Victory Lodge No.4189 celebrated their Centenary Anniversary which was attended by V.W Bro Nicholas Ball, Deputy PGM, and a good number of Provincial Officers.
There have been many Lodge histories written celebrating centenary achievements. Many have concentrated on the Masonic events experienced by individual members: photographs of Past Masters and Brethren, Long Service Certificates awarded, details of numerous laudable charitable donations and a myriad of notable achievements within the Province and at Grand Lodge.
In this condensed history of the Lodge reference is made to the reasons behind its formation & naming and focus on several personal stories of sacrifice experienced during the Second World War, as recorded in the Register. Those fallen Brethren, referred to later, reminds us of those qualities of every Mason in pursuing Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. We shall never forget. The significance of the Great War was important in explaining the Nationwide growth of Masonic Lodges. Indeed this was arguably instrumental in the naming rationale for this Lodge. Victory in the Great War! Victory Lodge was borne on solid foundations and consolidated its position within the Province throughout the second half of the twentieth century. It has adapted to the gradual change in demographics and embraced the continued development of Freemasonry, finding it’s place in the online world of the internet, email and social media, as well as family and work dynamics.
The core values and beliefs practiced by the Founders of Victory Lodge are as relevant today as they have always been. Today’s subscribing members can look back with pride at those who first met 100 years ago, rest assured they will remain the same as those who will meet at Victory Lodge No.4189 100 years hence.
Personal experiences (of brethren) obtained in the ‘theatres of war’, including travel and of course the bonds of comradeship formed during the trauma of conflict, played a significant part in the personal journeys of many Freemasons.
Victory Lodge moved from one location to another; experienced membership issues like all Lodges, suffered losses and witnessed three changes in circumstances but endures. The Lodge stands in a position of strength and remains determined to see harmony and peace continue in perpetuity.
In May 1920 the Worshipful Master of Huyshe Lodge No.1099 together with his Wardens and following the approval of the majority of Members present, certified that a petition for a new Lodge was ‘recommended for favourable consideration of the Most Worshipful Grand Master’. Following that meeting Bro Scobie, the Secretary Pro Tem. formally wrote to W Bro H. Stocker, the Provincial Grand Secretary, outlining the reasoning behind the request to form a new Lodge and sought his support.
The letter highlighted that there appeared to be no alternative but to seek the formation of a ‘daughter Lodge’ (to be held on another night) in order to resolve the issues raised. Simply put this decision was based on the following:-
- Congestion (within the building) resulted in many of Brethren being turned away or not attending meetings. • There was insufficient room for Candidates to walk around the Temple
- Greater comfort for the Brethren was sought
- The refectory was too small
- Sanitary arrangements were insufficient
Bro Scobie highlighted that the seating within the temple was sixty. The average attendance was 120. The number of subscribing members was some 320 with at least 18 awaiting their Initiation.
The petition stated that the name to be used was “The Victory Lodge” and to seek that a Warrant of Constitution be conferred empowering the Lodge to meet at The Huyshe Masonic Hall Devonport on the First Tuesday in every month. The first Worshipful Master was nominated as being W Bro. Page, a Past Master and a Past Provincial Grand Treasurer for Devonshire.
A Lodge name is important. It reflects the thoughts held at the time of consecration; the locality or specific places; significant events; special interests; notable people or particular Masonic virtues. When researching the origin of the name ‘Victory Lodge’ Peter Aitkenhead, Assistant Librarian at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry provided the most plausible reason for the name. Petition papers submitted often lacked any reasoning as to the name put forward. When asked, Peter replied, “In the case of your Lodge, although there is nothing filed with the petition, I think it is likely that the name is one of many similar ones proposed in the years following victory in the First World War.” It is logical therefore that any representative picture associated with ‘victory’ should be that of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Indeed it is depicted on the Past Master’s Jewel and also features in the Lodge banner and other correspondence.
