Tenterden Branch of the Royal British Legion Centenary Celebration
Tuesday 17 August 2021
St Mildred's Church, Tenterden
Read out by Bill Chandler, Royal British Legion member, at the Centenary meeting
"On Tuesday 16th August 1921 in St Mildred’s Hall then known as the Drill Hall the Tenterden Branch of the British Legion was formed. It was made up of mainly 4 earlier associations; The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, The British National Federation of Discharged & Demobilished Sailors and Soldiers, Comrades of the Great War, and The Officers Association. 60 of these men marched in a procession in the previous year 1920 when Tenterden War Memorial was unveiled.
Tenterden played its part in WW1.By 1915 209 men from Tenterden were in the Armed Forces. In August 1914 the Territorials marched to Tenterden Town Station to catch a train to Dover destination France( pity this service is not available today!). In the next 4 years The East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) were joined by the West Kent, Staffordshire and Devonshire Regiments; many men from these Regiments were billeted in the town. In the sky over Tenterden giant Zeppelin airships were seen on their way to London, these were sometimes caught in the searchlights based at Henley Fields or Pickhill farm. Our newly formed Royal Flying Corps established an airfield at Leigh Green in 1917 to help to stop the airships.
Whilst the exact number of men who joined in August 1921 is not known, over 50 subsequently became members. Membership has varied over the years, over 100 joined after WW2. Today we have 53 members.
The British Legion was formed nationally on 15th May 1921 (becoming Royal in 1971). Tenterden formed August 1921 was one of the first 6 branches to be formed in Kent."
Tuesday 17 August 2021
Taken from St Mildred's Connect Up Newsletter
Last night, in St Mildred’s Church, we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Tenterden Branch of The Royal British Legion. During the evening, a Centenary Pennant, generously given by Ann Beaven in memory of her husband Neil, a former Chairman, was dedicated and affixed to the Legion Standard. Sue Ferguson kindly captured the moment in the photo above. Thank you, Sue. The evening was also accompanied by some excellent food, kindly prepared by Eric and Isabelle of The French Gourmet.
The Royal British Legion has been supporting Service men and women, ex-serving personnel and their families since 1921. As a result of the First World War, Britain's economy plummeted and in 1921 there were two million people unemployed. 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. Then there were 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.
What was then called The British Legion (the word ‘Royal’ was added in 1971) was formed on the 15th May 1921, bringing together four national organisations of ex-Servicemen that had established themselves after the First World War: The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers; The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers; The Comrades of The Great War; The Officers' Association. The amalgamation of these diverse bodies can be attributed largely to two men: Field Marshal Earl Haig, and Tom Lister of the Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers. Lord Haig served as the President of The Royal British Legion until his death. By Christmas of that year, some 2,500 branches had opened, both across the country and overseas. The Tenterden Branch was among them, forming in August 1921. These local branches made things happen, raising funds during the Poppy Appeal, providing welfare locally, and becoming the foundation of what has become the United Kingdom’s largest Armed Forces’ charity.
It is really wonderful to be able to host significant community celebrations in St Mildred’s and bring them so visibly into the orbit of God’s loving interest in all that goes on in his world.