Celebrating 300 years

Miniature  manoeuvres

Freemason Bruce Graham Clarke’s military career saw him serving on a midget submarine in 1945, wading through thick mud in a bid to cut vital telegraph cables running under Hong Kong harbour

In 1944, a small fleet of six XE class midget submarines was built. Typically, each would have a crew of just four men: a lieutenant in command with a sub-lieutenant as deputy, an engine room mechanic and a seaman. They carried 20-pound limpet mines that were attached to the target by the qualified diver in the crew.

Bruce Graham Clarke was on one of these submarines, XE5, which included a fifth crew member (a second diver), when it was deployed in 1945 as part of Operation Foil. The mission: to cut the Hong Kong to Singapore telephone cable west of Lamma Island that ran under Hong Kong harbour. The result would be to force the Japanese to use radio and leave themselves open to message interception.

A public servant, dedicated Freemason and talented artist, Clarke was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in the operation. He was born in Edinburgh on 9 September 1922 into a military family; his father was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy serving on HMS Pembroke. Educated at Tower House preparatory and University College Schools in London, Clarke volunteered for the Royal Navy in 1941.

Clarke initially served on destroyers, escorting convoys in the North Sea and in the Mediterranean. He later saw service during Operation Torch, the invasion of Northwest Africa. In 1943, he volunteered for service aboard the Royal Navy’s midget submarines and, after training in Scotland, was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

A DIFFICULT MISSION

In July and August 1945, Clarke took part in Operation Foil, with XE5 towed into position by the submarine HMS Selene. Lurking beneath the waves off Lamma Island, XE5’s divers, Clarke and Sub Lieutenant Dennis Victor Mark Jarvis, were forced to work in thick mud and under the constant threat of oxygen poisoning. Meanwhile, Operation Sabre was targeting the Hong Kong to Saigon cable, which had been tasked to XE4. This sub was towed to within 40 miles of the Mekong Delta by HMS Spearhead

After a number of repeated attempts, the divers were still not completely certain that the cable had been cut. It was not until after the Japanese surrendered on 2 September 1945 – following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – that it was confirmed the telephone cables had indeed been severed.  

In the book Above Us the Waves, Charles Warren and James Benson recall the mission: ‘Hong Kong was supposed to be blessed with clear water. It was most galling, therefore, for the crew of XE5 to arrive in the defended waters of Hong Kong after a very rough trip… and for the best part of four days... the two divers, Clarke and Jarvis, were working up to their waists in mud…’

In a report of the operation, the commanding officer, Lieutenant H.P. Westmacott, added, ‘Whilst trying to clear the grapnel, S/Lt Clarke had caught his finger in the cutter, cut it very deeply and fractured the bone. It is impossible to praise too highly the courage and fortitude which enabled him to make his entry into the craft in this condition. Had he not done so, apart from becoming a prisoner, it is probable that the operation would have had to be abandoned for fear of being compromised.’

NATURAL DIGNITY AND POISE

A month later, the war ended, and Clarke was posted to Minden in West Germany and put in command as physical and recreational training officer of the Allied troops. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in Operation Foil and subsequently demobilised.

After brief spells working in India and Africa, Clarke joined the Overseas Civil Service and, through a series of promotions and secondments, forged a successful career in Kenya. In 1955, Clarke married Joan in Nakuru, Kenya. The family moved to Aden in 1957; this posting for Clarke included a period as labour commissioner.

In 1962, Clarke retired from Her Majesty’s Overseas Civil Service. After a three-year contract as personnel manager for the East African Power & Light Company in Tanganyika, Tanzania, Clarke returned to the UK, settling in Boscombe in Dorset in 1967. A long-time Freemason, Clarke was a member of Winston Churchill’s lodge in London, United Studholme Alliance Lodge, No. 1591, and in 1986 joined the Lodge of Meridian, No. 6582, in Dorset, becoming its Chaplain for many years. 

One of the last surviving crew members of the XE midget submarines, Clarke passed away aged 95 in Dorset on 7 December 2017. During his last years, Clarke maintained the natural dignity and poise that he had demonstrated throughout his entire life.

Lifelites Chief Executive Simone Enefer-Doy has left Freemasons' Hall to kick-start her 2,500 mile journey to 47 famous landmarks to raise awareness of Lifelites and £50,000 for the charity

Dubbed 'A Lift for Lifelites', Simone will see Freemasons in nearly every Province in England and Wales and will be stopping at landmarks such as Hadrian’s Wall, Angel of the North and Bletchley Park in vehicles including a classic Rolls Royce, a camper van, a four seater plane, an E Type Jaguar and even a zip wire.

Simone said: 'With the help of Freemasons and their vehicles around the country, I’m on a mission to raise the profile of our work and raise more funds to reach more children whose lives could be transformed by the technology we can provide.'

