Jimenez Letter

LETTER FROM BRO. JIMENEZ TO THE GRAND LODGE OF SCOTLAND,
WRITTEN ON BOARD THE S.S. "GRIPSHOLM" ON AUGUST 8th, 1942

From Dr. C. Rodriguez J.
Secretary of Lodge Star in the East
640, S.C. of Yokohama, Japan
c/o Venezuelan Foreign Office,
Caracas, Venezuela, South America

/////////On Board the S.S. GRIPSHOLM, August 8th, 1942

Wor. Bro. L. Melrose,
Acting Grand Secretary.
Freemason's Hall
96 George Street.
Edinburgh, 2. England

Dear Sir and Worshipful Brother,

I am instructed by Wor. Bro, Joseph Leroy McSparran, Right Worshipful Master of Lodge "Star in the East" No 640, S.C., to write to you a letter wherewith the Grand Lodge of Scotland could be informed at length of the fate of our Lodge on account of the state of war now existing between Great Britain, the United States and the Japanese Empire.

As you are well aware, for three quarters of a century Free Masonry has enjoyed some sort of unmolested freedom in Japan, through a so called gentlemen's agreement by virtue of which no Japanese subjects could be made members of the Craft. This situation prevailed for many years with the result that lodges in Japan depended entirely for their continuance upon the membership of foreign residents. When the outbreak of the war on December 8th, however, the Japanese military authorities, entirely disregarding the terms of the agreement and without producing or even adducing any arguments or proofs against masonic lodges in Japan nor against their individual members broke in at the Masonic Temple at No 3, Bluff, Yamatecho, Yokohama, as well as at the Corinthian Hall of Kobe, and entering by force into the premises took possession of them, sequestered all our masonic regalia, secretarial records and archives as well as the other personal property inside the Temple. Some of the lodges lost all their important papers and regalia; in the case of Lodge Star in the East 640, the loss sustained at the Masonic Temple was that of the Charter of Constitution and Erection, the Book of Constitution, the Book of Attendance, the Working Tools and like paraphernalia for degree work and meetings. Fortunately, however, it had been my custom to keep all secretarial records except the above mentioned in my house, No 20, Bluff, Yamatecho, taking advantage of the nearness to the temple and in order to facilitate the discharge of my secretarial duties. When the confiscation at the Temple took place, and when later on my own country, Venezuela, broke up diplomatic relations with Japan and I was placed under domiciliary confinement in my home, the diplomatic status I enjoyed by being the Venezuelan Consul General in the Empire, enabled me to save the Lodge records from confiscation although they were placed under official seals without perusal inside a room set aside in my house for the purpose. When six months later I was included in the number of enemy nationals to be evacuated from Japan to Lourenco Marques, and thence to the American continent by the evacuation ship "Gripsholm", my official position prevailed upon the objections of the Japanese authorities and I was able to carry with me without inspection all the secretarial records belonging to Lodge "Star in the East". These archives I have now handed over to the Right Worshipful Master of the Lodge, Wor. Bro. Joseph Leroy McSparran, in accordance with resolution voted and passed by the Lodge at an emergency meeting held today on board ship, the Minutes of which I have now pleasure in sending you for the information of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

With regard to the funds of the Lodge, they were kept at first in a Chartered Bank in Yokohama; when rumors of war spread, our Treasurer received authority to withdraw them from the foreign bank where they were and upon the advice of the Lodge placed them with a Japanese bank, thinking that in view of the non partisan, international character of the Fraternity, also the neutral nationality of most of its members, those funds could escape confiscation in case of war.

The Japanese authorities thought differently, however, and upon the outbreak of the war all masonic funds everywhere in Japan were confiscated as enemy property, our Treasurer, not an enemy national, was sent to prison, the Right Worshipful Master, being an American citizen, was also sent to prison, and in the absence of the two Wardens who had previously left Japan at an early date, no other person could legally take any steps with regard with the funds of 640, and it is to be surmised that had they been taken, there was little likelihood that the Lodge could have any success at all in rescuing them. In the writers opinion, nothing can be done right now until after the war when through international negotiations with Lodge "Star in the East" or Grand Lodge will be able to lay claim to those funds.

It is now advisable, in the writer's opinion, to mention the fact that several nembers of 640 were left in distressed circumstances in Japan, especially Wor. Bros. M. Apcar, Treasurer, and A. Svensson, Tyler, the first one still in the penitentiary when we left Japan, tho other deprived of any means of sustenance since his income was derived from a pension he received from an American concern in Yokohama, now extinct on account of the war. More details about these two and other needy members of 640 could be had by asking the Right Worshipful Master whose address is written somewhere else in this letter.

As a result also of hostilities in Japan, many members of "Star in the East" lost all their masonic papers; among them mention must be made of the following:

Wor. Bro, Joseph Leroy McSparran, R.W.M.
789 E. California Street, Pasadena, California, USA.

Wor. Bro Peter Henry Keep, Substitute Master,
371, 21st Place. Santa Monica, California. USA.

Wor. Bro. John Wallace Rust, Almoner,
c/o Benjamin Sorocool. Ithaca. New York. USA

Bro. Robert Wallace Burrell, Senior Deacon
Bureau of Enthomology and Pl. Quar.
Agriculture, South Building, Washington, D.C. USA

Bro. Ernest Lynwood Vest. Steward.
C/o Mrs. Geo. F. Taylor. Waynesboro, Virginia. USA

Bro Denis Kildoyle.
c/o St. Regis Paper Co. 230 Park Avenue. New York. N.Y. USA

Bro. Fay Fredean Booth. c/o American President Lines
311. California Street. San Francisco, California. USA

Bro. Charles W. Biddle. c/o Dr. J.L. McSparran.
789 E. California Street, Pasadena. California. USA

With the exception of Bros. D. Kildoyle and F.F. Booth who have their Mark Master Mason Diplomas, all the others lost their two Diplomas, Master and Mark, including the two brothers montioned who also lost their Master Mason Diplomas, and upon their request duly filed through my desk, I beg hereby to request you that Duplicates of the same be issued on their behalf and sent directly either to their addresses written above or care of the R.W.M. Dr. J.L. McSparran for delivery. Request is also made that Grand Lodge authorise the Grand Treasurer to charge 640's Suspense account with the amount proscribed for such duplicates.

In view of the fact that I am disembarking at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America, request is made hereby that for the time being all communications from Grand Lodge be addressed directly to the R.W.M. Dr. J.L. McSparran at the above stated address. It is also the wish of the Lodge that Grand Lodge should express an opinion as to the status of 640 at present, whether it should be considered dormant, in suspense, or active, and in the last case, what sort of activities can it undertake to carry on for the benefit of its members, most of whom are residents of the United States of America.

This completes my report as desired by Lodge "Star in the East". Further details will be obtained from me c/o, Venezuelan Foreign Office, Caracas, Venezuela, South America, or direct from the R.W.M.

Sincerely and Fraternally yours,