The Royal British Legion was formed on 15
May 1921 bringing together four National Organisations of
ex-Service men that had established themselves after the Great War
main purpose of the Legion was straightforward: to care for those
who had suffered as a result of service in the Armed Forces in the
Great War, whether through their own service or through that of a
husband, father or son. The suffering took many forms: the effect
of a war wound on a man's ability to earn a living and support his
family; or a war widow's struggle to give her children an
But even those who had come through the war relatively unscathed
struggled with employment. As a result of the war, Britain's
economy plummeted and in 1921 there were 2 million
unemployed. Over six million men had served in the war -
725,000 never returned. Of those who came back, 1.75 million had
suffered some kind of disability and half of these were permanently
disabled. To this figure then had to be added those who depended on
those who had gone to war - the wives and children, widows and
orphans as well as the parents who had lost sons in the war, on
whom they were often financially dependent.
situation so moved Lance Bombadier Tom Lister, a Lancastrian, that
he decided that if the Government was either unable or unwilling to
do anything to improve the lives of ex-Service men, he would do
something about it himself. This eventually led to the formation of
The Royal British Legion.
When the Legion's leaders looked around them in 1921, not only
did they see a gigantic task in front of them looking after those
who had suffered in the recent war, they also sought to prevent
further sacrifice by reminding the nation of the human cost of war
and to work actively for peace.
By the time of the Legion's formation in 1921, the tradition of
an annual Two Minute Silence in memory of the dead had been
established. The first ever Poppy Appeal was held that year with
the first Poppy Day on 11 November 1921.
We were granted "Royal" status in 1971, and
extended our membership to serving members of Her Majesty's
Forces, as well as ex-Service personnel, in 1981. Now, anyone
can become a member of The Royal British Legion. We welcome
men and women of all ages, whether they have served in the Armed
Forces or not.