We'll be updating this page regularly, including images, as Simone continues on her epic quest.

Day 14 – Thursday 7 June

That's a wrap! Simone completed her 14 day challenge and finished in style on ThamesJet speedboat with guests including United Grand Lodge of England Chief Executive Dr David Staples. Her fundraising currently stands at over £103,000.

Day 13 – Wednesday 6 June

It's the penultimate day, starting with a trip to Bedfordshire at the Shuttleworth Collection. The next stop was Silverstone racetrack in Northamptonshire, which included completing a lap in a Jaguar, before driving this to Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. The last trip was to the home, studios and gardens of former artist Henry Moore in Hertfordshire.

Day 12 – Tuesday 5 June

Day 12 took in journeys across Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The first stop was Gordon Boswell Romany Museum in Lincolnshire before using two vehicles, a Hudson Straight Six Touring Sedan and a Range Rover, to Bressington Steam and Gardens in Norfolk. There was still time to grab lunch at Bury St Edmunds Abbey in Suffolk before a BMW took Simone to her final stop in Cambridgeshire, which included a punt on the River Cam.

Day 11 – Monday 4 June

Simone crammed in four locations to start the week, with a wide variety of vehicles used. The day started in Yorkshire Sculpture Park before driving a 1977 Bentley to the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire. It was from here that Simone then picked up a DeLorean to take her to Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire before completing the day by driving a gold Rolls-Royce to Victoria Park in Leicestershire.

Day 10 – Sunday 3 June

The week concludes with trips to Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire and East Riding, as well as the news that Simone had already hit her £50,000 target. Trips included the Millennium Bridge in Northumberland, the Angel of the North and a scenic drive across the Yorkshire Moors to Bolton Castle.

Day 9 – Saturday 2 June

Day nine saw visits to the Provinces of West Lancashire and Cumberland and Westmorland, with landmarks including Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria and transport provided by a horse and cart.

Day 8 – Friday 1 June

Two Rolls-Royces helped provide the transport on day nine, with Simone starting at the Avoncroft Museum in Worcestershire, driving down to New Place in Warwickshire and then to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. There was still time to conclude the day by visiting Manchester Cathedral in East Lancashire.

Day 7 – Thursday 31 May

At the halfway point, Simone made trips to Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire – starting out at the Georgian Hall Dunham Massey, then heading to the RAF Museum Cosford in a custom built Rewaco Bike and finally, to Arthur’s Stone.

Day 6 – Wednesday 30 May

Day six was solely focused in North Wales where Simone took on the challenge of the fastest zip wire in the world. This was then followed by making the journey to Chester in a six month old blue McLaren Spider and flanked by the Widows’ Sons motorcyclists and Blood Bike volunteers.

Day 5 – Tuesday 29 May

Day five was a journey across the borders for Simone as she ventured to Oxfordshire before heading west to Monmouthshire and continued to South Wales and West Wales. Landmarks included Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, Caerleon Amphitheatre in Newport, the Donald Gordon theatre in Cardiff and ending the day in the county town of Carmarthen to meet the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Wales.

Day 4 – Monday 28 May

Simone began day four by driving an Aston Martin DB9 to the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare with help from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset. A 1928 MG Riley saloon then took Simone to her next port of call, Clifton Suspension Bridge where the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bristol had a 1966 Austin Mini Cooper waiting to take her to Caen Hill Locks. It was here that Simone met representatives from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Wiltshire, before the final stop of the day saw her clock up the miles to Shaw House in Berkshire to be greeted by members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire.

Day 3 – Sunday 27 May

Day three involved journeys to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It started with a visit to Lulworth Cove in Dorset to be met by members from the Provincial Grand Lodge in a yellow camper van and to receive a donation of £2,000. Simone then ventured to Buckfast Abbey to receive a donation of £5,000 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire before departing in a classic Rover to head to Lanhydrock House and Garden in Cornwall, where she received another donation of £1,750.

Day 2 – Saturday 26 May

Simone took to the sky for day two, meeting a representative from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Hampshire and Isle of Wight who drove her to Southampton to board a flight to Jersey, to meet members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Guernsey and Alderney.

Day 1 – Friday 25 May

Simone has begun her challenge, leaving in a taxi escorted by a fleet of Widows Sons motorcyclists. This is the start of her 14 day road trip with a difference, using a variety of unusual and extraordinary forms of transport.

The next destination for Friday was Richmond Park where Simone was met by representatives from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex after arriving in a Porsche 550 Spyder. Further destinations included Guildford Cathedral, where Simone was met by a Noddy car, and Brighton Royal Pavilion, where the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex made a donation of £5,000.

Lifelites has a package of their magical technology at every children’s hospice across the British Isles and their work is entirely funded by donations. Through the journey they are seeking to raise £50,000 – that’s the cost of one of their projects for four years.

