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Royal British Legion

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The Royal British Legion (aka TRBL, aka 'The Legion') was formed in 1921 to offer cut price alcoholic fluids to servicemen of World War One through a network of social clubs. Today, they afford an ideal forum for anyone associated with the military to pontificate about how the services were “better in their day” - much like ARRSE.

In addition, they also provide a significant amount of financial and emotional support to the 10.5 million eligible people in the UK. On a yearly basis they deal with thousands of cases, safeguarding the welfare, interests and memory of all serving and ex-serviceman. They provide a potent voice for their community (e.g. the recent 'Honour the Covenant' campaign) and are nationally recognised through their Poppy Appeal.

There has been much discussion of late surrounding the Poppy Appeal, and whether or not it's losing its core focus with the huge increase in merchandise and poppy styles, however it's all fairly academic as you either give a damn or you don't.

You'll often see an old and bold stood at the entrance to a major train station or shopping centre, eyeing up the diverse racial mix and thinking back to the good old days when he was bayonet charging their type in Aiden or Malaysia. Or as my grandad, after too many stouts, once said in a restaurant where he was served by a Burmese lad "I probably killed your grandad!"

The RBL is always on duty.


You'll often see the Old and Bold giving up their free time only to be abused by yobs and sometimes robbed. The RBL is always on duty, except when they're not. As with all honest and ethical historiography, the "old and bold" and the past should be considered in context; to wit: as products of their time. And in World War II: 60 million people were killed, or 3% of the 1940 world population.

In Korea, the UK suffered >5,000 casualties (dead, wounded, missing or captured). The Royal British Legion benefits from its long and strong history, traditionally prominent during November each year, though it has been affected in recent years by negative headlines.

In June 2017, the Veterans' Gateway was introduced as the "first point of contact for veterans seeking support". They "make it quick and easy by being your first point of contact for whatever support you need, whether you are based in the UK or abroad".

There are few charities in the UK as well known as the Royal British Legion and its reputation for supporting victims of war. TRBL also conducts and publishes consultations, public policy and research ("areas of importance to the Armed Forces community"), including the ex-service community.

Yet "in recent years more people have reported seeing negative coverage of the charity than positive coverage;" YouGov reported data "showing a decline in the charity’s reputation". This has been linked to controversy over the planned integration of local women's sections into the RBL main charity ("Third Sector", 02 September 2016).

Women members have accused the RBL of "sexism"; "Almost 12,000 women members of the Royal British Legion have quit in a row over sexism at the charity, with volunteers accusing the organisation of treating them in a “pre-suffragette manner” (The Times, December 30, 2016).

Alongside reforms of membership arrangements: The RBL (TRBL) underwent wide-ranging restructuring ("modernisation") in 2012 during which the old grant system was reformed. Former county office managers "lost confidence in the charity's leadership", claiming "the new system is bureaucratic, unnecessary and diverts money from those who need it most" (Crawford, A. BBC, Nov 2012).

In conclusion, the RBL has come under public scrutiny and it's been criticised, yet there are few charities in the UK as well known as the Royal British Legion (for various reasons described above) and its arguable reputation for supporting victims of war.

External Links:

Public perception of British Legion falls to lowest level in four years. "Third Sector", 2016. ; "About Us", August 2017.

"The Royal British Legion: Turmoil in the charity's ranks over restructure"; 2017 (August 2017 [Nov 2012]).

The Royal British Legion Women’s Section: August 2017.

"The Royal British Legion Annual Report and Accounts 2016 is now available and includes a review of our activities and financial position for the financial year ending 30 September 2016".; August 2017.