The Military Cross is an operational gallantry award given to all ranks of the services in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.
W Bro Stan Marut, News Editor, Provincial Media Team continues the theme of Middlesex Masons in the Military
Although the history of Middlesex is sparse on military campaigns on its territory, it has produced its own warriors who gave good service to the County Regiment and on behalf of the country and fought on battlefields far away.
In 1016 Edmund Ironside whose father was Ethelred the Unready, fought Cnut the Dane at the Battle of Brentford.
Strictly, although one history book will show Edmund as victor, another will show that honours were even and disputed lands were shared amongst them.
Later during the First English Civil War in 1642 there was another Battle of Brentford which took place on November 12th followed the next day by the Battle of Turnham Green where the troops of the Parliamentary forces stood firm against the King’s Army making its way to London.
A different outcome and King Charles 1st Army made no headway and retreated to Oxford for the winter.
Many of the Parliamentarian men were strictly armed civilians known as Trained Bands, or Train Bands.
To give a masonic connection there is the Train-Bands Lodge, No. 2524 in London whose name, no doubt, emanated from these types of militia.
Some time ago an article appeared on the Provincial web site which honoured a Middlesex Mason who had received the VC in the First World War.
That was Robert Gee VC, MC, MP.
The story of Masonic Military involvement continues today and we have latter day heroes, some of whom will be remembered by Provincial members.
One such hero was the late W Bro Harold Arthur William Pettinger MC PJGD a member of Bushey Park Lodge, No. 2381.
Brother Harold Pettinger was Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the York and Lancaster Regiment in 1941 and shortly after was sent to Egypt.
It was at Tobruk that his Company had been ordered to attack a German defensive position.
His bravery in leading his men and succeeding in their mission was recognised and he was awarded the Military Cross (MC).
No mean feat for a young subaltern. He also served in other theatres of war including Burma and became a Major in Special Forces HQ supplying the Chindit operations in the jungle.
Of course, he was not yet a Freemason and that would come later in 1955 when he was initiated into his father’s Lodge, Bushey Park Lodge, No. 2381.
Continuing this family link Harold’s son W. Bro Andrew Pettinger is the 3rd generation family member in the Lodge.
Middlesex Military Masons - The Next Generation
W Bros John Mellor and Frankie Whelan-Mellor -
W Bro Frankie Whelan-Mellor PProvGStwd (R) a member of Richmond Lodge, No. 2032 together with his Dad, the well known W Bro John Mellor (L) Prov G Tyler (Bucks), PPrGSuptWks (Berks), PPrDepGReg (Middlesex) a member of Parsifal Lodge, No. 5655 amongst other masonic units in the Province.
W Bro John Mellor served with the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment during the 1960s and 70s.
His son Frankie took up the military mantel and joined the Irish Guards in 1995.
After serving in the ranks for 23 years he was Commissioned and is currently a serving Army Officer in the Irish Guards with the rank of Captain.
During his service to-date he has visited: Germany, Poland, Cyprus, Belize, Kenya and Oman, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operational Tours included Northern Ireland during the Troubles as well as the conflict in Kosovo, not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan over a number of years.
Campaign medals include; General Service Medal (Norther Ireland clasp,) Iraq Medal, Afghanistan Medal (with clasp), Accumulated Campaign Service Medal as well as a NATO medal for his service in Kosovo.
Bro Frankie Whelan-Mellor is currently Secretary of Richmond Lodge, No. 2032 which has a number of military members.
W Bro John Mellor’s family on his father’s side had five enlisted in the Forces during the 2nd World War, two of whom served in North Africa.
Very fortunately all came home safely.
It was even reported in the local newspaper where they lived as a family.
W Bro Ellis Ward PProvAGSwdB -
W Bro Ellis is another member of Richmond Lodge, No. 2032 and has a Guards pedigree.
However, he first joined the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment in 1986 as a Bandsman, later transferring to the Irish Guards in 1991.
It’s not just about playing music and W. Bro Ellis did a Northern Ireland Tour and later with the Irish Guards went to Iraq during the 1st Gulf War as well as to Kosovo.
He finished Military Service in 2008 with the rank of Sergeant in the Irish Guards.
His medals include the General Service Medal for Northern Ireland and the Gulf War Medal for service in the first Gulf conflict
W Bro Nigel Coombes PProvSGD -
W Bro Nigel joined the Army in September 1990 as a trumpet player and Junior Musician at the Army Junior School of Music at Bovington, Dorset.
After a year he moved to the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall, Twickenham to continue his studies.
At that time he would never have guessed that his music Mentor, a certain RSM Robert McLintock would later be fraternally associated with him as a Middlesex Mason.
After this spell at Twickenham Nigel joined the Regimental Band of the 1st Battalion the Staffordshire Regiment.
His Military music CV is impressive and suffice to say that he held senior positions in the Bands of the Irish Guards, Coldstream Guards and the Grenadier Guards.
He has also arranged music for high profile engagements including the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and the funeral of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
It was while serving with the Irish Guards that W Bro Nigel was deployed on Operations to Kosovo.
It should be noted that during his service in the military bands he switched from brass to woodwind, which is no mean achievement.
His Military honours include the General Service Medal with Northern Ireland Clasp, a medal for service in Kosova and a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
W Bro Nigel’s Military Music credentials speak for themselves.
Masonically speaking he is a Past Master of both Richmond Lodge, No. 2032, his Mother Lodge, and Lodge of Air Unity, No. 7445.
