Grey Friars Lodge, No. 5169, in Colchester, raised £1,000 at its Ladies Festival for the West Mersea Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), continuing the lodge’s long association with the area’s lifeboats. The branch is local to Colchester and is currently raising funds towards purchasing a new Atlantic 85 lifeboat in 2014 – the latest generation of RNLI B-class Atlantic inshore lifeboats. West Mersea was one of the first 10 inshore lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and carries out rescues for water users in the area. Volunteers from the lifeboat station rescued a mother, child and baby from a car in late 2012 after they got stuck on the causeway to Mersea Island.
Reaching the age of 100 is a significant milestone, but to do so as Master of a lodge makes it an even more memorable event, and Harold Paine of Indefatigable Lodge, No. 237, in the Province of South Wales, has achieved exactly this.
To honour the landmark occasion, South Wales Provincial Grand Master Captain Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards was in attendance at a special birthday lunch in the Connaught Hall, Swansea.
Indefatigable Lodge, No. 237, South Wales, was warranted in 1777.
Just for the record
The Library and Museum website boasts a version of one of the most important compilations ever published about English lodges – and now you can contribute to its growth
In 1886, the historian John Lane published his Masonic Records – a listing of the dates, numbers and locations of all lodges established by the English Grand Lodges, from the foundation of the very first in 1717. Lane drew his information not only from the Grand Lodge’s own records but from ‘all quarters of the world’. The book was later revised to include information up to 1894.
Working with the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield, Lane’s original printed book was transferred into an electronic format and the Library and Museum has been adding information about lodges formed after 1894.
The entry for each lodge formed since then, including lodges subsequently erased, features the warrant date, number and meeting places. Soon, the Library and Museum will start to update the entries for lodges formed before 1894.
Now is your chance to help with this project – as the Director of the Library and Museum, Diane Clements, explains: ‘We have used all the resources we can find here at Freemasons’ Hall in London, including the Grand Lodge’s own records and yearbooks. If every lodge could check its own records and let us know of any discrepancies that would be really helpful.’
The web address for Lane’s Masonic Records is www.hrionline.ac.uk/lane
At almost eight-hundred years old, the Lord Mayor’s Show is a part of London’s history. In 2012, Freemasons joined the parade in full regalia
The inauguration of the Lord Mayor of the City of London and the associated public parade, known as the Lord Mayor’s Show, is a keenly anticipated annual event. In 2012, the six hundred and eighty-fifth Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Roger Gifford, took office on 9 November in the Silent Ceremony, before leaving the City of London the following morning to travel to the Royal Courts of Justice to swear loyalty to the Crown.
It’s a procession that dates back to 1215 when King John made the Mayor of London one of England’s first elected offices. Every year the newly elected mayor would have to present himself at court and swear loyalty, travelling up-river to the small town of Westminster to give his oath. The Lord Mayor has made that journey almost every year since, despite plague, fire and wars, in order to pledge loyalty to thirty-four kings and queens of England.
Freemasons have been part of the procession in the Lord Mayor’s Show for a number of years, but last year, for the first time since 1937, the brethren marched in full regalia with their own banners as well as a group banner. Each sponsoring lodge had its name and number on its banner together with an area of need supported by masonic charities in London. With a positive reception from the crowd and – reasonably – good weather for November, this was a day to remember for those marching and viewing.
The Board of General Purposes has considered applications for the delivery of the official Prestonian Lectures in 2013 and has decided that these should be given under the auspices of the following: Jubilee Masters Lodge, No. 2712 (London), Bowen Lodge, No. 2816 (Buckinghamshire), and Torbay Masters Lodge, No. 8227 (Devonshire). The lecturer, PR Calderwood, states that the title of the lecture will be: ‘As we were seen – the Press and Freemasonry.’
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, James Cropper, were welcomed by Norman Thompson, Provincial Grand Master for Cumberland and Westmorland, and the Provincial Executive at Carlisle Masonic Hall.
