Devotion Past Master - VWBro Alexander George Stonehouse PGIW

From Cheryl T (nee Stonehouse) 1 February 2018

Devotion Past Master - VWBro Alexander George Stonehouse PGIW

VWBro Alex Stonehouse, Devotion’s WM 1968-69
sitting in our Master’s Chair at Collingwood Masonic Centre

(Editor’s Note: Beyond some official documents in a UGLV file, little is known of the earlier days of Lodge Devotion 723; we don’t even know how we came to be named “Lodge Devotion”. Many of the surnames in our list of Past Masters are simply that –with only initials to hint at their first names, but we’re trying to change that. I’ve recently been contacted by Cheryl T, daughter of “WBro A Stonehouse” in our Past Masters list on the web. On seeing the list, Cheryl was able to let us known that not only is “WBro A Stonehouse” VWBro Alexander George Stonehouse PGIW (1909-1984), but Cheryl also passed on Alex’s Masonic History written by her brother WBro Geoffrey . Cheryl has also written a short biography which appears below. Through Cheryl, I’ve been able to meet twice with her other brother, WBro Richard, who filled in some details about his father’s life, Devotion, and Alex’s Mother Lodge; Albert Victor No 117 which met at Clifton Hill and now meets at Ivalda. Richard spoke of happy times at both the Collingwood and Clifton Hill Masonic Centres and some of the characters who made lodges great places to be last century. Richard was also able to also explain that his father joined Lodge Devotion as a Master Mason because the wait at Albert Victor to become an officer was long and Devotion’s was short. VWBro Alexander George Stonehouse PGIW was Devotion’s Master in 1968-69. I was very pleased to hear from Cheryl and would like to particularly like to thank her and her brother Richard.

WBro Damien, Secretary and Newsletter Editor, Lodge Devotion 723)


Alex always enjoyed his visits back to Colac, the place of his birth on 25 October 1909. He spent his formative years in this small city in the Western District of Victoria, until November 1923 when his parents George Henry and Adelaide Pambla (nee Hender) Stonehouse packed up their belongings and, with six children, moved to Geelong. Three more children born in Geelong completed the family unit.


Educated in Colac, Alex at aged 14, was employed with Australian Cement Limited Geelong for six years from November 1924 to April 1930, during which time he completed his apprenticeship as an Electrical Fitter and Armature Winder, including night classes at the Gordon Institute of Technology Geelong on related subjects. The Great Depression of the 1930s were difficult times for many Australian families seeking work, but Alex found employment during those years with the Australian Electrical Manufacturing Company Ltd and Ford Manufacturing Company working on Armatures and Field Coil Winding and as an Electrical Fitter in Ford’s Maintenance Department. On 22 May 1936, four days after leaving Ford, Alex signed a four year contract with The British Phosphate Commissioners as an Armature Winder/Electrician on Ocean (Banaba) Island, Central Pacific. He was described in references as reliable, conscientious, ambitious and painstaking, processing all the qualities that go to makes a good citizen, with honest and sober habits.


VWBro Alex Stonehouse, Grand Herald
VWBro Alex, Grand Herald
From an early age Alex loved all types of music. He found a flare for the cornet and became a bandsman in the R.A.N.R. Band Geelong that became 23rd Battalion City of Geelong Regimental Band when he was in their Militia unit, Geelong West City Band, Hawthorn City Band and the Geelong City Municipal Band. In 1932 when the Geelong City Band performed at Gala Day; a group photograph show the bandsmen proudly showing off their new uniforms and shiny instruments.


Whilst on Ocean Island, Alex was mainly engaged in the electrical workshop on rewinding of motors, transformers, choke coils and maintenance and repairs of electrical switch-gear. He was appointed Cinema Operator with two weekly shows, looking after the cinema machine, building and plant, became Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Deference Force Rifle Club and Bandmaster of the Banaba Brass Band. The formation of the Brass Band under his tuition and guidance, instilled discipline and enthusiasm into the native players who quickly became proficient. Their performances at all the Island social functions received grateful thanks from the community and Resident Commissioner.


