26th June 2018

Members Blogs – Our Story

Our Stories.

This page is where our current members tell their story.  Our members are very proud of being members of Ubique and are keen to share their experiences with you.  We aim for them to be as open and honest as possible.

The first blog is written by Nick.  Nick has been a Freemason for quite a number of years and former Gunner.

Ubique Lodge 1789 – Brothers in Arms

There has never been a better time to be a Freemason. Today we are more open about our activities. In fact, when I was a serving in the Royal Artillery in Woolwich in the 80’s I didn’t even know we had our own Gunner Lodge ‘Ubique No. 1789’ so I joined a lodge in West Kent masonic lodge!  It’s not that freemasonry is a Secret Society we just did not discuss it much back then and of course there was no internet to search on.

Historically, masons were often seen in public in the early 1900s promoting good causes, taking part in public meetings and also being present laying foundations stones on public buildings.  As early as 1920 Hitler publicly denounced his dislike for Freemasons in Mein Kampf. During the Second World War under Hitler’s instruction between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were executed for just being a member. It is no wonder then that after the war, the mood had changed and masons chose not to discuss their membership openly.  Today things are changing and we open our doors to visitors and are proud of our membership.

I have enjoyed being a Freemason for 27 years but only became a joining member of the Ubique Lodge and Chapter a couple of years ago after visiting. Such was the friendly nature of the lodge, perhaps this was down to the fact that we all wear, or have worn the RA cap badge of RHA cypher, or the fact that we are Brothers both in masonry, or perhaps a combination of both that I decided to join. I think it’s important to point out here that although our Lodge Members are from all ranks of the Royal Artillery from Gunner to Lieutenant Colonel ranks are not used. Our visitors have noted that we are a ‘particularly friendly and progressive lodge’

We also share a common bond from our impactive ceremonies that ‘made us masons’ in which we learn to observe through participation moral and spiritual lessons. However, we are not a religion and we don’t discuss politics at our meetings but personally I gain a great deal of satisfaction for the well-being of others. We have a saying in Freemasonry ‘taking good men and making them better’ This really does sum up our aims and objectives. After our meeting has closed we all sit down to a meal where we have a few formal toasts and also have our own Ubique Lodge traditions and of course we get to chat with our friends and visitors.

Charity is also a subject close to our hearts although Freemasons donate considerable sums to both masonic and non-masonic causes. In reality, members only donate what we can afford without detriment to himself or his family.

As ‘Gunner’ Freemasons, above all we enjoy ourselves at our meetings, I’m confident that if you have worn the Gunner cap badge you will to. If you have left the Royal Artillery you will once again find that unique camaraderie if you join us.

This the second in our series of members stories. This one is written by Dave. Dave is a still serving SNCO of 20 years and a mason for seven.

Freemasonry – Is it compatible with military service?

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions whether Freemasonry is compatible with military service.  I am not in a position to give an official answer to this, I neither represent the military or Freemasonry in any official capacity.  What I can say is that there are overwhelming similarities based upon my 20 years Army service and my seven years in Freemasonry.  I joined Freemasonry purely out of curiosity after finding out the Gunners had a Lodge, Ubique Lodge 1789.

Freemasonry and military service has coexisted for hundreds of years. The 1st of foot (Royal Scots) petitioned the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1732 and became the first regiment to gain warrant No 11 which was dated the 7th of November of that year. This lead to many other Regiments copying their example and forming Lodges.  These Lodges were given travelling Warrants, which allowed them to hold meetings wherever they were deployed. The most recent example of this was a meeting held in Shaibah Logistics Base, Iraq, in late 2005.  Throughout our joint histories we have many famous military Freemasons, The Duke of Wellington, Sir Tasker Watkins VC, and Sir Winston Churchill to name three.  Last year to Commemorate the 300th Anniversary of Freemasonry in England, HRH Field Marshall Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, unveiled a monument to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross.  On the pavement in front of the entrance of Freemasons’ Hall, London, records 62 of the 200 Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross, which roughly equates to fifteen percent of recipients being Freemasons. Also, Freemasons’ Hall, was formally opened in 1933 as the Masonic Peace Memorial and it was, and is, a memorial to all those Freemasons who died in the First World War.  Today there are still many Armed Forces, Single Service, Regimental and Corps Lodges all over the UK who represent the military in Freemasonry.

