Past Substitute Provincial Grand Master, Provincial GL of Fife and Kinross, Grand Lodge of Scotland
PM, Lodge Earl Haig No. 1260, Grand Lodge of Scotland
PM, Lodge Hope of Kurrachee No. 337, Grand Lodge of Scotland

“Remembrance honours those who serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life. We unite across faiths, cultures and backgrounds to remember the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from Britain and the Commonwealth”. A very apt succinct description for something that is very personal and so much deeper for all those who are directly or indirectly touched by the need to Remember.
Ever since I can remember I wanted to serve my Country, it is something that I cannot explain from whence it came, but I just know that it is something within my heart that I had always wanted to do. I did come from a fairly traditional Kirk of Scotland family, Kirk and Sunday school was always part of our weekly ritual. I also knew that part of my father’s weekly ritual was also to attend his Lodge. He was then and is still now a very active Freemason and is in fact at 87 year old our longest serving mason, joining his father and brother in our Lodge, Lodge Earl Haig No 1260 as a Lewis in 1956.
One of my other early memories is that I can always remember wearing a Poppy and every November walking along to the local War Memorial in Markinch and seeing the “old and the bold” proudly standing with their chest full of medals. In the 1970’s there were so many more of them than there is now and even though they were failing in health and age they always stood with a sense of honour and decorum that can, looking back, only come from someone who has served and has seen the awfulness of conflict.
Maybe it was this blend of Kirk and Freemasonry at home that gave me this desire to serve. Little did I know at that time that my future would be so entwined in Remembrance, Service and Freemasonry.
That Service to community started as a Scout and then later as an Air Cadet before leaving home at 17 years old to join the Royal Air Force on the 5th ­January 1988. My Father and Uncle had both served during their National Service in the 50’s and it made sense to me to follow in their footsteps – yes knowing what I know now, I may have made different career decisions. But on the other hand had I done so I may not be writing this paper today.
My Service to the Lodge was to start some 16 months later in March 1989 whilst I was serving at RAF Wyton in Huntingdonshire. During Christmas leave I was put through my enquiry committee and then on my return for Easter Leave I was initiated into my Grandfather’s and Father’s Lodge. That Lodge was in the small village of Windygates in Fife and it takes the name of, in my opinion, the Father of Remembrance across the Commonwealth of Nations. My Mother Lodge is Lodge Earl Haig no 1260 within the Province of Fife and Kinross under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Haig was a name I was familiar with as I grew up in Markinch – the Home of Haig. Markinch was the Headquarters of Haig’s ­Whisky and all around me growing up there were connections to the Haig name and family. Little did I know then that this family would follow me in many ways through my journey of Remembrance, Service and Commemoration!

As a young freemason, and to this day, I am always eager to make my daily advancement in knowledge, a trait that my father says I have always had, that thirst for knowledge. This knowledge to understand our Lodge’s name and the connection with the Field Marshal would take me on this journey, first of all understanding why a small relatively rural Lodge in Fife would want to bear his name and why did the members feel a connection. Well I found out the simple explanation was that the majority of our founder members worked at Cameron Bridge distillery, which was part of the Haig Whisky Empire and as our Lodge was founded in the relatively near aftermath of the First World War, at a time when Haig was still lauded as National Hero by being able to bring the War to an end and bring our boys home. The founders did however debate should we be called Lodge Cameron Bridge or Lodge Earl Haig and the latter won the vote.
These early members of our Lodge knew that Haig was a Freemason, in fact 16 of our founder members came from our neighbouring Lodge, Elgin’s Lodge at Leven No 91. FM Haig at this time was a member of that Lodge but due to all of his other duties he was not active as a Freemason and in fact at that time he had only taken his 1st degree when he was initiated into the Lodge in December 1881. His Army career then took him away from the family home at Cameron and it was not until after the Great War that he returned to Freemasonry and was passed and raised in 1924. He then had a very rapid progression to the Chair of King Solomon and was the Master of the Lodge in 1925. During his tenure he initiated 19 candidates. This can be testified to by the Masters journal that sits on the Dias of 91 to this day. Where along with his signature are the signature of all of his candidates. As was normal practice on those days he also received rapid promotion within Grand Lodge and at the time of his death he was Grand Senior Deacon.
