Leamington Freemason died of war wounds

A Leamington Freemason died from his wounds in hospital in France the day after he fell in action during the First World War. He was in his early 20s.

Sunday, 24th August 2014, 12:18 pm
Edgar Pengelly

Captain Edgar Ambrose Pengelly MC had only been initiated in Guy’s Lodge in Leamington a few weeks before the news of his death was received.

His father W E Pengelly, who lived at Weston-under-Wetherley, had been Master of the Lodge in 1892 and proposed his son as a member.

The First World War memorial at St Michael’s church in Weston-under-Wetherley has the following inscription: “Edgar Ambrose Pengelly MC died in battle on March 31, 1918 (Easter Sunday). The wooden cross which has been placed beneath the Reformatory Memorial was made on the battlefield by his troops and eventually found its way back to St Michael’s churchyard where it was placed at the foot of his mother’s grave. As age and weather were taking their toll the cross was taken into the church for protection on Remembrance Sunday 1995.”

Thomas Hopkyns

Capt Pengelly was described as a “gallant and capable” soldier in a letter to his father from General Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston in January 1919.

He said: “Your son was an officer for whom I had a very high regard and esteem. He commanded my Army Troops Company for a long period while we were in the Ypres Salient and during that time he impressed himself strongly on all with whom he came into contact. As Commanding Officer he was much beloved for he was always thinking of his men.”

Capt Pengelly was mentioned in despatches in May 1917 and was awarded the Military Cross in January 1918 “for devotion, untiring energy, and zeal in command of his company in connection with operations at Ypres.”

His story is contained in the History of Free Masonry (published by The Courier Press in 1923), a copy of which has been loaned to the Courier by the Guy’s Lodge secretary W Bro Barry Frith.

He said the lodge had very few details about their First World War soldiers as their records had been lost in a fire. The earliest surviving records only went back as far as 1920.

One other Guy’s Lodge soldier is mentioned in the history. He is Bro Rev Thomas Gray Hopkins MA, late chaplain of the lodge. He was licensed as assistant curate to St John’s church, Leamington, in 1905 but left in 1910 to go to South Africa. In 1917, aged 35, he enlisted as a private in the South African Medical Corps and was killed in September that year when on stretcher duty near the firing line.

Guy’s Lodge No 395 was founded in 1829 and is the sixth oldest lodge in the Province of Warwickshire. It had a number of meeting places in Leamington in its early years, but in 1889 the lodge purchased Victoria House from one of its members and has remained there ever since.