Pioneer William Lockhart


William was a Freemason, member of Lodge Temperance 2557 and one of our forgotten war heroes. He is not listed in the Lodge Temperance WW1 Roll of Honour although the Lodge registers clearly show he was on war service.

At the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Assembly Rooms on the 20th December 1909 William was initiated into the mysteries and privileges of Ancient Freemasonry. He was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree on the 24th January 1910 in the Lodge of Industry no. 48 and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason at Lodge Temperance 2557 on the 21st March 1910. He was proposed by Bro. James Cuthbert and seconded by Bro A. Oglethorpe and was a 25 year old NER railway clerk living at 34, Telford Street, Gateshead. The Lodge of Industry no. 48 met at the Masonic Hall, Jackson Street, Gateshead and performed several degree rituals on behalf of Lodge Temperance. It is the oldest Freemason’s Lodge in the Province of Durham.

Unfortunately the service and pension records for William’s time during the war can’t be found so are probably among the 60% of the Service Records damaged or lost as a result of enemy bombing in 1940. Despite there being records for many William Lockhart’s, we’ve been able to identify him from available pension records, which in turn led to his Medal Roll, Medal Index Card and Silver War Badge Roll so we can put together a glimpse into his war service.

He enlisted on 2nd August 1917 and was assigned as a Pioneer, service number 321483, with the Royal Engineers.  An RE Pioneer, although trained in field works, could be found in signals units and William’s Silver War Badge entry shows he was at the Royal Engineer’s Bedford signal depot before his discharge on 21st August 1919 as being no longer physically fit for war service under Kings Regulation 392 XVI (sickness). The Silver War Badge was issued to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness.

silver war badge

Silver War Badge

The medical records show William suffered from myalgia and DAH, Myalgia was a chronic and severe muscle pain, usually caused by trench life. DAH meant disorderly action of the heart, sometimes called “effort syndrome” or “soldier’s heart”. Often the result of stress or fatigue, it did not imply there was any organic disease and was similar to today’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was assessed as having a 20% disability and was awarded a weekly pension of 8/- and 3/6 for his wife for around 2 years after his discharge.

William was born in North Shields on 11th December 1884 to George and Sarah Isabella Lockhart (1854 – 1936). George, from Farlam, Cumberland was a railway and tramway traffic inspector and he married Sarah Isabella Milburn in North Shields in 1882. Sarah was from Nether Denton, Cumberland, a dressmaker and the only child of a stone mason. George and Sarah had four children:

John Thomas b 1883
William (b 11/12/1884 – d 1940)
Marion Milburn b 1886
Albert Edward b 1888

John, William and Albert followed in their father’s footsteps and went to work for the railways, as all three were employed as railway clerks. Marion worked for the Cooperative Wholesale Society as a Milner.

William married Esther Georgina McKay Fawcett in Newcastle in 1910 and was living with Esther, her widowed mother and new born baby boy, Douglas at 15, Mayfield Road, Gosforth in 1911. Within a few years they had moved two houses along the street to no 19 where they remained until their death.

William died on 20th October 1940 and is buried in Gosforth. His headstone reads “In loving memory of William dearly beloved husband of Esther G M Lockhart died 19th October 1940 aged 57 years”. It’s interesting that his probate record shows he died on 20th October whereas his headstone shows 19th October. Esther died on 8th December 1944 and left £1889 in her will to her son Douglas who was a ship’s surveyor.







Updated with service information on 09/02/2018