The Great War Memorial on Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment, which names 13,482 people from Nottinghamshire who died in the First World War, was opened during a moving ceremony on 28th June 2019 – 100 years to the day since the Treaty of Versailles was signed which formally ended the First World War
The memorial is the first of its kind in the UK, after seven years’ of research went into finding the names of every person from the county who lost their lives during the conflict.
A mere 24 hours after unveiling the Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone at Freemasons’ Hall in London, UGLE’s Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, arrived at the Victoria Embankment along with invited guests. The service started at 10am and was followed by the dedication, the Act of Remembrance, the Last Post, HRH Duke of Kent laying the first wreath, the Act of Commitment and the National Anthem. The Grand Master then inspected the memorial and met the families present before proceedings came to an end at 11.30am.
The memorial is a tribute to all the people from Nottinghamshire who lost their lives in the 1914-18 conflict, including civilian casualties, nurses, two people killed in a Zeppelin air raid in September 1916 and the victims of the Chilwell shell filling factory explosion of July 1918.
Families of those who died in the Great War attended the unveiling and dedication service, together with Philip Marshall, Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire Freemasons, Nottinghamshire’s Lord Lieutenant Sir John Peace, Nottingham City Council Leader David Mellen, Nottinghamshire County Council Leader Cllr Kay Cutts MBE, civic heads, the district and borough council leaders, the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police Craig Guildford, the Chief Fire Officer John Buckley and local MPs.
Among the regiments taking part in the service were members of the Queen’s Colour Squadron RAF, members of the 4th Battalion Mercian Regiment, including regimental mascot Private Derby and members of HMS Sherwood. Former and current officers from Nottinghamshire Police and Royal British Legion standard bearers were also in attendance.
The £395,000 memorial has been constructed on the Victoria Embankment next to the memorial built between 1923 and 1927 on land bequeathed in perpetuity by Jesse Boot. It was principally funded by Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council, along with the seven district councils and generous corporate and private donations.
Also of note is the fact that the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire VC memorial, which has resided at the Nottingham Castle since its unveiling on 7th May 2010, has been moved to the site to join the two Great War memorials. During the Great War of 1914 to 1919, 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded, in total six Nottingham-born war heroes were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award of the British honours system.
Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone
27 June 2019
Conclusion, Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, Past Grand Secretary of UGLE and Past President of the Masonic Samaritan Fund
Your Royal Highness, my Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren.
Sir may I thank you for unveiling this superb memorial dedicated to all those English Freemasons who have been recognised with this country’s highest award for courage and valour in the face of the enemy and also to say how privileged we are that it has been dedicated and unveiled in the presence of one of those valiant men, Brother Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC.
Sir, two years ago you unveiled our splendid memorial to those 65 English Freemasons who received the award during WW1, which was part of our Country’s remembrance that it was 100 years since the Great War. At the time I did receive mail from the odd “Brother Angry and disgusted” saying what about the rest! Today we recognise them all. Also at this time Brother Granville Angell told me he was having a stone made in the form of a VC for our memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, a garden that had been opened earlier in the year. I politely told him that I thought it would be inappropriate and I thought that was that but I had reckoned without the determination and persistence of Brother Granville who then waited for the new Grand Secretary.
How wise he was and I can think of no more fitting place for it to be than here in Freemason’s Hall, the Masonic Peace Memorial Building, where I suspect far more Masons will see it and which is the spiritual home of Freemasonry.
May I thank you again, Sir, for graciously unveiling this fine memorial, thank you Brother Johnson for being here to represent all those brave men who have been awarded the VC, congratulate you Brother Granville on your persistence and generosity, our thanks to Emily Draper the splendid stone mason who produced it, to all those who have taken part in or helped to organise today’s dedication and finally to all of you for attending and witnessing another milestone in our proud history.
