The Orange Navy – Part 8 The Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916 Orange Lodges in the Royal Navy
Whilst Orange Lodges had long been popular in the Army, their presence in the Royal Navy has been much less remarked upon. Possibly the first lodge in the Royal Navy was Loyal Orange Lodge 610 which, in the Grand Lodge Directory of 1885, was shown as meeting on HMS Raleigh at the Cape of Good Hope. The Worshipful Master was shown as Thomas Hicks. HMS Raleigh was an unarmoured, iron, masted frigate which had been launched in 1873. In 1885 and 1886 Raleigh was flagship of the Cape of Good Hope and Africa Station, based at Simon’s Town. Raleigh was based at Simon’s Town for much of her service, but in 1886 Lodge number 610 is shown as having gone ashore, and was meeting at the Wesleyan Mission Schoolroom at Simon’s Town. The Worshipful Master was T H Liddy, whose address was the Royal Artillery Barracks there.
In 1886 another Naval lodge appears, namely Loyal Orange Lodge number 624. This was shown as meeting on HMS Colossus with the Worshipful Master being J Whittaker. Colossus was a major step up in warship design being without sail, of steel construction, and with a main armament of four Breech-Loading 12-inch guns. Commissioned in 1886, she was sent to the Mediterranean Fleet and served there until 1893. The Mediterranean Fleet’s main base was the island of Malta. In 1886 Brother Whittaker is shown as being still the Worshipful Master while the Secretary was Brother H Plowman, also shown as being on HMS Colossus.
In 1889 the Lodge is shown as having moved ashore and holding its meetings at the Windsor Castle Hotel in Valetta. The Worshipful Master was Brother W E Cooke, whose address is given as the Windsor Castle, but the Secretary, Brother A Sharing, was still shown as being on the Colossus. In 1890 and 1891 the Lodge met at 43 Strada Zaccarria, Valetta, a building which was also used by Masonic lodges and also the Good Templars, but then returned to the Windsor Castle Hotel until 1899 when it was shown as meeting at the Wesleyan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home, Florina. In 1902 they were meeting at the St Francis Barracks on Malta, and in 1903 at the Star Club, 1 Strada Reala, Hamrum Road. By 1906 the Lodge is no longer mentioned.
In 1890 the Worshipful Master is Brother F Milner, Corporal Medical Staff, and in 1891 it was Brother W Studart of HMS Phaeton, which was a protected cruiser. In both these years the Secretary was Brother Wm Ed Cook, whose address is given as Flores College, 43 Strada, Zaccarria, Valetta. After that, Brother Cook is shown as Worshipful Master. In 1899 the Worshipful Master is once more a Naval man, Brother Beale, a Ship’s Corporal, RN, of HMS Hibernia, Malta. Hibernia had been launched as long ago as 1804, but was flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet and was based in the Grand Harbour. Over the years the Secretaries tended to be drawn from the military garrison on Malta.
Another lodge which met on the island for a time was Loyal Orange Lodge number 453. This met for many years at the Admiralty Tavern, Spring Street, Landport, Portsmouth. In 1892, however, we find it meeting at the Windsor Castle Hotel in Malta, with the Worshipful Master the indefatigable Brother W E Cook. The Secretary was Brother W Davies of HMS Collingwood. Collingwood was a battleship of 1880’s vintage that served in the Mediterranean from 1889 to 1897. By 1907 the Lodge was no longer being returned.
Royal Naval lodges began to reappear in 1914. In the Grand Lodge Directory for 1914, compiled before the outbreak of War, “Carnarvon” Loyal Orange Lodge 827 is shown as meeting at the Marghritti Soldiers and Sailors Rest on Malta, on the first and second Wednesdays of the month. The Worshipful Master was Charles Monson on HMS Defence, in the 1st Cruiser Squadron, and the Secretary was T G Keowin, also on HMS Defence.
In the same year, “Ulster Purple Heroes” Loyal Orange Lodge 842 has its meetings described merely as “moveable”. The Worshipful Master is shown as F J Willmer, of HMS Lurcher, and the Secretary is A H Cosway, also on HMS Lurcher.
At the same time there were lodges shown as meeting ashore, but in ports with a long naval history. Plymouth had five male lodges, while Devonport had four male lodges. Most of them would have had members who were Naval personnel. “Sons of William” Loyal Orange Lodge 652 met at the Foresters’ Hall in Gillingham. In the Grand Lodge Directory there is no obvious Naval connection, but the 1915 Roll of Honour listed 112 names from this Lodge alone, of whom 107 were serving in the Royal Navy.
