This was a very traumatic time not only for the Country but for the Lodge as well as we lost 25 Brethren in the conflict. Some of our Brethren were also decorated: Bro. Black (Military Medal),Bro D Renfrew(Order of the British Empire),Bro A Primrose(Distinguished Conduct Medal),Bro. J Blyth (Military Medal) and Bro A McPherson(Military Cross).
The Lodge concluded 1914 on a downward trend with a decrease of 1200 in attendance (down to 2602) on the previous year and an average attendance of 119 at regular Meetings. However during the course of the First World War this was to be steadily improved until by 1918 the overall attendance at Lodge Meetings for the year was almost 6000(with an average attendance of 200 at Regular Meetings) with 171 candidates joining Lodge Kenmuir in 1917/18 and many more submitting applications. This was in spite of the fact that Kenmuir had over 100 Brethren serving in the Forces.
Other important events that occurred during this wartime period were the Lodge clearing its debts for the construction of the Hall and the purchase of new carpet, which lasted until 1994.
The first meeting after the commencement of the First World War (on 4/8/1914) was held on 9/8/1914 which was a Special Meeting at which only Degrees were conferred and as such there is no official Lodge response to the War.
At the Regular meeting held on 12/8/1914 the following Minute was recorded;
“ Bro. Crawford, Master, referred to the War and that a number of Brethren of the Lodge had been called away to defend the Country, but hoped it would be of short duration and that they would be able to return to the Lodge. The Brethren were upstanding singing God Save The King”
This would reflect the facts that the First World War came as no surprise and as such troops were mobilised very quickly.
At the meeting on 9/9/1914 the Lodge agreed to donate the following sums in response to the War;
£5 to the British Red Cross
£5 to the Belgian relief Fund
£5 to the Prisoner of War Relief Fund.
The War effort was further assisted at the next meeting on 23/9/1914 when a letter from the Grand Master Mason The Marquis of Tullibardine was read requesting a supply of field glasses for the new Scottish Horse Brigade. The Lodge also decided that “All Brethren called to defend the Country send their name to the Secretary.”
Of course the War did not affect the normal running of the Lodge and at the meeting on 11/11/1914 the following reports were delivered;
General Fund had increased by £6-14-6
Benevolent Fund had increased by £19-11-6
Hall Account increased by £84-8-8
Loans Outstanding £210
21 Regular Meetings Average 119
2 Special Meetings Average 52
7 Instruction Classes 52
Total Attendance 2602
This marked a decrease in attendance of 1200, which obviously affected the funds of the Lodge.
The Elections were also carried out, with Bro. John Scott being elected to serve as Master. The Secretary also read out the list of Brethren in Service.
Bro. John Scott, Master, was absent from the meeting on 27/1/1914 as his son had been killed on HMS Bicknor. A letter was also read from Grand Lodge advising Lodges of a Plan to draw up a Roll Of Honour of all Brethren serving with the Forces. Grand Lodge also intimated at the meeting on 5/2/1915 that it would be in order for Lodges to suspend Annual Dues for members serving in the Forces---This was duly passed by the Lodge on 10/3/1915.
It was with sadness that the Lodge reported the death of Bro. Robert Gibson PM(1885-87,89,90,92-95) at the meeting on 28/4/1915. Members of the Lodge had attended his funeral that same day in Masonic Regalia.
At the meeting on 16/4/1915 the IPM Bro. Crawford was presented with a PM Jewel and a gold watch ----he was also presented with a Diamond ring for his wife.
Provincial Grand Lodge appealed for donations to purchase a “motor ambulance for the War” and the Lodge immediately responded by donating £10. The Lodge also held a dance, which raised £9-10-0, which was donated to “provide comforts for the Brethren serving with the Colours”. At the same meeting held on 12/5/1915 it was announced that Bro.A Allan JD had joined the Gordon Highlanders.
The daughter of Bro. Robert Gibson PM applied to the Lodge for Benevolence following her Fathers death and the Lodge considered this at the meeting on 9/6/1915 but felt that it should take no action as Kenmuir was not Bro. Gibsons Mother Lodge! (Lodge Thistle No 87 was) This seems a particularly uncharitable decision given the work that Bro. Gibson PM had done for the Lodge.