At the turn of the 20th Century, the compact City of Chester was blessed with two masonic halls, situated about one mile apart at the north east and south west of the city centre
The first at Queen Street was a large converted Town House in the ‘Rows’ of Chester where, interestingly, some of the lodges can trace their roots back to before the formation of United Grand Lodge in 1813. The second was a new Freemason’s Hall in Hunter Street, built specifically in 1909 to accommodate the growing numbers of members.
It seems fitting to record the decision made 100 years ago, in December 1918, by four Chester Lodges, meeting at Hunter Street, to fund and erect a Memorial window to the valour of the members who died in during the Great War of 1914 to 1918, and in honour of those Chester masons who had served their country.
The four lodges in the Province of Cheshire, the Lodge of Independence No. 721, Clarence Lodge No. 2386, Travellers Lodge No. 2609 and Deva Lodge No. 3447, formed a small committee and plans were put in place. Four years later, on the 13th April 1922 the Lodge of Independence gave notice of a special Emergency Meeting to be held on the 24th April 1922 to witness the Unveiling and Consecration of the Memorial Window: - “in gratitude for peace, in memory of the fallen, and to honour the Chester Brethren who served in the War.”
The window, some 11 feet in height and 8 feet in width, has for its central light the figures of Aaron and Hur holding the hands of Moses, with masonic symbols and the Arms of Chester appearing in other portions of the window. It was unveiled by Hon. Lord Leverhulme and consecrated by the Very Revd. The Dean of Chester, Rev. F.S.M. Bennett, Provincial Grand Chaplain. There were, according to the Attendance Register, 66 members the Lodge of Independence, and 105 visitors, including many members from the other three lodges – Clarence, Travellers and Deva.
Freemasons’ Hall, Hunter Street, Chester, was sold in 1994 to enable the re-development of Chester City Centre, and all lodges vacated the building by the 1st August 1995. The sale included an agreement for the Memorial Window to remain in situ until arrangements were in place for its safe removal. When the time came for the window to be removed, the metal framework was found to be badly corroded and with lead missing was in danger of imminent collapse. Restoration, cleaning and re-leading took and a new metal framework was provided by Paul Richards of Bridgegate Lodge.
The new Freemasons’ Hall ‘Cheshire View’ was identified for the move, with the main temple constructed in the roof-space of the existing building and a new wing added to provide a second temple, and dining room.
Originally, it was planned to install the Memorial Window in the East of the new Second Temple, behind the Master’s Chair, where it would be illuminated by an appropriate external window. All was to be prepared and ready for the Official Opening and Consecration of the Second Temple, on the 22nd April 1997. Unfortunately, calculations failed to appreciate the height of the mounting framework and the elevation of the Master’s Chair from the floor. The Memorial Window therefore had to be installed behind the Senior Warden’s Chair where sufficient height existed.
Electric lights now illuminate the Window, instead of daylight, and they fully reveal its magnificent details. Standing in the West, it now affords great enjoyment for the Master and Brethren seated in the East. It also forms a fitting centre-piece for the Temple and a talking point for the many visitors, both masonic and non-masonic, reminding them of the sacrifice of those who never returned to their loved ones and firesides after the Great War.
Don't let the armchair get you
Aged 103, Wally Randall is the Tyler for three masonic lodges, turned on his town’s Christmas lights last year and is the UK’s oldest poppy seller. Peter Watts meets the legend of Leighton Buzzard
Resplendent in a suit and jacket, Wally Randall sits on a wooden pew with a military bearing that belies his years. He has been coming to this masonic temple in Leighton Buzzard for 53 years, which sounds like a long time, until you remember he is 103.
One of the country’s oldest masons, Wally is also the UK’s oldest poppy seller, something this World War II veteran is particularly proud of. ‘I go to our local Wilko – they let me sit inside,’ he says. ‘People say they come specially to get a poppy off me. It’s amazing how generous they are. A lot of people give even though they already have a poppy. I collected over £1,000 last year.’
