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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The FREEMASONS


johnboy
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I have never heard of them recruiting or raising battalions, and as they are a rather 'private' organisation I would think it unlikely that they would go public, although it would be consistent of them to raise money for worthwhile causes as they still do, it is likely that many of those causes would have been war related such as orphans, widows wounded veterans etc.. I have however seen a number of "Masonic Jewels" with a Great War clasp, and I have been told that there were Masonic Lodges that held meetings while on active service.

khaki

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For a fictional parallel you might look at Kipling's Madonna of the Trenches (I think that's the story) and others in 'Debits & Credits.' Unfortunately I haven't yet found any commentaries on these stories that relates them to actual Freemasonry engagement in the GW. Their HQ is not far off Kingsway in London and I'd be surprised if they didn't have an archivist.

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Having spent many many hours at the library and museum of freemasonry at Great Queens Street researching freemasonry in the Great War perhaps i can assist.

My comments are in blue below

I have never heard of them recruiting or raising battalions.... I have found no evidence of this. .....they are a rather 'private' organisation I would think it unlikely that they would go public. It may surprise you how open and public they now are. Non-Masons are welcome to research in their archives. I have been told that there were Masonic Lodges that held meetings while on active service. Almost true, Masonic gatherings were held overseas especialy the New Zealand freemasons who had a France & Flanders masonic association as well as a Palestine association during the war. In addition masonic meetings were held in POW camps.

khaki

I'd be surprised if they didn't have an archivist. There are a number of staff in the library & museum of freemasonry at Great Queens street and the catalogue is searchable on line via their website

Andy

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I am sure the Freemasons did not raise any unit, but some regiments had a strong Masonic membership and might have encouraged other Masons to join.....I think the nearest you will get is the 1st King Edward's Horse (The King's Overseas Dominions Regiment) which had a very strong Masonic representation. It formed its own lodge in 1909 (King's Colonials Lodge No.3386) which still remains the custodian of the Regiment's property and silver. The Regiment was disbanded in 1924.

MG.

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A Masonic Battalion would have been a gift for a Monty Python sketch

I agree. The Kamikaze Highlanders training sketch is forever etched into my memory. I seriously thought I was going to die laughing. Segue into 'No Time Toulouse' IIRC.

Cheers,

Simon

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I know that the Freemasons in Florence organised the escape and hiding of Allied Officers in WW2 and were heavily engaged in intelligence with the British. They were likely the same in WW1.

H.

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Having spent many many hours at the library and museum of freemasonry at Great Queens Street researching freemasonry in the Great War perhaps i can assist.

My comments are in blue below

Andy

Your pm inbox looks like it is full. Tried to pm you with a question a bit off-topic.

John

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Your pm inbox looks like it is full. Tried to pm you with a question a bit off-topic.

Sorry John

I have had a clear out & made some room

Andy

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I know that the Freemasons in Florence organised the escape and hiding of Allied Officers in WW2 and were heavily engaged in intelligence with the British. They were likely the same in WW1.

There is quite a difference between the two wars as far as freemasonry is concerned.

United Grand Lodge of England communication, 02 June 1915

“In order to prevent the peace and harmony of freemasonry being disturbed, it is necessary that all brethren of Germanic, Austrian, Hungarian or Turkish birth should not, during the continuance of war, attend any meeting”.

United Grand Lodge of England communication, 01 December 1915

Withdrawl of recognition of the Grand Lodge of Germany.

Instruction issued to all lodges “That on the termination of the war each Lodge be required to examine the cases of all members who are of German birth, to refuse permission to such members to resume attendance at Lodge, unless the resumption of such attendance is approved by unanimous vote of all the other members of the Lodge, to call upon all members of German birth, the resumption of whose attendance is not approved, to resign, and, failing resignation, to forthwith exclude such members from its membership"

During the second war (sorry if off topic) freemasons of all nationalities were treated as enemies by the Nazi Party and found themselves in concentration camps.

Andy

Edited by Ice Tiger 21:14, 11/08/13

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The Masonic quotes above are not masonic in spirit, but reflects the times of course.

As it is an individual stance, no battalions. Kipling has caught the spirit well, the "Janeites" is in an similar spirit.

Lot of Jewels to be found with WWI groups.

"We met upon the level, and parted on the square"

Fraternal greetings!

Lars

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There is quite a difference between the two wars as far as freemasonry is concerned.