Phosphate was mined on Ocean Island and Nauru with ships transporting cargo back to Australia and New Zealand. These ships also carried passengers arriving and departing from both Islands. Alex was returning home on leave when the Olivebank landed in New Plymouth, New Zealand to discharged part of its cargo. At a social dance he met Daisy Florence Louvain Scott. After he left, they continued their relationship through letters.


Alex and his first wife Eileen Smith had a son Alexander (1932 – 2010). Alexander had successful careers in the Police Force and RAF serving in Vietnam.


In 1940 Alex returned to New Zealand to marry his second wife Daisy Scott in New Plymouth. They returned to Ocean Island on the SS Komata in June 1940 with the world at war.


Above - SS Komata

Above - SS Komata

Above - SS Komata

With the world at war, Alex & his wife Daisy went and then returned from Ocean Island. To get to the Island they travelled together on New Zealand’s SS Komata leaving 25 May, arriving 1 June 1940. Not a passenger ship, they had to sign on as Steward and Stewardess and were the only passengers on board. That same year, 8 Dec 1940, SS Komata was scuttled by the German raiders Komet & Orion, when en route from Suva to Nauru, 20 miles East of its destination. Between 6- 8 December the Komet sunk the merchant ships Triona, Vinni & Komata, taking more than 500 prisoners that were landed a few days after on Emirau Island. VWBro Alex and his wife had sailed some hostile waters. Orion was destroyed but beached after being bombed on 4 May 1945 en route to Copenhagen. She had over 4,000 on board of which 150 were lost. The wreck of the Komet was found in July 2006 by nautical archaeologist Innes McCartney. She’d been sunk off Normandy on 14 Oct 1942 by torpedo launched from a MTB 236, with all 251 hands lost. For the return trip, Daisy left Ocean Island for Australia 21 Oct 1940 aboard the Triaster (also sunk later by the Komet together with Orion on 8 Dec 1940) and Alex left the Island a couple of months later  on a now unknown ship.

Due to the impending birth of their first child (Richard) and with Germans Raiders prowling the Pacific shipping lanes, they decided it was time to return to Australia. Daisy departed the Island for Melbourne in October 1940 and lived with Alex’s sister Vera. He joined her several months later, having resigned his position with British Phosphate Commission on 14 January 1941. Settling into a house at 18 Anzac Avenue North Coburg, Alex was placed on restricted war service. He joined Joseph Lucas (Aust.) Pty Ltd, in February 1941 to repair and service Aircraft Electrical Units on behalf of the Department of Aircraft Production at Fishermen’s Bend. From 1944 to 1948 he was with the Department of Air as Temporary Senior Examiner, Aeronautical Inspection Directorate, for the Melbourne Area.


Looking towards the future following his war commitments, Alex decided to become self-employed. In preparation, he registered a business name Northern Winding & Electric Coy, with the Anzac Avenue address in September 1945. Working out of a large shed in the rear of the property, it became a viable business with a variety of Armature and Electrical work to keep him busy, up until taking retirement.


Alex and Daisy had three children during the war years, Richard, Geoffrey and Cheryl. They grew up in Anzac Avenue, had successful careers, married with children, grand-children and have celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversaries.


In the early 1950s at block of land was purchased in Flinders Street McCrae. A one room shack was built and over the years it became the holiday destination for the family, later to include spouses and grandchildren. The family’s first vehicle was a circa 1930s red Ford truck, with a cabin and canvas awning covering the tray. To promote his business, Northern Winding etc was sign-written in large letters on the doors.


After Alex retired they sold 18 Anzac Avenue in 1974 and moved to McCrae. In 1983, when their daughter Cheryl settled in Ocean Grove they moved across the Peninsula into a newly built house in Coorong Court Ocean Grove.


