100th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Royal British Legion

On Saturday 15th May, at 09:00 representatives of the Royal British Legion (Chile branch) gathered to celebrate the Legion’s 100th Birthday and to remember what they do and why.

Due to the current COVID-19 Lockdown in Chile, they met at the British Ambassador’s residence for a small service respecting all precautions.

Present were:

HM Ambassador Louise de Sousa

Bishop Alfred Cooper, Legion Chaplain

Capt. C. E. M. Saunders MBE RN, Defence Attaché,

Mark Watkins, Chairman RBL Chile,

Nick Murphy, RBL Chile

Arthur Withers, RBL Chile

Peter Walbaum, RBL Chile

Allan de Sousa, British Embassy

Mark Watkins gave a short introduction and explanation:

Field Marshal The 1st Earl Haig has long been concerned for the welfare of returning military after the First World War. Several groups had been created to care for the welfare of those returning, chief amongst them 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 and The Officers’ Association

However Earl Haig believed that there should be a single, combined organisation.

Thus, on Sunday 15 May 1921, a small group of ex-Servicemen and representatives from those four organisations, walked to the Cenotaph, in London’s Whitehall. As Big Ben struck nine, the four representatives laid a wreath with the badges of the four organisations that would officially unite to form the British Legion.

The British Legion was founded by and for our Armed Forces personnel, there would be no distinction between rank, religion or political affiliation.

We are here today to commemorate that 100 year anniversary, and to reflect upon what we do and why we do it – we work and exist to support those to whom we owe so much.

Captain Saunders spoke as the representative of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in Chile;

The Royal British Legion supports members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families. Their mantra is that they will “never forget” and that they are “not going anywhere”.

RBL’s remarkable and global support starts after a single day of service and continues through life, long after our service is over. It is not only for serving and ex-serving personnel, but for the whole of our community; our families, dependents and those who care for us. The remarkable list of eligibility is worth reflection:

  • Serving personnel, or those who have previously served, who have received one day of pay and were aged 16 or over at the time of service
  • Reserve or Auxiliary personnel, or those who have previously served
  • Those who have served with the Mercantile Marine afloat in hostile waters
  • Current or previous full-time members of Allied Civil Police Forces
  • Those entitled to the campaign medal issued to the Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force to those giving them direct support or under their command
  • Any member of Voluntary Aid Societies who has served full-time and in uniform in direct support of the United Kingdom Armed Forces
  • Any British subject (by birth or otherwise) who has served one day in the Forces of an Allied nation during hostilities and received one day of pay from that nation
  • Any British subject (by birth or otherwise) who served in a resistance organisation of an Allied nation during hostilities in which the United Kingdom Armed Forces were engaged
  • Any person who served in the Home Guard for at least six months, or in a Bomb and Mine Disposal Unit for at least three months
  • Any person who was awarded the Defence Medal in respect of service in the Home Guard or in a Bomb and Mine Disposal Unit
  • The Commonwealth community of our Armed Forces

This support means so much to us and to the many people who are part of our Armed Forces family and wider community. In recent years, following military campaigning and operations in the Middle East, a plethora of Service Charities have been formed, some specialist, some more general, all necessary – each provides remarkable and essential support, but there, in the vanguard, remains the Royal British Legion, our constant, a statesman grandee of Service charities.

As you commemorate 100 years, we celebrate that support. To close, the very best I can do, as the representative of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in Chile is simply to say, “Thank you”.

Bishop Alfred Cooper then reminded us of the magnitude of the debt we owe, and to how very many people we owe it, and then lead us in The Lord’s Prayer.


Our sincere thanks to all who attended for this important anniversary, and to all those people and organisations who support us in our work.

Nick Murphy


Royal British Legion Chile