The Royal British Legion

The first meeting of the Burbage branch of the Royal British Legion is believed to have been held at the Sycamores Inn in November 1933. No books appear to survive from the early years, but a report in the Hinckley Times of December 1953 refers to the inaugural meeting being held twenty years earlier. Jim Petcher was Secretary and Committee Member from 1934 and received meritorious certificates of service spanning over 30 years.

Meetings continued to be held at the Sycamores Inn, Windsor Street, Burbage on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 8.00pm.

Four of the original members still serving in 1953 were –
F A Rice, E N Thompson, J T Evans, Vice President and A Chamberlain, Service Secretary.

In 1948, at the unveiling ceremony at the Burbage War Memorial to the men who died in the Second World War the act of homage was from Jim Petcher the Chairman of the branch.

Mr H Collins the local Schoolmaster was Chairman in the early 1950’s and unveiled the memorial in the Congregational Church in 1951.

The Branch held social events during the years. Dances at the Co-op Hall or The Hut on Grove Road to raise funds. These were usually paid out in the form of small grants to needy local veterans. In the early 1950’s they campaigned to get the disability pensions for veterans raised to 90 shillings (£4.50) a week.

A Legion Cricket Team was formed and played in the local leagues and in 1952 won the Humberston Cricket Cup.

Every Remembrance Day and at other local events the members of the branch would take centre stage at the memorial.

Steve Taylor former Coldstream Guardsman and a survivor of Dunkirk was standard-bearer in the 1950’s and 60’s. He represented the Burbage branch many times at the Albert Hall Festival of Remembrance his son Ray also carried on this honour.

In the 1966, official handbook for The British Legion of Leicestershire and Rutland lists the officers of the Burbage Branch-

President: W K Wileman, Sketchley Hall
Chair: RJ Goodwin, Highbury, Denis Rd, Burbage
Hon. Secretary S J Chamberlain, 12 Salem Rd
Hon treasurer: A Foxon, 111 Coventry Rd
Hon Service Secretary: A E Chamberlain, 17 Sketchley Rd
Poppy Day Organiser: Mrs M Chamberlain, 98 Coventry Rd
Standard Bearer: S Taylor, Lucas Rd. 

By the 1970’s, many of the original members had died. In July 1975 the Burbage branch amalgamated with Hinckley. Two of the original standards were placed next to the war memorial in St Catherine’s Church.

Women's Section

The Women’s section of the Burbage Branch of the British Legion may have been formed about the same time as the Burbage Branch c1933.

Committee member’s in1953, Mrs T Flavell - President,
Mrs M Chamberlain - Chair, Miss M Cheney - Treasurer, Mrs H M Chamberlain - Benevolent Secretary.

Many of the member’s husbands were members of the legion, some were war widows.

The section held social events and had monthly meetings at The Hut on Grove Road. On 3rd May 1955, a Miss M Leech gave a cookery demonstration on Cheese Cookery!

Regular fund raising events were held. A bring and buy stall at an event in May 1955 raised £5 2s 3d.The section distributed their own funds, in a report form 1953 almost £27 had been distributed in benevolent work.

One of the most important jobs for the section was administering and distributing poppies from the annual appeal. Beatrice Chamberlain, the chairman, had a small shop on Church Street, her niece, Denise Branson, recalls the shop being stacked full of collecting boxes and poppy trays every November. Mabel Chamberlain, her sister in law, was also a committee member and would help with the appeal.

The women’s section would also be represented every Remembrance Sunday at the Burbage Memorial. Miss M Cheney was the standard-bearer for many years.

Every May a National Women’s Conference would be held at the Albert Hall, in May 1955, the delegate was Barbara Kellaway widow of Sidney Kellaway.