Additionally, he is a Past First Principal of Richmond Chapter, No. 2032 and has memberships of Middlesex Masters Lodge, No. 3420 and Prince Michael of Kent Lodge, No. 9120.
W Bro Brian Deluce PPrJGW -
Our Military connections in the Province have tended towards land-based Forces and the Royal Air Force.
So, in researching the Forces connection I was pleased to see a Matelot step forward and contribute our Provincial story.
W Bro Brian’s father was in the Royal Navy and apparently lied about his age so he could enlist. That was in 1941.
He served on the HMS Vetch, a Corvette, and spent a lot of time in Malta.
Our history books will tell us that being stationed in Malta was no idyll and the Island was sorely oppressed by the enemy .
After joining the Navy in 1974 Brian began the six weeks mandatory training on shore-based HMS Ganges before trade training as a Radio Electrician at HMS Collingwood.
He was drafted to Submarines and after training spent time on various craft working in the North Sea during the Cold War era.
The task was to keep an eye an out for Russian ships which might imposed a threat.
W Bro Brian was selected for training on Polaris Subs which would mean working on nuclear submarines.
This must have been an altogether different prospect and he politely declined; Faslane on the River Clyde perhaps not the most exotic of postings.
He originally joined Graveney Lodge, No. 5285 in 1986, which met at Staines.
Regrettably, W Brian was Secretary at the time the Lodge was erased in 2013 and then became a Joining Member at Richmond Lodge, No. 2032.
In the Province he was Provincial Grand Sword Bearer a few years ago and is now PPrJGW.
As he has spent part of his life underwater it is no surprise that he also belongs to the British Sub-Aqua Lodge, No. 8997 and Chapter, both of which meet at Great Queen Street.
His son Michael who is 34 has been Initiated and Passed in Richmond Lodge and is waiting to be Raised when the time is right.
Good to see a Lewis these days.
W Bro K R Demmen PPJGW PPSGD (Berks) -
W Bro Ken has been captured, it seems, and this photo is from 1969 but circumstances at the time proved difficult for him to be with his new wife.
Having joined the RAF in 1966 he served for 12 years with the final Rank of a Corporal Cook.
In between he served at a number of RAF bases in the UK but did end up in Libya at the El Adem Libyan Air Force base in January 1969.
W Bro Ken said that officially his main role was Inflight Catering, but in reality it was The Al Adem Radio Station, more commonly known as TEARS, where besides presenting programmes I was responsible for the running of the TEARS bar.
Although this appeared this might have a kind “RAF Holiday Camp”, it was also the time of the Ghaddafi Revolution.
Whilst out with colleagues visiting the ancient sights of Libya the Revolution was taking place.
Meanwhile back at camp everybody was frantic and just about to send out search parties for the 6 servicemen.
Fortunately, all ended well and later in 1969 Ken came home to his bride to be.
Because of the troubles the new bride was unable to travel to Libya to be with her new husband.
Whilst there is no masonic pedigree in Ken’s family, his father was in the Royal Army Medical Corps and took part in the Normandy Landings.
W Bro Ken said that his father never spoke about what he saw.
The trauma of tending to those close to death or wounded would have been a very difficult cross to bear.
There must be many old soldiers, sailors and aircraftsmen who felt the same way and put their experiences to the back of their minds.
Perhaps at that time there was little by way of counselling for those who had been wrapped up in the horrors of war.
W Bro Ken Demmen is Secretary of Middlesex Armed Forces Lodge, No. 9940.
W Bro Steve Heynes PGStdB PPrGReg -
Steve is another member of Middlesex Armed Forces Lodge.
He joined the Army as an Apprentice with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1974 and his first posting was Devizes.
Soon after he was seconded to the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
Then this intrepid traveller was sent Gutersloh, Germany where even greater delights were in store with trips to France for a three week canoe training course and a month in Italy with a Bath Unit.
The Royal Army Ordinance Corps is responsible for aspects of military hygiene and the provision of baths and showers as mobile units is extremely important.
A further posting to Belize (formerly British Honduras) followed but this was no vacation as it was at this time that the difficulties with Guatemala, which had territorial claims against British Honduras were most pronounced.
Steve’s being in Belize during their troubles absolved him from being sent to the South Atlantic.
W Bro Steve’s military career has been an interesting one and he was also trained to ski and participate in Arctic Warfare training.
Later on, after promotion to Sergeant, he was posted to London where he had a responsibility for a stores unit supplying spare parts for Military Staff cars in London, which also included the Queen’s baggage vehicles
Tragedy Strikes -
However, there came a moment in Steve’s life which could have resulted in a change in his whole career path.
It was during his time in London that he had a motorcycle accident which meant the loss of his right leg.
Good fortune smiled on Steve and even with a prosthetic limb he remained another 11 years in the Army and was twice promoted with a final rank of Warrant Officer Second Class SQMS (Staff Quartermaster Sergeant).
Fair play to the Army but no exotic postings.
Steve’s earlier pursuits as a young soldier are not abated and he has been involved in white water canoeing down the Coppermine River, Northwest Territories in Canada (Read a report HERE )
Steve left the Army in 1988 but there is still an element of dare devil and for his birthday treat he chose a Zip Wire Event to raise money for charity - https://pglm.org.uk/l9940-zipwire-article/
This fine British military tradition continues, and it is our masonic Brethren whose stories have been told here, who have kept the “spark” of this tradition alive in serving the Queen and the Nation in difficult circumstances and at a risk to their lives.
As Middlesex Masons we salute them all.
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