Chairman - Miss Sally Cooper T: 01749 595038
The Wells branch of The Royal British Legion now meets quarterly for a buffet lunch at the Britannia Inn in Bath Road.
The Wells Branch of the British Legion (as it was then) was formed at the end of July 1921 only two months after the Legion came into being nationally. The Branch developed from the ‘Comrades’ organisation that had come into being after the 1st World War to provide support for the many war wounded who had lost jobs and were unable to work due to loss of limbs and what was then known as ‘shell shock’.
For many years Wells had it’s own British Legion Club which was the site of the present ‘Venue Club’ in South Street. The British Legion was given the honour of being termed ‘Royal’ by Her Majesty the Queen in 1971.
The Wells Branch achieved national and international recognition as the Branch of which Harry Patch – the last British Tommy- was a member. He was 111 years old when he died in July 2009. Following his funeral the Wells Branch took the initiative and set up the Harry Patch Memorial Fund to be a living memorial to him and raise funds to take young people out to the battlefields of Flanders so that they can see and learn for themselves something of the Duty and Service, Honour and Sacrifice which was made by so many thousands of young men during those terrible years of the ‘Great War’.
In more recent times the Branch has shown its ability to be a ‘Champion Branch’ as for two years running it was voted ‘Most Efficient Small Branch’ firstly at Regional level, and the following year at National level. For the past 12 years the Branch has raised more year on year during its Poppy Appeal with its current total being almost £23,000. Not bad for the Branch of the smallest city in England. This means that the generous hearted people of Wells and District are giving 4 times more than the national average!
Each year we get great support from the three local Cadet Units - who are all affiliated to the Wells Branch. They give sterling service and last year the Air Cadets raised over £1000!
Each year the Branch takes part in the Remembrance Sunday Service at St. Cuthbert’s Parish Church, followed by the wreath laying at the War Memorial, after which the Remembrance Parade takes place.
More recently the morning has incorporated a wreath laying at the City Cemetery where the Branch recently placed a plaque with the names of those who are not on the war memorial because of lack of space or who died in more recent conflicts. The cemetery has some 22 Commonwealth War Graves in it, so those interred here can also be remembered at this ceremony. Latterly, with the erection of the Harry Patch Monument on the lawn in front of the Museum, a wreath laying ceremony is now carried out there immediately after the Remembrance Parade is dismissed in the Market Square.
Our Branch also holds a Last Post Ceremony each Armistice Day which is on November 11th at 11am. This takes place in front of the Conduit in the Market Place and traffic is halted during the ceremony.
Throughout the year the Branch Standard attends various events across the county, not least the Doublehills Remembrance Ceremony to remember the 21 Sappers and 2 Pilots whose glider crashed at the start of Operation Market Garden on route to Arnhem; and also Battle of Britain Sunday.