On 10 November 2018 the Victoria Rifles Lodge hosted a special Armistice Centenary meeting in the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, London.
The Worshipful Master presiding was Capt James R Milne R Scots (Retired) and the meeting was attended by over 500 brethren and visitors including the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, the Past Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race and six Provincial Grand Masters.
The centre piece of the meeting was a Vickers machine gun placed on a raised platform in the centre of the hall, manned by four Silent Sentinels, symbolising the moment ‘the guns fell silent’. All the attendees filed in and out past this symbolic tribute, led by seven Chelsea Pensioners, to the tune of ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’. All the Circuit of Service Lodges were represented and their banners were processed into the meeting.
Before the lodge was closed its members voted to donate £9,000 to the Royal Hospital Chelsea Scarlets Appeal and a further £9,000 to Veteran’s Outreach Support.
Actor and guest speaker Simon Callow CBE then commenced with the ‘Sound and Light show’ with readings of renowned war poetry and letters sent between a mother and a son fighting on the Western Front.
The members were then subjected to a sound and light show, with the Vickers gun at its epicentre, resembling an artillery bombardment. The barrage increased in noise and intensity becoming a completely immersive 360-degree experience. A flash and bang emanated from the gun, signalling an eerie silence and from the ceiling of the Grand Temple, a cascade of poppy petals floated gently from above.
Following the formal Act of Remembrance including The Last Post, Two Minute Silence, Reveille and Dedication, the Circuit Banners fell in and after the bugle call of ‘Men to Meal’ there was a recession in silence led by the Silent Sentinels.
As the Brethren filed out, they were each invited to place a poppy next to the machine gun as a personal tribute to the fallen. This remarkable meeting further consolidated the powerful bond that exists between English Freemasonry and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
On the following day, Remembrance Sunday, over 40 members of Circuit of Service Lodges participated in the official ‘March Past’ at the Cenotaph in Central London, each wearing armbands that attested to their membership.
Lest we Forget.