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The British Legion

Rushden Branch

The Rushden Argus 2nd June 1922, transcribed by Susan Manton

The Long, Long Trail
Rushden’s mile of Pennies for the British Legion

On Saturday Rushden people were asked to help the British Legion’s United Relief Committee Benevolent Fund by contributing towards a mile of pennies. The white lines on which the coppers were placed extended between the Church Parade (opposite the War Memorial) and the Queen Victoria Hotel, which is the headquarters of the Rushden Branch of the British Legion.

Half-a-minute’s Silence

An opening ceremony was held at ten o’clock at each end of the route. At the War Memorial a small group of workers assembled to hear a few kindly words by Mr. A.H. Sartoris C.C. The Rev. R.H. Hanson, president of the Rushden Branch, was present, and at his request the company observed a half minute’s silence in honour of the men whose names were inscribed on the Memorial. In a brief message Mr. Sartoris said that when he was asked to start the mile of pennies he accepted it with the greatest of pleasure, firstly because the object was one that should commend itself to everyone, and secondly, because Rushden people were always ready to help a deserving cause, such as that really was. His third reason was because the money itself was going to be spent on Rushden men and looked after by Rushden men. “With these few words” concluded Mr. Sartoris “I have pleasure in laying the first penny; and in case it should be cold by this evening I am going to give it a blanket to cover itself up with”. The ‘blanket’ was a Treasury note for £1.

During the short ceremony in front of the Memorial members of the 1st Rushden troop of Boy Scouts, with a detachment of the Wolf Cubs, stood to attention on either side of the main pathway. A bugle played the “Fall in”.

For Services Rendered

Mr A H Sartoris, making his speech before laying the first penny. To his left Rev R H Hanson (president of the Rushden British Legion Branch, and Mr G Jones (chairman of the special committee. Boy Scouts line the pathway to the War Memorial.

Counting the coins
In the evening on the lawn of the Queen Victoria Hotel.
l-r: Messrs C Evans (landlord of the Queen Victoria),
G Jones, G L Dring, and G Pogson

At the Queen Victoria hotel end Mr. John Spencer J.P. laid the first penny. He said they did not want the effort looked upon as a charitable one, for the men whom it was designed to help had rendered tremendous service to the country. The British Legion had a fund, whereby they could assist their members, who were suffering, to convalescent homes, where they might regain their strength. In a town like Rushden, where so many men nobly went forward there ought to be a most liberal response. Mr Spencer’s contribution to the ‘mile’ was followed by one from Mr. C. Cross, C.C. and Mr. C. Evans handed over the generous donation of two guineas.Many helpers, including the Boy Scouts and Wesleyan Girls’ Brigade guarded the line during the day. The effort was admirably organised by the following committee – Rev. R. H. Hanson (president) Mr. G. Jones (chairman) Mr. G.L. Dring (vice-chairman) Mr. F. Noble (secretary) Messrs. L. Taylor, G. Pogson and S. Cox.
Rushden Echo, 12th February 1926, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Poppy Day Committee – Record Amount Sent to Headquarters – The Annual Meeting
The annual meeting of the Rushden British Legion Poppy Day Committee was held at the Victoria Hotel, Rushden, on Tuesday, Mr E C Catling presiding (in the absence of Ald C W Horell, J.P., who sent an apology), supported by the secretary (Mr R F Smith), the treasurer (Mr O A H Muxlow), and the assistant secretary (Mr R Denton).

Another record had been attained in Rushden, stated the secretary’s report, the grand sum of £193 being collected. The villages had done extremely well also, so that the grand total was £253. Last year £210/5/2 was sent to headquarters and they received £300 back, which showed that they had received not 85 per cent but 150 per cent. The expenditure was less and the receipts more, and thanks were due to Mr Muxlow and his staff. In thanking everyone that had helped, the secretary mentioned Mr Newberry, Mr Catling, Mrs Robinson and her lady helpers, the band of Rushden and district instrumentalists, who helped at the memorial service, the Rushden Urban Council for their support, the Chairman, Inspector Lawrence and the police force, Mrs Catling for the use of the Royal Theatre bar, the president (Mr C W Evans) for the use of the room, light and heat free of cost, the Editor of the “Rushden Echo” for the help in his paper, Mr A Cave for the free use of the shop in High-street and the Rushden Electric Supply Co. For the free light, the different clubs and institutes, the employers and employees, and the general public who gave so freely. Finally, the Secretary gave a hint that the work was becoming too much for him and that he would have to retire.

