Sir Evelyn Wrench founded the nascent Over-Seas Club in 1910 with just 300 members and it was only a few years before the outbreak of the First World War. Yet, due to the club's commitment to supporting the war effort, membership had swelled to 15,000 by the end of the hostilities. Fundraising for comforts for the troops gave ROSL and its members a cause to get behind and greatly helped to increase membership. 

By the end of the war, the newly amalgamated Over-Seas Club and Patriotic League of Britons Overseas, now known as the Over-Seas League, had raised over £1,000,000 (almost £50,000,000 today) for comforts for troops including:

  • £368,203 for the Overseas Tobacco Fund – of which £57,604 was raised from the children’s pennies scheme
  • £278,630 for the Overseas Aircraft Flotilla which funded 350 aeroplanes and seaplanes
  • £123,292 for the Overseas Red Cross Fund
  • £20,070 for the Overseas League War Memorial

However, the biggest legacy was the purchase of Vernon House (now Over-Seas House) in 1921 for the princely sum of £45,000, as a permanent memorial to the fallen soldiers of the war. We have called Vernon House home ever since and it has become the focal point for ROSL's global activities. 

Take a look at some of the archive materials of our activities during the First World War below (click on the thumbnails to view larger images): 

1915 Christms Day Gifts Thumbnail In 1915, the Over-Seas Club was awarding certificates for those children who had raised money for Christmas gifts for the men fighting abroad.
Evelyn Wrench Queen Alexandra thumb In 1915, Queen Alexandra and Evelyn Wrench can be seen presenting the first of the aeroplanes donated by members to the Royal Flying Corps.
Empire Day 1915 thumb Empire Day 1915 saw more certificates awarded to those members who had raised money for comforts for the troops, in this case Jack Shaw.
1916 Belgian Troops Tobacco Fund Thumbnail A 1916 report from Overseas on the progress of the Belgian Soldier's Tobacco Fund.
1916 David Lloyd George thank you Thumbnail Soon-to-be Prime Minister David Lloyd George takes to the pages of Overseas in 1916 to thank the Over-Seas Club for its fundraising efforts.
1916 Imperial Aircraft Flotilla donation Thumbnail An article discusses the first 54 planes donated by the Over-Seas Club of the some 350 that were purchased for the Royal Flying Corps during the course of the war.
1916 Red Cross Thumbnail The Over-Seas Club and the Red Cross.
1916 The Battle of the Somme Thumbnail A Monthly Letter from our founder Sir Evelyn Wrench from a 1916 edition of Overseas tells of "the hell" of the Battle of the Somme.
Empire Day 1916 thumb Certificates issued for Empire Day 1916 saw a depiction of the world's allegiances and where the fighting was taking place.
1916 War Shrines Overseas Thumbnail Even as the war was still progressing, there was discussion of the funding of memorials to the soldiers, seamen, and airmen who were fighting for their country.
1917 America in the Great War Thumbnail  A 1917 article discusses the impact of the US' entry into the war three months earlier.
1917 Australian conscription Thumbnail The Australian contribution to the war effort is debated in an article by a M R Burrill, whose opinions the Editor is at pains to make clear he does not necessarily agree with!
1917 Australias Fighting Leader Thumbnail A personal sketch of Sir William Birdwood, 'Australia's Fighting Leader'.
1917 Citizen soldier Thumbnail The Canadian contribution to the war is discussed in this article from 1917, with the Germans viewing them as "the most formidable and dreaded antagonists".
1917 Comfort for the Troops Thumbnail A letter from Sir Edward War, Director-General of Voluntary Organisations, discusses the importance of keeping the troops supplied with gifts, and the Over-Seas Club's part is supplying comforts for the Front.
1917 David Lloyd George message Thumbnail Newly-promoted Prime Minister David Lloyd George, along with many other members of the war cabinet and high-ranking military commanders write to the Over-Seas Club with their messages of thanks for their fundraising efforts.
Help to Victory Empire Day Thumbnail A certificate for the fundraising that took place on Empire Day.
1917 Evelyn Wrench monthly letter Thumbnail Evelyn Wrench's Monthly Letter in the November 1917 edition of Overseas speaks confidently of the military situation in France and the expected success of the 'Autumn Campaign'.
1917 Field Marshal message to club Thumbnail Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force contacts the Over-Seas Club to thank members for their fundraising efforts.
1917 Imperial Aircraft Flotilla update Thumbnail A list of the latest aircraft donated by members to the Imperial Aircraft Flotilla.
1917 Lady Des Veoux Little Things article Thumbnail An article entitled 'Those Little Human Things' about the work of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Fund by its Chair, Lady Des Voeux, who would go on to marry ROSL founder Sir Evelyn Wrench 20 years later.
1917 Passchendale Thumbnail A member gives a first-hand account of the 'horrors and glories' of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest of the war.
1917 Royal Flying Corps Hospital Thumbnail £1,000 was donated to the Royal Flying Corps Hospital by the club, followed swiftly by a further £3,000 to corps itself, which went to the funding of another two aircraft.
1917 The Fourth Year of the War Thumbnail As the war enters 1918, its fourth year, an article in Overseas talks how the war has brought the countries of the Empire closer together than ever before.
1917 The Russian Lines in France Thumbnail Central Council member Harry Brittain describes his to the Western Front, specifically the Russian lines in Champagne.
1917 West Indies and the war Thumbnail The contribution of the 'Dominions' of Australia, New Zealand and Canada, in the First World War is well documented. However, the efforts of the smaller colonies is not as often highlighted. This article discusses the contribution of the British West Indies, Honduras and Guiana.
1918 Hamper Fund Thumbnail As the war draws to a close, the extra requirement of soldiers for the final push means that further donations are needed for the Hamper Fund.
1918 Membership Card Thumbnail A membership card of the Over-Seas League from 1918.
1918 Remembering Ypres Thumbnail An article remembering the glories of the Battles of Ypres, or 'wipers' as British soldiers pronounced it.
1918 Armistice letter from Sec. of war Thumbnail  Victory! The Secretary of State for War leads the special armistice issue of Overseas.
1918 Carrying On after the war thumbnail Now the four long years of war are over, what does the nation and the Empire do now? Carry on.
1918 War Memorial contributers comments Thumbnail A call for members to donate to the Overseas War Memorial Fund, which would go on to fund the purchase of Vernon House in 1921 as a permanent memorial to the fallen soldiers of the First World War.
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