Lodge 640 History [08]

The War Years

Following the outbreak of hostilities, the Japanese authorities interned all citizens of unfriendly nations. In July 1942, after some six months' internment, an exchange of nationals was agreed upon. From Yokohama in Japan and Shanghai in China the ships Asama Maru and Conte Verdi sailed with repatriates destined for America and other countries. From America sailed the luxury vessel Gripsholm, a Swedish ship of some 20,000 tons carrying Japanese nationals bound for Japan.

Gripsholm Photo

Emergency meeting of Lodge Star in the East No. 640, S.C. aboard the exchange ship Gripsholm, 8 August 1942, en route to the U.S.
(Left to Right) Denis Kildoyle, F. F. Booth, Carlos Rodriquez, E. L. Vest, John Rust, R. Child, Joseph L. McSparran, Peter Kipp, R. W. Burrel.

The Asama Maru and the Conte Verdi rendezvoused off Japan and sailed together to Lorenco Marques where they met the Gripsholm and the exchange of nationals was carried out. The Gripsholm then proceeded to Rio de Janeiro for an overnight stop, and the following morning sailed for New York.

On board the Gripsholm bound for Rio de Janeiro took place one of the most unusual Lodge meetings in the annals of Scottish Craft Masonry.

On the 8th August 1942 at 3 pm, Bro Joseph McSparran, the only Scottish Constitution installed master then available, assumed the authority of a District Deputy Grand Master. In that capacity, he gave dispensation to hold a meeting of Lodge Star in the East No. 640. Then, as reigning Master, he opened the Lodge in the cabin room of a vessel under way at sea and proceeded with business. As recorded in the minutes of that meeting, several important documents, including the minutes of the previous meeting held in the Yokohama Temple, were made available. These documents had been smuggled out of Japan by Secretary of the Lodge, Bro Brother Carlos Rodriguez Jimenez, who had used his status as Consul General of Venezuela to protect them from confiscation. He had not, however, been able to save the Lodge's Charter or Book of Attendance, the loss of which was officially recorded in a letter to the Grand Lodge of Scotland and a affidavit sworn before the U.S. Consul in Rio de Janiero.