The balance-sheet gave the following figures and collections: Rushden £193/14/3, Newton £3/6/3, Yelden £1/3/9, per Major Branson at Bedford 6/3, Bozeat £6/15/11, Wymington £5/10/6, Podington £6/12/10, Hinwick £1/6/7, Wollaston £22/1/5, St Mary’s Church £3/18/2, Congregational Church £3/17/6, Rushden Working men’s Club 10/6. The balance sent to headquarters after allowing for expenses was £237/3/5.

The report and balance-sheet were adopted without dissent.

It was resolved to make it known through the press that the Poppy Day Fund was for all ex-servicemen and their dependents, whether they belonged to the Legion or not.

Rushden Echo & Argus, 1st January 1932, transcribed by Kay Collins

Legion Secretary—Mr W A Jones, of Irchester-road, Rushden, who for the past three years has ably held the office of secretary to the Rushden Branch of the British Legion, is removing from the town to take up a position at Gravesend. The chairman of the Branch, Mr Robert Denton, asks us to state that another secretary will not be appointed until the annual meeting of the Branch on January 11th and that in the meantime all communications should be addressed to him at 9, Kings-road, Rushden.

E E Bennett
Taken in Mesopotamia
Rushden Echo & Argus, 15th January 1932, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Legion’s New Secretary - Mr E E Bennett to Succeed Mr A Jones
At the annual meeting of the Rushden Branch of the British Legion, held on Monday (a report of which will be found in another column), Mr E E Bennett, of 7, Co-operative Row, Rushden, was unanimously elected secretary to the Branch in succession to Mr A Jones, who recently removed to Gravesend.

Mr Bennett, whose photograph appears herewith, is a man with wide experience of the Legion. He has done valuable work as pensions representative to the Branch, and is a member of the District War pensions Committee, which embraces Rushden, Wellingborough and Kettering.

Mr Bennett retired some years ago from the Indian Army in which he had many years experience. Joining up with the Welsh Regiment, he was previously in Africa and saw active service in the Mesopotamia campaign against the Turks during the Great War. He was in Basra in November 1914 and was with the Expeditionary Force until the conclusion of hostilities. Mr Bennett had a fluent command of Hindustani.

Rushden Echo and Argus, Friday 4th May 1934, transcribed by Susan Manton

Legion Relief
Rushden Branch Distributed Nearly £200 in Six Months
Education Grants.

At the half-yearly meeting of the Rushden British Legion Branch in the Territorial Institute on Thursday week, Mr. B. Denton presided over a good attendance. It was reported that the receipts of the recent prize draw amounted to £10/4/5.

In a half-yearly statements Mr. B. Denton (the chairman) showed that the families had been assisted from the Poppy Day fund as follows : 16 coal vouchers value £2.18s.6d: 18 meat vouchers value £3.12s.6d.: 96 grocery vouchers £47.6s and one boot voucher value £1.

Other items of relief and assistance were: grants to eight families from United Services fund (sickness cases) £18.7s.6d.; child at convalescent home £5.12s.; four complete clothing grants to sickness cases; hot dinner fees for scholarship and free placed children £78.17s.6d. Clothing grant from Le Marchant Fund £5; Area Relief Fund vouchers (three families) £5.10s: Area Relief fund Dental Treatment £4.6s Trust Grants £2.1s; Branch Benevolent Fund grants £17.18s 6d; wreaths £4.15s.

