At war again, 1939-1945
At the outbreak of the war, the Lodge membership was 71 full members and 40 on the country list. Telecommunications was a reserved occupation in the war, so few Lodge members were called away for active service, although two members were briefly assigned to the Royal Signals. The sole member who was on active service throughout the war was Bro John Hancock who served in the Royal Navy and was twice torpedoed. However, some 30 Lodge members were involved in work in support of the war, either as part of their regular profession or as volunteers in the Home Guard, as Fire Wardens or in the Civil Defence. Bro. Horace Harbottle was awarded the OBE for his contribution to the GPO War Group.
Telecommunications was vital to the war effort and it stimulated many advances, including Direction Finding, Radar and the use of ‘computers’ for code-breaking at Bletchley Park. Bro. Edward Shipton worked for the Royal Navy on radar and ‘secret devices’. Because of the war work, numbers attending Telephone Lodge dropped. But that wasn't the only challenge, as the Lodge, like many London lodges, found themselves in the 'front line'.
The 31st Installation Meeting of 14th Oct 1939 was held as usual. W. Bro. Frank Baker, LGR was installed as Master. A dinner was provided but there was no music and the evening was timed to finish by 7pm.
The Lodge met as usual on 11th Nov 1939, but the planned Initiation did not take place due to the candidate being unable to get leave from war service with the British Expeditionary Force.
On the 16th Dec 1939 Bro. Secretary wrote to members announcing that the Master had decided to cancel the Regular Meeting set to be held on 3rd Jan 1940 'due to the present uncertain conditions'. In retrospect, this period, known as the 'Phoney War' was no great threat compared with what was to follow.
The Lodge next met on 9th Mar 1940 and business was transacted as usual. But once again, the previously postponed Initiation did not take place. Arthur Scarborough, the candidate, was a prisoner of war from 1940 to 1945 and was not able to be initiated until Nov 1945.
The Blitz started on the 7th September 1940 and London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights. Consequently, the Installation Meeting planned for October 1940 was cancelled.
On 9th Nov 1940 Bro. Secretary wrote to members announcing that the Master had decided to 'postpone the Installation Meeting until further notice', due to the absence of brethren on war work and that 'it would be difficult, if not impossible, at the present time to arrange a suitable place and time to meet'. Grand Lodge were aware and had confirmed that the postponement of the Installation would in no way prejudice the Master Elect or the Officers chosen by him.
The Café Royal was bombed on the night of 29th December 1940 and this made it impractical to meet in January 1941. That night, often called the Second Great Fire of London, brought huge devastation to the City and East End, although famously, St Paul's Cathedral survived. It is often overlooked that the West End, around Piccadilly, was also badly affected.
The Lodge next met on 15th Mar 1941. This was the 32nd Installation Meeting and W. Bro. Baker was finally able to install his successor, Bro. Thomas Sherratt, who in turn invested a full set of Lodge Officers. A proposition was carried to alter the meeting dates during the National Emergency to the 3rd Saturday in March, May, July and October.
The Lodge next met therefore on 17th May 1941, 19th July 1941 and 18th Oct 1941. The latter meeting was the 33rd Installation Meeting and Bro. Sherratt installed his successor Bro. Thomas Kennard.
The special meeting arrangements continued until the autumn of 1944. It is noteworthy that excepting the meetings of May and July 1941, all the meetings from March 1941 onwards were timed to start around midday and were followed by a light lunch, so that members would be travelling to and from meetings in daylight. Afternoon meetings with an evening dinner did not recommence until October 1945, after the cessation of hostilities. By that time, Lodge membership stood at 50 full members and 35 on the country list.
Two notable members who were initiated into the Lodge in the 1940s were W. Bro. Jack Humphreys LGR and W. Bro. Jack Haywood LGR; both of whom will be fondly remembered by many current Lodge members. Jack Humphreys was in office almost continuously from 1950 to 1976. He was Master in our 50th anniversary year in 1958 and was ADC then DC from 1964 to 1976. He was made an Honorary Member, but still liked to participate at our Installation meetings where his last attendance, at the age of 92, was in 1994. Jack Haywood likewise rose to Master in 1960 and working alongside Jack Humphreys was ADC then DC from 1971 to 1983. He died in 1988 just before he was to be invested with SLGR.