United Grand Lodge of England communication, 02 June 1915

“In order to prevent the peace and harmony of freemasonry being disturbed, it is necessary that all brethren of Germanic, Austrian, Hungarian or Turkish birth should not, during the continuance of war, attend any meeting”.

United Grand Lodge of England communication, 01 December 1915

Withdrawl of recognition of the Grand Lodge of Germany.

Instruction issued to all lodges “That on the termination of the war each Lodge be required to examine the cases of all members who are of German birth, to refuse permission to such members to resume attendance at Lodge, unless the resumption of such attendance is approved by unanimous vote of all the other members of the Lodge, to call upon all members of German birth, the resumption of whose attendance is not approved, to resign, and, failing resignation, to forthwith exclude such members from its membership"

During the second war (sorry if off topic) freemasons of all nationalities were treated as enemies by the Nazi Party and found themselves in concentration camps.

Andy

Edited by Ice Tiger 21:14, 11/08/13

Thanks Andy. i had not realised there was such a difference between the wars. I know of two people whose lives were saved by Freemasons in Italy.

H

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The Masonic quotes above are not masonic in spirit, but reflects the times of course.

Lars

How very true Lars.

A short piece I wrote for a recent assignment - Ok not that short; but short as far as assignments go ;)

This essay examines the dictates and actions of the governing body of English Freemasonry, the United Grand Lodge of England, during the Great 1914–1919 War and questions whether their actions were in keeping with the principles and tenets of Freemasonry. For the purpose of this essay all masonic ritual referenced will be Emulation Ritual. Whilst other United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) approved rituals existed during the period of 1914-1919, the major variances between the rituals are found in their wording rather than the meaning of their words.

When a man is initiated into freemasonry he is told that freemasonry is an extended fraternal society, “the branches of which are spread over the four quarters of the globe”.(1) Later in the same initiation ceremony he is also charged with the responsibility of “relieving the necessities and soothing the afflictions” of his neighbour.(2) Both of these are basic tenets of freemasonry as freemasonry is a moral society built on a moral and ethical approach to life through the application of integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.(3)

The 1914 UGLE Book of Constitutions clearly instructs freemasons to “respect other freemasons” (known individually as brothers and collectively as brethren) and if a brother is found in want they are to relieve them”.(4) No reference is made to any relevance of brothers nationality or country of birth in the 1914 constitution.

On 27th March 1915, following the declaration of war on Germany by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (4 August 1914), UGLE passed a resolution ensuring that no member of a lodge under their jurisdiction could be penalised for the non-payment of their subscription fees due to being engaged in military service. The non-payment of a brother’s UGLE subscription would normally have forced their exclusion from their lodge.(5)

On 2nd June 1915, UGLE issued instructions to all British freemasons regarding freemasons who had been born in enemy countries. The instruction applied to all freemasons attending masonic meetings held under the jurisdiction of UGLE. This instruction became part of masonic law by way of a resolution stating that “In order to prevent the peace and harmony of freemasonry being disturbed, it is necessary that all brethren of Germanic, Austrian, Hungarian or Turkish birth should not, during the continuance of war, attend any meeting”. The instruction went on to state that it applied to “all meetings of Grand Lodge, Provincial Grand Lodge and any Freemason’s Lodge” under the control of UGLE.(6)

On 15 August 1915 UGLE received a letter from Worshipful Brother (W’Bro) Percy Hull; the senior freemason being held in Ruhleben (Spandau) Prisoner of War Camp, Germany. In this letter W’Bro Hull stated that there were excess of 200 freemasons interred in the camp and approximately 170 were in “very reduced circumstances as they received few parcels from England and any help Grand lodge may extend would be most opportune”.(7) This letter resulted in UGLE writing on 15 August 1915 to every lodge in its jurisdiction asking them to donate money, via the UGLE Grand Treasurer, to assist in alleviating the distress of these freemasons. The response by individual lodges to this UGLE appeal resulted in £6769, 15s being received by the Grand Treasurer prior to December 1915. This money was subsequently spent on the procurement of food and “personal comfort” parcels with each of the prisoners receiving 3 parcels during the following 18 month period.(8)

The Secretary of Chatsworth lodge wrote to UGLE in December 1917 requesting a new set piece of unofficial ritual be added to the end of their meetings in order to honour the brethren from their lodge who had been killed or wounded in the war. This would also include their brethren who were currently serving the country. The proposal asked that the Secretary of Chatsworth lodge be authorised to read out the names and rank of eligible brothers followed by a prayer commending all those named to the care of God; identified in the prayer as the Almighty & Supreme Governor of the Universe. UGLE granted their request even though the words they proposed were specific to Chatsworth lodge and not an official addition to agreed ritual observed by all other lodges.(9)

