Masonic records are providing unique insights into the people who fought in the Great War
Lodge and chapter records are a rich source of information for Freemasonry and social history, and the period of World War I is no exception.
John Horace Marsden, a local brewer, had been installed as Master of Scarsdale Lodge, No. 681, in Chesterfield in January 1913. The lodge minutes for October 1914 record that he, and another member of the lodge, attended for the last time prior to leaving the town with their regiment. Marsden never returned. Described as a man of ‘indomitable pluck’, he was killed on the Western Front in April 1917.
Saint Augustine’s Lodge, No. 1941, in Staffordshire was just one of many lodges that found itself welcoming new members from local army camps. In many cases, these new members were from overseas. In October 1917 the installation of Canadian businessman and philanthropist William Perkins Bull as Master of Elstree Lodge, No. 3092, in Hertfordshire, was attended by a great gathering of ‘Canadian officers in khaki’.
While many lodges have records of members’ war service, several have contacted the Library and Museum to check details of any casualties in their lodge. The key source for this is the Roll of Honour published in 1921, which details the brethren who fell in the service of their King and country during World War I. It lists all the names alphabetically and also under each lodge. There are several copies available in the Library and Museum.
The membership registers give, in many cases, a date of death. With this information it is possible to check the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission online and ascertain where the man is buried or remembered. This can give an idea of where he fought, even without pursuing detailed military records.
Take the plunge
Two London masons have taken part in the charity skydive Fall for the Fallen in aid of Blesma, the limbless veterans charity. Robert Rusz and Blieu Earp from United Engineers Lodge, No. 3862, carried out a 13,500ft tandem jump to raise money for injured service personnel.
The event saw one jump for every soldier killed while on operations in Afghanistan and took place at Netheravon Airfield, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, where the Army Parachute Association carries out skydives. Blesma is the national charity for all limbless service men and women, their widows and dependants. It was formed in the years following World War I and became a national charity in 1932.
Russia honours convoy veteran
Merchant seamen braved the Luftwaffe and U-boats in the treacherous Arctic waters during World War II to bring vital supplies to Russia, with many perishing. Now their bravery and sacrifice are being rewarded with a medal from the Russian government. Among the recipients is Bucks mason Ernest Baden Hall, a member of Eric Deung Lodge, No. 9695, who recently received his medal from the Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko.
The force is strong in Essex
Essex mason Nick Joseph organises the Romford Essex Star Wars Charity Convention every year in aid of the Connaught Stroke Club – based at Whipps Cross University Hospital, London – and more recently Havering Mind, based at Harrow Lodge, Hornchurch. Nick (pictured above middle), from Leyton Grange Park Lodge, No. 5473, played Arhul Hextrophon, the Medal of Yavin bearer, in A New Hope. The event raised £3,745.
The four central masonic charities are running a survey to gather input on the non-masonic charities Freemasons and their families would like to see supported, and are keen to hear from as many members of the masonic community as possible. The survey is open until late January with all masons, their wives, partners and family members encouraged to take part at www.masoniccharities.org.uk/survey
News on the findings will be published at a later date. For information on how the central masonic charities currently support non-masonic charities, go to www.freemasonrytoday.com/freemasonry-cares
These boots are made for walking
A team of Nottinghamshire masons, led by Provincial Grand Master Robin Wilson, assembled at Freemasons’ Hall in London to begin a sponsored walk to their headquarters in Nottingham. The 175-mile route between the two cities followed the towpaths of the Grand Union Canal and took the walkers 11 days to complete.
After setting off from Great Queen Street in the presence of Grand Secretary Nigel Brown and members of the Board of General Purposes, they passed through several Provinces, allowing other walkers to join them. The unique walk was one of Nottinghamshire’s major fundraising events in support of the 2018 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
Fun day for Norfolk
Norfolk masons had a successful Family Fun Day at North Walsham Rugby Club in Scottow in aid of the Grand Charity 2016 Festival. The main attractions were the running performances and exhibits of the Norwich and Norfolk Re-enactment Society.
Bob the Builder made a personal appearance and both Norfolk’s society magazines turned up to cover the event.
Pulling out all the stops
Carl Heslop, who was initiated in 2013 into Highcross Lodge, No. 4835, has dedicated his spare time and expertise during the past year to refurbishing the pipe organ in the Holmes’ Lodge Room at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester.
The 1903 Stephen Taylor of Leicester pipe organ was a mechanical action organ of modest size, comprising eight stops spread over two manuals. The work conducted by Carl over the past year involved significantly enlarging and modernising the existing Taylor, while retaining everything that was already there and re-using it in the specification.
Provincial Grand Master David Hagger thanked Carl on behalf of the Province for the tremendous effort and time he has put in to restoring the organ to its former glory.
Sky’s the limit at Southend Hospital
Cancer patients and their families can relax under blue skies whatever the weather at Southend Hospital, after a donation from local masons. The hospital has installed a ‘sky ceiling’ – a light decorated with a photographic image of a real sky view – in its radiotherapy department, with the aim of helping patients to relax. Members of Thames Mouth Lodge, No. 6994, paid for the light with a £3,000 donation. Nicolai Greet, radiotherapy services manager at the hospital, said, ‘When we became aware of sky ceilings and their calming benefits, we realised they could transform our radiotherapy reception area.’
In the hall with Fashion Scout
Freemasons’ Hall in London is a popular venue for top-class shows and regularly hosts Fashion Scout, a leading fashion showcase. Presenting in London, Paris and Kiev biannually, it has been responsible for the launch of a generation of fashion design talent.
For five days in September, the Hall welcomed more than 10,000 people to view 28 catwalk shows and presentations, alongside a daily exhibition space and media lounge.