Today saw a memorial to Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War unveiled.
The Victoria Cross was awarded 628 times for in the First World War. Over 100 recipients have so far been identified as Freemasons of whom sixty-three were members of English Constitution lodges.
Masonic Peace Memorial
In 1933, Freemason’s Hall was opened as the Masonic Peace Memorial. It stands as a memorial to all those Freemasons who died in the First World War. Now a new memorial has been laid dedicated to all the English Freemasons awarded the VC during the Great War.
Charles Graham Robertson VC – Man of Valour
One of the recipients of the Victoria Cross was a Freemason from Surrey, Charles Graham Robertson. Before the war, he was a railway clerk from Dorking. He volunteered to fight and served with the Royal Fusiliers on the Western Front.
Realising his position was being cut off, Charles Graham Robertson, sent two men to get reinforcements. He stayed at his post with one other man and a Lewis gun. He managed to kill ‘large numbers of the enemy” but when no reinforcements arrived and realising that he was now completely cut off, he and his fellow soldier withdrew about ten yards. Robertson stayed there for some considerable time firing his machine gun but was again forced to withdraw. In this new position, he climbed on top of a parapet with his comrade, mounted his gun in a shell hole and continued firing at the enemy. His comrade was killed and Robertson was severely wounded but he managed to crawl back to the British line, bringing his gun with him. He could no longer fire it as he had exhausted all the ammunition.
For his initiative and resource and magnificent fighting spirit which prevented the enemy making a more rapid advance, Charles Graham Robertson was awarded the Victoria Cross in April 1918.
A few months after the end of the First World War, in February 1919, he was initiated in Deanery Lodge No. 3071. He is one of over one hundred and seventy holders of the Victoria Cross who have been identified as Freemasons, representing more than 13% of the total recipients.
Tercentenary of Grand Lodge
In this, the Tercentenary year of Grand Lodge, it is fitting that an additional memorial to those recipients of the Victoria Cross in the First World War has been added, to those sixty-three men of valour.