Masonic references in the works of Charles Williams
... national elections of May 1902 the Catholic Church became almost the sole issue ... in the event, the left-wing grouping ... main constituent Radical Party, won a majority in the National Assembly of just over 80 seats ... sitting head of government, René Waldeck-Rousseau, who'd led, in terms of the Third Republic, a long-lasting and remarkably successful administration (but whom his opponents considered to be a man of few great political principles he was dubbed 'a pike in aspic')(8), threw in his hand ... new government headed by the fiercely anti-cleric Emile Combes, a somewhat excentric elderly country doctor who was at the time carrying on a fond corespondence with an aristocratic nun, Princess Bibesco. Moreover, it was noted that Combe's Council of Ministers was composed entirely of Freemasons.
Pétain's reaction ... French Freemasonry had long been an enemy of the Church and Pétain, for all his avowed loss of faith, maintained his respect for the priesthood which had so strongly influenced him and supported him in his early years. Distrust of Freemasons was ingrained, and distrust of politicians quickly followed. ...
new government ... quick to run its colours up the anti-clerical mast. Soldiers were dispatched to close down convents, three in Brittany and one in Tarascon. To use the Army against the Church was, in the view of most officers ... wholly unacceptable. If that was the way the Masonic government was going to behave, then the sooner they were turned out the better. [p. 64]
Vatican intervened ... volley of encyclicals directed at the newly elected French government ... protracted row ... ended with repeal of Napoleonic Concordat between Church and State (1905) ... government programme to 'republicanise' the Army.
Chief promoter of the campaign new Minister for War, General Louis André Freemason regarded in Army as little more than a competent technician decorated for bravery at the time of the Commune he and his private secretary at the Ministry of War, Colonel Alexandre Percin, had been active in securing the conviction of Dreyfus, ... 'republicanisation' was a purge from the Army of all officers with Catholic sympathies ...
Around this time  Percin offered Pétain command of the Rifle School at Châlons Pétain turned him down. [p. 65]
... more plausible reason for Pétain's refusal is that he did not want to get too close to the group of Freemasons who were running the Army. ...
It is said that when André made his first visit to the Ecole de Guerre Pétain refused to shake hands with him.
Pétain retured to Paris (3/1904) after nine months in command of the 104th Regiment of Infantry at Argentan.
(11/1904) revelations about André and Percin's conduct of affairs ... threw relations between the Army and the Third Republic into turmoil.
Percin had relied on a network of Freemasons of the Grand Orient Lodge to assemble a store of cards or fiches some 20,000 in all each one recording for a particular officer information about his religious beliefs, his wife's beliefs, where his children went to school, and so on.
(11/04/1904) Deputy for Neuilly, former Army officer Jean Guyot de Villeneuve, revealed to an astonished National Assembly the extent of Percin's machinations and of André's ultimate responsibility. [p. 66]
André resigned one month later duels between officers and Masons were widespread the affair became known as the 'Affair des Fiches' [p. 67]
The Secretary-General of the Ministry of War, Alphonse Guinand [circa 1932-1934], ... Pétain suspected him of being a Freemason
Pétain ... knew ... there were Freemasons in Doumergue's Council of Ministers including Doumergue himself as was Lebrun. [p. 264]
Charles Williams, Pétain . London : Little, Brown, 2005. 568pp. ISBN: 0-316-86127-8. "Charles Williams, Lord Williams of Elvel CBE, is a former banker and Labour Party politician. He became a life peer in 1985 and in 1989 was elected Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords. He is now one of Britain's most distinguished biographers."