MOTH Warriors Gate – The National Museum and Shrine of the Memorable order of Tin Hats (MOTH) being vandilsed.
Warriors Gate (affectionately known as the GATE), was established in 1936 on a donated strip of land at the southeast corner of the demarcated Old Fort historical site in Durban. The intended purpose was to establish, firstly, a Headquarters for the newly-inaugurated Military Veterans Organisation known as the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH), and as memorial of Remembrance to the Fallen who served during the Great War (World War 1).
The building structure was designed in the manner of a French farmyard Chateau concept and intended to invoke the memory of veterans who served on the front lines in trenches during the Great War 1914/18. The structure initially encompassed a small downstairs museum and arched wooden gateway reminiscent of a Normandy fortification and being aptly named “Warriors Gate” as per this formative design. The 1st floor, above the small display area and entrance, was reserved for the day-to-day operations and meeting area for Moth Charles Evende, the founder of the Order. This became the General Headquarters (central) of the MOTH.
With envisaged expansion ideas in the late 1960’s and in the early 1970’s, formal plans were compiled and the structure of the GATE was increased in order to include a larger artefact and formal museum area. This project was completed mid-1973 and still retained the original chateaus’ overall larger design as a concept. A boundary wall was then expanded to encompass the entire property.
The objective of the museum was to attain, through donation, any historical militaria and artefacts relevant to South African personnel who served during the Great War 1914/18. This objective was then further expanded to include such artefacts from the 2nd World War 1939/45.
Relevant militaria, prior to both WW1 and WW2, was also then included, namely the Anglo-Zulu and both Boer War periods. With the advent of the Rhodesian war and with many ex-Rhodesians joining the Order as veterans willing to serve the cause, a subsequent section and artifacts was also included to the museum’s areifact base for historical prosperity and preservation. During the 2020/21 Covid-19 world pandemic lockdown period, an opportunity arose to include a further display area to cater for current MOTH members who served during the Bush War period 1970/1989, thus expanding the museums militaria preservation offering and artefact showcase.
Unfortunately, this historical venue and Military tourist attraction in Durban is now being targeted by criminal elements. These instances intensified over the Christmas period as they continued to intrude, stealing copper piping, Tolos, artefacts etc, – in fact, anything that can be sold for a quick buck is being targeted. We have a video recording of a wash-line being stolen in broad daylight.
This has resulted in the MOTH having to dramatically increase security measures, which is costly. We are very worried about the people that live on site who are in constant fear of being attacked and which could even result in death. In the last few days, intruders were heard on the roof of the Custodian’s cottage, who managed to scare them away. The neighbouring Old Fort grounds are plagued with vagrants. During one recent exercise more than 50 vagrants were chased off the property by local security companies and 3 SA Police Service details, but those vagrants will return. During this operation, bolt cutters and other such “specialist” tools were found so, obviously, some of the vagrants are hardened criminals.
It is sad that we now have to resort to spending huge of amounts of money in order to try to upgrade and implement increased security measures of the property. This is, in fact, moneys that could have been used to assist veterans in need. We hope we are able to secure this site and save the museum and shrine for many years still to come. This is very high on our agenda at present.
17 January 2022
Extracts courtesy of MM&M Chairman
For more info on this Museum click https://www.moth.org.za/warriors-gate-moth-museum/