A further UGLE resolution (01 December 1915) declared the withdrawal of UGLE recognition of the Grand Lodge of Germany and instructed lodges “That on the termination of the war each Lodge be required to examine the cases of all members who are of German birth, to refuse permission to such members to resume attendance at Lodge, unless the resumption of such attendance is approved by unanimous vote of all the other members of the Lodge, to call upon all members of German birth, the resumption of whose attendance is not approved, to resign, and, failing resignation, to forthwith exclude such members from its membership”. (10)

The examples given above clearly demonstrate the UGLE support of the tenets of English freemasonry during the Great 1914-1919 War in some areas; relieving the necessity of the brethren in Ruhleben Prisoner of War camp, an acceptance of non-payment of fees for brethren serving their country and the agreement for unofficial ritual to be added to Chatsworth lodge’s meetings. In contrast to this a clear deviation away from the constitutional creed has also been demonstrated in other areas; the exclusion of brethren born in enemy countries, withdrawal of recognition of the Grand Lodge of Germany and the refusing of post war re-attendance to brethren born in enemy countries; without the unanimous agreement of the other members of their lodge. No reason for this dichotomy of actions has been uncovered during this research; although it is worth noting that all the evidence offered followed the then political climate of the United Kingdom and was in keeping with the general public opinion of the time.(11) On examining all the evidence presented it is my finding that UGLE attempted to balance the tenets of freemasonry with popular public opinion to varying degrees of success when measured against the principles and tenets of their constitution.

It may surprise some people but all my masonic research for the above was from freely available documents which are open to non-masons in the United Grand Lodge of England, library and museum of freemasonry, Great Queens Street, London.

References can be supplied should anyone wish

Andy

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There is no doubt that individual and groups of Freemasons played active parts in both World Wars but the question was about them raising significant bodies of troops and the answer seems to have been no they didn't.

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As you correctly point out the OP question has been answered in posts 4 & 7.

I am sorry that you seem to find my providing additional information on the subject unnecessary. It wouldn't be much of a discussion forum if all posts consisted of a question, an answer and no further discussion.

Andy

Edited by Keith Roberts
discourtesy removed.
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There is no doubt that individual and groups of Freemasons played active parts in both World Wars but the question was about them raising significant bodies of troops and the answer seems to have been no they didn't.

I think I will wait a little longer before deciding if the question has been answered. I did say that I asked it out of curiosity and others are prepared to spend their time and expand on it ,

Thanks to all the other posters who have freely given of thier time without reproach.

Edited by Keith Roberts
lack of courtesy removed.
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I'm all for adding extra information to threads, even if the original question has been answered, especially ones with a definite title. Any search, now, for " Freemason " should take you to this thread, and any WW1 related Freemason information has to be useful to someone?

Mike

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Suspending my innate (and probably inane) sense of fun for a few minutes, in deference to the OP and the spirit of the thread: To the first part of the original question, the answer is no. The second part is altogether more complicated and very interesting. Adding to Andy's interesting assignment piece, UGLE passed a dictate in 1915 that'...all Brethren of German, Austrian, Hungarian or Turkish birth' were required to cease attending Lodges under UGLE jurisdiction for the duration. However, when one lodge permanently excluded a German member because 'in [his] heart he hoped Germany would win', UGLE removed the Warrant of the lodge in question on the basis that it had broken the Constitutional rules of the Craft in excluding a member without sufficient cause. Masonry Universal; Awkward. The Lodge did not regain its warrant until after hostilities ceased. In these circumstances it should have been impossible for UGLE to directly support battalions in the field or supply munitions, equipment or support at home. I would put my own fiver on the fact that many lodges did just that on a private basis.

Cheers,

Simon

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I have read that British POW's were in contact with Grand Lodge . I assume these were men from different lodges who 'found' each other . I gather that Churchill, Haig and Kitchener were freemasons. And the King of course.

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I have read that British POW's were in contact with Grand Lodge . I assume these were men from different lodges who 'found' each other . I gather that Churchill, Haig and Kitchener were freemasons. And the King of course.

King George V was not a Freemason. The other three were.

Cheers,

Simon.

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