So with this close connection with his Mother Lodge the founders of 1260 approached the FM to ask his permission to call the Lodge after him, which he readily granted and he presented the Lodge with a sword, which had been presented to him as his first pattern cavalry sword. This sword can be seen in all the great statutes of Haig around the country and is still carried by our sword bearer in open Lodge. Incidentally my first office was that of Sword-bearer and I can still remember how humbling it was as a young serviceman to have the privilege of carrying this ­National Hero’s sword. To this day I ensure that all of our new candidates are very well aware of the antiquity of this treasure.

At the time of our Lodge’s consecration in 1921 Haig was in the process of bringing together a variety of disparate veterans groups that had emerged in the aftermath of the Great War. His drive, enthusiasm and dedication to his men was to prove vitally important for our Nation as out of his endeavours the British Legion and British Legion Scotland was formed in 1921. When you look at the early constitutions and the structure of Legion Branches anyone with a small understanding of the structure of Freemasonry will be able to see at a glance where Haig took his idea from for his new organisation structure from.
Haig’s reputation over the years has been very mixed, from being lauded as a hero in the aftermath of the Great War to being accused of being a donkey leading lions. Somewhere in the middle is likely to be the true answer. I am gladdened that modern day historians are coming back to the view that he was a national hero and his actions shortened the Great War and saved countless thousands of lives. From my discussions with current members of the Haig family and the various books that I have read on all sides of the Haig – hero or villain debate – I like to believe that his men, his family, his brethren and his country were all at the forefront of his mind in all that he did. He was a relatively shy man by nature and circumstance did catapult him into the spotlight and he was caught in the political machinations of a Nation in a post war time of crisis. This was through no fault of his own or through any desire to be in charge, in many ways it reminds me of the fictional President Tom Kirkman in the Netflix series Designated Survivor. Like the fictional Kirkman, Haig took what life gave him and he did what he believed was right.
He was however driven by a sense to look after his men and this was why he became instrumental in the design and delivery of what we now know as Remembrance in the UK. It was his leadership and vision that brought the many veterans groups that were forming in the aftermath of the War together to ensure that they were not competing with each other not only for money but to provide a welfare service, but maybe also he saw that politics could hijack some of these groups and not for the best of reasons. The history of the ­Royal British Legion movement is a presentation in itself and as such I will not go into too much detail in this paper about those great organisations that are looking forward to 100 years of “service before self” in 1921.
Although many members will credit Haig with being the first to use the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance and to use it to help fund his fledgling organisations, the credit for this must go to a number of people before Haig. Firstly, Lt.Col John McCrae a Canadian military doctor was inspired to write the poem In Flanders Fields in commemoration of a close friend who was killed at Ypres. This poem has been instrumental in the story of making the poppy become the symbol of remembrance across the English speaking world.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row, / That mark our place; and in the sky / The larks, still bravely singing, fly / Scarce heard amid the guns below./
We are the Dead. Short days ago / We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie / In Flanders fields./
Take up our quarrel with the foe: / To you from failing hands we throw / The torch; be yours to hold it high. / If ye break faith with us who die / We shall not sleep, though poppies grow / In Flanders fields.

This poem inspired an American academic Prof. Moina Michaels to adopt the poppy in memory of those who had fallen in the war. She tirelessly campaigned to get it adopted as an official symbol of ­Remembrance across the United States and worked with others who were trying to do the same in Canada, Australia, and the UK. It was not just Prof. Michaels who had been inspired by the poppy of Flanders field. A French woman, Anna Guérin was in the UK in 1921 where she planned to sell the poppies in London after being inspired by French widows who had been selling them in France for the benefit of wounded and returning soldiers. It was a meeting between our Brother the FM Haig and Ms Guerin where he was inspired to use the poppy as the emblem for his fledgling organisation the British Legion. Not yet Royal, as the Royal appendage was not added until 1971. He ordered 9 million poppies that first year and sold them to public on our Remembrance Day the 11th November 1921.
