The Royal British Legion in The Bourne
In 1920 a Lance Bombardier called Tom Lister, a Lancastrian, was so appalled at the apparent inability of the Government to improve the lives of ex-Servicemen that he decided to do something about it himself. His energy helped to found the British Legion, achieved by the merging of Comrades of the Great War, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers and the Officers’ Association. The Legion became the voice for the ex-Service community whose aim was to promote the welfare and interests of current and former members of the British Armed Forces and their families, including the disabled and widowed families.
The Legion was granted a Royal Charter on 29 May 1971, thus becoming the Royal British Legion (RBL). In addition to providing financial, social and emotional support for members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants, the Legion challenges the Government on the honouring of the Military Covenant and fights legal cases on behalf of war veterans.
The head office of the RBL is in London, to which County Offices report issues raised and activities carried out by the branches in their areas. Membership is not restricted to serving or ex-Service personnel, anyone can join who supports the aims of the Legion.
The Royal British Legion has 2,500 Branches including those overseas, each of which has its own identifying number. The Bourne Branch, one of the very earliest to form being Branch Number 8 in England. The Branch has its meetings in the Lower Bourne Social Club on Burnthill Road, Farnham. The Club building itself has an unusual background, having been a barrack hut for Canadian troops at Bordon during the 1914-18 war. The hut was donated by the Canadian Army and moved to the present site in 1921. The land was rented for £10 a year until the members purchased the land in 1938 for the sum of £150.
The Bourne Branch has a Memorial board in the clubhouse, inscribed with the names of 138 men who lost their lives in both World Wars.