History of St Cleer Branch

Following the First World War the British, now The Royal British Legion's existence and activities in the Caradon District of Cornwall date back to the foundation of Liskeard Branch on 5 September 1921, and to help cater for the needs of ex-Servicemen within the Parish of St Cleer a sub-branch was subsequently formed and based in Churchtown St Cleer. Although there are no records to show the date this also is thought to have taken place in the early 1920s. There is a sub-branch British Legion standard.

As happened with many sub-branches, and indeed branches throughout the United Kingdom in the years since the Second World War, their active membership and support  dwindled and ultimately ceased. St Cleer sub-Branch was not spared in this respect despite the fact that in 1992 a new Royal British Legion standard was dedicated in the Parish church, with Peter Whitley of Liskeard Branch as Standard Bearer.

In 1996 only one RBL representative (St James Branch) reported on parade for the Remembrance Sunday service and led that that parade to the War Memorial. In 1997 two formed up and thereafter numbers increased to eight led by a piper in 1999, but until that year none of them were aware of the existence of the standard.

In 1999 it became apparent that unless efforts were made to rejuvenate St Cleer sub-Branch their standard would have to be permanently laid up in the Parish church. Thus it was that Peter and Mary Whitley commenced a poster campaign around the villages in the area followed by preliminary meetings at their home in Darite, which is in St Cleer Parish, amongst whom attending were Wing Cmdr Hilary Trant MBE of Cornwall County HQ, and Norman Pampling with Owen Stevens, President and Chairman respectively of Liskeard Branch where in fact the standard was held.

In November 1999 a more formal meeting was held at the Market Inn, St Cleer. Prior to this Owen Stevens had approached Alasdair Johnstone (ex-Service and member of St James Branch who had led the parade in 1996) and apprised him of the situation. He then joined Norman Pampling, Owen Stevens, Peter and Mary Whitley, Joe Read, Frank Biddle, David Cock, Les Piper (Parish Councillor) and Enyd Piper at this meeting. Discussions were of a more general nature but significantly it was agreed to foregather again at the Inn on 17 January 2000.

In the interim Mr Johnstone, realising that personnel would be required to run any rejuvenated operation, held discussions with members of the group who had earlier joined and supported him at the Remembrance Sunday parades and services, among whom were Rodney (Pincher) Martin (ex-Service), Robert Dunn (ex-Service), Russell Holder (serving RN), David Jones, Angela Gell (now Mrs Bale), W C (Tug) Wilson (ex-Service), David Cogger (ex-Service). It was clear that further backing for a restart of the Legion's presence in St Cleer would be forthcoming.

With the addition of Angela Gell, John Glanville (ex-Service), and David Cogger (ex-Service) those who had been present at November's meeting duly reconvened on 17 January 2000. There were discussions regarding the election of officers for the local sub-branch during which Alasdair Johnstone volunteered to take up the task of Chairman, and Angela Gell of Secretary. Also, while for duty reasons unable to be present, Russell Holder had advised that he was willing to be the Standard Bearer. Additionally, with the agreement of the landlord Paul Roach (ex-Royal Marines), all future meetings were to be held on a monthly basis in the dining room of the Market Inn.

With the nucleus of a committee now in place the first fully operational meeting of the revived St Cleer sub-Branch took place on 28 February 2000. At this meeting, at which there were nineteen RBL members plus three "apologies", Mary Whitley agreed to become Welfare Officer and Julian Simkin Poppy Appeal Organiser. David Jones was elected Treasurer at the following meeting on 20 March. Gordon Silvester (County Welfare Officer) being present, assured members of his full support, and the County Secretary, Lt Cmdr Keith Naylor RN (Retd) sent his acknowledgement of St Cleer's revival. In his inaugural speech the new Chairman was now able to confirm that the Standard was saved. Monthly meetings have been held every month since this date, and the Legion Standard has been paraded at every Remembrance.

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