Formed in September 1929 it covered Highbridge, East and West Huntspill, Watchfield, Mark and Burtle; the agreed subscription being 1s. 00d per year. The first general meeting was held on 21st November 1929 with 96 members being present. Total membership was 123 ordinary and 8 honorary, this increased to 168 ordinary and 10 honorary by January 1930.
A Legion standard was purchased and a sewing guild and thrift club were established, Mrs. Wade was the Chairman and Poppy Organiser the total collected that year being £71 11s. 01d. during the years 1940/41 only the Annual General Meeting and committee meetings were held due to the hostilities. The sewing club closed down and the members joined the Red Cross depot, branch meetings restarting, in July 1943. After the war (1939-45) Mark and other villages formed their own branches, the Highbridge membership dropping to 60. At their Jubilee Conference in 1971, Queen Elizabeth II conferred on the Legion the honour of being the Royal British Legion. Another memorable occasion was when, in October 1973, the Women’s section of the new Royal British Legion’s standard was dedicated at St. John’s Church, Highbridge. Standard bearers and representatives from other branches joined the service for the laying up of the old standard and the dedication of the new standard.
The Burtle Silver Band attended and a Company of over one hundred were in the church hall afterwards for a celebration tea. Branch membership was 44 in 1973, but it had dropped to 20 by 1985. Social activities were many, picnics, whist drives, film shows and coach trips were organised, together with raffles, jumble sales, coffee mornings and fund-raising events, between 1963 and 1995.
In 1997, the officers and committee members decided it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the branch functioning properly, with just a few active members, therefore the officers officially and very reluctantly closed the branch in 1997. To mark the closure of the Highbridge branch a service was held in St. John’s church in July 1998 to cover the laying up of the standard, this was followed by tea in the church hall. The local branch was honoured in that one of their members, Mrs. Greener, paid homage in Westminster Hall in 1957 to the late King George VI.
(Information supplied by Nadine Northcombe)
British Legion – Men’s Section
We regret that, although we believe a Men’s Section was formed in 1925 and was very active within the town, we were unable to confirm any details covering its activities.