The total expenditure was £194.4s.7d

Rushden Echo & Argus, 26th February 1937, transcribed by Kay Collins

Legion Children—Children of the British Legion members, numbering about 450, enjoyed themselves at the Windmill Hall on Saturday, on the occasion of their annual treat. Arrangements were made by the committees of the men's and women's sections, with the helpful co-operation of the Windmill Club committee. Mrs. Walter Robinson was general organising secretary. After tea the children were entertained by Miss Robinson's dancing pupils, Mrs. Reynolds (drums), Mrs. Shatford (pianist), Mr. G. Roddis (violin) and Mr. V. Richardson (piano-accordion).

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 1st August, 1941, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Legion Honour — Rushden Secretary to Receive the Certificate of Appreciation

Mr Ernest Bennett
Mr Ernest Bennett
Mr. Ernest Bennett, secretary of the Rushden British Legion branch, is to receive the Legion’s Certificate of Appreciation.

The award was announced on Thursday week in a letter to the branch chairman, Mr. Robert Denton. It has been made by the National Executive Council on the recommendation of the Midland Area Council, and Mr. Bennett will receive the certificate during a county Legion meeting at Northampton on August 9th.

A similar award was made to Mr. Denton at the opening of the Rushden Legion Hall three years ago, and Rushden is believed to be the only branch in the county holding two of the coveted certificates.

Mr. Bennett served for many years in the Regular Army, and his wide knowledge of the King’s Regulations has been invaluable in his Legion work. He is also hon. Secretary of the Rushden Serving Men’s Parcels Fund.

The Rushden Echo, 29th January, 1943, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Their “Big Say” To-Morrow - Young Legion Members in Post-War Rushden

Young men and women now serving their country must have a “big say” in the government of Rushden after the war, declared Mr. Robert Denton, Chairman at Monday’s annual meeting of the Rushden British Legion Branch, held at the Legion Hall – which has now been cleared of debt. The meeting revealed that the branch expects to have between 2,000 and 3,000 members when the war is over.

Mr. Denton said the last year had been remarkably successful for the Legion in Rushden. They had as good a percentage of paid up members as any branch in the country, and at a time when many branches had found it difficult to maintain the “old” membership they had gone ahead to 853, in addition to which 952 or the present-day Service men and women had become honorary members in preparation for full membership after the war.

“It looks as if the youngsters are going to show us the way,” said Mr. Denton. “Last year I made some of you stare when I said that after the war we should have a membership of 2,000, but now I think I shall have to alter it to 3,000.

“When this war is over they are going to have a big say not only in the affairs of their country, but in their own town. If they stick together they can be a wonderful power in the town, for with about 2,000 families behind them they will have a great influence in the voting.

A Revolution

“We are coming to a revolution not only in the country but in the towns. I have always been against the Legion taking part in public affairs apart from charity work in the past, but I have changed my mind, and when these young people come back it will be time to see who is going to take part in the affairs of the town on behalf of the Legion. It is up to us to plan and put something in front of these young people when they come back.”

Referring to the fact that the debt on the Legion Hall had now been removed, Mr. Denton said it was a wonderful effort to have cleared £1,600 in five years. A tremendous amount of work had been entailed, and on behalf of the members he tendered sincere thanks to all who had helped to raise the money.

They were building up a benevolent fund which would be useful when the lads came back and which now had a balance of £240, with a further £100 invested. The Information Bureau had dealt with hundreds of cases, and there had been some wonderful results.

Fund for Prisoners

The branch’s new British Legion Prisoners of War Fund, which started with a cheque from Mr. Charles Thurston, had grown to nearly £100; £1 had been contributed in each case towards the next prisoner-of-war parcel sent out. It was a very deserving fund. The Parcels Fund, too, had done some wonderful work.

The auditor, Mr. E. W. Pacey, stated in a letter that the full purchase of the hall over a period of five years was an achievement of which members might justly be proud. The year had been one of progress.

Mr. E. Bennett (secretary) mentioned that the branch now had a very nice invalid chair at its disposal.

It was reported that on the general account the balance had increased from £97 to £151 10s. Receipts totalled £263 and included £88 from a private lottery, £113 from subscriptions and £38 from members’ fees. From this fund £45 12s.was transferred to the Benevolent Fund, and the full expenditure was £208.

