Gunther Caspar Schran 1921-2015

Donnington Castle Chapter No.856

Günther was born in Germany on the 10th June 1921 as child number 7 of 9 in Bochum in the Ruhrgebiet. He originally planned to become a mining engineer but at the age of 17 he was drafted into the compulsory Reichs Labour Service and in 1941 into the Kriegsmarine coastal artillery. After his capture by the Canadian Army at Wimereux on the Pas de Calais he was amazed at the difference of attitude to treatment of POW’s in Great Britain, where he was first taken to a camp near Wick in the North of Scotland. This was a holding camp where the dangerous prisoners were sorted from those unlikely to try and escape. Günther was quickly moved to Cultybraggan camp near Comrie in Perthshire which was an open camp and allowed him the freedom to fraternize with the local population who gave all the prisoners a warm welcome. It was probably at this point he decided he would like to stay longer on these islands. He was then moved to the Newbury area and billeted at Shefford Woodlands where he and his fellow prisoners were allowed to leave the camp to put on concerts in the local village halls and visit the POW social centre in Newbury. Having met his future wife Agnes socially at the centre and been offered a post in her father’s bakery he finally decided to leave Germany for good. He has since appeared on both British and German television channels in front of the Reichstag in Berlin with his story and is shortly to feature in a book on the Cultybraggan camp.

Günther settled in to community life in Newbury with enthusiasm and from the beginning was a regular attender at St Mary’s Church in Newbury where he was eventually to marry Agnes. After he was granted UK citizenship he became interested in Freemasonry and joined the Victory Lodge in Newbury and was Initiated in 1967. This was to be the start of a very distinguished masonic career in which he achieved Grand Rank in the Craft and the Mark and was very proud to be granted the 32nd degree in the Ancient & Accepted Rite. He was a Founder member of Donnington Castle Chapter. Up until 5 years ago he was a member or honorary member in some 22 Lodges, Chapters and Orders.

It was a great sadness to Günther that they were unable to have any children but he made up for it by visiting all his many nephews and nieces across the world. He travelled to California, South Africa and virtually every country in Europe to keep in touch and only stopped his visits when he was no longer able to drive or fly. Whilst on these visits he made contact with the local Lodges and his effects contain many interesting photographs and accounts of the lodge encounters.

Günther possessed many attributes but I would like to stress four or five of them starting with Modesty. He most certainly did not blow his own trumpet and I don’t believe that any of us really knew the full extent of his achievements. He wholeheartedly embraced the virtues of Faith, Hope & Charity all of which he gave in plenty. He achieved far more than most Newburians could even dream of in their lifetime. We have lost a real friend, a shining light, and a pillar of the community who will be sorely missed by us all.

David Jessett 31°