Being a member of both organisations I can clearly see the similarities in structure, in ethos and desire to do well and albeit I cannot evidence that it was Haig’s masonic knowledge that inspired the way he formed the Legion, I like to think that it did. My belief in this is strengthened by conversations that I have had with Bro, The Rt. Hon. Earl of Elgin and Kincardine KT. Past Grand Master and Past Provincial Grand Master of Fife and Kinross, my mother Province. I was honoured that in his last term as our PGM he invited me to become an active member of his PGL a body that I have now served with great honour to my mother Lodge for the last 22 years. Bro Lord Elgin shared with me a story about his father and one of his meetings with Haig. Actually it was more than a meeting as Haig was staying at Broomhall the Bruce family seat just outside Dunfermline. This story was also reprinted in the MQ Magazine no 9.
“By chance, just after I had read the article about the Duke of Wellington and Freemasonry (MQ, Issue No. 9), there was a visit from Archie Eglinton, who is my wife’s cousin, and I told him about a more modern Field Marshal and his interests in Freemasonry. Archie instructed me to write to you with this story.
In 1920, Lord Haig came to visit at Broomhall in order to visit a club of ex-servicemen that had been developed in our local town of Dunfermline. My father told me that, in the morning following this dinner of the ex-servicemen, Haig said that he was hoping to be able to form a number of these groups all over Scotland and elsewhere.
My father said that he then told Haig that he was finding similar groups of ex-servicemen who were joining or had recently joined Freemason Lodges in Scotland.
Father went on and said to Haig: “You didn’t by any chance become a Freemason, did you?” Haig apparently looked surprised but admitted that, as an undergraduate at Oxford he had joined the local Lodge at Leven in Fife near to their Cameron Bridge distillery and had become a Freemason in Elgin’s Lodge at ­Leven No. 91. This Lodge was named after the fifth Earl, who was Grand Master Mason in 1761.
My father then discovered from the Lodge secretary that indeed Douglas Haig, described as an undergraduate at Oxford, had taken his First and Second Degrees and was still awaiting his Third.
A suitable date was arranged for Field Marshal the Earl Haig, K.T., to receive his Third Degree and he later went on to become Master of the Lodge and was persuaded to take office in Grand Lodge, which he did. When he died he was Senior Grand Deacon.”
Listening to Bro Lord Elgin speak is one of life’s great masonic privileges. He is one of the most dedicated Freemasons I have had the honour to meet and his knowledge on our Craft is second to none. His ability to hold a room is something that will be discussed in masonic circles long after he has ascended to the Grand Lodge above. Yes, it is an honour to be with your brethren, but even more so to have the pleasure of a private audience at Broomhall and listen to his memories.
The discussion about the future of Remembrance that evening at Broomhall by two of our country’s leading aristocrats and soldiers is one of those dinners that you wish you can go back in time to witness. This meeting strengthens my belief that we as a Craft and more particularly members of my Province had a hand in defining the future of Remembrance in our nation.
Yes, it is tenuous, to believe that our Freemasonry is behind Remembrance, but as this story is entwined with my personal journey, I am happy to view it that way. When we look to the story of the third degree and what that means and the allegories that it explores it may be an easy step to make bearing in mind that although the Field Marshal had been a member of the Craft it was only in the aftermath of the war and around the time of his meetings at Broomhall that he was raised to the high and sublime degree.
As we know the third degree teaches the immortality of the soul. It teaches the truth that whilst man withers away to crumble and decay, there is something within him that will never perish. The third degree in Freemasonry stirs men to serve the truth by steadfastly maintaining their noblest aspirations even in the face of appalling adversity, out of which can rise a more perfect tribute to our Masonic ideal. Was it these noblest of aspirations that drove Haig to ensure that his men were never forgotten?
