hard times.
The main purpose of the Legion was to care for those that suffered in the Great War, whether through service or family. The suffering took many forms from war wounds to war widows trying to support her family.
With the Great War over, Britain’s economy plummeted and in 1921, two million people were unemployed.
Six million men and women served in the Great War, 725,000 never returned, 1.75 million suffered disabilities of some kind, half permanently disabled.
Lance Bombardier Tom Lister decided to improve the lives of ex-service men and their families. This led to the formation of The British Legion.
On weekend 14th and 15th May 1921, four organisations met at the Queen’s Hall in London. They were:
The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers (1916)
The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers (1917)
The Comrades of the Great War (1917)
The Officers Association (1920)
Mr Tom Lister chaired this meeting with the assistance of Field Marshall Earl Haig. At this meeting all Associations came together to form The British Legion. The tradition of the two minute silence in memory of the dead was established and the first Poppy Day was held on 11th November 1921.
A wreath was laid at the War Memorial at 9am on the 15th May 2021 by the local RBL showing the Logos of all four Associations.
In 1925 The British Legion was granted the Royal Charter to help the ex-service community.
On the 29th May 1971 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the royal title now known as The Royal British Legion with her Majesty as patron.
Alas we lost our home in Syston, but as a branch we are still active and meet at Syston Social Club on second Thursday of each month at 7.30pm and we will carry on after this pandemic is over. We are still here to assist ex-forces, widows and families, and can be contacted by telephone to the Social Club to leave a message or visit our website. Discretion will be observed in all cases.
Remembrance Sunday in Syston will never be the same again, due to the increase in restrictions of Road closures, but the Syston Town Council and RBL are working together to plan for this year.
If you have lost a loved one in the last year and feel you would like to place a cross in the Garden of Remembrance, it would be most fitting whether they served in the Forces or not. The garden of Remembrance is located by the War Memorial in Central Park.
John E Collis MBE