This year’s Armistice Day had particular resonance for Wally. Not only did it mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, it was also 100 years since the death of his father, who served in that war and died of Spanish flu the day before the Armistice was signed. ‘It was rather tragic,’ he says. ‘It might be one of the reasons I started selling poppies. I thought the Royal British Legion did a really good job looking after people who need it.’
Wally is described as ‘a legend’ by fellow Freemasons Roger Wood and David Cato, who are full of stories about his escapades, such as the time Wally fell on to the garage roof while collecting apples from his tree back when he was a mere slip of a man in his nineties. Then there’s the time the doctor warned him his blood pressure was a bit high. ‘That was just before he turned 100. Wally told the doctor, “Well, I did have to cycle here – you can’t find anywhere to park on a Tuesday,”’ laughs David.
With that track record, a spot of poppy selling once a year is not going to get him too out of breath. What’s his secret? ‘Well, it might be a bit dull, but I’ve never been a drinker and I never smoked either – maybe the odd glass of wine during a lodge dinner but I don’t drink apart from that.’
Wally is careful about what he eats as well. At the festive board, he has the starter and dessert, but takes the main course home for his lunch the following day – the kitchen staff are only too happy to wrap up his meal. David thinks Wally is inspiring, ‘On his 103rd birthday he recited the 15-minute traditional history during the rituals, without any notes to read from. He keeps doing things, and tells us, “Don’t let the armchair get you.”’
KEEPING HIMSELF BUSY
Wally lives alone and still drives. As well as selling poppies and masonic activity, he was an active and enthusiastic gardener up until this summer, but now contents himself with directing his granddaughter around the plot. ‘Well, I tell her what I’d like her to do, but she won’t always do it,’ he grins. ‘She doesn’t like slug pellets, so this year I finished up with one runner bean and the slugs had the rest.’ In keeping with his philosophy of staying active, Wally doesn’t just attend weekly masonic events, but acts as a Tyler for three lodges. ‘It’s important to do stuff, you have to keep busy,’ he says. ‘That’s what like about masonry – being the Tyler, I get to meet the candidates and that’s always nice. It’s very interesting and I enjoy getting them ready.’
The esteem in which Wally is held can be seen in the anteroom to the Temple. In a prominent position is Wally’s stout wooden Tyler chair, which was a gift from fellow Mark masons on his 100th birthday. Above it is a large framed ‘Where’s Wally?’ poster, a present from the caterers, with Wally’s face hidden among all the cartoon characters. And his celebrity status extends beyond the lodge. In 2017, he was invited to turn on Leighton Buzzard’s Christmas lights.
Wally became a mason in 1965, but it was only when he retired at 70 that he began to take his involvement up a gear. Wally’s mother lodge is Leighton Cross, No. 6176, but he is also a member of Old Cedarians, No. 8078 and All Saints, No. 8776, the latter of which he founded. ‘When it first started, the subs were only £15 a year,’ he smiles, adding, ‘I really enjoy being with the brethren, we are all very close to each other. They look after me and keep me going.’
Having appeared in newspapers and on the BBC, Wally’s masonic contribution as well as his longevity have been widely recognised. ‘I got a certificate of merit after I’d been a mason for 50 years and another saying I’d been selling poppies for 50 years,’ he says, before declaring that he has no intention of stopping any time soon, even if he does need a break every now and then. Having spent a couple of hours in the lodge being photographed and interviewed, Wally remarks, ‘It’s fish and chip day isn’t it, so I’ll go home and have some scampi and then a little snooze.’
‘I really enjoy being with the brethren, we are all very close to each other. They look after me and keep me going’
Born in 1915, Wally Randall left school at 14 and entered the print trade, working for the local newspaper, the Leighton Buzzard Observer. ‘I was a comp machinist and I did a little bit of reporting, following the football team and so on. I got halfpenny a line,’ he recalls. After leaving print, he moved into transport, but one winter found himself out of work because the roads were blocked by snow. ‘I cycled to the labour exchange to sign on and there were hundreds of people queueing,’ he says. ‘I didn’t want to wait, so I biked up to Luton to look for a job. I went to the Vauxhall plant and got a job straightaway. I was there for 40 years.’
