An estimated one in ten of those awarded the Victoria Cross were Freemasons. Recently the Queen unveiled a memorial to them and the George Cross holders, as Granville Angel explains.
From all over the world, a congregation of more than 2,000 came to pay homage to the bravest of the brave at Westminster Abbey earlier this year in the presence of the Queen.
Freemasons have been prominent among those awarded the Victoria Cross and George Cross, and the first president of the VC and GC Association was Sir Winston Churchill - a Mason.
The present Association chairman is Colonel Stuart Archer GC, a Mason, who was the prime instigator for the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association National Memorial.
Sir Tasker Watkins VC
Initiated in South Wales Jurist Lodge No. 7092
On 16 August 1944 at Barfour, Normandy, Lieutenant (later Major) Tasker Watkins' company of the 1/5th Battalion, The Welch Regiment, came under murderous machine-gun fire while advancing through booby-trapped corn fields. The only remaining officer, he led a bayonet charge with his 30 remaining men, practically wiping out the opposing force of 50 enemy infantry. Separated from the battalion, he ordered his men to scatter, and having personally charged and silenced an enemy machine-gun post, brought them back safely.
Ian Fraser VC
Initiated in Mersey Lodge No. 5199
On 31 July 1945 in the Johore Straits, Singapore, Lieutenant (later Lt.-Cdr) Fraser, in charge of the midget submarine X3, went to attack the Japanese cruiser Takao, which was located after a long and hazardous journey. He slid the submarine under the target which lay over a depression in the sea bed. His diver went out to fix the limpet mines to the bottom of the ship. Two sidecharges had to be released, but that on the starboard side stuck, and the diver climbed out again to release it. X3 then made for home.
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