Benevolent Grants

For the maintenance of the hall £246 was received from dances and lettings and £302 from whist drive profits. There was £66 to spare for the Building Fund, which also received £383 from dances and was able to discharge its debt of £436 to the bank.

The Benevolent Fund received £100 and spent £80 in cash grants. The Relief Fund expended £15, and other grants comprised £22 in cash and two outfits of clothing.

All the officers, including the president (Dr. D. G. Greenfield), vice-chairman (Mr. F. Eyre), treasurer (Mr. H. Letts, D.C.M.), standard bearer (Mr. F. Dickens) and Union Jack bearer (Mr. A. C. Layrum), were re-elected without opposition. Mr. Sidney Hawkes and the Rev. T. S. Kee were appointed as additional vice-presidents. One or two new members were added to the committee.

Sterling Help

In a striking survey of his Information Bureau work Mr. Bennett showed that in the last 12 months he had obtained for various Service men and their dependants allowances and pension increases amounting to over £600 a year. Another £218 had been obtained in the form of non-recurring grants. Many of the people helped belonged to other towns.

Cases included increased war service grants, a grant of £132 for an officer’s treatment in a sanatorium, a grant for a surgical boot needed by a Service man’s wife, a widow’s Income Tax assessment cancelled, pre-natal allowances for Service men’s wives (obtainable for three months before the child is born), and funeral grants.

“While we have such men,” declared Mr. T. W. Elliott, “we shall continue to have one of the best branches in the country.”

Mr. Bennett replied that he loved the work and valued some letters of appreciation he had received.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 2nd June, 1944, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Honour For Legion - Rushden Branch Awarded Coveted Certificate

  For the second time in its history the Rushden Branch of the British Legion has won a Legion Certificate of Merit for General Proficiency.

  News of the award reached the secretary (Mr. E. Bennett) by post on Tuesday morning, the letter from Headquarters pointing out that in the normal course of events the news would have been announced at the annual conference in the Royal Albert Hall, where the presentation would have been made.

  As the conference was cancelled, the certificate will be forwarded to Rushden in due course.

  The award means that Rushden ranks among the seven most proficient Legion branches in the country.  The Haig Cup and six certificates are offered each year, and Rushden last won a certificate in 1932, which was the first year of Mr. Bennett’s secretaryship.  Mr. Robert Denton is the branch chairman.

  Pensions work and the building of a roll of honorary members have been great features of the branch’s activities during the last year.  There are 940 ordinary members (compared with 390 in 1932) and 1,400 hon. members – men and women, at present on war service, who will become full members when they leave the Forces.

  The branch is also associated with the notable work of the Serving Men’s Parcels Fund and has been well represented in the Home Guard and Civil Defence and on all “Home Front” committees.

Rushden Echo and Argus, May 17th 1946, transcribed by Kay Collins

Legion’s Toast to Mrs Muxlow
AToast to Mrs O A H Muxlow in celebration of her appointment as chief citizen was drunk with enthusiasm at a party given by Rushden Women’s Section of the British legion, of which Mrs Muxlow has been chairman for several years.

Fourty-four members attended at the Central Cafe, where the toast was proposed by Mr Ernest Bennett, formerly secretary of the Rushden Men’s Branch, and seconded by Mrs Barlow, of Burton Latimer.

Mrs Muxlow, who made a speech in reply, received a bouquet from Miss Ann Matthews.

After games and dancing, with Mr K Rice as M.C. and Mr H Tear as pianist, musical honours were given for Mrs Muxlow and the evening closed with “Auld Lang Syne.”

Jack Tear & Charles Watts in 2006
Risdene Echo, Volume 2 Number 1, December 2002

AT 9.00am on Sunday morning, 15th May 1921, a simple ceremony took place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall to mark the formation of the British Legion, later to become the Royal British Legion.

Four men stepped forward, each carrying a laurel wreath, and together they laid them at the foot of the Cenotaph. This was the first act to unite the four ex-service organizations. These organizations were:—

The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers (NADSS), The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers (NFDDSS), The Comrades of the Great War (CGW), and The National Union of Ex-servicemen (NUX).