Alex had numerous interests, besides his beloved cornet and events playing, he was an ardent stamp collector, a keen gardener, played his numerous collection of LP records and lawn bowls joining Brunswick, Carrington Park and Ocean Grove Bowling Clubs. He read extensively and took an interest in family history.


What became a passion for 26 years began on 1 December 1958 when Alex was initiated into Albert Victor Lodge as a Freemason.

Devotion Past Master - VW Bro Alexander George Stonehouse PGIW
VWBro Alex (far right) playing in the South at Gipps St

Bros Richard & Geoff with their father Alex

I remember him leaving the house for Lodge meetings, dressed in a dinner-suit and carrying his apron case, having memorised for hours wording from the small Ritual Book. There was no mistaking the men who went were off to Lodge, all dressed up as they stood on the corner waiting for a lift. Alex went into ‘tails’, so the white shirt and collar had to be laundered at the dry-cleaners. I believe he was one their best customers with dress shirts and starched collars. Mother Daisy was very supportive, helping out in the Lodge kitchen, making numerous sandwiches and preparing the tables for special nights. When the grandchildren were small it was off to the Lodge Christmas parties to see Santa and not pop. The women all tried to ‘out-do’ one another at the Ladies Nights, as it was a time away from house-hold duties and the social event of the year, When Alex became Grand Herald, hours went into practice, up and down the scales on the cornet and trumpet and rehearsing the Masonic music parts. Besides monthly meetings, there was often Sunday afternoon rehearsals, trips up country and interstate with the women accompanying them. When the men were at Lodge a night’s entertainment had been arranged for the women. Alex was a proud Freemason as his history will testify.


Alexander George Stonehouse died on 10 December 1984 at Prince Henry’s Hospital Melbourne, aged 75. Daisy remained in Ocean Grove, keeping active with her numerous activities and interests. She passed away on 7 August 2005 shortly after celebrating her 90th birthday. They are together in the lawn section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.

Masonic Career of VWBro Alexander George Stonehouse PGIW
Compiled by WBro G A Stonehouse PM (and son) 24-1-1985


Initiated into Albert Victor Lodge No 117 on 1 Dec 1958 by WBro J C Hill at Clifton Hill Masonic Centre. Passed 2-2-1959
Raised 4-5-1959

Invested Grand Herald in the Royal Arch Chapter 18-7-1962

Installed at Worshipful Master Lodge Devotion 23 August 1968

Invested Grand Herald in the Blue 1970

WBro Alex was one of the first Brethren to be invested as Grand Herald in the Chapter and the Blue without actually being installed as a Worshipful Master

Installed as First Principal Capstone Chapter 18 Sept 1972

Installed as Master Royal & Select Port Phillip Council 15 Nov 1973

Promoted to PGSB in the Blue in 1974

VWBro Alex was the main thrust behind the formation of a daylight Lodge on the Mornington Peninsular and was installed as the foundation Master of Allara Lodge in Dromana on 6-3-1976

VWBro Alex assisted at the installation of WBro Richard Stonehouse (son) acting as Grand Herald and invested WBro Geoff Stonehouse (son) as SW in Albert Victor 4-10-1976

Installed WBro Geoff Stonehouse as Master of Albert Victoria 3-10-1977

Installed the First Principal Peninsula Royal Arch Chapter 11-11-1977 and was reinstalled for a second tern 10-11-1978

Installed WBro Richard for the second time as Master Albert Victor 1-10-1979

Promoted to PJGD in the Blue in 1979

Promoted to Post Guard Scribe Nehemiah on the Chapter 16-4-4-1980

Installed as Master Peninsula Mark Lodge 10-4-1981

Retired as Grand Herald in Chapter 1981

Retired as Grand Herald in Blue 1982

Foundation SW of DILKIRA Daylight Mark Lodge in Dromana 12-3-1983

Promoted to PGIW in Blue 16-3-1983

Passed to the Grand Lodge Above on 10 December, 1984

Aged 75 Years, after 26 years a Freemason

The Stonehouse Family has donated many historical papers and items to Lodge Devotion - click here to see them.