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Royal British Legion

Royal British Legion. Essentially a product of the Great War, the Legion emerged from amalgamation of rival voluntary societies in 1921 as a non-party association of ex-servicemen, in response to demobilization confusion and disillusion in a time of industrial unrest. Disbursements to alleviate distress (sickness, unemployment), employment offices and schemes, disabled retraining, and increasing preoccupation with pensions followed. Poppy Day (derived from the emblem of Flanders's fields) started cautiously in 1921, to become the best known of appeals. A royal charter came in 1925, then royal patronage. In the Second World War, legionaries everywhere contributed to national and civil defence (air-raid duties, Home Guard), and remembrance festivals were revived. While interest grew in provision for the aged and incapacitated, and war-grave pilgrimages, the Legion's principal service to ‘second-generation’ ex-servicemen concerned pensions.

A. S. Hargreaves

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