The annual service of remembrance at the war memorial within Liverpool Masonic Hall is held following the correct time honoured tradition of 11 o’clock on 11 November. This years’ service was led by Rev Wilfred Alexander, a Past Provincial Grand Chaplain of West Lancashire.
Rev Alexander commented on how humbled he was to stand and read the names on Liverpool Masonic Hall War Memorial. Close on 200 Liverpool Freemasons who had given their all and that was only for the First World War. Indeed, the number was many more than that shown, for large numbers of mercantile marine were not shown. Add the numbers from World War Two and other conflicts and one starts to appreciate the sacrifice made by Liverpool Freemasons within the community to guarantee the freedom of this country.
The ceremony opened with a portion of scripture, followed by a reading taken from John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrims Progress’. Following the two minutes silence and the playing of ‘The Last Post’, James Kontzle, ex Royal Navy, and looking resplendent with his row of war medals, recited ‘The Exhortation’.
The wreath laying ceremony commenced with the first one being laid by Mark Dimelow on behalf of the Province, while John Roberts laid that from Liverpool Masonic Hall, Bob Povall one from the Liverpool Group and Derek Parkinson representing the Gladstone Group. Stanley Oldfield attended representing the Royal Arch and a prominent other Masonic degree was marked by the attendance of Peter Connolly, Mike Winterbottom and Steve Walls.
Other wreaths were laid in respect of individual lodges, such as Blenheim Lodge No 7519 and Neptune Lodge No 1264, while the last wreath to be laid was by David Crowley, a former chief engineer with the merchant navy. With Liverpool being the most important sea-port during both world wars, with its men suppling a large percentage of crew members on most vessels, this was perhaps the most poignant of all and had the simple message, ‘For those lost at sea’.
Rev Alexander then gave a short talk regarding some of his experience of war; the siting of an anti-aircraft battery next to his childhood home and how he was glad it was a bungalow when the low flying enemy aircraft came in. He told of his recent visit to France and a small village with 20 names on the memorial, all resistance fighters who had been executed, and of the other war cemeteries. These, consisting of row upon row of headstones of Portland stone and in the middle of France, among all the soldiers graves, stood one to a man of the Royal Navy. This man would be from the Royal Naval Division, sailors no longer needed at sea and turned into soldiers fighting and falling in the cause of freedom in the trenches of France and Flanders.
The service was completed by Rev Alexander leading all assembled in a prayer of commemoration. It must also be remembered that for many in attendance today this was a double armistice ceremony, having been at the civic ceremony the previous Sunday which was held at the Cenotaph in front of St George’s Hall. This had been a spectacular event with thousand’s turning up to pay their respects and again on Armistice Day another service of commemoration was held there.