The Duke met the Royal Arch Executive and the three most recent recruits to Freemasonry in the Province. He then lunched with members of 15 local charities that have benefitted from masonic support over the past year. These included Cumbria Teddies for Loving Care, Haverigg and Silloth RNLI, the RMBI Scarbrough Court, Chrysalis in Wigton and The Outward Bound Trust.
Details of the 150 oil paintings in the collection at Freemasons' Hall in Great Queen Street are now available online as part of a joint project between the Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC to put on line all the oil paintings in the UK. More than 200,000 paintings at 3,000 venues across the UK are to be included.
Freemasons' Hall is just one of many institutions (including many Oxford and Cambridge colleges) that are not in public ownership which have joined the project for the benefit of wider public awareness and research. For more information see: www.bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings You can search for the Library and Musuem of Freemasonry as a venue to see all the paintings at Great Queen Street.
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry has been working with the Public Catalogue Foundation for the last two years to have all the pictures photographed and to provide details of the artists.
Arranging the opportunity to present cheques to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) resulted in a very pleasant interlude for a group of Durham Freemasons at the distinctive Rockcliffe Hall Hotel at Hurworth near Darlington. The Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside was joined by Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Webster and Provincial Grand Secretary Phil Rann, plus 3 representatives of Agricola Lodge No. 7741 as cheques totalling £8,000 were presented.
This combined fund-raising and thank you reception was held in the magnificent setting that is the hotel's Victorian building and grounds, and recognised its own association with GNAAS – the hotel's favoured charity.
The sequence of events included an explanation of how the Air Ambulance is both funded and administered, some harrowing case histories and innovative money-raising ideas. It was hoped that one of the aircraft from nearby Durham Tees Valley Airport would make an appearance, and eventually the late morning sun dispersed the lingering mists and allowed GNHAA to land in the grounds. Everyone was able to meet the crew and examine the aircraft in detail.
Mandy Drake, deputy director of fundraising for GNAAS, said: 'Once again we find ourselves indebted to the Freemasons who have come forward with yet another generous donation.
'As a mark of gratitude for their ongoing support we have added the Freemasons’ logo onto our aircraft.'
Agricola Lodge members Trevor Dent, Philip Twizell and current Worshipful Master Richard Tait were thanked for their contribution of £3,000. This resulted from the sale of refreshments at their handily located premises in Old Elvet on Durham Miners' Gala days, with a further £4,000 from the Freemasons' Grand Charity and £1,000 from Durham Benevolence.
While much is known about the endeavours of the Dambusters, Squadron Leader Jerry Fray’s more covert role of photographing the resulting destruction is far less familiar
Almost seventy years ago, the Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron or ‘Dambusters’ used a specially developed bouncing bomb to attack the dams that supplied hydro-electric generated power to Germany’s industrialised Ruhr valley. The aim was to bring the German military to a halt by denying power to the factories that would build the machines and ammunition required for Adolf Hitler’s war.
Operation Chastise was carried out on 16-17 May 1943 and its success is the stuff of legends. Barnes Wallis’ spectacular feat of engineering allowed a bomb to bounce across water until it struck its target, before sinking to explode underwater. The Möhne and Edersee dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and the Eder valley.
Iconic photographs showing Germany’s submerged industrial heartland quickly found their way onto the front pages of British newspapers. The images were taken during a lone flight in an unarmed plane on 17 May by Frank Gerald Fray – or ‘Jerry’ as his friends called him. A flying officer in the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, Jerry had flown in a specially adapted sky-blue camouflaged Spitfire to capture the devastation wreaked by the Dambusters’ raid.
Jerry’s identity was only revealed in 2001 by the RAF and brought to the public’s attention through an interview in The Sunday Telegraph in the same year. ‘I could see the industrial haze over the Ruhr area and what appeared to be a cloud to the east. On flying closer I saw that what had seemed to be cloud was the sun shining on the floodwater,’ said Jerry. ‘I looked down into the deep valley which had seemed so peaceful three days before, but now it was a wide torrent.’