During this time he would have also been reminded of the word of God in Ecclesiastes 12, 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: and 12,7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
These sentiments are what I believe led him to insist that his grave would be the same as his men a standard Imperial War Grave Headstone and not one that you may have expected from a Scottish family of their standing. Lady Dorothy is also buried under a similar grave marker to her husband in the ground of Dryburgh Abbey a short drive away from the family home of Bemersyde. They are both buried in the next plot to that other distinguished Scottish Freemason, Sir Walter Scott. Every time I visit the graveside in the ruined Abbey my belief in the goodness of our Craft and the work of the Royal British Legion is renewed as it is a beautiful place of contemplation. I am not surprised at all that the Companions of the Royal Arch every year have a meeting within the ruins of the ­Abbey as there are few other places I have visited that pull together the feelings of remembrance, faith, hope and benevolence for you to contemplate on your own masonic journey.

In terms of buildings and monuments that we have created to honour our dead, I find none so more humbling and fitting tribute than the Scottish National War Memorial that is sited in the centre of Edinburgh ­Castle. The Castle itself sits powerfully above the beautiful city of my birth and has been a place of strength and security since the Bronze Age.
The Scottish National War Memorial commemorates nearly 135,000 Scottish casualties in the First World War, 1914-18, more than 50,000 in the Second World War, 1939-45, and the campaigns since 1945. The Memorial itself is to be found in Crown Square at the very top of the rock and was commissioned in 1927 by the architect Sir Robert Lorimer and along with 200 Scottish artists and craftsmen created a serene Hall of Honour and the Shrine, where the names of the dead are contained in books that are on permanent display. But in terms of Freemasonry and ­Remembrance what connections are there? Yes, like the story of Haig and Remembrance they may be ­tenuous as they will have happened even if those involved were not Freemason’s but as I have said before in this paper, I like to believe that our principles were strong motivators in their lives and help make them the men they were.
One such masonic brother who was the driving force behind the vision to create the Scottish National War Memorial was John George Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl. A leading member of the Scottish aristocracy, the Duke of Atholl, or “Bardie” as he was known from his title, the Marquis of Tullibardine, was a serving soldier who had fought in the Sudan and had raised the Scottish Horse Yeomanry. He was a man of considerable vision and energy and, what was more important, he had both influence and connections. Many of these connections were Masonic and in our Masonic world he was certainly a brother of influence and connection. He was the Master of Lodge of Dunkeld St. John No 14 (1895-1909) and importantly for the Scottish Craft he was Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland between 1909-1913.
In the spring of 1917 The Duke of Atholl gathered around him a number of leading and powerful Scots: Lt. General Sir Spencer Ewart, GOC Scotland, Lt. Colonel D. W. Cameron of Lochiel, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Captain George S. C. Swinton (the grandfather of the famous Hollywood actress Tilda Swinton) and also and importantly for this paper Sir Hector Munro of Foulis, PM Lodge Fingal, he was also the first Provincial Grand Master of the PGL of Ross and Cromarty 1890-1911. His son and heir Captain Hector Munro MC, Younger of Foulis, was killed in action while serving with the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders in 1918. So, we can see that in the death of his son Bro Munro had very personal reasons to be involved in the development of this memorial. Speaking to our ­current Grand Master Mason Bro Ramsay McGhee, who is also a Past PGM of Ross and Cromarty, the Munro family are still well known and active on the Black Isle but unfortunately currently no masonic connections.

My interest in the connection of Freemasonry and Remembrance was further developed when I became involved with Poppyscotland, firstly as a volunteer in the Garden of Remembrance in Princes Street Gardens around 15 years ago and then when I was fortunate enough in 2016 to be appointed as Head of Fundraising and Learning. During my time as volunteer and at a time before I became more involved with the National Services of Commemoration and the organisations that were involved in the various parades every November. I was aware that the Grand Lodge of Scotland was not involved but it was as you would expect mainly military and civic bodies involved in wreath laying, although across the country many Lodges laid wreaths at their local memorials. I asked myself why where we not involved at a National level. After a variety of conversations with more learned brethren than I am the consensus was that after the Second World War and the changing of times and cultures. The previously open and public masonic community somehow went into “hiding”, we no longer opened the municipal buildings with great flare, pomp and ceremony. The UGLE recently commented during the TV programme “Inside the Freemasons” that it was to do with Hitler’s persecution of masons that we went into hiding. This is not a view that I hold, but that thought stream is worthy of its own paper. But, what I do know is that we no longer parade in our communities. Yes, some Lodges, but very few have kept that tradition alive!
