Celebrating 125 years of Roll Call Lodge, No. 2523 –
On Thursday 14th November at Cole Court, Twickenham, the Lodge held its 127th Installation meeting in the presence of W Bro John Leggett PAGSwdB, AProvGM and other distinguished brethren.
The Lodge’s Assistant Secretary, W Bro John Hoare produced the following short note on the history of the Lodge:-
“In October 1893 an application was made for a Warrant which was rejected by Grand Lodge; no reason for the rejection has been found in the Lodge’s records. However, the tenacious efforts of the Founders of the Lodge led to a Warrant being granted in June 1894 and in the following month the Lodge held its first regular meeting in Oddfellows’ Hall, Hounslow. The work for that meeting included two Initiations and the admission of two joining members.
In 1917 the Lodge enjoyed its most active year holding 11 regular meetings and putting 48 brethren through one or more ceremonies.
Hounslow at that time was a well-known Garrison Town, which has now changed beyond all recognition from those who would have known it in those times. The barracks have been sold and there are plans to build 1,000 houses, much of which is to be social housing allocated to overspill from Westminster Council.
In 1965 the Lodge moved to Cole Court at Twickenham, which is now its permanent home.
The most famous member of Roll Call Lodge was T/Captain Robert Gee VC, MC, who had been a member since 1907. He was noted for two heroic actions during the 1914-1918 war. He had been a soldier in the Royal Fusiliers and then transferred to the Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment. However, it would appear that Brother Robert Gee’s sojourn in Middlesex was due to his Army unit, the Royal Fusiliers City of London Regiment, being stationed in Hounslow.
• On 1 July 1916, the first day of The Battle of The Somme, when the whistles sounded to leave the trenches, he led his company into battle. He was wounded twice but refused medical assistance until he trod on an unexploded shell, which then exploded, throwing him into the air. Now rendered semi-conscious, he was stretchered off to receive medical attention. For this engagement he was awarded the Military Cross.
• On 30 November 1917, at The Battle of Cambrai, an attack by the enemy captured his brigade headquarters and ammunition dump. Finding himself a prisoner, T/Capt Gee managed to escape by killing his captor with his spiked stick and organised a party of the brigade staff, with which he attacked the enemy, followed by two companies of Infantry. Finding an enemy machine gun still in action, he went forward with a revolver in each hand and captured the gun, killing 8 of the crew. He was wounded in this action, but would not have his wounds dressed until the defence was organised. For this engagement he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Armistice Day, 11 November 1920, was a day of mellow sunshine, on which the Cenotaph in Whitehall was unveiled by HM King George V. Also on that day the Unknown Warrior was interred in Westminster Abbey. The coffin carrying the Unknown Warrior was carried into the Abbey through a Guard of Honour of 100 holders of the Victoria Cross from all three Services. They were known as the “Bodyguard of Heroes”. Sixteen of that honour guard have been identified as Freemasons and one of them was none other than T/Capt (Temporary Captain) Robert Gee.”
He had an interesting subsequent career as a member of Parliament and in later life lived in Western Australia where he died in 1960 aged 84.
His VC is located at the Fusiliers Regimental Museum at the Tower of London.
What an amazing honour for the Lodge to have had such a distinguished Brother in their midst.
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