Our History

Delve into our anniversary timeline to see how our work for the Army family has evolved over 75 Years Of Service.

  • 1940s

  • 1944

    Secretary of State for War, Sir James Grigg, places before Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet a memorandum calling for the formation of an Army Benevolent Fund.

  • 1944

    The Army Benevolent Fund is established by Trust Deed. HRH King George VI is Patron and Field Marshal Lord Cavan is President. 

  • 1945

    The Army Benevolent Fund begins to award block grants. One of the first recipients is the Lord Kitchener Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships for Army children.

  • 1946

    Field Marshal Montgomery fronts the Army Benevolent Fund’s first national appeal, ‘Men at Arms.’

  • 1947

    HRH The Princess Elizabeth, donates £5,000 from her wedding gifts to the Army Benevolent Fund.  

  • 1950s

  • 1951

    The Army Benevolent Fund awards a grant to the British Empire Service League, for the care of serving and former soldiers across the Empire.  Our support for the League (now The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Service League) continues to this day.

  • 1953

    HRH Queen Elizabeth II succeeds her father as the patron of the Army Benevolent Fund. She remains in the position today.

  • 1955

    The Army Benevolent Fund provides funding for war widows.

  • 1958

    The Army Benevolent Fund enters a period of reorganisation to enable it to be there for soldiers, veterans and families until the end of the twentieth century.

  • 1960s

  • 1961

    The Army Benevolent Fund holds a Royal Variety Performance at the Victoria Palace, featuring artists who had served in – or performed in front of – the Army during the War.

  • 1962

    The Army Benevolent Fund launches a series of regional appeal campaigns throughout the country. In London, the appeal is launched with a letter to the editor of The Times, signed by all the Field Marshals of the British Army.

  • 1965

    The Army Benevolent Fund establishes the ‘Day’s Pay Scheme’ to encourage serving soldiers to contribute one day’s basic pay per year to care for soldiers, veterans and their families in need.  

  • 1968

    In Northern Ireland, the Ulster Tattoo is organised in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund, playing in Londonderry, Omagh and Belfast.

  • 1969

    The Army Benevolent Fund celebrates its 25th anniversary with a “Fall In The Stars” performance at the London Palladium, with stars including Eric Sykes, Ronnie Corbett and Harry Secombe.

  • 1970s

  • 1970

    The Army Benevolent Fund awards a special grant of £5,000 to the Gurkha National Appeal.

  • 1971

    In response to events in Ulster, the Army Benevolent Fund establishes a special Northern Ireland Relief Fund to support serving soldiers and their families affected by the conflict.

  • 1973

    HRH The Duke of Edinburgh attends The ‘Man of La Macha’ Film Premiere at the Dominion Theatre, in aid of The Army Benevolent Fund.

  • 1975

    43,000 people attend the Military Musical Pageant at Wembley Stadium, in aid of The Army Benevolent Fund.

  • 1978

    The Army Benevolent Fund funds a new x-ray machine at Prince Louise Scottish Hospital at Erskine.

  • 1979

    The Army Benevolent Fund presents the “Sunshine Coach” to Mount Tabor School, Wingrave, in memory of Mr Leslie Macdonnell.

  • 1980s

  • 1980

    The Army Benevolent Fund contributes to the conversion of a colonnade for occupational therapy at the Royal Star and Garter Home.

  • 1982

    The Army Benevolent Fund establishes a fund for soldiers wounded in the Falklands conflict.

  • 1983

    Terence Cuneo’s painting of Sefton, the British Army horse injured in the Hyde Park and Regent’s Park bombing, is auctioned to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund.

  • 1985

    The Army Benevolent Fund awards 344,025 to disabled veterans, including grants for electric wheelchairs.

  • 1986

    Ten dependent Boer War veterans receive a Christmas cheque from the Army Benevolent Fund.

  • 1989

    The Royal Variety Club of Great Britain presents £68,000 to the Army Benevolent Fund for its work with Army children.

  • 1989

    The Army Benevolent Fund supports Mrs Sara Bonnell Talbot MM with her care home fees. Mrs Talbot served with First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and was the first woman to be awarded the Military Medal for an act of gallantry whilst driving an ambulance in France in 1915.

  • 1990s

  • 1990

    The Army Benevolent Fund assists in setting up the Gulf Trust, to support the 33,000 men and women (including reservists) who have been deployed in the Gulf War.

  • 1992

    Army Benevolent Fund supports the 12th National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

  • 1994

    The Army Benevolent Fund celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

  • 1996

    Soldiers of the Royal Engineers complete a 2,200 km run in aid of The Army Benevolent Fund, to commemorate members of the squadron who died during the Battle of the Somme.

  • 1999

    The Army Benevolent Fund helps with an increasing number of veterans suffering from ‘Gulf War Syndrome’, with symptoms including fatigue, chronic headaches and skin and respiratory disorders.

  • 1999

    RMA Sandhurst PT Wing (Edwardian Display Team) raised £500 for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and presented the cheque to LT Col Tony Kinks (RDF South East) and LT Col Paul Thomas.

  • 2000s

  • 2002

    The Army Benevolent Fund’s Guernsey Committee commission ‘The Jubilee Rose’ to commemorate the golden jubilee of our patron, HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

  • 2004

    HRH The Duke of Edinburgh attends the Army Benevolent Fund’s 60th anniversary Dinner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

  • 2005

    The Army Benevolent Fund continues its work with families, including paying treatment costs for the daughter of a Royal Scots Private when she is born with plagiocephaly (deformed head).

  • 2007

    The Army Benevolent Fund commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict, with a ceremony on Horse Guards Parade and pilgrimages to the Falkland Islands for veterans and families.  

  • 2008

    The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch is established to raise money for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. In 2018, the Lunch was expanded to support the veterans of all three service charities. To date, it has raised over £2 million. 

  • 2010s

  • 2010

    The Army Benevolent Fund changes its name to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

  • 2011

    The Soldiers’ Charity launches the Cateran Yomp, a 54-mile hike through the Perthshire Highlands in Scotland.  To date, over 5,000 people have taken part in the Yomp, raising over £3 million.

  • 2012

    The Soldiers’ Charity provides an electric scooter for Bill Speakman, who received the Victoria Cross for Gallantry during the Korean War. 

  • 2014

    The Soldiers’ Charity creates a Gold Award winning garden, ‘No Man’s Land,’ at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

  • 2014

    The Soldiers’ Charity launches The Frontline Walk, a 100km walk through the battlefields of the Western Front. To date, more than 450 people have taken part, raising over £1 million.

  • 2017

    SPEAR17, a team of five British Army reservists, complete a 1,100 mile coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica in aid of The Soldiers’ Charity.

  • 2019

    The Soldiers’ Charity celebrates its 75th anniversary.