The Memorable Order of Tin Hats, known as The MOTH, was founded in 1927 by Charles Evenden as a brotherhood of South African front-line ex-soldiers. The ideal of the Order is to help fellow comrades in need, either financially or physically and to remember all servicemen who have answered the Sunset Call, both in war and peace time.
According to the Dictionary of South African Biography, one night in 1927 after he and the editor of The Natal Mercury, RJ Kingston Russell, had seen a war film, Charles Evenden was persuaded to draw a cartoon on 'remembrance'. According to the Dictionary, "The cartoon showed a tin helmet surmounted by a burning candle. Around the flames of the candle were six words – True Comradeship – Mutual Help – Sound Memory".
However, the official MOTH website carries a cartoon captioned Forgetfulness and this led to the founding of the Order. This is confirmed by the Eastern Province Herald which describes the cartoon as follows: "a bullet- and shrapnel-riddled Allied helmet awash in the ocean. In the background a steamship passes over the horizon, leaving the forgotten, ghostly form of a veteran forlornly wading through the water."
The concepts of True Comradeship, Mutual Help and Sound Memory were to become the inspiration of a remarkable organisation of ex-front line soldiers, of all ranks, known as the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH). Evenden, as the founder of the movement and its guiding inspiration was given the title of 'Moth O' – a position he held until his death."
The membership of the MOTH movement, under Evenden's vigorous direction and leadership, grew into thousands. Men and women of two world wars, of the Second Anglo Boer War (1899–1902) and even those of former enemy forces streamed into its ranks. All who were prepared to keep alive the memories of comradeship and self-sacrifice – the finer virtues that war brings forth – were welcomed and made at home in shell holes as the meeting premises are called with colourful and meaningful names of war-time memories and occasions. The shellholes spread to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Membership was extended to those who had participated in the South African Border War.
The MOTH national headquarters is situated in Warriors Gate, Durban, which is modelled on a Norman design from a photograph given to Evenden by Admiral Evans-of-the-Broke.
In 1948 Evenden opened Mount Memory, a monument to the missing and dead of the Second World War, in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains.
Eligibility for membership
- In any War prior to 1939 as a member of the fighting forces, including medical or other auxiliary units of such forces. This includes all wars and campaigns in any country.
- In World War II and subsequent campaigns as members of the Union Defence Force outside the borders of the Union on active service.
- As full-time members of the Union Defence Force, in the Coastal or Coast Garrison Artillery and the South African Air Force Squadrons engaged in seaward patrols. This includes ex-members of the Radar Service and coastal crash boat crew serving with the Artillery Batteries and SAAF Squadrons mentioned above.
- As full-time members of the South African Naval Forces outside the Union or in the coastal defence of the Union. As members of the British or Allied Forces – air, navy or army – Great Britain or abroad.
- As officers or ratings in ships of the Allied Merchant Service at sea during World War I and World War II and minor campaigns. As full-time members of the Air Auxiliary Services of the Allied Forces (Such as BOAC) who served in combat areas in support of the Allied Forces in World War II.
- With the Underground Resistance Movements (Partisan Force) during World War of 1939–45 on the side of the original Allies.
- As full-time servicemen or women in minor campaigns, viz. Korean War (1950–53), Kenya (1952–56), Malaya (1948–60), Cyprus (1955–59), Suez (1956–57), Palestine (1946–49), Yemen Aden Protectorate – 1964–67), Western Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei – 1962–68) with the British Forces in Ireland (1969–) who are in possession of the General Service Medal and/or Northern Ireland Clasp. The guerilla warfare in which Rhodesia was engaged 11.11.65 until 5.3.80, Members of British Forces in Falklands War 2.4.83 to 14.6.83; Members of United States Armed Forces and their Allies in Vietnam from 22.12.61 to 7.5.75.
- As members of the South African Police or Rhodesia Police (11.11.65 until 5.3.80) who have been in active operation against guerillas on their Borders and who are in possession of the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism or the Rhodesian General Service Medal.
- In Vietnam as members of the Allied Forces (as recognised for eligibility for the 1939–45 World War)
- As South African security force members:
- who served in an operational area, namely South West Africa, Angola, Mozambique or the South African Borders.
- who have been directly engaged in operations anywhere in South Africa from 1 December 1983 until 2 February 1990.
- actively engaged in operations after 2 February 1990 until 27 April 1994.
- members of the SANDF who since 1994 have received a campaign medal or clasp for military operations including peace keeping forces and operations in: Lesotho, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Mozambique and Sudan. These campaigns will be updated from time to time at GHQ meetings.
- Allied Service Personnel who fought in Operation Desert Storm.
- Allied Service Personnel who fought in the Iraq War/Balkans Conflict (NATO Forces)/Afghanistan.
- Allied Service Personnel who served/currently serve in NATO Forces operations, and are in procession of a service/campaign medal or the necessary proof confirming participation in the operation.
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- Remembrance Day
- Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association
- Returned and Services League of Australia
- Royal Canadian Legion
- The Royal British Legion
- American Legion
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
- South African Military Veterans Organisation of Australasia (SAMVOA)
- "Memorable Order of Tin Hats". Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa. 7. Nasou. 1974. pp. 327–8. ISBN 0-625-00324-1.
- "Memorable Order of Tin Hats – M.O.T.H.". http://www.moth.org.za/moth.htm. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Charles Evenden". Dictionary of South African Biography. V. Human Sciences Research Council. 1987. pp. 250–1. ISBN 0-7969-0420-0.
- The Herald online[dead link]
- http://www.moth.org.za/moth8.htm[dead link]
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