In 1955 there existed what was known as The Association of British Freemasons in Germany. This consisted of small groups of people who met clandestinely and tried to keep in touch with Masonic workings and fellowship, but their main means of contact was by small cards placed on notice boards, with a square and compass cipher and a few words stating that persons interested should contact “so and so. It was at this time that W. Bro. Jimmy Faint was introduced to one of these groups at Herford (this was early in 1956) and was asked to take over a sort of Preceptor or Advisory role. He found that everyone taking part in the ceremony rehearsals was reading from the little book. He soon put a stop to that and they soon became a very close knit little working group of interested people.
This continued till the late summer of 1956 when, after various requests and enquiries from similar groups spread over Germany, about 150 travelled to Munchen-Gladbach one Sunday morning. They met in one of the RAF canteen buildings, and were introduced to Dr. Vogel, who was the Grand Master of the German Constitution. They then put forward their plea for permission to form lodges under his jurisdiction.
He listened most sympathetically and after prolonged correspondence with the UK Grand Lodge their plea was granted and they were given permission to go ahead.
Time went by and enquiries revealed that in all Germany there were only three Past Master of the E.C., namely W. Bros Lawlor, Bland and Faint. They decided to go ahead with the hope of eventually starting lodges as follows: one in Dusseldorf, one in Celle and one in Bielefeld.
Eventually all who had petitioned in the first instance again travelled to Dusseldorf one week-end early in 1957 to the Logenhaus and after a six hour ceremony the three Past Masters were invested by M.W. Bro. Theodor Vogel as Meister vom Stuhl under the German constitution and given permission to form their own lodges doing British workings under the German constitution.
One Lodge had to be formed first and then after a short time daughter lodges could be formed from this mother lodge. And so New Absalom became the first lodge and eventually daughter lodge permission was granted. Britannia should have been No. 842 but as W. Bro. Jimmy’s silver wedding plans were imminent and his fellow founder members were adamant that he should go home for the celebrations, Saxony jumped in and beat us by a few weeks.
In June 1957 Britannia was formed. W. Bro. Jimmy Faint was given the honour of choosing the name and at once he chose Britannia as he thought it would immediately forge a link with all who had UK roots. Everybody chipped in; money was scarce, but they scraped along. Tools were made by some members and all the original officers bought and presented their collars to the lodge.
It was only possible for them to get going through the help of our German hosts at the Lessinghaus in Bielefeld, who very kindly loaned their temple at a very reduced rate. Bro. Ernst Luckel gave valuable assistance to the Lodge in those early days and his help has never been fully appreciated. Jimmy Cloke became the first secretary and was also a great tower of strength in those early days. It was Basil Le Page who on that opening day sat with tears in his eyes at the organ to play the first opening ode and said “This is the day that I have looked forward to for so many years”.
Work was heavy in those days, so many were clamouring for admission. But everybody worked hard.
And so it continued until 1962 when the lodge moved to Herford and were helped by ZurRoten Erde.
It was at a meeting one day in 1974 that the lodge welcomed Bro. Ernst Luckel back into the fold, who through heavy business commitments had been unable to attend lodge on a regular basis. It was then that movement was made to return to Bielefeld. The brethren of Zur Rote Erde had been wonderful hosts but most of the brethren at that time were stationed in and around Bielefeld. It was on one sunny afternoon in May of that year that W. Bro. Ossie Smart, W. Bro. Freddy Jones and Bro. Keith Hoile rolled up their sleeves and moved the whole of the Britannia Lodge furniture to the Lessinghaus. And so they were back in the temple where Britannia was founded that wonderful day in 1957. Over the years we have had some wonderful ceremonies. Of special mention should be the 25th Anniversary when W. Bro. Jimmy Faint returned to the lodge and took his rightful place as Master for the ceremony on that evening, which was a first degree with Bro. Wilf Button being initiated. Jimmy Cloke read the minutes of the first meeting an evening that will never be forgotten. W. Bro. Jimmy Faint passed to the Grand Lodge above on 11th February 1985. Another unforgettable evening was when Britannia Lodge No. 18 of Ponoka, Alberta, Canada gave us a wonderful demonstration working of the third degree. (W. Bro. John Simmons will certainly never forget it! He was the candidate.
Several of our Past Masters have returned to the UK but all keep in touch.
In 2004 V.W.Bro. Owen (Ossi) Smart, who became Past Grand Warden in 1995, completed 30 years as Lodge Secretary. In January of that same year he was given three heart by – passes, after which he returned to carry on with his devoted secretarial work.