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MELKSHAM has joined the national commemoration of 100 years of the Royal British Legion, supporting the Armed Forces community.
To mark the centenary, members of the Melksham branch gathered outside the Town Hall on Saturday 15th May, joined by former mayor, cllr Pat Aves – her last formal engagement of her mayoral year.
Town crier Peter Dauncey read out a proclamation about the formation of the Royal British Legion 100 years ago, before moving on to the War Memorial in Canon Square for a wreath laying ceremony and a two-minute silence.
Branch president, Trevor Paterson reports, “The Branch standard was carried by John Smith, the Wiltshire Parade Commander, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Branch.
“Also present were Ken Graham, Branch Chairman, Cathy Smith, Branch Secretary, Tom Sangster, Branch Treasurer, along with members of the Branch. At the Cenotaph, there was a small ceremony, where the Dedication and Kohima were said, with a two-minute silence in between.
“The mayor then laid a wreath in recognition of the Wiltshire Regiment and the Branch President laid a wreath for the Royal Engineers, in honour of Bill Brown, an ex-Royal Engineer, who had been the branch Poppy Appeal organiser for many years, before his well-earned retirement to Dorset, where he is still an active member of the local branch there.”
Explaining the history of the Royal British Legion, Trevor says, “At the end of the First World War there were three organisations looking after the welfare of returning ex-servicemen, The British National Federation of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers; the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers and the Comrades of the Great War:
“A fourth organisation, founded by Earl Haig, who had been Commander-in-Chief of the British Army on the Western Front was The Officers Association.
“As in the case of a lot of organisations, they started quarrelling amongst themselves, Earl Haig and Fred Lister, who was the President of the Federation, decided there should just be a single organisation called the British Legion, which was formed 100 years ago on 15th May 1921.”