The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League
The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League was founded in1921 at the Empire Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The League’s aim is to ensure that no pre-independence Commonwealth ex-service man or woman shall be without help if in need. The Founding Member countries of the League are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The World Wars
After the First World War, the appalling level of attrition and casualties had left large numbers of dependants and disabled service men and women, and civilians, requiring urgent help. Three million Commonwealth soldiers fought in this war of which 440,000 were casualties. The role which the League undertook during this period covered assistance with pension advice, migration to other countries, tracing lost relatives, mail transfers of money and assistance with disability claims. A key aspect of the Second World War had been the contribution of 4.5 million Commonwealth service men and women from the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean of which 360,000 became casualties. The government of some of the countries which had provided service men and women to fight for freedom either ignored the needs of the ex-service men and women who had fought for the Crown or were unable to help. In 1982 the need for more funds to help those ex-service men and women receiving no pension or any help from their own government was so urgent that the Prince Philip Appeal for Commonwealth Veterans was launched.
The League Today
The League currently has 59 member organisations in 50 Commonwealth countries where 40,000 eligible veterans have been identified. It acts as a link for ex-service organisations throughout the Commonwealth and provides welfare for those in desperate need. Financial support is also given to self-help projects that will generate local income. The League helped in excess of 10,000 veterans in 2015.