Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Freemasonry and the British Army

Yesterday I had the honour to deliver a talk entitled FREEMASONRY AND THE BRITISH ARMY to one of the newest Masonic Lodges in the UK.

The Combined Services Lodge No.9900 was consecrated on Armistice Day 2014, and yesterday was the Lodge's first normal meeting. The Lodge has been set up by a number of former soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and hopes to recruit new members from both serving and ex-members of the Armed Forces. Judging by what I saw yesterday they are well on their way to achieving that aim, with two ex-servicemen who are already Masons being elected as members at the meeting, and two serving soldiers being proposed for Initiation.

The Lodge very generously gave me a cheque for £25.00 and that is already on its way to the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, which is the charity that is being supported by the Masonic Province of Hertfordshire's current Festival.

When I did the research for this talk it was interesting to see how the history of Freemasonry in the UK from 1660 to 1914 ran in parallel with and was linked to the history of the British Army. The Great War pretty well severed that link, and although there are still a few regimental Lodges in existence, only a couple are still 'travelling' or 'ambulatory' Lodges that move from place to place as the regiment is deployed.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, Bob. I would have enjoyed your talk. Freemasonry was popular in the US during the Civil War and there are many accounts of masons in blue and grey helping one another after battles.
    My sense of Freemasonry in Canada today is that its members are largely elderly. Are you seeing younger people, particularly recently retired or even serving British Army members, attracted to it?
    Cheers,
    Michael

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  2. Michael Peterson,

    As the text of my talk does not contain or refer to any Masonic secrets, I may well add a PDF of it to my blog. That way you - and other interested blog readers - could read it.

    Like the British Army during the mid nineteenth century, membership of Freemasonry was quite common in the United States Army. I know that Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, the commander of the Union troops defending the centre of the line on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, saw his old friend and Masonic brother Brigadier General Lewis Armistead hit and fall just as he got through the Union front line at the head of Pickett's charge. Although he was also badly wounded, Hancock ordered his chief of staff - Captain Henry Harrison Bingham and who was also a Mason - to go to Armistead's aid. Armistead was taken to a nearby field hospital, where his wounds were treated. When Armistead later died of his wounds, Hancock made sure that Armistead's personal belongings were dealt with in accordance with his wishes.

    The Craft in the UK does seem to be greying ... but it is noticeable that there has been a recent upsurge of interest from 40 to 50-year olds, including some serving members of the UK's armed forces. The university scheme, which recruits under-18 students who are undertaking higher education courses, is also booming, so it is by no mean an entirely gloomy picture.

    All the best,

    Bob

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. I'd be interested in reading your PDF Bob if you do decide to post it.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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  4. Did you head off to meet a man at Marwar Junction after.?

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  5. Pete,

    With a bit of luck - and time - the PDF should be available to read later today.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Cyril Walker,

    Would that be going to the East or travelling to the West? And for whose sake would I do it?

    All the best,

    Bob

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