ISSUE 9, April 2004

The Duke of Wellington: A Brother in arms
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Life with the Stars: Masons and famous people
Hall Stone Jewel: Cyril Spackman, designer
Travel: Jamaica
Grand Charity: Annual Report and Accounts
Masonic stamps: Masonry on stamps
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Antients and Moderns go on-line
Masonic education: Events for Freemasons
Masonic charities: The continuing work
Bowel cancer: How the Grand Charity is helping
Royal Arch: Russia and Eastern Europe
Richard Eve: A former Grand Treasurer
Book reviews

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Treason, a femme fatale and air power

Book Reviews

More for your bookshelf, by Patrick Wilson

The Bugatti Queen – In Search of a Motor-Racing Legend, by Miranda Seymour (Simon & Schuster, £15.99. ISBN 0743231465)
In a motor racing world so dominated by men, it is somewhat surprising to learn that 70 years ago a young Frenchwoman dominated many newspapers with her driving exploits. Helle Nice lived life to the edge. Born in 1900, her humble provincial beginnings could scarcely offer any clues as to the extraordinary life she was to lead in the future.
      In stark contrast to her older sister, who took over their father’s job as postmaster in the village following his premature death, Helle yearned the bohemian excitement of Paris.
      Her early career as a risqué dancer won her considerable fame, but was nothing to the adulation that would soon follow on discovering motor racing at the Actors Championship, a French meeting of the theatrical world with the racetrack. The glamour of the sport along with its prerequisite exhilarating speed and daring soon won her over.
      She was a natural on the racetrack, her talent and bravery in a motorcar and her beauty out of it soon caught the attention of Jean Bugatti. He spotted the potential coverage she could bring to the family business. That same year, she set the women’s speed record and became an exhibition driver in America in 1929. Grand Prix followed as did fame and fortune.
      The extraordinary risks associated with the sport at that time, and the descriptions of the races in which she participated, make for fascinating reading. So too do her exploits off the track. Sexually voracious, she had many lovers and ‘as many as three affairs at a time during the 1930s’.
      Yet tragedy and fame are often interlinked, and Helle Nice provides such an example. She was thrown out of her car following a collision with a hay bale in the 1936 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, killing a policeman in the process. Then came the Second World War, and unsubstantiated accusations of Nazi collaboration followed.
      Certainly life after the war was never the same. She was to die penniless as a result of her husband squandering her savings before running off with a younger woman in 1960, and her embittered sister robbing her of her modest inheritance.
      Yet Helle Nice will be remembered not for the sad end to her life, but for the daring exuberance of her earlier life. As one French newspaper wrote in 1932, ‘Elle a du cran’ – ‘The girl’s got guts’..

Germany Calling: A Personal Biography of William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, by Mary Kenny (New Island, £16. ISBN 1902602781)
‘Germany calling, Germany calling’ was the call sign of a Hamburg radio station which broadcast nightly news bulletins during the Second World in English to the British people. The voice of the reader was William Joyce, who earned his nickname ‘Lord Haw- Haw’, through his blend of Irish brogue and cockney, which he tried to disguise as a "public school" voice. His broadcasts mocked Churchill, championed anti-Semitism, attempted to rally anti-Bolsheviks and, most importantly, were aimed at unnerving the British public with information which had been censored at home.
      It would be easy to dismiss him, except that these broadcasts found an audience, estimated at an average of six million people. His audience was not merely confined to changing opinions across the channel. Indeed one of his tasks was to persuade British POWs to join the fight against Bolshevism. However he has only very limited success in this field. According to recently released MI5 files, no more than 60 ever did join the so-called ‘Legion of St George and the British Free Corps’.
      Joyce’s life makes for interesting reading, and Mary Kenny’s account does not disappoint. Born in New York in 1906, his parents returned to run a pub in Galway when he was aged three. At the age of 15, he attempted to join the British Army. He was rejected, as he was when he harboured hopes of becoming a Tory Candidate in Chelsea.
      By 1932, his anti-Semitism and intemperance found an audience with Oswald Mosley’s fascists, but this too was to fail as a movement by 1937. Such rejection, combined with increasing feelings embitterment towards England, led him to depart for Germany in 1939, where he was to remain until his arrest by British Military Police in 1945. He was tried for treason and hanged the following year. Kenny provides excellent analysis into what motivated Joyce to become the voice for Nazi propaganda in Britain.

A Daily Advancement in Masonic Knowledge by Raymond Hollins (5 Vols. £20 the set (inc. p&p). R. J. Hollins, 69 St Bernards Road, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands B92 7DF. Also available on
This is a series of five fascinating booklets, each with 10 short talks on a variety of Masonic subjects, each lasting about ten minutes. Ray Hollins has made an excellent job of ensuring the talks are short and to the point, and came out of an initiative by Worcestershire Masonic Province to improve the education of its members.
      The set of five are an ideal addition to a Lodge library, as anyone can give the talks, and will make for much more interesting meetings.
      The booklets cover a whole range of subjects about which Masons are always asking questions. Volume I, for example, includes talks on The Regius Manuscript, the Ancients and Moderns Grand Lodges and Numerology of Freemasonry.
      With these booklets, Lodge meetings need never be boring again. All profits go to Masonic charities and the full list of talks in each volume can be viewed at John Jackson