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A Brotherhood of Officers and Men

FELLOWSHIP is the underlying spirit of comradeship proved in the fires of two World Wars and perpetuated in a Brotherhood of ex-servicemen drawn from all ranks of H.M. Forces. The majority are officers and men who served In these wars and carry on the Service Brotherhood - an association created out of the unforgettable experiences of the 1914-18 War.

All ex-servicemen remember many examples of heroism. unselfishness, and personal devotion. A certain Regular Army Officer, Lieutenant Cresswell White carried back into civilian life a vivid and undying memory of a particular incident which occurred in 1916, in the trenches near Messines, a town between Ypres in Belgium and Armentieres in France. A private, formerly a dock labourer, was mortally wounded and died in this officerís arms on the floor of the trench. He was the very same man who, on two previous occasions had risked his own life for the sake of this officer, and who had now made the supreme sacrifice. This particular tragedy and the very real, although unspoken, comradeship between officer and private which preceded it remained as an imperishable and inspiring memory. It Cut across all sense of discipline, rank and social status and was the inspiration which animated three Ex-servicemen (including that officer) to found "The Fellowship of the Services". Ex-servicemen rarely talk of brotherhood, yet there remains a rough and ready devotion between a man and his comrade far deeper than any Brotherhood of civilian life. Each knew that the other would stick to him through thick and thin; perhaps this sounds a small thing in words, but most ex-servicemen will understand.

This Brotherhood is based on one simple belief that this devotion, even in the simple comrade (or Companion as we call our members) is of infinitely more value than rank, education, class or any other outward attribute. Companions of the Fellowship regard this spirit of comradeship as the guiding principle of our Society, pointing the way to a simple yet abiding philosophy of life - this is the true purpose of our society. Companions do not express their Brotherhood in words (they recognize one another by a small badge), and whenever two Companions meet they exchange greetings as an acknowledgement of such a belief. Every candidate for admission must be vouched for by a Companion as being absolutely true according to that belief.

Obviously, for the good government and smooth running of our ever-growing organisation, rules and regulations have been made and it says much for the care and forethought that went into the devising of these, that they have remained fundamentally unchanged. It would be impracticable to state all the rules in detail, but for the benefit of applicants for membership, the basic principles can he indicated as follows:

  • The Spirit of Fellowship lies outside the experience of the purely civilian population.
  • Every applicant must be sponsored by a Companion who must vouch for him and for the sincerity of his motives.
  • He must be prepared to acknowledge and to assist any other Companion at any time, hence the small and unobtrusive badge which makes for easy recognition.
  • With certain exceptions, all ex-servicemen of British descent are eligible but British Merchant Seamen must have served afloat during wartime.
  • He will be expected to give what assistance he can to any member of H.M. Forces who may need it and support the interests of the Fighting Forces at all times.
  • All Companions are of equal worth, seniority within The Fellowship is decided by the length of service in the Society, taking no cognizance of rank, education or other personal attributes or achievements.
  • The Fellowship is strictly non-political and non-sectarian.

 

Three further points should be borne in mind by every applicant:

1.  The Fellowship has nothing to offer any member but the sincere enjoyment and perpetuation of the free and easy comradeship of the Services. This implies a sincere devotion, regardless of rank or creed, between comrades thrown together by chance and persisting despite all vicissitudes even unto death.

2.  The Measure of each Companionís pleasure and satisfaction in Fellowship is in exact proportion to the loyalty and service he brings to the common good.

3.  The Fellowship is formed to continue unchanged for ever.

Many Companions have relatives or friends serving with the Forces who cannot become Companions until they have been honourably discharged from service, but as ĎServing Friendsí they can become members in practice. A Serving Friend is treated by all Companions as fellow member, he may not wear the badge but he is able to recognise others by it and exchange acknowledgement.

The Society has branches, or Messes, as they are called. They are spread out over this country and Australia. New ones being opened each year, the Fellowship has itís own special purpose in society by the example of its members. It is self-supporting and all officials are honorary, devoting much time and energy to their work.

ONE FINAL WORD, The place seeker and the searcher for personal aggrandisement wishing to use the movement for his own gain has no place amongst  us, but the sincere ex-serviceman, holding principles akin to our own, will find a warm welcome in Fellowship.