In January 1914 the Grand Orange Lodge of England began to publish a monthly magazine called “The Orange Standard”, which ran until 1928 and therefore covers the period of the First World War. The edition for May 1914 carried the following account of the opening of the Carnarvon Lodge, -
New Lodge at Malta. On February 25th, at the Sailors’ and Soldiers' Institute, Marghritta Hill, Malta, Carnarvon L.O.L. 827 was opened for the first lime by Bro. C. Monson. After the brethren were installed in the positions, it was decided to meet on the first and second Wednesdays in the month, providing the Fleet was in Malta. The Grand Secretary and Devonport District Sec. and officers were heartily thanked for their help and encouragement. The members of the lodge are determined to make the lodge a large and important one. Stoker Petty-officer Keown is the W.S.
It is worth noting that the Lodge anticipated difficulties in meeting when the Fleet may not be in Malta. Nonetheless, the next edition of the Orange Standard, in June 1914, reported further progress, -
CARNARVON, L.O.L. 827, MALTA At a special meeting held at the Soldiers’ and Sailors' Rest, Marghrettia Hill, Vittorosia, three candidates were admitted to the Orange Degree. Brethren passing through or visiting Malta will receive a hearty welcome. Lodge composed of Naval Men at present but soldiers and civilians can join. Address: T. G. Keown, St. P.O. H.M.S. Defence, Mediterranean Fleet.
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Rest at Margherita Hill had its beginnings in the 1850’s in work by Methodist clergy on the island of Malta, originally to serve the members of the British garrison who were members of that church.
The Orange Standard of March 1914 contained an account of another lodge with strong Naval connections, -
L.O.L. Ulster Scot, 287. The Monthly Meeting was held at the Moravian School Room, James Street, Devonport, on Monday 19th, January, 1914. There were 56 Members present, and the W. M. Bro. Barberry opened the Lodge at 7.45 p m., supported by District Master Bro. Chas. Alexander, as D.M., Bro. Rev. W. Hawkins, Chaplain, H.D.G.M., Bro. A. Thornton, Treasurer and Bro. Matthews, Secretary. Bro Ed. Howard of No. 16, Sydney, was admitted on Certificate and warmly welcomed. The minutes and cash a/c of the last meeting were read and confirmed, the Lodge having a very substantial balance to its credit. Bro. Evans, who had lately returned from Canada (H.M.S. Niobe) received a very fine reception and the best thanks of the Lodge was extended to him for his indefatigable effort in connection with our Order whilst serving in H.M.S. Niobe, Canada, in that the Lodge started there was brought up to three figures in membership. Four Candidates were proposed for membership Messrs Brockbank, Scantlebury, Brown and Bolton and duly initiated and Lectured. This brought the Lodge membership up to 130. Bro. Ince rejoined after a long absence and Messrs. Rutherford, Cain and Tugallis were proposed for next meeting. Bro. G. H. Foster, Architect and Surveyor, who comes from a grand north Irish stock, whose Motto is the "Red Hand of Ulster," was also proposed for Membership and accepted. The "Orange Standard" was highly spoken of and the Secretary was directed to send out a copy to each Member with the Summons. Arrangements were made for stewarding the Kensit Meeting at Plymouth Guildhall, and two or three Members addressed the lodge on "Our Duty to Ulster." A splendid Meeting was brought to a close at 10.30 p.m. in prayer and singing the King.
This gives a picture of a lively and dynamic lodge, with a brother having returned from Canada and an Australian brother also present. It truly was a case of “join the Navy and see the world”, so that the movement of Naval brethren around the world, according to where they were posted, enabled them to see the Orange Order in its international aspect.
HMS Niobe was a protected cruiser which had been launched in 1897. In 1910 she was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy to assist the Dominion build its own naval forces. Brother Evans would have been helping with this project and, apparently, had assisted with the growth of an Orange Lodge there to the extent that it had a three-figure membership.
In a Lodge Report in the following month’s Orange Standard, for April 1914, the positive note is maintained, -
Ulster Scot, L O.L. 287. Over 70 members were present at the last lodge, which was presided over by Bro. Barberry, W. M., and supported by the officers, Bros Macavoy, Rev. Hawkins, Thornton, Matthews, and Feltham. Bro. Foster, an Ulsterman, was received into membership with loud acclamation; he praised the lodge on its wonderful condition. Five Naval men were initiated. Bro. McConkey, from China, was received on certificate, and Mr. Blaney was admitted to the Orange Degree. £2 each was granted to Bros in distress. It decided to ask other lodges to form a Committee for an Orange Hall.
