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MOTH opens shellhole

Durbanville now boasts its own branch of the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH), after its recent launch with 18 members.

It is the first representation of MOTH in this fast-growing area in 91 years since Mothdom was established in the Western Cape on 2 March 1928 at a meeting of ex-servicemen called by Colonel Herbert Bysshe. This led to the formation of the provincial dugout (provincial mangement) with Bysshe as the first Old Bill (chairperson).

Currently, there are 17 Shellholes (clubs) in the Western Cape – covering an area that extends coastwise from Saldanha to Hermanus with an inland area including Montagu.

“There are many veterans living in Durbanville and that created a need to establish a local Shellhole,” said Leon Robertson, Old Bill of the Pro Patria Shellhole Durbanville.

The nearest MOTHS are in Bellville and Table View, he said.

The inauguration of Pro Patria Shellhole Durbanville on 19 March was attended by 61 guests, among which Ian Nielson, deputy mayor of Cape Town.

MOTH, which was founded on 27 May 1927, is a brotherhood of ex-service and serving men and women who have served their country in the armed services.

The order is based on concord and harmony and operates independently of race, religion, politics or language in order to maintain the living spirit of frontline comradeship.

The order sets itself the goal of protecting and advancing the interests of military veterans and their families and operates as a public benefit organisation, Robertson said.

MOTH was founded after the Great War by an extraordinary man determined to continue the spirit of mutual assistance and the lessons of fraternal support learned in the trenches of Gallipoli and the Western Front, according the website of MOTH.

London-born Charles Evenden served at Gallipoli in the Australian armed forces. After being demobbed, he settled in Durban where he worked as the cartoonist on the staff of the Natal Mercury.

In 1927, at a time when memories of the sacrifices made during the Great War were beginning to dim, he saw a war film that included an impressive scene of marching troops wearing tin hats and muddy uniforms.

Looking at the scene, he wondered what had become of his comrades in the army, where they were and what they were doing. This inspired a cartoon on “Forgetfulness of comradeship”, which was published in the Natal Mercury on 7 May 1927.

Others then came forward and after discussions with colleagues and friends, he suggested that the time was ripe to form an association of old soldiers to keep alive the memory of fallen comrades.

Remembrance Sunday is the most important date on the MOTH calendar, which is commemorated annually on the Sunday closest to 11 November.

The next meeting of Pro Patria Shellhole Durbanville will be on 16 April from 19:30 to discuss the year programme.

Contact Leon Robertson on 084 553 3527.

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