You can sponsor Simone by clicking here

Published in Lifelites

Monday 14 May 2018 proved to be a memorable day for members of the Lodge of Saint Mark No. 8479 in Dorset, with 92-year- old, World War II veteran Ray Fuller being installed as their Worshipful Master

Ray joined the Royal Navy as a 17-year-old in 1943 and served on HMS Illustrious. The carrier's aircraft attacked targets in Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies and took part in the Battle of Okinawa.

In early 1944, the aircraft of HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga joined forces to strike a naval base at Sabang in northern Sumatra.

Nearly 80 Brethren gathered in the village of Kinson to see Ray take the chair, which created a fantastic atmosphere on this remarkable evening. It wasn't Ray’s first time in the chair though having previously been Master of Bisley Lodge No. 2317 in Surrey, but that didn't detract from making this a special occasion for him. Over £700 was also raised for three charities during a bumper raffle.

Giving a moving response to the visitors toast was one member who had travelled down in a minibus from Surrey. He had known Ray since they were seven-years-old and they're both proud holders of the Burma Star, a military medal awarded to those who served in World War II.

The Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, Richard Merritt, commented that it was a remarkable coincidence that it was Ray's second time in the chair and that he was the 46th Master, as doubling this figure equalled Ray's exact age.

He went on to add that having made enquiries with UGLE, Ray was one of the oldest brothers to be installed into the chair of a lodge.

Freemasons from the Lodge of Amity No. 137 in Dorset gave up their time to redecorate a local charity’s building

Members of the lodge assembled at Barnabas House, a facility of the Diverse Abilities charity in Poole. Armed with paint brushes, rollers and gallons of white paint they set about transforming the appearance of the building.

Dorset Freemason Martin Barker said: 'I was Master of the Lodge of Amity last year when our members donated over £2,000 to the Diverse Abilities charity. When I heard that the outside of Barnabas House needed painting, I realised that this was a project where our lodge could also provide practical help.'

Barnabas House is a lively day centre for adults with a disability. It is a place where they can meet and make new friends, acquire new skills and enjoy a wide range of experiences.

A Barnabas House representative expressed delight at the results, commenting: 'Without the volunteers from the Lodge of Amity we would have had to spend many hundreds of pounds out of the charity’s limited funds to do this.'

The Lodge of Amity is the oldest Masonic Lodge in Dorset, dating back to 1765. It meets once a month in a magnificent grade II listed building in Poole.

Paul Baggett, Immediate Past Master of Dunckerley Lodge No. 3878 in Poole, Dorset, travelled to the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, to take part in The Last Post Ceremony

This poignant ceremony has become part of the daily life at Menin Gate and takes place every night at 8pm. It is a simple but moving tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of those who fell in World War I. Every evening the busy road through the memorial is closed to traffic before the ceremony and 'Last Post' will be played.

A member or guest of the Last Post Association, a visiting dignitary or a visitor, will say the words of the Exhortation, taken from Laurence Binyon's poem 'For the Fallen'. Standing in the centre of the road under the arch of the Hall of Memory, the person will say the words:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Afrer laying a wreath on behalf of Dorset Freemasonry, Paul Baggett, who was accompanied by Phil Conway of Lumen Lodge No. 4922 in Surrey, was honoured to be the one to read those words and help continue this most important tradition – watch the video here.

Members of Lodge of St Cuthberga No. 622 in Dorset travelled to Freemasons' Hall in London to present a cheque for £1,785 to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)

The lodge's Past Master Geoff Knights and current Master Andy Gale presented the cheque inside Freemasons' Hall to Patrick Tonks, CHECT's Chief Executive, and Diana Emery, their Fundraising Manager. Geoff Knights said: 'During my term of office, I had funds for several charities and the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust was dear to everyone’s heart.'

The lodge raised a proportion of the funds through social events and lodge meetings. A large share however, was raised by James Smith, the lodge Charity Steward, when he and his wife Maria ran the London Marathon last year.

CHECT supports children with Retinoblastoma, which is a fast-growing eye cancer found in some babies and children under the age of six years. CHECT helps guide families through the shock, stress and practical challenges after diagnosis.

The charity funds research to improve understanding, treatments and outcomes and raises awareness to improve recognition and early diagnose of the disease. 

Diana Emery said: 'I am over the moon with the amount raised by Dorset Freemasons as CHECT is a small charity with no public funding.'

Ashley Lodge No. 6525 in Dorset has donated £2,650 to the Piam Brown Children's Oncology and Haematology ward in Southampton General Hospital

The Piam Brown ward caters for children from Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Surrey, Sussex, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

Funds raised for the ward go towards providing those 'extras' that the NHS doesn't. These include things like pull-out beds so exhausted parents can have a decent night's sleep and be close to their child, computer games, DVDs, books and games for the children and young people, as well as pleasant décor, quiet rooms and kitchen facilities so parents can cook for themselves and their child.