Wally served as a magistrate and on the local council, and it was a fellow councillor who got him interested in Freemasonry. At around the same time as he discovered the Craft, he started selling poppies, inspired in part by his own experiences during the Second World War. He’d signed up in 1940 and served in North Africa and Italy. ‘I was in the service corps,’ he says. ‘The nearest I got to combat was at El Alamein. The army was getting ready for the push and we took the 4th Indian Division in there. There was an artillery bombardment, it was like fireworks. That was about as close as I got.’
The heart of the hall
With 11 November 2018 marking the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the Library and Museum of Freemasonry looks at how a record of the masons who gave their lives in the First World War came to be immortalised in bronze and stained glass
Walking up the grand staircase in Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street, you may have noticed a casket sitting beneath a stained-glass window. It contains the Roll of Honour for the masonic dead of the First World War and, in the area known as the ‘Shrine’, sits at the heart of this art deco landmark that began life as the Masonic Peace Memorial.
First considered in a meeting of Grand Lodge on 2 December 1914, the Roll of Honour was described a year later by Sir Alfred Robbins as ‘a permanent memorial of active patriotism displayed by Freemasonry in the momentous struggle still proceeding’. The Roll of Honour would give the names of brethren of all ranks who had laid down their lives in the service of their country, based on returns made by lodge secretaries.
On 27 June 1919, an Especial meeting of Grand Lodge was held at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the peace. A message was read from the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Connaught, in which he appealed for funds,
to create a perpetual Memorial of its [i.e. the Craft’s] gratitude to Almighty God…[to] render fitting honour to the many Brethren who fell during the War. I desire that the question of the Memorial be taken into early consideration… The great and continued growth of Freemasonry amongst us demands a central home; and I wish it to be considered whether the question of erecting that home in this Metropolis of the Empire, dedicated to the Most High, … would not be the most fitting Memorial.
Following an international architectural competition in which 110 schemes were submitted to a jury chaired by Sir Edward Lutyens, a design by HV Ashley and F Winton Newman was chosen and building work began in 1927. The new Masonic Peace Memorial was dedicated on 19 July 1933, with the theme of the memorial window in the vestibule area outside the Grand Temple being the attainment of peace through sacrifice. Its main feature is the figure of peace holding a model of the tower facade of the building itself. The lower panels depict fighting men from ancient and modern times, civilians and pilgrims ascending a winding staircase towards the angel of peace.
SHRINE TO THE FALLEN
Five years later in June 1938, the Building Committee, in its final report, announced that it had given instructions for a Memorial Shrine and Roll of Honour to be placed under the Memorial Window. At the Grand Lodge meeting on 5 June 1940, by which time the country was again at war, it announced that the work had been completed.
The Memorial Shrine was created in bronze by Walter Gilbert (1871-1946). Its design and ornamentation incorporated symbols connected with the theme of peace and the attainment of eternal life. It takes the form of a bronze casket resting on an ark among reeds, the boat indicative of a journey that had come to an end. In the centre of the front panel a relief shows the hand of God set in a circle in which rests the soul of man. At the four corners of the Shrine stand pairs of winged seraphim carrying golden trumpets, and across the front are four gilded figures portraying Moses, Joshua, Solomon and St George.
The Roll of Honour is guarded by kneeling figures representing the four fighting services at the time it was designed (the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Army and the Royal Flying Corps). On either side of the Shrine are the bronze Pillars of Light decorated with wheat (for resurrection), lotus (for the waters of life) and irises (for eternal life) with four panels of oak leaves at their base. The Roll of Honour displayed at the Shrine on a parchment roll includes more than 350 names not included in the Roll of Honour book and additional lodge details for about 30 names already known.
