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Gentleman's Military Interest Club
leigh kitchen

"The Children's Gift on Empire Day".

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Although considered as early as 1897, it was?nt until after the death of Queen Victoria, in 1901 that ?Empire Day? was first celebrated, taking place in 1902 on 24th May, the old Queen?s birthday.

Empire Day was?nt officially recognised as an annual event until 1916, although many schools across the British Empire were celebrating it before then.

On Empire Day, each year, millions of school children across the British Empire were allowed out of school early, & would carry out activities such as saluting the union flag, singing patriotic songs, listening to speeches & exciting stories of British heroes, marching in processions & attending parties, dances & concerts.

An Empire Movement was formed in Britain ?to promote the systematic training of children in all virtues which conduce to the creation of good citizens.?

Empire Day was an annual event for over 50 years, celebrated by millions of people, but by the 1950?s the British Empire was in decline, the countries that formed it were increasingly celebrating their own identity & the day itself was a target of far left politics & pacifism within Britain.

In 1958 Empire Day was redesignated ?British Commonwealth Day?, and in 1966 ?Commonwealth Day?.

The date of the new Commonwealth Day was also changed to 10th June, the official birthday of the Queen Elizabeth II.

The date was again changed in 1977 to the second Monday in March, when each year the Queen still makes a radio broadcast to the youth of the Commonwealth.

The ?Over-Seas Club? was formed in 1910 with a view to promoting friendship & understanding amongst what was seen not just as a political & economic structure but also a ?far flung brotherhood of individual men and women of diverse creeds and races living under differing conditions in different latitudes?

Granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1922, to mark its Golden Jubilee in 1960, the Queen granted the title 'Royal'.

During WWI, the Over-Seas Club organised gifts from school children to servicemen, each child to take 1 penny to school for donation towards the purchase of cigarettes, tobacco etc.

This leaflet outlines the 3rd such drive of the war, that of Empire Day 1916, & shows sample certificates which would be provided free of charge by the club for award to children who donated (with provision for award at teacher's discretion to children whose parents could not afford a donation).

Edited by leigh kitchen

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My Mum still remembers Empire Day and was telling me (last month) how much fun they had at school when she was little.

I have a few of these certificates from 1916 and have often wondered what happened to the children they were awarded to.

Tony

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I thought that you'd posted a photo of one a while ago, I was going to add this info to that thread but could'nt locate it.

What happened to the children? Grew up in time for WWII....

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I thought that you'd posted a photo of one a while ago, I was going to add this info to that thread but could'nt locate it.

What happened to the children? Grew up in time for WWII....

Yeah, same here. I'll have a bit of a search myself.

Being a long way away from the boxed up collection, I'm unable to nip down to the cellar to do another scan.

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Nope, can't find it.

I thought I had at least two but according to my what's in the boxes in the cellar list, I only have one Empire Day 1916 certificate to Florrie Smale. My Mum never mentioned receiving a certificate, she just said they always finished school early on Empire Day after filling the classroom with red white and blue bunting.

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Interesting to remeber Empire Day. When I was at school at Geelong in Victoria in the early 50's, I always went to the ceremony at Melbourne Cathedral, since I was in the School Cadets. In just that short period to now - we have lost the Empire - and even worse, most of the patriotism that keeps a Country proud and alive.

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