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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

British Empire Leave Club

Terry Denham

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Does anyone know anything about the British Empire Leave Club?

There is a Miss Georgina Eliza Massie (Joy) LAW buried in a Commonwealth war grave in Cologne Southern Cemetery with this given as her 'regiment'.

She was attached to the Intelligence Branch, British GHQ and was Mentioned in Despatches in the Civil Service List. Died 13.02.21.

She had been a typist in the office of A.D.O.S, HQ, Aldershot 1914-19.

I have discovered a full-colour picture postcard produced by this organisation which shows a picture of Cologne. It is stamped on the reverse "British Empire Leave Club - Army of the Rhine" and the 'unit's' address which appears to be 'Langasse 8' - presumably in Cologne.

It also bears a soldier's name as a 'member' - Rfn Mallett 63666 K.R.R and a date of issue 29.12.19

I am very curious.

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Can't help with the club but in the middle of Koln (Cologne) is a road called Neue Langgasse. Langgasse may well have been destroyed in WW2 and this could be the replacement.


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Thanks Garth

I know Cologne quite well (less said about that the better!) but I did not recognise this location.

As far as I can tell, this lady is the only person in a Commonwealth war grave from this 'unit' and I haven't a clue about their function in life!

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Langgasse is in Altstadt Nord 200 - 300m west of the river. I've seen the same postcard as you and the writing in the top left corner appears to read something like- opened in May 1919 for the use of the NCO's and men of the Army of the Rhine. Sounds to me like a local version of the UJC or Victory clubs in London. Maybe that was simply an accommodation address for the lady concerned?

I have one or two books at home by, or about, people who were in Cologne postwar that might help. I'll look through them later.


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I'm not sure if this may have a connection, but Lady Decima Guggisberg was a awarded the CBE in 1918 for organising various leave clubs in France during WW1, most notably the British Navy, Army and Airforce Club in Paris. She also founded the Women's Emergency Corps.

An actress (Lillian Decima Moore), she was the second wife of Frederick Gordon Guggisberg a Royal Engineer officer who wrote a history of "The Shop" - The Story of the Royal Military Academy which was published in 1900. I have a copy of this, hence my interest.

Canadian by birth, her husband commanded 94 Field Coy 1915-1916 and later became CRE 8 th Div and Brigade Commander 170 and 100 Infantry Brigades, amongst other things. He was later knighted.

She re-opened the leave club in Paris in 1939 and escaped in 1940, just before the German occupation. Decima Guggisberg died in 1964.

Terry Reeves

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