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry provides regular guided tours of Freemasons’ Hall, offering visitors the chance to see first-hand the beautiful craftsmanship of the Roll of Honour and the Shrine.
Brothers beyond borders
A chance discovery of a 100-year-old piece of paper has revealed a masonic meeting in Jerusalem and a fraternal bond that brought together men of all ranks and religions
Found in an old leather regalia case, a typed document has surfaced reporting on how New Zealand Freemasons held a masonic meeting in a mosque on the site where King Solomon’s Temple had once stood. It tells the story of how ‘a great sheikh’ not only allowed the masons to hold a meeting in the mosque, but also that the sheikh was a Freemason.
The scrap of paper belonged to Thomas Jackson, who had been raised in Star in the East Lodge, No. 650, and the Freemasons mentioned in his story were members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Masonic Association. Formed in France by Colonel George Barclay in 1917, the association’s objective was to hold meetings to promote fraternity among its members, with branches formed in various camps, depots and hospitals.
MEETING IN TROUBLED TIMES
One branch was formed in Egypt and Palestine in May 1917 by Brigadier-General William Meldrum (1865-1964), with the meeting referred to in Jackson’s account likely taking place in April 1918 in the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. Standing on Mount Moriah, this is where Abraham is said to have prepared to sacrifice Issac, and where Muhammad ascended to heaven, making it a holy place to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Believed to have been built around 1,000BC on the same site, King Solomon’s Temple has influenced masonic symbolism for centuries.
More than 100 years after the meeting, the piece of paper was passed to Peter Brooks, Lincolnshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master and husband of Jackson’s granddaughter, Jackie. ‘The Star in the East Lodge is still active, and we sent the paper back to them in Harwich, along with a centenary booklet from 1955 and a summons dated 1934 – all of which they were delighted to receive,’ says Peter.
On conducting further research into his lodge’s archives, Colin Ruffle from the Star in the East found that Jackson was initiated into the lodge on 9 April, 1915, passed on 11 May and was raised on 23 July. The raising was one of dozens of emergency meetings during the First World War, completed outside the usual May to September period to get candidates in before they were posted abroad. ‘We read out the minutes of meetings from 100 years ago at our corresponding meetings and found they did first, second and third degrees at a single meeting, sometimes with multiple candidates,’ says Ruffle. ‘It must have gone on all night!’
For Jackson, the meeting he witnessed in the mosque showed the ‘universality of the order’, bringing together soldiers of all ranks from around the world, and with a great sheikh acting as one of the guards.
Thomas Jackson's report on the masons in a mosque
‘Ancient rites observed on the site of Solomon’s temple
Freemasons in Palistine [sic] have held a masonic meeting on the historic site of King Solomon’s Temple where Freemasonry is supposed to have originated about 1,000BC. This meeting was organised by members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Palistine. The Mosque of Omar being on the site of the Temple, the Newzealanders [sic] approached the Great Sheikh in charge of the Mosque for permission to hold a meeting. Then occurred an incident showing the universality of the order. The Sheikh listened to what the strangers had to say, and then to their amazement asked if there were any Freemasons among them. The rest was easy. He declared himself a mason and at the meeting acted as one of the guards of the lodge. The place within the mosque where the meeting was held is known as the cave of the Rock of the Dome and is believed to have been the Holy of Holies of the old Temple as it is today of the Mosque of Omar. Soldiers of all ranks were present, and after a lodge had been duly const tuter [sic] and opened, resolutions were passed conveying fraternal greetings and good wishes to the various Grand Lodges in New Zealand and the brethren in France.’
The star in the east
The Star in the East Lodge, No. 650, meets in Harwich, Essex and was consecrated in 1855. The centenary meeting took place two years after a flood had left the masonic hall under six feet of water. The most famous member was Captain Fryatt, who was arrested by the Germans in 1916 after trying to ram a German sub with his ship. He was executed and his body was one of only three to be repatriated after the war, in the same railway carriage that brought Edith Cavell and the Unknown Soldier back to the UK.
