2018, February - Three “new” Masonic VC’s, some recent research breakthroughs

From WBro D Hudson

As ANZAC Day approaches next month, I’ve been retyping UGLVs WW1 Honour Roll to write an article on it and to make it available on the web to researchers. The Honour Roll was published in 1919 by Grand Lodge Victoria and records the Freemasons who served in the First Wold War; and which lodge they were a member of. It serves as an important secondary but contemporary source for researchers.

For about a decade, I’ve been working on a list of Famous Australian Freemasons, first appearing in an edition of Devotion News. It now has over 3,000 footnotes against several hundred names; it had 20 Victorian Cross recipients confirmed as Freemasons. Imagine my surprise when I found “Symons, W J (VC)” in the Honour Roll for Windsor Lodge No 72. This was an Australian Victoria Cross recipient who was a Freemason and who I, and many other experts had not heard of.

I contacted Bro Bill Nash (Secretary, Victoria Cross Lodge 928 NSW), Bro Granville Angell (Prestonian Lecturer, UGLE and author of several books on Masonic VCs), Bro Neil Wayne Morse (Secretary, Canberra Lodge of Research and Instruction). I’m waiting to hear back from Nell, but Bill and Granville were unaware this man might have been a Freemason and I’ve also dropped a line to Kent Henderson.

Contacting Bro Ange Kenos of the UGLV Grand Lodge Library, he too unaware of this Brother, but while looking for his membership records, found yet another Victorian Freemason who held a Victoria Cross - Albert Chalmers Borella, VC, MM (7 August 1881 – 7 February 1968).

Bro Granville has also pointed out that I do not have three other names – but I’m not sure he’s publically released two of those names, so I will hold them back from this edition. These research breakthroughs are not exactly the "six VCs before breakfast" won in Turkey on 25 April 1915, but for researchers of Masonic Victoria Cross recipients – they certainly have created much excitement!

Are readers able to supply further Masonic detail on any of the below names?

· William "Rusty" Ruthven, VC (21 May 1893 – 12 January 1970)

(Found by Granville Angell)

Initiated 2 June 1932 in Clifton Hill Lodge No 335 UGLV. He was Passed 4th August 1932 and then Raised 1st December 1932

· Albert Chalmers Borella, VC, MM (7 August 1881 – 7 February 1968).

(Found by Ange Kenos)

Initiated 21 July 1925 in Grange Lodge No 45 UGLV, Passed 2 Feb 1926 and the Raised 6 April 1926, GL certificate No 56855. In 1939, Borella changed his surname by deed poll to "Chalmers-Borella"

· William John Symons, VC (10 July 1889 – 24 June 1948)

(Found by Damien Hudson)

Included in 1919 UGLV WW1 Honour Roll as member of Windsor No 72 (UGLV). Changed his name to “Penn-Symons” in 1918 and was reluctant to speak of his war experience.

We would be very pleased to hear from anyone who can add further detail or supporting evidence of the aboves’ membership of Freemasonry.