With his photographs proving to be a massive morale boost to the British public, Jerry had written himself into the history books. Born in Bristol, and the eldest of three children, he was educated at the City of London Freemen’s School in Ashtead, Surrey. With war imminent in 1938, Jerry’s parents were not enthusiastic about his desire to become a pilot so he volunteered for the army and joined the Royal Engineers. Shortly after the outbreak of war, he was sent to France and attached to the No. 4 Squadron at Mons en Chaussée. Evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940, Jerry was transferred to the RAF for pilot training shortly afterwards. His early flying training was at the No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School in Brough, followed by advanced training at the No. 9 Service Flying Training School in Hullavington, where he gained his pilot wings and was commissioned into the RAF in January 1942.
Medals and masonry
Electing for special duties, Jerry undertook specialist navigation training before flying unarmed Spitfires at RAF Benson. With his photography of the Möhne dam immortalising the exploits of the Dambusters, Jerry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and later the Belgian Order of Leopold and Belgian Croix de Guerre (with palm) for photographic work to help the Belgian resistance.
After two successful operating tours, and with the war ending, Jerry was posted to India to command the No. 34 Squadron at Palam, Delhi. After the partition of India he joined No. 80 Squadron in Germany, still flying Spitfires, but in a tactical role. Then followed a period as a regular officer with No. 613 (City of Manchester) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and two and a half years in Greece with the RAF Mission. Twelve months at the Staff College at RAF Bracknell preceded various staff appointments at Fighter Command and RAF HQ in Germany.
In 1963, Jerry took early retirement and for several years was involved in management training with the British Productivity Council in London. It was at this time that he began his masonic career. By all accounts an enthusiastic Freemason, Jerry was initiated into the Daedalus Lodge, No. 3843, in 1963. He joined the Pegasus Lodge, No. 5637, in 1965, where he was installed as the Worshipful Master in 1979. Jerry finally retired to Somerset in 1981. Becoming Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1985, he was appointed London Grand Rank in 1990 before being promoted to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1991 and to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 1999.
Just two years after his interview had been published, Squadron Leader Jerry Fray died on 26 June 2003. He had lived long enough to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Dambusters and his remarkable flight over the Ruhr valley. Ten years later, his contribution to the war effort still resonates in an evocative series of black and white photographs that were captured at first light on that May morning. ‘The whole valley of the river was inundated with only patches of high ground and the tops of trees and church steeples showing above the flood,’ said Jerry in the final remarks of the newspaper interview, ‘I was overcome by the immensity of it.’
Freemasonry Today would like to thank Squadron Leader Bob Chevin, Buckinghamshire Past Provincial Grand Charity Steward and Past Senior Grand Deacon, for his help in putting this piece together, and the RAF Museum London, for letting us access its archives.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - No. 21 Spring 2013
We were fascinated to read your article in the winter 2012 edition about Jerry Fray. Except for the mention of London Grand Rank, the article left out, in particular, that he joined Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, No. 2094, in 1973, was Master in 1979, was a key player in achieving the lodge’s centenary in 1985, including writing the lodge history during a period (1980-1990) when its continuing existence was very precarious, and Master again in 1986.
He attended regularly thereafter as DC, until the day after our December meeting in 1995 when he suffered a stroke. Even so, he was back in post with a ‘runner’ the following October. We made him an honorary member in 1998. He last attended in December 2001, although he had not long before suffered another, less serious, stroke.
Charles Brookes, Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, No. 2094, London
Although currently unable to be a frequent attender to my own Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, I too was surprised that we were not mentioned in the newspaper report, although naturally bow to the fact that Jerry Fray wrote his own obituary.
However, there may be some small interest in my writing that once, at the Festive Board following a lodge meeting, I was able to discuss elements of his photo reconnaissance participation in the Dambusters’ raid with him.
I recall Jerry advising that he flew over the dams on several occasions prior to the raid, including the day before and again the day after. Upon returning to his home base, the film from his cameras would be quickly processed and (after his PR Spitfire was refuelled) he then flew copies directly onwards to the then RAF Spitalgate at Grantham. He would then deliver them personally to the Dams Project team with the great advantage that he was able to describe exactly what he had seen only the briefest of time before.