Benevolence at its best
A look the First World War’s impact on Freemasonry and its charitable activity
Written by staff at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, English Freemasonry and the First World War gives a glimpse into the rich history of Freemasonry during the period of the ‘Great War’, as it was known before 1939. This is not a history of the war itself, but contains an illustrated synopsis of its impact on English Freemasonry, the deeds of various Freemasons and their unwavering desire to help those in need, in spite of the ongoing conflict.
The book is full of images taken from the extensive Library collections. Together with illustrations of jewels and paper artefacts, they show how war changed the relationship between international Grand Lodges and jurisdictions, as well as between individual lodges and Freemasons. With many English lodges having members from across Europe, the outbreak of war had very real consequences.
CHARITY IN HARD TIMES
The book provides wonderful examples of the charity and sheer generosity of lodges and brethren, matched with pictorial evidence of hospitals, ambulances, concerts and festivals, and how injured brethren, their families and communities were supported.
With this year marking the centenary of Armistice Day, the history set out in the book feels even more poignant. Hopefully the book will be a basis for other volumes which further explore the history of Freemasonry against the background of the First World War.
This is an excellent addition to any Freemason’s library, or to that of anyone with an interest in the history of the Craft. With so many lodges mentioned by name, this book should be popular with lodge historians too.
Review by Jonathan Lowe
English Freemasonry and the First World War, by the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, published by Lewis Masonic, 96 pages, £14.99
Simon Constable of Lodge Neuhaus No. 946, from the Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany, David Purvis of Hervey and Kentish Companions Lodge No. 1692, in the Province of West Kent, and Mark Bryant of Dagenham Lodge No. 4699, in the Province of Essex, took part in the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice Parade in the Belgium town of Ypres on 11th November 2018
Simon and David, both Royal Air Force (RAF) veterans, now serving with RAF Air Cadets youth organisation, marched in the parade with the Cadet Contingent from London and the South East whilst Mark, also a forces veteran, marched in the Veterans Contingent.
The parade started in the Square outside St Martins Church and ended half a mile later at Menin Gate, the famous war memorial in Ypres where the names of the fallen British and Commonwealth soldiers who have no known grave are recorded.
To honour Freemasons who fell during the Great War, three Masonic wreaths were laid at Menin Gate. David and Mark laid wreaths on behalf of the Provincial Lodges of West Kent and of Essex respectively, whilst Simon laid a wreath on behalf of the United Grand Lodge of England, on which the message read ‘In Lasting Memory of those Freemasons who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War 1914 – 1918’.
David said: ‘It was an honour to lay these wreaths on behalf of all Freemasons and to pay respect to the Brethren who fell during the Great War, and in all wars since.'
On 10th November 2018, in a full Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, Victoria Rifles Lodge No. 822 hosted an event to mark the Centenary of the Armistice
Victoria Rifles Lodge, based in London, is one of the 37 Circuit of Service Lodges which exist to promote comradeship and fraternal contact between military masons. Given the sacrifice of so many of members in the First World War it’s appropriate that such a Lodge should have hosted the Armistice Centenary Meeting.
The lodge’s streamlined Installation meeting, and subsequent theatrical presentation, was conducted in the presence of the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes. The Past Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race and six Provincial Grand Masters were also in attendance.
The Pro Grand Master was escorted into the temple, accompanied by a banner procession featuring all the Circuit of Service Lodges. The banners and banner men filed either side of a Vickers machine gun, placed on a raised platform in the centre of the hall, manned by four Silent Sentinels, symbolising the moment ‘the guns fell silent’.
The Worshipful Master, Capt James Milne, extended a warm welcome to all present and was proclaimed as Worshipful Master of the lodge for a further year. Before the lodge was closed its members voted to donate £9,000 to the Royal Hospital Chelsea Scarlets Appeal and a further £9,000 to Veteran’s Outreach Support.
