The History of Lodge St Servanus No. 771

The history of Lodge St Servanus No. 771 by Bro. Gordon N.S. Neave

The Second World War Years 1940-1945

 

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The Second World War Years - 1940-1945

It would be easy to think that during the war years, what with black out, rationing, and the movement from the Island Lodge to the Good Templar Hall, then, the Parish Church Hall, and eventually a return to one's proper home that malaise and a general feeling of why bother would creep into the minds of those responsible for many individual organis­ations, but this was not the case so far as Lodge St. Servanus was concerned. From minutes and records generally this was a very active period.

At a meeting dated 6th February 1940 we learnt of the death of the Reverend Dr. Boyd P.M. who was initiated in 1913. He was the R.W.M. for four years and was for many years the Provincial Chaplain and a man and mason of sterling qualities—his love for his Mother Lodge was such that he left £50 from his estate to Lodge Funds. A brass memorial plaque, to which the Lodge subscribed, is on the communion table in Menstrie Parish Church.

In April 1940 the Halls and Property Committee considered a letter from the Government which offered a total of £91 for the use of the Masonic Lodge for one year. This was not immediately accepted but after consulting Brother John Reed P.M., who for many years had assisted the Lodge in resolving matters appertaining to the law, this offer was accepted. Over a year later the death of Brother John Reed was intimated. He had been a mason for 44 years. The Minute relating to his passing reads as follows "although not an active participant in the Lodge proceedings recently he had always retained a deep and constant interest in its affairs and had rendered his Mother Lodge invaluable assistance in a legal capacity".

An interesting Minute was noted at a Committee Meeting held in October 1940 when the following motion was put forward for approval or otherwise of the members "That this Lodge appoint an Almoner at the Annual Meeting in December". It appears that no Almoner was appointed during the period under review. Around this time too, it was decided that no hospitality would be accepted or extended from or to Sister Lodges while the country was at war.

While accepting that financial matters usually make for pretty dull reading one must accept that no successful organisation can run without having access to funds and Lodge St. Servanus was no exception, consequently let's look at the Lodge's finances as reported in December, 1941. Twelve months ending October 1941 a credit balance of £258-7/2d is reported in the General Fund and there was a credit balance of £114-7/1d in the Benevolent Fund. A cheque for £152-6/3d from the military in September 1941 for the use of the Lodge had swollen the Funds substantially.

Considerable discussion took place at meetings from time to time relating to the "paying off" of part of a 'bond' for £700 which had been taken out when the 'Island' Lodge was originally purchased. This was considerably reduced, however, when sums of £200 on two occasions were paid off between December 1941 and January 1943. It may be appropriate at this point to say how Provincial Grand Lodge on their Annual Visitations regularly commented favourably upon the correctness of the "books" of Lodge St. Servanus and their appreciation of the diligence and competence of successive Lodge Treasurers and Secretaries.

In January 1942 it was decided that Brother Alex. McPhail be honoured on the occasion of his fortieth year as Tyler—he was presented with a wallet and notes in April 1942. Later that year congratulations were extended to him on his being installed as Tyler for a forty first time. Sadly this was his last year in office as his death was intimated in November 1943 and he was the subject of, not surprisingly, a Masonic Funeral. His service to the Lodge was such that it would be wrong to try and précis the remarks made by Brother Wm. Taylor, R.W.M. in the Lodge, after the burial service so here they are in full:-

"Brother McPhail's heart and soul lay in Lodge St. Servanus. I really don't know what he would have done without it to attend to, whatever was asked of him he did willingly. Anything that would be of benefit to this Lodge he did not fail in his duty to do it. Brother McPhail was 84 years of age last Friday and still would have carried on in spite of his years had he been spared to do so. This splendid example of zeal should be an inspiration to all of us. He had always a cheery word for everyone and was held in high esteem by every brother of this Lodge and I have no doubt that his memory will be long cherished by all who knew him and I know it will be in keeping with your thoughts when I ask our Secretary to record this expression of our deepest sympathy in the Minutes and to convey our heartfelt sorrow to his widow at this time of her sad bereavement".

Factually Brother McPhail was initiated in 1897, installed as Tyler in 1901, served under 19 Masters, prepared 722 candidates for Initiation—if there were a Masonic Guinness Book of Records surely 41 continuous years as Tyler would have an entry?

Another death, that of Brother Major John Philp is recorded in a Minute dated 11th May, 1942—Brother Philp was Master on four occasions and he played a big part in our acquiring our present premises. He was initiated in 1895.

Frequently, at meetings, requests were made from Grand Lodge and many Forces Charities to subscribe to this and that fund, all laudable and the Lodge was generous, but it did make a special effort to look after its own and after a series of whist drives, and prize draws it was able to send a postal order for 15/- to every mason serving in H.M. Forces whose Mother Lodge was St. Servanus. Bearing in mind that 15/- was more than a week's wages for a Private soldier in the army and that there were over 50 serving Brethren, this was a most welcome and commendable Christmas present in December, 1943.

From time to time changes have taken place relating to the nights for regular meetings, sometimes when one is in a borrowed Church Hall to accommodate the wishes of the Minister. However the position at the end of this review period is that meetings were held on the first and third Monday of each month.

Other matters of interest during this period was the ability of the Treasurer to pay off the balance due on the buildings bond, a sum of £300. He was able to do this because he had received over £100 from the Military/Government on account of losses incurred from a lockfast room within the Lodge buildings while troops were in occupation of same, plus the very good state of the Lodge's finances.

Application had to be made in September 1944 for the derequisitioning of the Masonic Lodge although a return to working there did not take place until December 1945.

A decision to close the Serving Brethren's Fund was taken as from 31st October 1945 and from that fund everyone received 15/-, thereafter the balance provided a Welcome Home Dinner for the first 40 ex-servicemen, and those not available for such a function, to be entertained at future Lodge Harmonies.

In November 1945 a committee was appointed to carry out renovation work on the Lodge. They were empowered to spend up to £50. On exhaustion of same they would report back to the General Committee for authorisation to spend more—a 'canny' General Committee.

Around this time too, a brother who had not attended a meeting for more than a decade complained in Open Lodge of "the coldness of his welcome". The Master apologised for any slight on his part. Two visitors from Lodge 782 Ben Cleuch vindicated the Master by thanking him for the warm welcome they had received - humane and human are we not?

Office Bearers were led in' by a piper on the 24th December 1945 and the uniqueness of this ceremony caused it to be minuted. A Christmas Eve gesture?

 

The Next Four Years - 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949

 

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