Jerry mentioned that he had been able to keep copies of the photographs and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to seeing these, should a book of his life come to fruition.
If interested to know why this was of particular interest to me, then I shall add that not only did I fly at RAF Spitalgate as an RAF Air Cadets gliding instructor, but I also served as a Territorial Army officer for many years at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks (formerly RAF Spitalgate), Grantham – so have always been pleased to think that I had, in one sense, shared the airspace with men of such sterling qualities as Jerry Fray.
Edward G Waite-Roberts, Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, No. 2094, London
Why does masonic regalia end up on eBay? Director of Special Projects John Hamill puts it down to a lack of family communication and lodge support
Old habits die hard. For many years, for professional reasons, I used to visit antique shops, markets and boot sales to see if there were any masonic items on offer. These days I periodically surf the masonic section of eBay. What was, and still is, available was usually fairly modern standard regalia and jewels mainly for the Craft but occasionally the Royal Arch or other orders. I always found it sad that what was once a brother’s treasured possession should end up on a market stall or car boot sale. Thinking about it I came to the conclusion that two main factors were at play. First was the excessive privacy of our members who never discussed their Freemasonry with their wives or families. When they died, unless they had made provision in their wills for the disposal of their regalia, the family were left wondering who it actually belonged to, whether or not it had been on loan and what they should or could do with it.
The lack of communication between family members became very apparent in the 1980s and 1990s when, as part of the openness policy, I took part in many phone-in programmes on national and local radio. On virtually every occasion someone would come on line and say that they had been sorting out the effects of a relative and had discovered a small case containing regalia and medals – what should they do with it?
The second factor was a group who should have been available to advise widows and families: the lodge almoners. It has to be said that for too long the office of almoner was seen in many lodges as a token act or sinecure to keep a Past Master in the team and on the list of officers. Before the introduction of the office of Charity Steward, many almoners believed that their role was to persuade the members to support the masonic charities, the lodge benevolent fund and the Master’s list. There were undoubtedly good almoners who did excellent work in looking after the welfare of their members and the widows and dependants of former members, but the majority tended to be reactive rather than proactive.
Reversing the trend
When the Craft came under intense scrutiny in the 1980s and 1990s for the first time in generations, we were forced to look at ourselves and our relevance in society. To the dismay of many it became apparent that we were not quite as good as we thought we were in caring for dependants. The central and local masonic charities were doing great work when deserving cases were brought to their attention, but too many were slipping through the net. Almoners were seen as crucial to reversing that situation.
The message soon went out that the office of almoner was not a sinecure but a working office within the lodge. In London and a number of Provinces, seminars and training sessions were introduced, the central masonic charities became involved and began to organise meetings in the Provinces to make almoners aware of what support was available and how they could tap into it. That process culminated in the introduction of the office of Grand Almoner at Metropolitan, Provincial and District level. They act as liaison with the charities and organise the work of lodge almoners within their areas. As so often in Freemasonry, lack of communication was part of the problem. Now there are good lines of communication and support and fewer should slip through the net.
Change takes time to percolate through, but I look forward to the day when I can go on eBay and not be saddened by entry after entry showing what are clearly the masonic effects of a former member.
Letters to the editor - No. 21 Spring 2013
John Hamill’s Reflection and your article on dementia care were both impressive and thought provoking, but I believe there is one area where lodge almoners can provide real benefit, especially for our elder brethren and widows.
It never ceased to amaze me in my years as a lodge almoner how many of those with real needs were unaware of the benefits from the state to that they were entitled, which could make a real difference to their well-being. Because of my background in financial advice, I have been able to help a number of lodge members and widows who have care needs. Attendance Allowance is worth £51.85 per week if help is required during the day, and £77.45 per week if help is required day and night. This money makes a tremendous difference and is not means tested nor taxable. Additionally, it may entitle some to increases in other benefits such as Pension Credit.