The Armistice Commemoration Event then began with the entrance of seven Chelsea Pensioners to the tune of ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’.
The Lodge Director of Ceremonies, Jamie Ingham Clark, then asked all those present wearing Hall Stone Jewels on behalf of their lodges to rise. With over 500 members standing, he then presented the Worshipful Master with the lodge’s jewel, his address epitomising the whole occasion.
He said: ‘I now have pleasure in investing you with the Hall Stone Jewel, which was presented to this Lodge by the MW the Grand Master in recognition of our contribution towards what was then called the Masonic Peace Memorial, the building we are now in.
‘The medal is suspended by the Square and Compasses, attached to a ribband, the whole thus symbolising the Craft's gift of a Temple in memory of those brethren who gave all, for King and Country, Peace and Victory, Liberty and Brotherhood.’
Actor and guest speaker Simon Callow CBE then commenced with the ‘Sound and Light show’ with readings of renowned war poetry and letters sent between a mother and a son fighting on the Western Front.
The members were then subjected to a sound and light show, with the Vickers gun at its epicentre, resembling an artillery bombardment. The barrage increased in noise and intensity becoming a completely immersive 360-degree experience. A flash and bang emanated from the gun, signalling an eerie silence and from the ceiling of the Grand Temple, a cascade of poppy petals floated gently from above.
Following the formal Act of Remembrance including The Last Post, Two Minute Silence, Reveille and Dedication, the Circuit Banners fell in and after the bugle call of ‘Men to Meal’ there was a recession in silence led by the Silent Sentinels. As the members filed out, they were each invited to place a poppy next to the machine gun as a personal tribute to the fallen. This remarkable meeting further consolidated the powerful bond that exists between English Freemasonry and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Lest we Forget.
On the following day, Remembrance Sunday, over 40 members of Circuit of Service Lodges participated in the official ‘March Past’ at the Cenotaph in Central London, each wearing armbands that attested to their membership.
Queen Victoria’s Rifles served with distinction in the First World War as the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles). Its two active Battalions were awarded 27 Battle Honours.
Officers and Men were awarded: 1 Victoria Cross, (Lt Woolley was the first soldier or officer of the Territorial Force to be so awarded). 7 Distinguished Service Orders, 40 Military Crosses, 18 Distinguished Service Medals and 141 Military Medals. Of two Battalions with an average strength of some 700 all ranks each: Queen Victoria’s Rifles lost, Killed or Missing in Action, 170 Officers and 1,395 Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Riflemen.
After their meeting on 10 November 2018, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice, Delphis Lodge No. 7769 in Herefordshire presented the Province with a plaque commemorating those Herefordshire members who lost their lives in the First World War
In a special ceremony, Paul Young, Worshipful Master of Delphis Lodge in 1991, presented the plaque, which was received by the Provincial Grand Master The Rev David Bowen. Paul then read the complete poem by Laurence Binyon, 'For the Fallen', with the assembled members joining in repeating the well-known middle verse - 'They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old'.
In receiving the plaque on behalf of the Province, The Rev David Bowen, thanked members of Delphis Lodge for this thoughtful gift to the Province and read the Wilfred Owen poem, 'The Parable of the Old Man and the Young'. Bugler Colin Davies gave added further dignity and poignancy to the occasion, rounding off the ceremony with The Last Post.
The plaque commemorates the six members known to have died, from Palladian, Vitruvian, Eastnor, Arrow and Loyal Hay Lodges. Their identities and history were researched by Tim Fycun, Worshipful Master of Delphis Lodge 2015-2016. The plaque, with its fine wooden frame made by Keith Farmer, will occupy a prominent and permanent position within the Hereford Masonic Hall.
On the same occasion, a statuette was unveiled of a soldier commemorating the memory of all Herefordshire members who lost their lives in the service of their country, generously provided by Wilf Charles.