New Silver Jubilee Lodge No 8823 Lunch With Normandy Veterans

W Bro Dave Izzard reports

The idea for a special lunch was formed over a coffee by the members of New Silver Jubilee Lodge No 8823. The lunch would bring our brothers and their families together to pay our respects and reflect on the sacrifices of all those who went before us securing the freedoms we enjoy today. The Upminster Masonic Centre offered us their facilities, and Gary, Lorraine & Sue, and their team, gave us great food and exemplary service.

We were blessed this year with the company of Normandy veterans, some of whom had paraded earlier in the day, at the Cenotaph in London, with the Spirit of Normandy Trust. W Bro John Watson made the arrangements and, a few weeks before, had accompanied them to the Normandy Memorial in France.

Our four veterans received a standing ovation on their arrival. W Bro Chris Smith, the Worshipful Master, read the Exhortation. Our Resident Standard Bearer from the Royal British Legion, W Bro Trevor Hermes SLGR from Unison Lodge No 4761escorted “Dave the Trumpet” who played the Last Post, then Reveille to a completely silent room. Our guest ages ranged from two years old to ninety-eight, including four generations of my own family.

Our veterans were W Bro Mervyn Kersh, LGR of Mandate Lodge No 4258, Len Hobbs, Frank Baugh and Joe Cattini. Bro Mervyn served in the RAOC and landed at Normandy, and assisted at the Belsen concentration camp after its liberation. Len Hobbs served on HMS Fernie, a Hunt Class destroyer, on convoy escort duty and was the first ship to assist HMS Halsted, when it was torpedoed off the coast of Normandy. Frank Baugh was also a Naval man and was a signaller on HMS LCI 380, the first landing craft on Queen Red Sector, Sword Beach. They were trapped on the beach for 4 hours after being hit at the water line but, under fire, managed to carry out sufficient repairs to allow them to get back to Newhaven for full repairs. Joe Cattini served in the Royal Artillery at Normandy and was a veteran of the Market Garden Campaign. Bro Mervyn won the raffle and told us that he had recently been the guest of honour at his Lodge’s Centenary as he had been Master during the fifty-year celebration.

The day wouldn’t have happened without the fantastic support of those who gave both time and money, including the cab driver, Bro David Hall; Bro Danny Searle of CTM Van rental, who brought our veterans to Upminster; the festival committee; and the wives, girlfriends, partners and mums who made poppies, the wreath and decorated the hall.

The lunch raised over two thousand pounds for the Royal British Legion, the Spirit of Normandy Trust and PTSD999 charities.

Metropolitan Grand Inspector W Bro Glen McDonald PSGD represented Metropolitan Grand Lodge, and altogether we had brethren and guests from ten lodges. A special mention goes to the brethren of Beadon Lodge No 619, who celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Lodge in 2023, and the brethren of West Ham Abbey Lodge No 2291, both of whom brought along a full table of support.

On these occasions we remember all those that had gone before, and especially those who served and gave their lives for their countries. All gave some; some gave all.


This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 47 January 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 47 here.