Lodge Naval and Military No. 848 [2]

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Outline History

The Charter of the Lodge is dated 6th May, 1897, and it met originally in Zetland Hall, Ice House Street, Hong Kong. The first R.W.M. was Bro. T. Spafford who had previously been the W.M. of United Service Lodge No. 1341 E.C., Hong Kong, in 1895.

The Lodge was instituted for the benefit of the Services and local Government Officers.

In 1905 the Lodge moved from Zetland Hall, together with other Scottish Masonic Bodies, and met until 1922 in the old Seamen’s Institute in Kowloon. Although this move was originally made because of economic factors, the Lodge flourished in its new surroundings, which, in addition to the Temple also provided a Club and Billiard room for the use of the Brethren. There is still one resident member of the Lodge in the Colony who attended meetings at the Seamen’s Institute, namely, Bro. A. Gillard.

In the year 1922 the owners of the Zetland Hall property in Hong Kong decided to hand over the property to a Board of Trustees consisting of representatives from each Craft Lodge in the District. As a result the Lodge returned once more to Hong Kong, where it operated smoothly until the outbreak of war on 8th December, 1941.

During the war years Zetland Hall was reduced to rubble by shelling and was thoroughly looted. Eleven of the Lodge Brethren lost their lives during this period as a result of either the hostilities, or internment. Another great loss to the Lodge was the destruction of the Lodge Records and Minutes, of which no trace could be found after Liberation Day.

The war years did not dampen the enthusiasm of the interned Brethren however and the spirit of Masonry was kept alive by several informal meetings of brethren confined in the Stanley P.0W. Camp. Other Camps in the Colony were not so fortunate-in those camps restrictions precluded any attempt by Brethren to meet.

The Brethren who managed to hold these informal meetings under the eyes of the Japanese in the Stanley Camp included Bros. A. Tarbuck, R. Cunningham, W. H. Bailey, J. N. Fitzgerald, S. Eccleshall and ten other Brethren.

Some delay was experienced in opening the Lodge after the re-occupation of the Colony by the British Fleet on 30th August, 1945, and in fact it was reported to Grand Lodge on the 21st March 1946 that only five brethren of the Lodge were in the Colony, namely, Bro. A. Gillard, A. Tarbuck, A. Gillott, E. C. Philpott and W. C. Higgs, but within a few months a sufficient number of brethren had returned to the Colony and the Lodge was able to hold its first regular meeting on 2nd October, 1946.

Meetings after the re-occupation were first held in temporary premises at 11 Ice House Street, Hong Kong. These premises were later demolished and a new Masonic Hall in rented premises at King’s Building, Hong Kong, was consecrated on 14th January, 1948.

On the 30th January, 1950, the new Zetland Hall, situated at 1 Kennedy Road, Hong Kong, was consecrated and the Lodge moved into its new home where all its meetings are now held.

The tragic loss of the Lodge’s Records during the World War II has done much to cloud the highlights of the Lodge’s earlier days and only those events which survive in living memory can be recounted with any accuracy.

In the year 1932, Bro. E. J. Edward, who had been a popular Master of the Lodge in 1913 and 1927, was installed as R.W. District Grand Master.

Similarly, Bro. J. M. McLeod, who occupied the chair of the Lodge in 1915, was installed as D.G.M. Substitute in the year 1929. Other P.M’s who held office as D.G.M. Substitute were W. J. Burley (1940 and 1947) and A. Bailey (1955).

An interesting ceremony was performed in the Lodge in 1940 when the then presiding Master, Bro. H. J. Millington, initiated his three sons, Harry, Victor and Leslie.

Two of the oldest surviving members of the Lodge are Bros. J. A. Gibbons and H. J. Loder who were Masters of the Lodge in the years 1923 and 1918 respectively. Both these brethren still correspond with each other in England. Bro. Loder also has the distinction of having one of the candidates whom he initiated in 1918 still in office in the Lodge, namely, Bro. A. Gillard, P.M., Hon. G. Marshal, D.G. Tyler.

On Friday, 24th February, 1961, the Lodge was honoured by a visit from the M.W. Grand Master Mason, Bro. The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Eglinton & Winton, T.D., V.L., B.A. and the R.W. Grand Secretary, Bro. A. F. Buchan, M.B.E., B.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.S.E. The M.W. Grand Master Mason installed the Master Elect of the Lodge, Bro. Ong Teong Seng, and expressed his great joy in having the privilege of installing a Chinese Brother into the Chair of the Lodge.