The Old Contemptibles Association was founded by Captain JP Danny, RA, on 25 June 1925. Membership was limited to veterans of the regular army who had served in the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders within range of enemy artillery during the period 5 August to 22 November 1914 and had thus taken part in the desperate early battles and retreats before the advancing German forces, before the tide turned and the allies counterattacked at the Battle of the Marne. The Association took its name from a notorious Order of the Day issued by the Kaiser in August 1914 which referred disparagingly to Sir John French’s ‘contemptible little army’. The derogatory title was adopted enthusiastically by soldiers in the BEF.
The Association had 178 branches in the UK & 14 overseas branches. It produced its own magazine The Old Contemptible & all members were known as “chums”. The Association’s national organisation was wound up in the 1970s but in London and the South East it continued until 1994.
No records of branches of Surrey branches have been located so far but in St Mary’s, Staines, a roll of honour of local members and a flag are still on display in the church and there are, no doubt, other monuments and memorabilia elsewhere.