At the meeting on 13/10/1915 it was reported that Bro. A Allan JD was in hospital having been “wounded in France while fighting for King and Country”
At the meeting on 27/10/1915 Bro. Robert Scott JW presented the Lodge with a framed Roll of Honour of 50 Brethren on active service----Unfortunately this has not survived. Sadly at the same meeting it was reported that Bro. J Haldane had been killed in active service. Bro. Coutts also resigned as Secretary due to illness after serving 21 years.
At the AGM it was reported that 37 candidates had been initiated and the following reports were delivered:
General Fund had increased by £45-1-9
Benevolent Fund had increased by £24-11-3
Hall Account increased by £27-1-9
21 Regular Meetings Average 95
7 Special Meetings Average 78
Total Attendance 2550
Bro. G Carruth was elected as Master and duly installed on 24/11/1915 when the Speirs Bowling Cup was presented to Lodge Kenmuir. It obviously took a World War for 570 to get some Silverware!
Two further deaths were reported in January 1916—Bro. Alexander had met his death “ in the disaster of HMS Natal” and Bro. J Stewart died in Gallipoli. The HMS Natal was sunk on Hogmanay 1915 in the Cromarty Firth when, it was believed, faulty carbide exploded sinking the ship in less than 5 minutes and killing over 400 men—Bro. Alexander included.
The Provincial Visit of 1916 reported that the 37 candidates had joined in the last year and a special mention was made of Bro. Robert Gibson PM,”who had done yeoman service in Provincial Grand Lodge”, where he attained the Rank of Junior Warden.
Bro. Coutts, the long time Secretary of the Lodge, returned on 2/3/1916 after illness and was presented with a receipt for Exquecher Bonds, a Gladstone Bag together with a gold chain and a locket for his wife.
The Lodge decided to further the War effort by donating the collection from the Annual divine Service on 18/6/1916 to the Limbless Soldiers and Sailors Hospital and that all expenses of the Service be paid by the Lodge. The Lodge also decided to insure the property against aircraft for the sum of £1900 and £200 for contents---The premium being 80/-.
At this point in the War –June 1916-The Lodge had almost 100 Brethren serving with the Forces and it was decided that each Brother would be presented with a Roll of Honour Certificate. On the meeting of 14/6/1916 Brothers Fletcher and Gilmour received a hearty welcome from the Lodge, being home on leave from the War.
The death of another Brother was recorded on 12/7/1916—Bro D Leith.
The Lodge marked the Second Anniversary of the War on 9/8/1916 by being upstanding while singing “God save the King”.
The Lodge received two letters from Grand Lodge at the Meeting on 15/8/1916; the first letter detailed the procedure of Application, which is basically the same procedure as followed today.The second letter requested all Brethren of “Alien Enemy Birth or Nationality” to abstain from attending the Lodge until the War is over to preserve the Peace and Harmony of the Lodge.
It was reported at the meeting on 25/10/1916 that Bro. JR Black had been recommended for the Military Medal.
The Secretary’s report of 8/11/1916 gave the following information;
Candidates for the year 53
General Fund had increased by £89-15-0
Benevolent Fund had increased by £4-7-7
Hall Account increased by £256-5-9
21 Regular Meetings Total 2171 Average 103
7 Special Meetings Total 478 Average 107
Total Attendance 2599
Bro. G Carruth was again elected as Master and duly installed at the next meeting. Bro. John Law PM submitted an apology for not attending the meeting—some 41 years after being the first Master. The membership of the Lodge was still increasing and it was agreed to purchase 500 aprons at a cost of 6/- per 100.
The Master Bro. Carruth opened the Lodge on 10/1/1917 with the heartfelt wish “that all who were presently fighting our battles in France and other Places would soon be restored to their houses”.
On 24/1/1917 Bro.J Gilmour SD presented the Lodge with a handsome gong for use in the Third Degree—Which may very well be the one still in use today.
An interesting letter was received from Grand Lodge concerning details contained in Lodges Roll of Honour. Apparently the Censor advised that any Roll of Honour should only give the Brothers name and description of Force, such as HM Navy or Royal Scots but the Regiment number should not be disclosed.
