Formed on the 4th July 1921, less than 2 months after the creation of the British Legion, the Arborfield and Barkham District Branch has a proud heritage as one of the first branches to be formed in the UK and it is also the oldest surviving branch of the RBL within the Royal County of Berkshire and Vale of the White Horse.
The Branch Committee meet every 'odd' month (January, March, May, July, September and November), on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, to discuss and plan their fundraising activities for the Poppy Appeal.
Starting in 2019, we hope to also hold Branch General Meetings every 'even' month, where members can find out what their Branch are doing and be entertained by a 'Guest Speaker'
(February (cancelled),April (cancelled),June (cancelled), August and December), on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, (with the Annual General Meeting (AGM) taking place in October).
Branch General Meetings are open to all members and take place at 8:00pm at the RBL Social Club.
This year's AGM will take place on either Wednesday 9th or Wednesday 23 October 2019 (TBC) at 8:00pm and will be held in the Social Club main hall.
To find out more about our roles and responsibilities, Remembrance Day Parades or just "who's who?", please select any of the headings below:
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The primary roles of the Arborfield and Barkham District Branch are to raise funds locally for the "Poppy Appeal" each year and to organise the Remembrance Day Parade, held at Arborfield Cross.
However, whilst the famous "Poppy Appeal" lasts for only a few weeks each year in the build-up to Remembrance Sunday, the work of fundraising continues throughout the year in preparation for the following year's collection.
The Branch Committee work tirelessly organising several functions throughout the year, culminating in the "Poppy Dance", held each year in October to herald the launch of that year's formal "Poppy Appeal", whilst our "Poppy Appeal Organiser" arranges the provision, distribution and collection of the Poppy Appeal merchandise and containers within our District.
In addition to this, the Branch can also assist members in need with welfare visits and, where possible will assist with the provision of a representative and a Standard Bearer at a member's funeral service.
Is it "Armistice Day" or "Remembrance Sunday"?
Between 05:12 and 05:20 on the morning of the 11th November 1918, an 'Armistice' was signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente agreeing that hostilities would formally
end "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month". ("At the 11th hour" refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 am.)
The First World War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.
The initial "Armistice Day" was observed at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a "Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic"
during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official "Armistice Day" was subsequently held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace the following morning.
The following year, the Government and Local Authorities arranged parades to remember the fallen and, in May 1921 the British Legion (now the Royal British Legion)
was formed to provide care and support for the returning soldiers from the conflict.
"Armistice Day" parades were always held on the 11th November until 1945 when, after the end of WW2, the formal service of remembrance was renamed "Remembrance Day", to include those lost during WW2,
and it was decreed that the event would be held on the second Sunday in November (the Sunday nearest to the 11th November), and for that reason it is also referred to as "Remembrance Sunday".
"Armistice Day" still exists and always fall on the 11th November, and small services are often held, with a "Silence" being observed at the 11th hour however, the national day of remembrance is always held on "Remembrance Sunday".
The wearing of Red Poppies
The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.
After reading the poem, Moina Michael, a professor at the University of Georgia, wrote the poem, "We Shall Keep the Faith," and swore to wear a red poppy on the anniversary.
The custom spread to Europe and the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth within three years. In the UK Major George Howson fostered the cause with the support of General Haig,
with poppies being worn for the first time at the 1921 anniversary ceremony.
At first real poppies were worn. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I; their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled
in the war.
The Red Poppy is also the symbol or the Royal British Legion. The Legion is the national custodian of Remembrance, safeguarding the memory of those who fought and died in conflict.
In 2018, "Remembrance Sunday" and "Armistice Day" fell on the same day and were of particular significance as the "silence" observed at the 11th hour occurred exactly
100 years to the minute after the moment of 'Armistice' when the guns fell silent signifying the end of the hostilities of WW1.
The attendance was incredible, with around 2000 people attending the service at the Cross (1500 more than we were expecting!), with about 400 marching in the parade.
Arborfield, Barkham and District Branch will hold their "Remembrance Day" service at Arborfield Cross on the morning of Sunday the 10th November 2019.
Last year, only 250 of the 2000 that attended, registered to take part and as a result, the 750 orders of service we had produced were shared 1 between 3. To help us to plan for this year's parade, and ensure that we have sufficient orders of service for everyone, we are again asking participants to register.
Registration is now open to take part in the 2019 parade, and you can register by completing the form on the following link:
The current Branch Committee are as follows:
President Mr James Bell
Chairman Mr David McIntosh
Vice-Chairman Mr John Cornish
Branch Secretary Maj Trevor Bowman TD
Branch Treasurer Mrs Amy Empson
Poppy Appeal Organiser Mr Chris Hall
Event & Sponsorship Coordinator Mrs Susan McIntosh
Membership Secretary & Standard Bearer Mr George Brown