Long Tom Shellhole opens soon in Tzaneen

An Article published in the Far North Bulletin, confirms a dream of Moth Alan Odendaal

“Tzaneen’s military veterans might soon have a new M.O.T.H. Shellhole where they will be able to meet and greet and pay homage to the fallen on a regular basis with like-minded individuals. On Saturday, the 19th of this month, Alan Odendaal and a few existing M.O.T.H. member from the Turbi Hills Shellhole in Louis Trichardt hosted an informative meeting at the Round Table Clubhouse in Tzaneen for all veterans interested in participating.“This has been a vision of mine for the past four years, but I just could never get round to it due to the fact that I was (until recently) the Old Bill of Turbi Hills Shellhole.” Odendaal explained. “For the past eight years I served in this capacity and resigned in October 2018 to enable me to pursue my vision in the MOTH Order, of which a Shellhole in Tzaneen was a part.”

The informal meeting was well attended, twenty seven Moths, Moths in no man’s land and potential new Moths were present. He started off by welcoming everyone present and gave them a short history of how and why the M.O.T.H was formed. The order was the vision of a man called Charles Alfred Evenden, or more commonly known as “EVO” who was a First World War veteran wounded in Gallipoli during the war.

Witnessing the annual Anzac parades, Charles Evenden turned his thoughts to the formation of an association of frontline soldiers to perpetuate comradeship gained from frontline service. At this stage he worked as a cartoonist at the Natal Mercury newspaper in Durban.

In 1927 after watching a war film that included impressive scenes of marching troops all wearing tin hats and muddy uniforms and all carrying trench equipment, he started wondering what had become of his comrades in the army, where were they and what were they doing? This line of thought inspired a cartoon on forgetfulness of a comradeship that had ceased to exist. One idea led to the next, and after a discussion with friends and colleagues eventually The Memorable Order of Tin Hats (M.O.T.H.) was founded on the 7th of May 1927.

The three ideals of the Order are True Comradeship by practising frontline friendship in civilian life, Mutual Help by acknowledging the personal and collective obligation to help each other as in frontline service and Sound Memory, by remembering the fallen as a living companionship to serve their memory in practical actions which rise above divisions of social status, race or politics.

After a lengthy discussion about the M.O.T.H. who’s qualifying criteria has changed drastically over the years to include different wars, campaigns and different arms of service, a positive and enthusiastic vibe arose.

Names for the proposed Shellhole were put forward and after a vote, it was decided on “Long Tom Shellhole” which is befitting for the area. It was also decided that the meetings would take place on the first Sunday of every calendar month at 11:30 for 12:00, the venue being at this stage the Round Table Clubhouse in Tzaneen.

The M.O.T.H. being a charitable organization will be planning all sorts of fund raisers in and around Tzaneen. Annual Delville Wood and Remembrance Day parades will also be held to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Any veteran in the Tzaneen and surrounding area who wishes to become involved in the Long Tom Shellhole, should please contact Alan on 083 660 2472 or via email at [email protected].

— Joe Dreyer
[email protected]