This article was first published in the RAMC Corps Magazine in the Mid 1990’s. The author (Capt John Roberts (deceased)) was the Secretary of the Lodge for many years, his words provide much information on the Craft and the place of the Lodge for members of the Army Medical Services, particularly the Royal Army Medical Corps.

AROUND AND ABOUT - FREEMASONRY

In Arduis Fidelis Lodge No. 3432

The following entry appeared in the Journal of the RAMC Corps News in March 1910:

“A Lodge has been formed in London called the “In Arduis Fidelis “ Lodge No 3432, in connection with the Royal Army Medical Corps (Of the London District particularly). Membership is open to Officers and NCO’s above the rank of Corporal belonging to both past and present of the Regular Army and Territorial Force and Medical Branch of the Officers Training Corps of London University”.

The ceremony of Consecration took place at Freemason’s Hall, Great Queen Street, WC on Thursday 3rd March 1910 and the Lodge has continued to thrive since that time to date.

Recent changes in the structure of the Defence Medical Services due to Options for Change and the Defence Costs Study have had a profound effect upon the Army Medical Services, particularly the organisation of the Royal Army Medical Corps, requiring the permanent committee of the Lodge to examine the Rules of Constitution to ensure that membership does not suffer due to declining numbers and that we enter the next century in as strong as position as possible. Membership was recently opened up to include members of the Army Medical Services consequent on the re-badging of some Royal Army Medical Corps members into other corps. It has now been decided that membership of the “In Arduis Fidelis” Lodge shall be extended to other persons who have an interest in but have not necessarily served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The name, current traditions and customs of the Lodge shall remain unchanged. There will be no dilution in the quality of the membership.

English freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies being concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, following ancient forms and using stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides. The essential qualification for admission into membership is a belief in a Supreme Being, being open to men of any race or religion who are of good repute and can fulfil this essential qualification. Freemasonry is not a religion or a substitute for religion; it is non-political ad does not allow religion or politics to be discussed at its meetings.

For many years English Freemasons have embraced three cardinal principles: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Brotherly Love means that a Freemason must show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellows. Relief implies that Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care not only for their own, but for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts as individuals. Finally, Freemasons strive for Truth, requiring high moral standards, aiming to achieve them in their own lives. They believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards; in a sense they are character forming. Here it must be said that, as declared by our Corps motto and Lodge name “In Arduis Fidelis”, no progress can be made without personal effort and involvement.

Freemasonry also demands from its members a respect of the law of the country in which a man works and lives. Its principles do not in any way conflict with their duties as citizens but should strengthen them in fulfilling their public and private responsibilities; in particular, the use by a Freemason of his membership to promote his own or anyone else’s business, professional or personal interests is condemned and is contrary to the conditions on which he obtained admission into Freemasonry. Furthermore, his duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons; any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty. Freemasonry is not a secret society, the only secrets are concerned with its traditional modes of recognition and all members are free to acknowledge their membership and will do so in response to reasonable inquires. Its constitution and rules are available to the public and there is no secret about any of its aims and principles, but like many societies it regards some of its internal affairs as private.

To summarise, a Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to his God (by whatever name he is known) through his faith and religious practice; and then, without detriment to his family or those dependant on him, to his neighbour through charity and service. None of these ideas is exclusively Masonic but all should be universally accepted.

Now from Freemasonry in general to the Corps Lodge in particular and a few words about “In Arduis Fidelis” Lodge No 3432. As previously stated, membership of the Lodge is now open to any person who has an interest in the Royal Army Medical Corps its customs and traditions.

Past members of the “In Arduis Fidelis” Lodge have included three former Directors General of Army Medical Services and many distinguished officers, warrant officers and senior NCO’s, serving and retired, of the Regular and Territorial Army.

This is not meant as a history of the Corps Lodge but rather is intended to alert interested persons to its existence. The Lodge meets five times each year at Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London and is always delighted to receive visits from other Masons.

- Captain W J Roberts

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