Readers may remember Denis Eggleton of Athelstan Lodge No.6469, which meets at Fern Avenue Masonic Centre, who was recently recognised by Northumberland Freemasons for his 60 years of uninterrupted service in the Craft
Little did we know at the time, but Denis is one of the last remaining surviving veterans who had served at Scapa Flow during the Second World War. In addition to this fact, Denis had also recently returned from visiting the location 80 years after first landing in Orkney, to commemorate all those who had served during the two world wars. Denis was 18 years old when he was stationed at Scapa Flow, as a Leading Aircraftsman, as part of an RAF Wireless Communications Unit assisting the British Navy.
During the trip, organised by Lincolnshire philanthropist Harold Payne, who set up his charity to take veterans and their relatives to areas where they had previously served, members of the Royal Oak Association laid bouquets of red roses in the waters of Scapa Beach to commemorate all who had served, along with 850 roses being scattered above the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, which was sunk in October 1939.
Denis remembers, at the time of his tour, there were a number of trawlers flying barrage balloons helping to protect the vast fleet. He also remembers one evening he saw two battleships, one the Prince of Wales and the other a battle cruiser, near to the coast, which was a little unusual. When he finished his shift the next day they had gone. He later found out that they had sailed to their death as they were heading East and the Japanese subsequently sunk them.
Once again Denis, Northumberland Freemasons salute you Sir, not only for your service to the Craft but for the service you have given to your country.