But a dramatic slump revealed at a meeting of the women’s central committee earlier this month has seen numbers fall to 20,971.
Several branches have confirmed they are closing as part of the reorganisation and, once the process is finalised early next year, just 16,429 members will be left.
Senior members have now warned the charity faces a financial crisis by losing a key source of its fundraising.
Sandra Saban, 74, eastern area representative of the Women’s Section, told the Daily Mail: “It’s been handled wrong. They should have put it on the table and spoken to us. Then we could have come up with a working solution.
“They are now trying to compromise with us and work with us. But we’ve lost half our members and I don’t think we can recover.”
Rita Orange, 69, a member of the Heston branch in west London for more than three decades, accused Legion management of acting in a “dictatorial” fashion.
She said: “It is definitely like the pre-Suffragette era. Men are ordering the women around.
“People are so upset. I think the branch I’m in will close next year.”
The Legion said the reform was needed to maximise charitable funds for beneficiaries by reducing duplication between two arms of the organisation.
A spokesman added: “We worked closely with the Women’s Section, taking on board feedback from Women’s Section and Legion membership annual conferences this spring.”