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Remembered Today:

Freemasons as POWs


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A good friend told me her grandfather was an officer in the Great War was wounded then captured by the Germans in 1916 (?). Before he was taken away, the german officer came up to him and flipped over the lapel of his prisoner's jacket and saw a freemason's pin. He apparently received better treatment than the other POWs because of it. Have any of the pals here heard similar stories?

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I am sure there is a book on Freemasonry in the PoW camps. Unfortunately I did not record the title or author (I did not buy it either which I now a regret!)

Doug

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I am sure there is a book on Freemasonry in the PoW camps. Unfortunately I did not record the title or author (I did not buy it either which I now a regret!)

Doug

Doug. Could this the book "Masonic Activities of Prisoners of War" Bro A R Hewitt. there is also one by Robert M Walker "Masons as POW"

Cheers Rob.

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stephen p nunn
A good friend told me her grandfather was an officer in the Great War was wounded then captured by the Germans in 1916 (?). Before he was taken away, the german officer came up to him and flipped over the lapel of his prisoner's jacket and saw a freemason's pin. He apparently received better treatment than the other POWs because of it. Have any of the pals here heard similar stories?

There is an interesting section on Freemasonry among Prisoners-of-War on page 253 of Fred Pick and Norman Knight's 'The Pocket History of Freemasonry' (1953). Lodges 'Hospitality' and 'William of Orange' were actually warranted for British internees in Holland in 1915 and 1918. I can well imagine a level of acknowlegement by brethern under such circumstances.

Regards.

SPN

Maldon

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Doug

I'ts a bit far for you to travel so write to the Museum, United Grand Lodge of England, Great Queens Street, London. Be as detailed as you can in regard to what you are looking for. All the contact details for the library & museum are on their website HERE

If there are any specific documents you want transcribed let me know & I will try to do it for you. Unfortunately they don't allow photographs of the documents & not all are suitable for photocopy.

Andy

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Thanks for the link Aaron, I had a quick read and it looks like that, apart from Ruhleben where the activities are fairly well known and a list of names etc are in FO383, and the ones in internment, nothing is known about activities in any other camp. The mens camps would have been a very difficult environment to conduct any type of activity. The lack of a stable contingent in the camps due to labour activity, the constant movement of PoWs about various camps together with few facilities would make it almost impossible. I would have though that something would have emerged in the officer's camps though.

Ruhleben was different in that the population was relatively stable. Hewitt seemed surprised to note that several of the inmates were from Germany which indicates a slight lack of understanding as to what Ruhleben and internment were all about. It would be interesting to see who these Masons were to see if any group of them was prominent in the political in-fighting that went on in 1914-15.

Doug

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Of course, being a Freemason POW in WW2 might not have been an advantage.

Edwin

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stephen p nunn
Of course, being a Freemason POW in WW2 might not have been an advantage.

Edwin

Yes - you are right - quite the contrary. They ended up in concentration camps. This was when the forget-me-not came into being I believe but that is another story and another war!

Regards.

SPN

Maldon

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A visit to the museam at Great Queen Street shows that those captured and kept at Chiangi in WW2 made their own Masonic emblems, and risked death at the hands of the Japanese when holding clandestine meetings.

I can't believe that officers interned in Holland in the Great War wouldn't have done much the same.

Bruce

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Yes - you are right - quite the contrary. They ended up in concentration camps. This was when the forget-me-not came into being I believe but that is another story and another war!

Regards.

SPN

Maldon

I have a original forget-me-not German origin given to a fellow member of my lodge by a German officer in France after his capture. Will try and find it and take picture and post it.

Dan

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......Will try and find it and take picture and post it.

Dan

Dan

Please do, I for one would love to see it

Andy

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stephen p nunn
I have a original forget-me-not German origin given to a fellow member of my lodge by a German officer in France after his capture. Will try and find it and take picture and post it.

Dan

Great stuff.

Best regards.

SPN

Maldon

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I have now read the section in Pick and Knight which echoes Hewitt in the two Dutch Lodges, one founded in 1915 associated with the RND and one in 1918 by exchanged internees. Also mentioned is the founding of a Chapter founded there in 1916. All three moved to London after the war. No mention of any other activity in any other area. I would be surprised if there was no activity in Switzerland amongst the internees. More is know about WW2 possibly because the secrecy surrounding the events became more relaxed whilst there were still enough survivors to relate the events. Pick and Knight mention Ailwyn Lodge 3535, amongst others, issuing introduction cards to serving soldiers in the Great War for use overseas, printed in English, French, Italian, German and Arabic.

The past secrecy surrounding this subject is similar to the secrecy surrounding homosexual activity which makes them very difficult subjects to research.

In answer to Sean's original question there is a comment in Pick and Knight "..in the heat of battle Freemasons have been willing to spare their enemies whom they found to be in the craft..."

Doug

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