So what had happened to our civic involvement? No one could really tell me. I then found out that in Scotland there is no formal order of precedence for organisations but loosely it was based on age of foundation. In my youthful naivety I approached the then CEO of the Royal British Legion Scotland, Mr Kevin Gray MM (Scots Guards). He was not a mason and was not sure about the protocol of inviting the Grand Lodge of Scotland but he did however make a promise that he would investigate and come back to me. Little did I know at the time that one of our Lodge treasurers in my Province was also the National treasurer of the Royal British Legion Scotland at the time and it was he that Mr Gray spoke to about Freemasonry and the National Service of Remembrance. A few short weeks later I was invited back to New Haig House, which is incidentally where I now work from, or at least where my desk is as I am writing this paper during the ­COVID-19 lockdown and we are under a working from home regime. The discussion with Mr Gray was very fruitful and interesting and although we did briefly speak about Remembrance he was more interested in the history and meaning of Freemasonry. After a very pleasant few hours talking about my passion about Freemasonry, my mother Lodge and Bro FM Earl Haig, Mr Gray informed me that he would be extending an invite to the then Grand Master Mason, Bro Charles Iain Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont to join with the Nation and lay a wreath on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. This invitation stands to this day along with the opportunity to lay a wreath at the opening of the Gardens of Remembrance in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. So precedence waived, interest piqued, a few more conversations with the National Treasurer and Kevin Gray MM is now a very active Freemason in my Province and I am deeply honoured to call him a friend and Brother.
As part of the field of Remembrance in Princes Street Gardens where every year nearly 10,000 religious symbols are laid, it was also agreed with Poppyscotland that there would be a dedicated plot for Scottish Freemasons. A partnership was agreed and since 2013 every Lodge in Scotland is invited to purchase crosses on behalf of their Glorious Dead and these are planted in one masonic plot and the Grand Lodge of Scotland makes a significant donation in order to lay an individual cross/Star of David for every Home Lodge. These symbols are all stamped with the square and compasses and a group of volunteers hand write the number of every Lodge and then come along and plant them in the Field of Remembrance. A very humbling experience to be involved in and a partnership that has raised in excess of £120k for the vital life changing work of Poppyscotland. The site of nearly 1200 masonic symbols is also a very public statement of our support as the Craft for Remembrance and charity.

As we were approaching the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in 2018 and it was more common knowledge that I was heavily involved in our Nations Remembrance, more and more Brethren began to approach me to see ways in which individual Lodges could become more involved to not only raise vitals funds for our work but to allow them as Brethren, ­Lodges and Province to be part of the Centenary commemorations. My sense was that it was particularly important for Lodges that had members who had given the ultimate sacrifice and their names were always remembered on the Lodges own memorial tablets. It was also important to those Lodges such as my own Lodge Earl Haig who were formed in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. The various discussions that I had with many Brethren reaffirmed in me that my own belief that our masonic teachings inspired us to commemorate those that had served our Nation.
When you do explore individual Lodge histories not only across our own Constitution in Scotland we have always felt the need to honour the sacrifice of our Brethren that have given the ultimate sacrifice and the two main ways of doing this in Scottish Lodges was by memorial plaques, or pieces of furniture of the Lodge dedicated to their memory. In the temple that I meet in there is a beautiful marble plaque for the brethren of Elgin’s Lodge at Leven which include the name of their Master who was killed in action. As we have said earlier this Lodge is the Mother Lodge of Earl Haig and this must have been emotional for the FM. The other permanent record was not just to include the names of the dead, but was the development of a Roll of Honour for all those that have served and across the length and breadth of the country you will see on the walls of Lodges these very ornate and beautifully decorated scrolls listed the Brethren name and his Regiment or Branch. I would encourage all to take the time to look at these items when you visit as I do sense sadly at times that so much of our history that adorn our temple walls is ignored by the majority of our Brethren. Maybe it should be much more part of the instruction of our new Brethren.
