Herbert Fletcher Donkin

Herbert Fletcher Donkin was a Freemason and member of Lodge Temperance 2557 who served in the 2nd World War. A letter to the Provincial Grand Secretary of Northumberland from WBro John Sowerby, Secretary, and dated 7th November 1947 attached a list of the names and service of forty three Brethren and Brother Herbert is shown as a being in the Home Guard.

At the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Royal Assembly Rooms, Westgate Road, on 17th October 1938, Herbert was proposed by his father in law, Bro Richard Henry Coleman and seconded by Bro D L Bell as a fit and proper person to be made a Freemason.

He was a 38 year old Sales Superintendent residing at 28, Oaktree Avenue, Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne. A successful ballot was held the following month on 21st November and he was initiated into the mysteries and privileges of Ancient Freemasonry on 14th January 1939. He was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree on 17th April and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on 16th October 1939.

We have been unable to find Herbert’s Home Guard service record.

Herbert was born on 15th March 1900 in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, Co. Durham to William Thompson Donkin and Margaret Fletcher. His father, William was variously a musical instrument & piano tuner and musical instrument dealer and married Margaret in Sunderland in 1897 and had at least three children:

  • Harry Semmons (31/07/1898 – 17/05/1918)
  • Herbert Fletcher (15/03/1900 – 03/06/1978)
  • Bryan Webster (10/10/1903 – 16/09/1971)

Herbert’s older brother Harry died in hospital in 1918 from septic pneumonia caused by shrapnel following a gunshot wound to his lower back on 24th March 1918 while serving with the Royal Scots 1/9th (Highlanders) Battalion Territorial Force in France on the Western Front.

In 1926 Herbert married a Yorkshire lass, Doris Elizabeth Coleman, in Tynemouth. Doris was the daughter of Lodge Temperance member, Bro Richard Henry Coleman, who is also listed on the Lodge’s WW2 Roll of Honour and became Master of Lodge Temperance in 1938.

In the 1939 register taken on 29th September 1939 Herbert is living with his wife Doris at 28 Oaktree Avenue, Walker and is working as a sales supervisor. It’s not known if they had children.

Herbert passed away in Sunderland on 3rd June 1978 aged 78 and his wife Doris at the Masonic Care Home, Scarborough Court, Cramlington on 24th October 1988 aged 85.