3 Nov 2020

We Will Remember Them

Submitted by Wayne Rumley
Lest we forget

In Fraternal Remembrance


Bro Joseph Cowey, RGA

Who was killed in France on 29th August 1918


I knew Bro Cowey years before he joined the Craft as a leading chorister at Christ Church, where Sunday after Sunday I heard his fine voice raised in the service and praise of *TGAOTU.

In due time he was made a Mason, and you know how quickly his bright and breezy spirit and vocal gifts won for him a warm place in all our hearts.  How often he delighted us with his stirring and inspiring basso songs – one of his later favourites was, “So you want to be a Soldier, little man”, and we can all remember the tender feelings with which he rendered the words (which I am quoting from the very copy he held when he sang to us for the last time) “Stay at home and fight for Mother, never mind about a gun”, and if our Brother had only acted in the spirit of those words he might have been with us tonight.  He, however, was made of finer and firmer stuff than that, and having before him the vision of his Country’s need, and hearing the call of duty, he, in the very earliest days of the war, freely and voluntarily offered himself for the services of his King and Country.

For four long years he endured the scorching heat of summer, and the biting cold and frost of winter, and oh, the bitter irony and tragedy of it, when almost in sight of the victory for which he had fought and struggled so long, his call came. Try Brethren to picture yourselves the scene.  At about half past six on a beautifully fine August evening, a group of khaki clad men are standing on the left-hand side of a broad road leading up to Beaupaume (sic), up and down which passed a ceaseless stream of army transport of every description, a temporary block in the traffic had occurred, and whilst waiting for a chance to pass on with their Battery, two of the group are conversing together – they have been talking of the Homeland and strange to say of Sunderland friends, one is Bombardier Cowey and the other his Captain, when suddenly a bursting shell is heard, and a piece of flying shrapnel struck our brother on the forehead, and laid him all but lifeless at his Captain’s feet.  He was carried tenderly to the nearest ambulance station, and everything was done for him that could be done, but ere midnight he had passed away.  His body is buried in a quiet little churchyard in that country whose soil has been consecrated by the blood of so many thousands of our heroic men and Brethren – his bright spirit has passed beyond that “veil” which the eye of human reason cannot penetrate unless assisted by that light which is from above, and the voice that charmed us here so often is hushed forever.  Forever?  No, not forever, surely Brethren, for if you and I only prove ourselves worthy, and, like him, faithful unto death, then amid the swelling harmonies of the Grand Lodge above, we shall hear our Brother’s voice again.  Let us keep ever green in our breasts the memory of Bro Cowey, and all those dear to us who have made the great sacrifice during this awful war, by indelibly imprinting on our hearts the fact that they gave their lives that you and I might live ours in peace and safety.

Greater love hath no man than this, that he laid down his life for his Brethren.


- A tribute given by WBro W S Reed at our meeting held on Thursday, 10th October, 1918.

- Extract from our Volume Two history book, 1907-1937

- *TGAOTU - The Great Architect of the Universe

- Joe's regiment was the 14th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, Service Number 44695.  He was 36 years old and left a widow, Maud Gertrude (nee Copley). He is buried at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, France.



End of The Great War

Before the next meeting of the Lodge the end of The Great War came.  On 11th November 1918 the news was received that an armistice had been signed that morning.  What a beautiful day it was, altho’ it was November it was like a summer’s day, the sun was shining brilliantly, and there was not a cloud in the sky, indeed it seemed as if the GAOTU had shed the benign light of his countenance upon us to give us peace.  The news was quietly and thankfully received, and there was a spirit of rejoicing over the event.

There was none of that boisterousness which prevailed at the relief of Mafeking in 1900, instead there seemed to be an all forwarding feeling of thankfulness to almighty God that the dreadful holocaust, which had continued for four years and three months, was at last over.  True, there was evidence of relief among a large section of the population that their loved ones would shortly be restored to them, and there were others, who, while bravely congratulating their friends on that fact, could not repress the tears of anguish at the thought that their loved ones had made the great sacrifice, and would, alas, return to them no more.


- Extract from our Volume Two history book, 1907-1937



Lost in The Great War

Bro Joseph Cowey
Bro Joseph Hall
Bro Charley Sayers
Bro Swinton Stoddart
Bro John Joseph Tuck

Lost in World War II

Bro John Carr


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


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