In the same issue another Orange Lodge gave an encouraging report, -
Ulster Purple Heroes, L.O.L. 842 met at St. John's Church Mission Room, Weymouth, on January 29th. Thanks were accorded to brethren who were leaving for Devonport. All brethren and friends in Weymouth are heartily invited to this lodge. Bro. F. J. Wilmers and Bro. A. Cosway, of H.M.S. Lurcher, Portland, will be glad to communicate with friends.
The coming of the War, however, caused so much disruption to the working of the Naval Lodges that, for a time, it seemed they would not be able to continue. Loyal Orange Lodge 827 seemed to be the bellwether lodge and, in this respect, sent in the following Lodge Report which appeared in the Orange Standard of December 1914, -
From a Bro. holding an important position on H.M.S. in the Mediterranean.DEAR SIR KT. AND BRO., "It is with pleasure and with a certain amount of reserve that I am sending these lines to you. First I wish to state that L.O.L. 827 has had to close its doors when everything was becoming so bright. Merry and strong right in the midst of our enemies at Malta. Secondly, that owing to the movements of H.M.S. __________ the Warrant has been placed in my hands for safe keeping. Every arrangement has been made regarding its disposal should this ship be liable to capture or sunk. But I trust to our Creator that we shall all be spared after doing our duty to King and Country, to return once more with the honours of this war thick upon us … Well, dear Bro., I t rust this war will end by showing to the German people that war is not always won by wearing uniforms and brass helmets. I cannot tell you what we are doing or where we are, as it is not allowed, but all the Bros are well and happy. I trust you will be long spared to take the great leadership in the most noble Order in the world and that we shall multiply six-fold before the time again arrives for us to save Ulster for a one and undivided Nation. If anything happens to me you will know where the Warrant has gone."
In the Orange Standard of February 1915 there was a letter from Brother J A Britten. Although this letter was written with the intention of thanking the Grand Secretary for sending a large amount of Christian literature for distribution among the ship’s crew, there was also the encouraging news that the members of LOL 827 had resolved to carry on the Lodge. The Warrant shall go with us.H.M.S. "Indefatigable," Mediterranean. 17/12/14. DEAR BRO. EWART, I must say how very pleased I was to receive your very welcome letter and its cheering contents, for which I must thank you so very much, and I am sure that it will be a great help to everyone who are fortunate to possess them (Testaments and Gospels). You must really excuse me for not answering yours before, but you must know that our time is not our own these dark days. I saw our Chaplain regarding the Gospels and Testaments, and he was very pleased with them. I had a real good chat with him, and he said that he does not see any objection at all, and that you should send them to the captain. The more I talk of or think of our Institution the more I seem to want to talk and I trust that our Father will lead me so that I shall have the honour to gather in recruits, not only to our great Order, L.O.L., but to see
that light that never fades. Dear Bro., the Brothers very much regret to hear of the death of our I.G.M. the Earl of Erne, and trust that he will meet with the reward he deserves, for the work he has done on this earth. Dear Bro., I held a meeting of the Brothers of this ship last Tuesday, the 15th, re the disposal of our Warrant 827, Carnarvon, and it was decided to retain it, for if the ship goes down it goes with us. But as we all trust that she will not, and that every one of the ship's company will, by the help of our Father, return to their homes again in times of peace, the Brothers will be able to look up to the Warrant and say from their hearts, "That by the help of our Father it has travelled and kept safe through one of the most horrible of wars which has ever struck this unhappy world.” Also it was decided that new officers be appointed, and I am glad to say I have had the honour of being elected Master of 827. D.M., Bro. Lanyon; Secretary and Treasurer, Bro. Moorcroft; Chaplain Bro. Close; Tyler, Bro. Robertson. Dear Bro., this was done so as to keep the Lodge going, because you see the ships have all separated. We started with Defence, Inflexible, Indomitable, Dublin, Chatham, Gloucester, Duke of Edinburgh, Black Prince, Blenheim, and 16 destroyers. We are now all in different places, doing our different duties for our King and Country, and perhaps it will be months before we shall be able to shake each other by the hand again. The Brothers all join me in wishing both your wife and yourself the compliments of the season. Trusting that God will spare you many, many years to carry on the grand work you are doing, I will now close with my sincere regards and good wishes, Yours faithfully and fraternally, JNO. A. BRITTEN, C.P.O. Telegraphist.