The foundations of any soldier are, and must be in all instances, our Values and Standards.  Just to refresh the memory for some and inform others, our values comprise of selfless commitment, courage, Loyalty, integrity, discipline and our basic Standards are embodied in lawfulness, total professionalism and appropriate behaviour.  We also have the Leadership Code which guides those above in command appointments, our leaders are expected to lead by example, encourage thinking, apply reward and discipline, demand high performance, encourage confidence in the team, recognise individual strengths and weaknesses and finally strive for team goals.

These are not behavioural traits that just exist whilst at work, but tenants to live our life’s by because, as servants of the crown we must be held to a higher standard than our fellow citizens because of what we are asked to do.

In Freemasonry, there are similar foundations – brotherly love, relief and truth.  A common question asked by prospective joiners is “what do I get out of Freemasonry”, each time I struggle to answer as, in the material sense you get nothing; and quite rightly so.  The point of masonry isn’t material gain, it is to help those who cannot for whatever reason help themselves and to develop through education into a better person – a common phrase for this is “making good men better”.  As we progress through your Masonic journey you are called upon to make certain promises.  An element of that promise or oath remains constant in each instance, that is to behave in a lawful manner and remain loyal to your friends and country.  It is also impressed upon you to help those in need, but caveated with the phrase “without detriment to yourself or your connections”.

As you may be aware Freemasons conduct ceremonies which are like allegorical plays which help us to be self-critical and therefore develop as people.  Those plays are learnt so that a mason can recite them without the aid of script.  This is key, everyone is counting on everyone else to get there part right, otherwise it will go very wrong very quickly.  This requires discipline and mutual respect for your comrades.  In many ways, this is a reflection of life, as each person must have the discipline to “play their role” correctly for the good of broader society.

As you progress on your Masonic journey the more experienced members coach and mentor you.  This is not always with regards to the ceremony, but as Freemasonry is such a broad church, wider life challenges.  There are jobs to be done in the lodge.  Everyone, regardless of rank or status, starts as a steward.  Their role is to help set up the festive board and serve the wine to the other brethren.  But you will be rewarded for your efforts and enthusiasm and quickly progress, as you do you receive more responsibility and greater expectations are put upon you.  The closer you get to becoming the Worshipful Master the more people look up to you for guidance and example.  Finally, you become Worshipful Master where you are expected to be the physical embodiment of all we have discussed; truly “leading by example”!

When you join a lodge, you are encouraged to ask questions and think critically. Lodge life does not revolve around our meetings, there are also social functions that invariably have a charitable slant to them. From early on in your journey you will be encouraged to take the lead planning these events. As with a military event, you will need to use initiative, formulate a plan and find a team to assist you. Unlike the military, you will need to instil confidence in your brethren as there are no pressed men or SJAR/MPAR moments to be gained.  But as with the military, a key skill will be identifying the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and those around you, to achieve the team goals.  At these functions, as in the Lodge meetings, you and your comrades will be on show to not only the wider masonic community, but also their non-masonic guests therefore you and your team must display a high level of performance, this will be strongly expected of you and your team, who you are responsible for, by those above.  This way you gain not only insight into Freemasonry but insight and understanding into yourself, hopefully contributing to making you a better, more well-rounded person and in this case soldier and leader.

Ultimately it is down to each individual to decide if military service and Freemasonry are compatible, but I honestly believe they are.  The lessons I have learnt through meeting different people in Freemasonry and through the ceremonies I have partaken in, I believe have made me a more effective leader, mentor and person.  As I develop my junior soldiers and assist to develop my junior officers I will use the experience I have gained through masonry to help them along, and if asked about freemasonry by any of by colleagues, male or female (as there are female lodges,) I will be honest, open and encourage them to join because the Army has some good men and women, but we all could be better.