Founder Organisations of the British Legion Badges

Silver Badge - Services Rendered Badge - For King and CountryThe Silver Badge Party (The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers) was the unofficial title for a political movement existing in the United Kingdom during and immediately after the Great War 1914-1918. The unofficial party consisted of several groups representing the political interests of former service personnel who had fought in the war. A silver badge was issued to all servicemen on their discharge in recognition of their service.

First to be formed was the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, established following a meeting in Blackburn in September 1916 and initially linked to the labour and trade union movement. In April 1917, the Asquith Liberal MP James Hogge sponsored a meeting at the National Liberal Club over the Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Bill, which proposed to reclassify those invalided out of the army to identify those who might be recalled to service. This meeting led to the formation of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers.

The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers decided to fight by elections to put its message across. In the Liverpool Abercromby by election in June 1917, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers candidate polled a quarter of the vote. In the 1918 UK general election its National Executive approved five candidates, and local branches sponsored 25 more, considered Independent National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers candidates. In three Leeds constituencies, the candidates were nominated jointly by the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers, the Comrades of the Great War BadgeNational Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers   and the Comrades of the Great War. None of the candidates were elected although many polled substantial votes. In addition, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers   sponsored a candidate in Sowerby in unusual circumstances in which he inherited the position of unofficial Conservative Party candidate, and won.

The groups were politically diverse. Hogge was a left-wing Liberal, and most of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers were similarly left wing: among the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers candidates was Ernest Thurtle, who later became a Labour Party MP. Henry Hamilton Beamish was a member of both the Vigilante Society and the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers  . In the 1918 general election he was one of the candidates sponsored by the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers   branches but not approved by the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers National Executive, again in Clapham.

Following the election, none of the groups continued in active party politics. James Hogge resigned as President of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers in January 1919. Following pressure from Earl Haig, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers   lifted its ban on officers being members in June 1919 and the three* groups together with the Officers' Association began merger talks. At a Unity conference on May 14-15, 1921, they merged to form the British Legion.

*Although not strictly speaking a founder organisation of the Legion, the National Union of Ex-servicemen is worth a mention if only by way of their badge which comes in two version metal & enamel, gilt & enamel. The National Union of Ex-servicemen did play a small part in British Legion history. The National Union of Ex-servicemen initially took part in the unity talks of August 1920 having previously been excluded from taking part, but decided to go their own way. Graham Wotton's book "the official history of the BRITISH LEGION" 1956 implies that were a very militant far left almost Marxist organisation that had been excluded from some of the early talks because of their political leanings.

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National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers (1916)

Members Lapel Badge

Batty & Sons Manchester

Enamel Badges