poppy field

Market Harborough

Branch History's Mysteries

The assumption had been that the Branch was formed in 1922, so in the light of the newspaper reports, I asked Regional Office if they could tell me from Legion records the true formation date. In response, I received a copy of a letter from B M J Mestrum, Supervisor Registry at H Q. This bore a photo-copy of their Record Card for Market Harborough Branch, which said, "FORMED 15.5.25", but written above this entry was, "23.3.23". There was also a note saying, "See Branch File".

On phoning HQ Registry to try to find an explanation of the confusion of dates, I was put in touch with a Mr Magilvery(?). He found a reference to the Market Harborough Branch in the "British Legion Annual report and Accounts for 1923", where on page 28, in the "Poppy Day Report", it states that the Branch contributed £44-11s-5d. This proved that the date 15.5.25 on the record card was wrong. He suggested that when the error was eventually discovered the figures "23.3.23" were written above but for some reason the origional date was not deleted. It was not now possible to get further information from the Branch File refered to since such documents were not kept for more than 20 years.

It would appear that the "official" formation date is 23rd March, 1923 although the founders will have regarded the meeting on Tuesday, 20th March 1923 as marking the true birth date of the Market Harborough Branch.

The record card also has an entry "Anniversary Pennant 1976". Mr Magilvery could not explain why 1976 is entered when our 50th Anniversary pennant actually shows "1922 - 1972". Of course we now know that the pennant is wrongly marked and should show "1923 - 1973".

Written by Tom Ashmore to amplify an article published in In Touch Issue No. 5,. January 1997.