Stokenchurch Freemasons have paid tribute to the village’s war dead by cleaning up military graves, 100 years after the First World War began. The group polished the headstones of seven men and two women who lost their lives in WWI and WWII in St Peter and St Paul churchyard. This poignant mark of respect for the village’s fallen heroes is particularly significant in the centenary year.
John Colling, 73, of Stokenchurch Lodge says: “Freemasonry is all about friendship, integrity and charity, so we couldn’t think of a better way of putting those principles into practice by sprucing up the military graves, a century after the Great War began.”
Mr Colling, a retired financial director from Wycombe Road, said: “Working together with your chums is always rewarding, but this project was especially poignant as we discovered details of the individual tragedies behind each headstone.”
The graves the group cleaned up included that of Private Henry Cockerill, who was 27, when he died – 10 days after the end of the First World War. He originally joined the Royal Bucks Hussars but later served with the Labour Corps. His parents, William and Sarah, lived in Swan Cottage, Stokenchurch. Former army major Peter Moody, 59, assistant head of Marlow and Bucks Freemasons, from Cookham, said: “All credit to Stokenchurch lodge and the parish council for keeping the memory of these brave people alive.
“Like the armed forces, freemasonry gives its members and their families great camaraderie and enjoyment, as well as promoting friendship, integrity and charity, which continue to play a major part in our daily lives.”
Stokenchurch Lodge meets regularly at the Masonic Centre in St Peter Street, Marlow, to support the community. This is the second time the Freemasons group have helped out in the area – they previously helped clear vegetation five years ago, after a plea from the parish council.