The Memorable Order of Tin Hats (M.O.T.H.)

We paid a visit to the Platberg Shellhole. It is believed that it was founded in 1928. The Shellhole lapsed rather towards the 1930’s. With the 2nd Great War there was as great influx of returned servicemen, all keen to carry on the true ideals of the Moth’s.

In 1962 the building in Stuart Street Harrismith was purchased as a Shellhole.

The Flag was hosted it waved in the slight breeze. The dark blue of the naval service, red for the army and light blue for the air force. The Tin Hat and lighted candle reminds of of the sun which rises and falls over the world’s battlefields, above all known and unknown graves. DSC02791

Then you walk into the door and the emblem greets you.

The emblem with the tin hat and lighted candle signify the comradeship of the front line. The two rifles with fixed bayonets are leaning as if thrust into the battlefield soil, they are crossed to signify sacrifice and are revered in a token of remembrance. A circle of stars denoted the eternal universe forever that has no end. The twelve stars as in a clock indicate the hours of the day reminding us that every hour presents opportunities of harmony among mankind through tolerance and help.
On entering there is a beautiful collection of a uniform and tin hat.
The members stopped in front of the uniform and show a moment of silence and honor to the fallen soldiers.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”

The Shellhole is dedicated to preserve the military history and the people of Harrismith has donated to keep it updated. The display dates back from the Anglo Boer War to modern day war fare.



On the day of our visit the Shellhole was giving honor to the battle of El Alahmein that took place from 8 – 12 November 1942. During this battle more than 100 000 men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. The Shellhole was decorated according to the theme.


Nati Collage
During the battle of El Alahmein my uncle Ignatius (Natie) Barlow was one of the fallen soldiers.    Early 1942 they were forst toe retreat to a little railway station called El Alamein. They were suppose to patrol the desert. On 6 July 1942 Nati and two of comrades were blown away by a German bom that hit their panser kar. They died instantly. Their tempory burial ground would be the desert. After the battle they were re-buried in El Alahmein Military Cemetary.
“Where the tree has fallen let it lie”


During the war the Cartoonist, Bruce Bairnsfather’s Old Bill sketches boosted the moral at home and on the front line. The trench humour, cubby pipe-smoking British “Tommy” during the First World War.  A weary Old Bill, pictured top left is also part of the Platberg Shellhole.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the guns fell silent – we will remember

We all know about the poppies on Remembrance Day. In the spring of 1915, John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields and he wrote that famous poem – Flanders Fields. After the First World War, the poppy was adopted a a symbol of Remembrance.

In Flanders Fields

Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


One minute of memory of the fallen,

One minute in gratitude for survivors.


Till next time

Hennie & Sandra











4 Replies to “The Memorable Order of Tin Hats (M.O.T.H.)”

  1. Ja! My Dad’s favourite place too! The pub! Now the old bliksem is 95yrs old, in PMB and off the sauce. The old MOTH hall down in the railway end of town has many happy memories of parties and 16mm movies and motorcar rallies. The Stuart Street MOTH hall saved our teenage lives! Great ‘discos’ – meisies in the dark and excitement. NOT ‘volkspele’! Otherwise we’d have vrek’d from verveligheid!


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