ISSUE 7, October 2003
Editorial
William Hogarth: Portrait of a Mason-Artist
Travel: Here's to your health
Letters
Royal Masonic School for Girls: Looking to the future
Masonic VC Winners
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Masonic education: Major conferences programme
Masonic charities: Lifeboats and Prostate cancer and Bowel cancer and Subsidiary funds and Grand Charity meeting
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Sword's link with Gustavus Adolphus
Gardening
Book reviews

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Two other Mason VCs are also prominent in the Association - deputy president Sir Tasker Watkins VC and vice-chairman Ian Fraser VC, both of whom were awarded the decoration for action in World War Two.
     The national memorial means that, for the first time, the holders of these two decorations would be honoured collectively. Previously it had been on an individual or group basis.
     The Association's public appeal for the national memorial sought 250,000 to cover not only the memorial itself, but also to restore or renew graves of VC and GC holders not in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
     The appeal target was met through the very generous support of many associations and individual contributors, including the United Grand Lodge of England, which donated 10,000. Individual Lodges and brethren also contributed.
     At the Westminster Abbey ceremony, English Freemasonry was represented by Grand Secretary Robert Morrow.
     In the 147-year history of the VC, there have been 1,354 awarded, and about ten percent were Freemasons under different constitutions. From the overall total, about 25 percent were made posthumously.
     The Freemason VCs include submariner Tommy Gould, the only Jewish recipient of the award in the Second World War. His VC was sold at Sotheby's for 44,000 in October 1987, and is held by the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen.
President Emeritus
He was president emeritus of the International Submarine Association and died in December 2001, aged 86.
     King George VI authorised the institution of the George Cross, the highest civilian decoration for bravery, on 24 September 1940. Since then, 155 have received direct awards, with two 'collective' awards going to the island of Malta and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
     In addition, in 1941, the 112 holders of the Empire Gallantry Medal, the 65 recipients of the Albert Medal, and the 68 decorated with the Edward Medal were translated into the George Cross. Of these, 13 were Freemasons.
     The Victoria Cross Warrant was signed on 29th January 1856. It was a simple pattern in design, manufactured in bronze from captured Russian cannon, but of Chinese origin.
     It is low of intrinsic value - no gold, silver or precious gems - and Queen Victoria is reputed to have insisted it was to be produced for a few pence. However, at a recent auction, a VC medal went for 101,200.
New Colour Ribbon
In its inception period, the then Secretary of State for the Crimean War was Baron Panmure, 11th Earl of Dalhousie, Deputy Grand Master of the UGLE 1857-1861.
     Originally, the medal was suspended from a bar by a ribbon - blue for the navy and red for the army. However, nowhere in the Warrant did it give the shade of the colour. After the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918, a new colour ribbon was universally adopted for all the armed services.
     At the memorial service, Ian Fraser VC, a West Lancashire Mason, read Romans 12:1-9 from the Nave Pulpit, while from the Quire Pulpit another Mason, B Archer GC, read from the Oration over the Athenian Dead by Pericles.

VC

Made from a 'Russian' cannon that was actually Chinese
Queen Victoria took a great interest in the medal, especially the design of the Cross. When the first drawings were submitted to her, she selected one similar to an existing campaign medal, the Army Gold Cross from the Peninsular War. The Queen made a significant alteration to the motto, substituting 'For Valour' instead of 'For the Brave' less it be thought that the only brave men in a battle were holders of the VC.
     The commission for the new medal went to jewellers Hancock's of Bruton Street, London. It had been decided that the new decoration would be made of base metal, but the Queen disapproved of the original design. It was suggested that the bronze for the new medals might come from two Russian 18-pounder guns captured in the Crimea.
     It was not until many years later that the guns were found to be Chinese. The Chinese gunmetal proved so hard, that it began to crack the dies used by Hancock's, so it was decided to cast the medals instead. This resulted in higher relief and more depth in the moulding than would have been possible with a die-stamped medal.

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