The Consecration ceremony was conducted on 8th February 1921. Victory Lodge was to move into Davie Freemansons Hall on a more permanent basis in 1925 and remained there until a brief spell at Queen Victoria Masonic Hall in St Budeaux, returning to Davie Hall in 1986, where the Lodge continues to meet today.
An examination of the professions and employment makeup of its members does not reflect one particular type of work classification or grouping but enjoys a diverse employment and socio-economic base spanning the work spectrum. There were shopkeepers; publicans; retired law enforcement officers; factory workers; educational staff and many self-employed entrepreneurs as well as a number who worked in Devonport dockyard. One specific group are those who made the sea their occupation. They have, over the years, formed a significant element in the Lodge membership. It is to these particular Brethren, transported from their Lodge to perform their duty to King and Country, in these particular cases, by serving with the Royal Navy. It is these, tragic, stories that are described here. The only entry made in the Lodge Register following initiation, passing and raising was that of having their names ruled through in red, with a few words noted as a reason for leaving. The simple annotation “lost at sea” or “killed in action” is forever recorded.
Recognition is given here to those Members who between 1939 and 1945 had their names ‘ruled through in red.’
A closer investigation of the parts played by Brothers Horne, Johnson, Day and Horrell, record their personal sacrifice, reaching beyond the single line entry in the Lodge Register and reflected in this Nations eventual victory in 1945.
Brother Charles William Horne & HM Submarine Thetis.
Charles was a subscribing member of Victory Lodge. He was initiated on 2nd March 1928 and raised later that year. A few months before the commencement of hostilities in September 1939 the Royal Navy took HMS Thetis, a new T-Class design submarine for torpedo sea- trials in Liverpool Bay. He was an ‘Engine Fitter’ and was part of the Admiralty Officers on board on 1st June. The submarine sank following technical problems and the crew remained trapped for a number of hours. Only four survivors were recovered from a compliment of over 100. The Lodge General Register recorded his death simply as “Drowned H M .... Submarine The.... 1-6-...”
Brother William Edward JOHNSON & HMS Courageous
William Johnson was Initiated into Freemasonry and Victory Lodge on 28th April 1933 aged 34. He was a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. The register was updated to show that on Sunday 17th September 1939, a month into the war, Brother Johnson was drowned at sea following the loss of the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous, torpedoed by the German submarine U29.
Brother Michael James Wilfred DAY & HMS Gloucester
Brother Michael Day was initiated into Freemasonry and Victory Lodge No.4189 in December 1929. He was Raised a few months later. The register shows his profession as a Chief Petty Officer. The entry records Brother Michael as having died adding the note: “Missing since 24-5-41 from HMS Gloucester during Crete battle”. One thing is clear, Brother Day would have been directly involved in the desperate defence of HMS Gloucester against aerial bombardment.
Henry James HORRELL & HMS Hecla
Brother Henry Horrell became a joining member of Victory Lodge No.4189 on 12th February 1935, aged 29. He was a non-commissioned officer in his Majesty’s Navy aboard HMS Hecla, a Destroyer Tender. During the night of 11th November 1942, HMS Hecla, sailing off the coast of Africa, was attacked and sunk with torpedoes fired from the German submarine U-515. 289 of the 850 crew and other military passengers were killed or listed as missing, presumed killed. One of those Missing Presumed Killed, was Brother Horrell. The register reads “Missing since Nov. 42. HMS Hecla, presumed to have lost his life on that date i.e. Nov 1942”
As has already been stated Victory Lodge has been and remains a vibrant Lodge. Like many others, membership has been affected by a combination of demographics and the Pandemic. Care taken by Brethren in dealing with this health crisis has protected the Fraternity to a significant level. Grand Lodge decisions made following Government guidance has provided considered and careful assistance to Brethren in when and how to return safely to Freemasonry. What is evident is that many are keen to return to their Lodges, to rekindle brotherly love and to once again enjoy fraternal harmony and peace.
Victory Lodge is a part of this evolution and will be a Masonic beacon for another 100 years.