In the Grand Lodge Directory of 1915, Ulster Purple Heroes LOL 842 was shown as being “With the Fleet”, Ulster Scot LOL 287 was shown as being “On War Service with the Fleet”, and Carnarvon LOL 827 is also shown as being “On War Service with the Fleet”. Brother F J Willmer is still Worshipful Master of 842 with Brother A H Cosway as Secretary; 827 has Brother J A Britten as Worshipful Master with Brother Moorhouse as Secretary; and 287 has Brothers Charles Alexander and John C Matthews as Worshipful Master and Secretary respectively.
The 1915 Grand Lodge Report has a “Roll of Honour” showing the names of 1,411 Orangemen, (and one Sister) who were already enrolled in the services by the time the Report was compiled. It is by no means exhaustive, as many lodges did not supply any information about their members in Service. Of the 1,411, 424 are shown as being in the Royal Navy and a further 17 in the Royal Marine Light Infantry. LOL 287 is shown as having 91 members in the Royal Navy, but Sons of William LOL 652, meeting in Gillingham, has 107 members in the Navy. 88 named ships are shown as having Orangemen in the crew. Under these circumstances Orange Lodges in the Royal Navy, far from being on the point of closing, were on the point of dramatic expansion
In the Orange Standard of January 1916 there is news of a new lodge being founded, -
ROYAL NAVY NEW NAVAL LODGE HAS A GOOD SEND-OFF KING WILLIAM'S OWN, L.O.L. 872The first meeting was held at the County Hotel, Hebburn-on-Tyne, on the 16th inst. Lodges of Hebburn and Jarrow District were well represented. Bro. Thomas Rowan, P.G.M., presided, assisted by Bro. Taylor as D.M., and Bro. Cumminns, D.O. The first business after the opening preliminaries was to install the Officers of the new Lodge, and the following brethren were installed: Bro. Sharman, W.M.; Bro. Brookes. W.D.M.; Bro. O. Fiddler. W.S.; and Bro. Harvey, Chaplain. The proceedings were carried out in an impressive manner. At the close of the Lodge, a splendid social and concert was held, suitable to the occasion, and a capital programme was rendered, Bro, Rowan presiding. Fraternal greetings were exchanged between the Brethren of 872 and Hebburn and Jarrow District. The Naval Brethren took with them the best of wishes for success, good luck, and the memory of a very pleasant evening. A most enjoyable evening was brought to a close by the singing of the National Anthem. A GOOD START The first meeting held on board was most successful. Two candidates were initiated and three others were proposed. Special business was transacted.
Wartime restrictions made the Orange Standard reluctant to identify the ship on which the Lodge was based, but it was in fact HMS Warspite. Subsequent issues of the Orange Standard continued to carry encouraging news about this Lodge’s progress.
Orange Standard, March 1916 NAVY L.O.L. 872, This lodge on board H.M.S. --- although only recently formed, is going on splendidly. Twelve new candidates have been initiated into the Orange Degree, four to the Purple and three to the sublime R.A.P. Several candidates were proposed for the next meeting. The Officers and brethren are determined to make the Lodge a success and a credit to the Order.
Orange Standard, June 1916 At Sea KING WILLIAM'S OWN L.O.L. 782 Success continues to attend the efforts of the officers and members of this lodge on H.M.S. ….. . At the last meeting the statement that the Casement family were connected with the Orange Society was bitterly resented and the following resolution was passed: ‘As units of our country's fighting forces and as loyal subjects of our King, and Brethren of our glorious Institution, we desire to express our contempt of Sir Roger Casement and repudiate any association with this man.'
In the last report the designation “782” is a misprint, and should read 872. The Grand Secretary was working flat out under great pressure, and these mistakes sometimes occurred. The June 1916 issue of the Orange Standard carried news of further expansion, -
LODGES ON BATTLESHIPS Brethren will be pleased to know that we have formed Lodges on two more of His Majesty's Battleships. Over fifty brothers from all parts of the world joined one Lodge and there were twenty candidates for initiation. There are Orangemen on every British Battleship, and we hope shortly to arrange Lodges for them.
We cannot know which lodges or ships are being referred to here, but in the Grand Lodge Report of 1916 the Grand Secretary, Rev Louis A Ewart, said, “Several excellent Lodges have recently been opened on His Majesty’s battleships, cruisers and destroyers in the Navy. Great progress has already been made in numbers on the “Warspite”, “Australia”, “Virginia” and “King Alfred”.