The ideas to commemorate the 100th Anniversary were wide ranging and I am very grateful that many of these initiatives will last for many years in the mind of today’s Brethren. One such initiative was the striking of mark tokens from Lodges that had VC holders, with the Lodge being depicted on one side and the reverse depicting the VC and the holder’s name. These have become collectors’ items and I believe will be long lasting items of commemoration. Like all good ideas it was a very simple one but one with far reaching benefit.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland during this period of time become involved in three major projects of commemorations. For those that have visited Freemason’s Hall in George Street, you cannot help be impressed with the beauty of the building that we are proud to call home to the Scottish Craft, but unlike the Grand Lodge building in Great Queen Street London our home was not built as a memorial to the War. A subject that I will address later in this paper. Within Freemason’s Hall there are many memorials and busts of famous Masons, a fantastic museum and library looking after our historic artefacts, books and records. But unlike in the majority of the daughter Lodges there was no War Memorial. It was felt that it would be fitting to commission such a memorial during the 2014‑2019 commemoration period.
In October 2015 a memorial to all those brethren that had given their life in service was officially opened by Bro Lord Elgin. It is a statue which comprise a 2/3 life size figure of St Andrew carrying his wooden saltire. Behind the statue on the wall supports a freeze of all those who served and not just those who served in the military. It includes farmers, miners, fishermen, soldiers, sailors, airmen, clergymen, pipers and animals. Annually this memorial is now where the Grand Lodge lay their own wreath.
The next major partnership to commemorate the Armistice was undertaken by the Widows Sons Scotland motorcycle club in conjunction with drive and enthusiasm of Bro David Reid at the time Grand Sword-bearer. Again there is a whole paper that can be written on the subject of the Widows Sons but this is not the time or the place. During the summer and early autumn of 2018 the bikers took on the mammoth challenge of visiting every Province within Scotland and in partnership with the local Provincial Grand Lodges held wreath laying services at sites of either masonic or military importance. One such event was held at Haig’s graveside at Dryburgh Abbey when the newly formed PGL of the Scottish Borders came together for the first time wearing their new regalia to commemorate their forebears. Humbling is an understatement. This Tour of Remembrance saw up to 100 brethren bikers cover thousands of miles around Scotland in all weather. Their efforts were widely covered in local papers which gave great media exposure to the Scottish Craft and during their sojourn they raised in excess of £65,000. Part of this money was raised with the sale of the first officially recognised GLS and Poppyscotland pin badge.
The final major event undertaken by the Grand Lodge of Scotland to commemorate the Armistice centenary was a Service of Remembrance and Parade along George Street in Edinburgh. A very moving service was conducted in the presence of the Lord Provost of ­Edinburgh the Rt. Hon. Frank Ross – a non-mason. The outdoor parade was the first under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in many decades and what a beautiful site to see some 500 Freemasons in all diverse regalia of the Scottish Craft, march (bimble) along George Street to the sound of the Pipes and Drums.
All of these events were very fitting ways to round out what has been 100 years of the Scottish Craft’s involvement in our Nations Remembrance. Knowing the current custodians of Scottish Freemasonry I have no doubt that we will continue to remember all who have served in all conflicts since and whatever may lie ahead.
These last few years in particular have inspired me to find out more about my forebears and these great Freemasons of yesteryear. It has led to many questions in my mind and has helped me to ensure that I live and breathe the charge of the first degree in that I will strive to make that daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.
During the centenary commemorations and as a small way to thank many of the Lodges that had made a donation to the work of Poppsycotland I pulled a small presentation together on the connection of Freemasonry and Poppsycotland and in effect this was the genesis of this paper and my deeper researches into Freemasonry and Remembrance and Freemasonry and the military. I realised that although I was conversant about Remembrance in Scotland I did not fully appreciate what Freemasonry and Remembrance looked like in other constitutions and in particular the home constitutions, I was also aware of the long connection between the military and Freemasonry and the connection to traveling military lodges – yes, I was aware, they existed, but did I really know the impact they had made on the expansion of Freemasonry across what was then the British Empire? I am Past Master of The Lodge, Hope of Kurrachee no 337. We were originally derived from a military charter and were the first Lodge on the role of Scottish Lodges in the Indian sub-continent. After partition we were in Pakistan and became dormant in 1972 and then reopened in 1988 as a research Lecture Lodge in my Province.