The Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH) is an independent Brotherhood of Ex-Service Men and Women and serving Members whose membership is confined to those who served their country in an active theatre of war or campaign.
The Order was founded in 1927 by C.A. Evenden who became known as MOTH “O”. The Order is based on concord and harmony and operates completely regardless of race, religion or politics, in the same sense as front line service, but with full democracy. The object of the Order is:-
1. To maintain the living spirit of the front line comradeship through the ideals of:
a) T.C. True Comradeship by application of frontline friendship to civilian life;
b) M.H. Mutual Help by the personal and collective obligation to help each other as in front line service;
c) S.M. Sound Memory to remember the fallen as a living companionship, to serve their memory in practical actions which rise above divisions of social status, race, or political creed.
2. In general to protect and advance the interests of war veterans and their kin, by carrying out benevolent activities of an ex-service character.
THE EMBLEM OF THE ORDER
The emblem of the Order is a Tin Hat surmounted by a lighted candle, flanked by reversed crossed rifles and surrounded by twelve stars, signifying Mutual Help, the whole within an unending circle expressing life and harmony without end.
The flag of the Order is composed of three equal perpendicular panels of dark blue, red and airforce blue representing the three services from which the Order originates and carries the Tin Hat and Candle symbol in the centre.
The salute of the Order is the “Rest on Arms reversed” position and is used on all MOTH occasions
BADGE OF MEMBERSHIP
The registered badge of membership is a miniature bronze Tin Hat, embossed with the letters MOTH. It is worn by members in good standing only.
Units of the Order are known as SHELLHOLES, which function under a charter issued by General Headquarters (G.H.Q.). For administrative purposes, Shellholes fall under the control of District or Provincial Dugouts which come under the control of G.H.Q.
The Executive Officers of a Shellhole are :
(1) The Old Bill (Chairman)
(2) Deputy Old Bill&(Vice Chairman)
(4) Pay Bill (Treasurer)
The Shellhole may elect other Moths to the committee to assist the officers in the administration of the Shellhole, such as a Sergeant Major, to control parades and carry out any orders of the Old Bill.
DICKIE FRITZ SHELLHOLE
The Dickie Fritz Shellhole was founded in 1955. At the inaugural meeting of the Shellhole it was decided that the Shellhole be called the ‘Dickie Fritz Shellhole’ in memory of two Jeppe High School masters, Dickie Dashwood and Fritz von Linsingen. They had served in the I.L.H. Regiment and were both killed on 31 December 1941 in the battle of Bardia, in the North African Campaign. They had been friends since early school days.
Initially the Shellhole had no home of its own and met at several different venues for 24 years. In 1979 the Shellhole obtained a 30 year lease over the old Rietfontein Farm Dairy buildings and the first meeting of the Shellhole at this venue was held on 6 September 1979. When the rest of the Rietfontein Farm was purchased by the Natal Building Society the lease area was donated to the Shellhole and registered in the name of the Order (G.H.Q.).
The development of the Old Farm Buildings into a MOTH Complex with cottages was a major challenge for the Dickie Fritz members. There was very little in the way of funds, so these had to be raised. This was done by the staging of bowls and golf tournaments, morning markets, cake sales by the ladies and even street collections. The Dickie Fritz Shellhole became an active and viable part of the Order. Every member proudly maintained the three ideals of the MOTH. Details of the development are recorded in the Historical Record of Dickie Fritz Shellhole published in 1995.
DICKIE FRITZ SHELLHOLE BANNER
The Shellhole banner has a dark green background, the central motif is the Moth emblem, with below a handclasp, all within an open topped laurel wreath. The two hands clasped together signifies the lifetime friendship between Dickie and Fritz after whom the Shellhole was named.
MOTH EX-SERVICEMEN’S COTTAGE ASSOCIATION
With the building of cottages on the complex the Shellhole established a Branch of the Moth Ex-servicemen’s Cottage Association. This Branch is run by a committee independent of the Shellhole. All members of the Shellhole are members of the Branch and elect this committee. By the year 2003 there was accommodation on the Dickie Fritz complex for 17 couples in double cottages and for six in single accommodation. Two of the double cottages are suitable for paraplegics. The insured value of the development: in excess of R6 000 000.
Adjoining the large hall is the Shellhole Sanctuary which was opened and dedicated by the Moth District Padre on 11 September 1980. The Sanctuary where all Shellhole meetings are held has been used as a Chapel, a few weddings have been held there and several Memorial Services.
On entering the Sanctuary for a meeting Moths salute the vacant chair which represents absent comrades.
The attention of new members of the Shellhole is drawn to the following:
These are held on the First Thursday of every month except January when alternative dates may be necessary.
The Annual subscriptions are set by G.H.Q. and are payable by every member of the Shellhole.
Every member of the Shellhole is expected to attend the Moth Remembrance Parades when medals should be worn (whenever possible).
Although there is no formal Moth Uniform, the accepted dress at all Shellhole meetings and in particular at Remembrance Parades and Moth funerals, is a black blazer with the Moth pocket emblem and the lapel tin hat. This is worn with grey flannels and a white shirt and the Moth tie. At Moth Funerals medals must be worn.
Members should always be smartly turned out at meetings and parades.
ANNUAL BOWLS TOURNAMENT
The Shellhole has held an Annual Bowls Tournament at the Edenvale Bowling Club since 1971. Initially this was purely a bowls social event in aid of some charity, but with the development of cottages at the complex it became a great fund raiser. Although not all play bowls all members of the Shellhole support the event, particularly in scrounging prizes.
DICKIE FRITZ SHELLHOLE MEMORIAL
The Shellhole has it’s own memorial and garden of remembrance.
The Garden of Remembrance has been designed on the plan of the Old Castle in Cape Town with a tall flagpole in the centre.
The plinth at the base of the flag pole reads:
Within these five points are the ashes of our
comrades who have answered the sunset call.
We will remember them.
Crosses on the side of the plinth bear the names of those remembered.
Surrounding the memorial are memorabilia collected by the Shellhole. These include a Sherman tank, two Anti-aircraft guns, a naval gun and a Puma Helicopter.