In the accompanying Lodge Directory, Ulster Scot LOL 287 is no longer shown as being “With the Fleet”, but meeting at the Oddfellows’ Hall, Ker Street, Devonport. The Secretary is still Brother John C Matthews, of 9 Avondale Terrace, Devonport, but the Worshipful Master is Brother G H Foster of 26 Chaddlewood Avenue, Plymouth. This would be the G H Foster, Architect and Surveyor, shown as joining the Lodge in early 1914. The Lodge’s continued Naval tradition is demonstrated by the fact that the Chaplain of Devonport District was a member of this Lodge and he is named as Brother E T Hazeldene of HMS Vivid, Devonport.
The new Naval lodges are shown as being part of a “Naval District” of which Brother Thomas Spanner, HDGM, of 13 Milford Road, Fratton, Portsmouth, is shown as the “Representative”, “To whom all communications must be addressed.” The lodges listed here are as follows, -
King William’s Own, LOL 872. “Movable”.
WM: Geo H Sharman, SPO, HMS Warspite, c/o GPO London.
Sec: J Wilks, Leading Telegraphist, HMS Warspite, c/o GPO London.
Australia, LOL 875, “Movable”.
WM: Clarence C Crane, Yeoman of Signals, HMAS Australia, c/o GPO London.
Sec: E Muldowney, PO Telegraphist, HMAS Australia, c/o GPO London.
Gideon’s Chosen Few, LOL 876, “Movable”.
WM: John Dunn, Stoker, HMS Virginian, c/o GPO London.
Sec: H Saunders, HMS Virginian, c/o GPO London.
LOL 878, “Movable”.
WM: Henry Miller, Mess 3, HMS King Alfred, c/o GPO London.
Carnarvon LOL 827, in some ways the parent lodge of all Naval lodges, was still shown as being part of Devonport District, but there were no details given. In the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Jutland there was probably a very good reason for this. Brother Britten’s declaration that “if the ship goes down it (the warrant) will go with us” was to prove prophetic.
The various issues of the magazine “The Orange Standard” provide very useful insights into the workings of these lodges from the lodge reports that were submitted to, and appeared in, that magazine. The edition of July 1916 carried an account of the opening of Loyal Orange Lodge number 875, -
New Naval Lodge A splendid Orange Lodge has been opened on H.M.A.S. Australia. On 10th June all officers were installed, a large number of brethren being present. On 12th inst a 1st Degree meeting was held. Lodge opened in due form by the W.M., assisted by the D.M. and officers. Thirteen candidates were initiated into the Orange Degree. Eight candidates were proposed for the next meeting. The W.M. instructed the newly initiated and then addressed the whole of the members, impressing upon them the necessity for unity and good brotherly feeling, which was essential for the good of the lodge and the Institution. Great care should be taken in selecting new candidates. A letter was read from the unfortunate Bro. Kyle, who had lost his leg and was in the Glasgow Infirmary. The congratulations of the Grand Secretary were very much appreciated. The G.S. was heartily thanked and the lodge assured him of their determination to make L.O.L 875, 'Australia' a great success.
The following month there was another encouraging report from this lodge, -
Naval District "AUSTRALIA”, L.O.L. 875We have received a glowing report from our lodge on board the "Australia" of their wonderful progress. Originally the members met in the form of a Club, which was opened on July 12th, 1914; but now, under a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England, they meet as an Orange Lodge which has a good membership and is in a healthy financial condition. Special attention has been paid to members who had the misfortune to be placed in Hospital, and gifts of all descriptions were sent to them. We regret to learn that Bro Kyle has had to have his leg amputated. Several new members have joined during the past year. The Brethren state that the Grand Lodge will never have cause to be ashamed of them. We compliment the Lodge on its excellent work.
Australia was His Majesty’s Australian Ship, having been ordered by the Australian government and commissioned as flagship of the fledgling Australian Navy in 1913. When War broke out she escorted Australian and New Zealand troops who seized the German islands in the Pacific, and her presence in the Pacific effectively closed large parts of that ocean to any offensive action by Admiral von Spee’s German East Asia Squadron.
After the destruction of von Spee’s Squadron, HMAS Australia was redeployed to the United Kingdom where she was made flagship of the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron. On 22nd April 1916 Australia was involved in a collision with HMS New Zealand and suffered severe damage. She went to Devonport for repair and did not rejoin 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron until 9th June, thus missing the Battle of Jutland.