In Rushden, on the 1st July 1921, the Rushden Branch of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers held the final AGM, and on Tuesday 5th July 1921 the inaugural meeting of the Rushden Branch of the British Legion took place. There is a brief report of this meeting in the 7th July 1921 copy of the Rushden Argus. The meeting was held in the Church Army Social Centre and the officers and committee of the NFDDSS were appointed en bloc with the Rev. Ion Carroll (Rector of St. Peter's in Midland Road) holding the position as the first President of the Rushden Branch of the British Legion. £12 was handed over from the account of the NFDDSS which was closed.

I would like to know who the first Secretary and Chairman were, and also where the Church Army Social Centre was. If anybody has any information concerning the early days of the Rushden Branch I will be pleased to hear from them.

George Wagstaff - Chairman - Rushden Branch, the Royal British Legion (2002)

Jack Tear was a stalwart of the British Legion and was always in attendance at Military events. Rushden Historical Transport hold a fund raising day for the British Legion Poppy Appeal and the Merchant Navy Association in October. Jack was always there selling poppies. The picture above was taken at the unveiling of the Rushden & District History Society's plaque to Bernard William Vann V.C. in October 2006.

'Pause to Remember'

An Exhibition at Rushden Heritage Centre
Originally collated for presentation by East Northants Council
The Rushden Branch — Did you know that during 1997 the Rushden Branch of the Royal British Legion helped serving and ex-servicemen, women and families whether members or not.

14 cases received local financial assistance, 25 cases received organised convalescent breaks at Southport and 9 cases received Government help following the intervention of the Rushden Branch.

The Branch also made sick visits, hospital visits, took families to hospital and other destinations to visit relatives and even found time for a day trip to Windsor, two theatre events and an inter-services social with buffet.

Royal British Legion - Annual Membership £5

The Royal British Legion in the 1990's
Back in 1921 the Royal British Legion was founded by Field Marshall Earl Haig to help needy ex-servicemen financially and to restore their self respect.

Today the Royal British Legion maintains their principles, but carries our more and wider charity work than ever before, and available to all sections of the ex-service community - young and old - and the dependants in need.

Pensions — Annually, the Department details with 14,000 claimants and have secure at Government Pensions Tribunals over the last year £14,000,000 for widows, dependants and ex-servicemen.

Benevolence — The Legion has 20,000 welfare workers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Additionally, several residential homes are operated.

Women — The Women's Section, some 100,000 strong, attend to the needs of the ex-service community, they visit the sick and the elderly, and are probably the mainstay of the Poppy Appeal.

Their Welfare Schemes include housing and allowances.

Housing — Housing 21 is the name of the Housing Association founded by the Legion to specialise in housing for the elderly at affordable rents.

Saying Farewell — This very different aspect allows those who have lost a dependent overseas to visit the Military Cemetery. Last year visits to 38 countries were organised.

Poppies — Each year 180,000 are helped through the Poppy Appeal. 40 million poppies, 80,000 wreaths and 137,000 crosses are made at the poppy factory each year.

Learning To Fit In — Over the past six months alone 1,400 former Service personnel have undertaken Legion courses at the Colleges in Ellesmere Port and Tidworth. From IT to car mechanics, child care & creche management, there is a course and a qualification for every attendee.

Business Loans — 3,500 ex-servicemen now run their own businesses thanks to low interest loans from the Legion and the benefit of support in planning, and building for a secure future.

Attendants' Company — For ex-servicemen who wish to stay in a uniformed organisation the company offers security services, car park management and other facilities to the Government, BP, Mobil, Canary Wharf and other prestige employers.

The Knowledge — Becoming a London cabbie is no mean feat, but for those ex-servicemen who have the commitment, the Legion subsidises the 9 month qualification course administered by the Metropolitan Police.

Disabled — Disabled industries teaches new skills to the disabled and lets them work at home making goods for resale.

Rehabilitation — Disabled workers who made many Council road signs at Rehabilitation Centres.

Sport — 160 disabled ex-servicemen have turned to sport and have represented the countrv in the United States and elsewhere.

Last year 190,000 former servicemen and their families contacted us for help - could you say no?

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