Looking at the SSAFA web, and browsing for its History snippet, we view this

"The vision and drive of one man stands at the heart of the UK's oldest Armed Forces charity. In February 1885, as the Second Expeditionary Force set sail for Egypt, Major James Gildea wrote to The Times appealing for funds and volunteers to look after families left behind. Within three months, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association was born. Since then, we've supported millions of people, and millions more are eligible for help."

Excellent stuff and well worth all our support either as donators or as volunteer case-workers.

However, most of us know well about the Cenotaph, its architect, its commissioning, the tomb of the unknown warrior, Lord Haig his poppy and subsequent to that the Royal British Legion/Royal British Legion Womens Section with the poppy factories, Royal Albert Hall Remembrance Concert,  the Star and Garter Homes and all other places recognising and giving succor to those whose sacrifice has left them  less able to live life to the full today.  In recent years we welcome the National Memorial Arboretum which acts as a year round point of pilgrimage for so many sad, bereft but proud loved ones of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice since the carnage of WW2 .  Remembrance Day Services haunt our senses and sensitivities  especially when we hear the Exhortation and the Kohima.

I rather think that the vast majority of us are not as familiar with the words left behind by Major James Gildea.


Sir James Gildea
(1838 – 1920)
Soldier – Philanthropist - Humanitarian.

Sir James Gildea the founder of SSAFA Forces Help, was born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1838 and was educated at St Columba’s College, Dublin and then at Pembroke College Cambridge.

Between 1870 –1871 he served with an ambulance unit during the Franco-Prussian war and worked with the, National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War.

In 1879 he set about raising funds for the families of soldiers killed in the Zulu wars. (1,722 British soldiers killed and 256 wounded).

In 1880 he also raised funds for the families of soldiers killed in the second Afghan war. (1,630 British soldiers killed or wounded).

In 1885 as the British Second Expeditionary force set sail for Egypt the now Major Gildea, made an appeal through the Times News paper for funds and volunteers; and within three months the charity, SSFA (Soldier, Sailor, and Families Association) was created with Princess Alexandra as its Patron. He served as Chairman of the Charity until his death in 1920.

In 1890 - 1898 he became Colonel James Gildea and commanded the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and he was one of the founder members of the St Johns Ambulance Association.

He was much decorated receiving these orders

These are the words he associated with being the founder of the Soldiers and Sailors Family Association [which became Soldiers Sailors Airmen and Families Association]

The words should be used again adding in of course the word 'Airmen', along with all the other organisations, even continuing to use the reference to the greatest nation in the world.  It probably would be, were it not for our inept and corrupt politicians and for the vast army of do-gooders!

So, come on SAAFA, start printing the stickers, the flyers and start the process of educating [or is that re-educating?] people.