THE Orange Institution in Australia has lost one of its most stalwart members, Bro John Brown - affectionately known as Jackie - who passed away on July 27 in Melbourne.
Mr Brown was born in Larne on November 30, 1921. After leaving school. he began his working life as steel moulder in his home town before enlisting in the Royal Navy in 1940.
He had a very distinguished career during the war when he served on ships protecting the convoys bringing essential supplies to Britain during her time of dire need. The ship he was serving on bringing vital supplies to Malta was sunk in the Mediterranean. After he was picked up by another British ship it too was sunk within 24 hours. What he went through in the sinking of these ships gave him nightmares for the rest of his life. He continued his Navy service throughout the war, participating in, amongst others, the Normandy Landings in 1944.
After the war, Mr Brown returned to Larne and married Robina Morrison - also from Larne - and set up home there where they were blessed with the arrival of four sons - John, William, Kenneth and George. From 1946 he served for 12 years in the Ulster Special Constabulary, of which he was immensely proud. In 1958, he and his family migrated to Melbourne, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Mr Brown’s service to the Orange Institution is no less impressive, with his membership covering 84 years of unbroken service, from first joining Boyne Defenders Junior Orange Lodge in 1927, then joining LOL 766 Larne in 1944, whilst on shore leave. In Australia, he held many prominent positions within the institution, namely Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Australia, Past Grand Master of the Loyal Orange Institution of Victoria and a director of the Loyal Orange Trust. He was also a Past Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Black Chapter of Victoria.
Many of those who knew, him referred to Mr Brown as the “Winston Churchill” of the Orange Institution. Like his hero, he never wavered in his beliefs, always kept the line and was a faithful ally when situations were tough and no greater friend when one was needed. His love for that “great wee country” of Northern Ireland never diminished since he left its shores.
It was a very special occasion for Mr Brown during April of this year when he was presented to the delegates and visitors attending the Imperial Orange Council meeting in Melbourne.
His son George, the sitting Imperial Grand Master of the Imperial Orange Council, outlined his many accomplishments throughout his long illustrious life. It was very obvious he appreciated the long sustained applause of those in attendance. It made his night.
A huge crowd attended his funeral held on August 3. Participating in the funeral service were representatives of the Orange Institution, Returned Services League, Masonic Order and the Navy Association. His four sons and their families survive Mr Brown. His wife Robina predeceased him in 2006.