Each year the ward cares for around 120 new patients. Their team is multidisciplinary, led by four consultants and supported by differing grades of nurses and trainee doctors. Other people on the ward include social workers, physiotherapists, dieticians, pharmacists, research and data staff and support and play staff.

Master of Ashley Lodge David Sanford presented the cheque for £2,650 to the Piam Brown ward, which represents part of their charitable donations raised over the last year.

Other recent donations in the Province include the Dorset Jurassic Youth Adventure, which provided over 200 children from around the country with a free adventure holiday in Dorset.

Friday, 23 March 2018 15:16

Five generations of Freemasons in Dorset

Geoffrey James Blake has become the fifth generation of his family to become a member of Portland Lodge No. 1037 in Dorset

His heritage stretches back to 1908. His family have been members of the lodge unbroken since 1908 and have supported the lodge for a total of 152 years – with more to come.

Geoffrey's Great–Great Grandfather Joseph Stone was initiated into Portland Lodge in 1908. He served the lodge as Worshipful Master in 1919 and died a member in 1954. During his year as Master, he initiated his son, Lesley W G Stone (Geoffrey's Great–Grandfather), who remained a member until 1980.

Lesley's daughter Esme married George F J Blake (Geoffrey's Grandfather), who was initiated in 1972 and remained a member until his death in 1998. George's son Graham D Blake was initiated in 1979, served as Master in 1990 and proudly initiated his son Geoffrey into Portland Lodge, completing five generations.

The Past Provincial Grand Master of Dorset Harry Barnes was present and even sang the Initiates Song in the dining room after the Festive Board.

Kevin Abbiss from Portland's mother lodge, All Souls Lodge No. 170 in Weymouth, presented Geoffrey with a number of booklets and pamphlets from All Souls library that mentioned the family over the past century. A wonderful evening was enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Modern masons: Wayne Ingram

Giving

Despite having raised money to give one boy life-changing facial surgery and more to build an orphanage in Africa, Wayne Ingram doesn’t spend much time considering his role in improving the quality of people’s lives. ‘I don’t really think about my involvement,’ he says. ‘I’m just glad it happened'

Wayne’s fundraising fervour began while stationed in Bosnia. He heard about Stefan Savic, a boy of four born with a facial cleft. Wayne organised a football match between the British Army and local nationals to raise more than €6,000 (£5,288).

Stefan’s first surgery in 2003 was a success but he has needed a series of lengthy operations since, all of which were funded with money raised by Wayne, which opened the door to other fundraising efforts.

When working in Nouadhibou, Africa, in 2012, Wayne was asked to conduct a health and safety audit on an orphanage. ‘There were 40 children sleeping on the floor, in a room with no lights, open sewage and rats running around. They had nothing at all.’

True to form, Wayne set about raising money for the children, intending to cycle 900km across the African countryside. When this was thwarted because of the potential of a kidnap threat, he altered the challenge to have expats and locals cycle in a gym for 24 hours under the banner ‘Ride a Mile and Make a Smile’, raising £67,000.

Wayne’s commitment and compassion sit well with his membership of the Craft. His father a mason, Wayne joined All Souls Lodge, No. 170, based in Dorset, in 2007. ‘At first, I enjoyed going to the events and didn’t want to seek progression. But it’s an amazing lodge: most of them are ex-servicemen and there’s a great family atmosphere.’

What does the Tercentenary mean to you?

‘It’s an amazing achievement for UGLE. I was extremely lucky to be part of the Tercentenary Interprovincial Banner relay, where the Provincial banner was relayed to every masonic hall in Dorset by masonic motorcyclists.’

Published in Features
Thursday, 22 February 2018 16:37

Dorset Freemasons in life saving donation

Dorset Freemasons have donated a lifesaving defibrillator to Branksome Chine Surf Lifesaving Club

The defibrillator is available for use by the public and is situated right on the promenade within a few yards of Branksome Chine car park. Dorset's Provincial Grand Master Richard Merritt commented: 'As Freemasons we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures. It’s an honour to be able to supply this machine to the club.'

A defibrillator gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. It's an essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival.

This defibrillator is the latest in a succession of similar donations by Dorset Freemasons who have placed public access defibrillators on all 17 Masonic buildings across Dorset. In the summer of 2016, a man’s life was saved in Swanage when a Masonic defibrillator was successfully used.

Branksome Chine Surf Lifesaving Club is a voluntary organisation involved in both actively lifeguarding and promoting sea/surf safety in and around Bournemouth and Poole. The club was formed in 1990 and provide voluntary first aid and rescue cover, as well as beach and water safety advice, re-uniting lost children/people with their families/groups and information for tourists.

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