At the meeting on 25/4/1917 the Lodge was informed that Bro. H Robertson who was serving with the Canadian Forces had been wounded in France and was currently in hospital in London, At the same meeting Bro. Baillie JO Early appealed for Members of the Lodge to come forward to join the Freemasons Company which was now being formed in the Volunteers---However the Minutes do not make it clear if this was an active Regiment or a “Home Guard”. Co-incidentally information contained in the Lodge Minutes regarding the War reduced—The Lodge was no longer told where Brethren were killed, Which was probably necessary in terms of the Censor but robbed us of important details of the History of the Lodge.
More deaths of Brethren were recorded over the next few months—The Brother of the Master –Bro. Andrew Carruth was killed in France—and Bro. J Wallace Jnr (of the Canadians) died of wounds received in action.
On 29/8/1917 a letter was read from Bro. R Aitken appealing for assistance as he was in a Prisoner of War Camp in Germany---The Lodge held a collection that night for him, which raised the sum of 77/-, which was immediately dispatched to him.
The AGM for 1917 was held on 14th November. Bro. John Law PM was present to see Bro. Peebles elected as RWM. The following reports were given:
Candidates for the year 84
General Fund had increased by £5-12-11
Benevolent Fund had increased by £25-5-9
Hall Account increased by £36-7-0
19 Regular Meetings Total 1885 Average 99
6 Special Meetings Total 567 Average 95
Total Attendance 2452
It was also reported that all loans for the building of the Hall had been repaid----Some 8 years after construction had begun. This could also be the reason that the funds of the lodge had not increased by their usual amount.
At this point the Lodge held a wet and dry harmony on an alternating basis. This following Notice of Motion was put forward to replace this rule.
“The Members shall be at liberty to introduce by vote or otherwise any intoxicating or spirituous liquor at any Communication or Function held under the auspices of the Lodge at any Meeting whether for labour or refreshment.”
A vote was taken for this and the Lodge voted 155-37 for the status quo!
Bro. Peebles was installed on 28/11/1917 when it was also announced that Bro. Alex Primrose had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Although the War was still going on, and the Lodge had at this time over 100 brethren serving in the Forces, it certainly did not stop applications to join the Craft as can be seen from the Minutes of 12/12/1917 where there are 2 complete pages of Applications and at the next Meeting 19 received their 1st Degree.
On 9/1/1918 it was announced that Bro. Donald Renfrew had been awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire.
By 23/1/1918 the Lodge put forward a Notice of Motion that it purchase a new carpet—Which, I believe, lasted until 1994. The Lodge also increased the Initiation Fee to £5-5-0 and decided the collection from the Annual Divine Service would go to the Red Cross Fund.
Various information regarding Brethren serving with the Forces was received over the next few months,
13/2/1918 Bro. D Black had been killed in Action.
13/3/1918 Bro. John Blyth of the Canadians had received The Military Medal.
22/5/1918 Bro. Angus McPherson had received the Military Cross.
12/6/1918 Bro. Corporal Robert Wright had been killed in action.
7/9/1918 Bro. J McCombe had been wounded in action.
25/9/1918 Bro. J Davies died of wounds received in action.
By this time the War was beginning to draw to a close and an “In Memoriam Lodge” was held on 3/11/1918—Just 8 days before Armistice Day.
The Lodge was opened by Bro. Peebles, Master, who then Passed and Raised the Lodge. Hymns were sung followed by a solo by Bro. Robert Scott “Thou are passing here , my Brother”.
The Roll of Honour was then read by The Secretary, followed by the Last Post on the Bugle and then the Death March.
An Oration was given by Bro. Rev. John Duncan—“Kindness to the Dead, Ruth2v20” at the conclusion of which the Brethren sang, “Courage Brother, Do not stumble”.
The work of the Lodge went on and it was reported that there were 171 initiates for the year.
21 Regular meetings Attendance 4225 Average 200
18 Special Meetings Attendance 1673 Average 94
Total Attendance 5898
Sad to note that in the following meeting 3 more Brethren were reported killed in what must have been the last throes of the War--Bro. T Gilmour, Bro. A McKinnon and Bro. Alexander Yuille .At this same meeting it is recorded that “ RWM made fitting reference to the signing of the Armistice and trusted that the same would be the forerunner of a lasting Peace. “ The Brethren were upstanding and sang “Praise God from whom all Blessings flow”.
The Lodge had come through the dark days of the War and had lost many Brethren, but the Lodge if anything had increased in strength.