#1326. Memorable Order of Tin Hats

By Ian Varkevisser | News

Dec 02
At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.

I live in a dormitory town for the Navy, who have the freedom of the town. With this close association with the military every first Sunday in Nov a ceremony is held in the local garden of remembrance.

Members of the Memorable Order of Tin Hats gather in solemn remembrance of fallen comrades in times of war and peace.

The Memorable Order of Tin Hats (M.O.T.H.) was founded in 1927 by Charles Evenden as a brotherhood of South African former front-line soldiers. The ideal is to help comrades in need, either financially or physically; and to remember all servicemen who have answered the Sunset Call, both in war and peacetime.

This observance is known for commemoration of fallen comrades the world over by the red poppy symbol on armistice day - Nov 11. What is less known is that the purple poppy is a symbol for animal victims of war. Sadly no purple poppies were on view during this ceremony. 

The navy, the MOTHS, the local sea cadets, scouts, ex servicemen and women, and local residents gather in the shady garden of remembrance , accompanied by a pipe band for this ceremony, to lay wreaths. Local chaplains offer up prayers for those of all creeds and denominations who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country.

Included from armistice day commemorations to show the purple poppy


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  • Robert Sessions says:

    Wow! Very moving photos. I feel like I’m there, mourning with them. Thanks!

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Nicely done, Ian. You’ve captured all the emotions as well as the solemn pageantry of the event in your images – kudos!

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    Well done Ian – it’s up to us to ensure their sacrifice was not in vain

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Sad times, Ian. I cannot walk past the plaques stuck to walls and sidewalks in France without the tears forming, and rolling down my cheeks. So much of it is beyond my capacity for endurance, beyond my powers of self-control. I will never understand “war”. War simply breeds war. It never solves anything.

  • John Wilson says:

    Ian – Brings back a lot of memories. At 16 I joined the Air Cadets; at 17 I joined the Airforce Reserve. In the Reserve I was trained as a Fighter Control Operator to vector intercepts onto unidentified targets (Russian) coming over the pole. Two of my bubbies from Air Cadets became Cold War pilots – George, who I’m still in contact with, was a long range antisubmarine warfare pilot; John, who I haven’t talked to in eons, flew F104s on the “frontline” in Europe. My father-in-law Lorrie was a paratrooper in Europe on D-Day and a good friend of the family Clinton was a radio operator in Montgomery’s army in North Africa and Europe. My Brother-in law Larry is a Navy Veteran, buried in a military cemetery in Seattle. Little wonder one of my hobbies is Military History. Looking back George, John and I were so young and having the time of our lives. Only in retrospect do we begin to realize just how close we came to blowing up the world Lorrie and Clinton had risked life and limb to preserve.

    Somewhere there’s a bunch of photographs of me marching around proud as punch in uniform on Nov.11. I need to dig it out and hoist a toast to Lorrie, Clinton and Larry … May They Sleep Peacefully.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Thank you, Ian,
    for conveying so well this ceremony!

    Living in Sweden that has had the luck to see wars only from the outside for a very long time and having neighbours on all sides that were invaded only some eighty years ago – this gives food for thought.

    Not forgetting the current wars – also in our neighbourhood.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Kristian,

      Seen from the other side of the world it would appear to have less to do with luck and more to do with Sweden’s policy of neutrality.

      I do not want to get involved in a heated political discussion but in retrospect the Sweden’s decision to join Nato may not turn out to be that wise.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Very true, Ian,

        but during the last century we were behind the scene very much in cooperation with “the west”.
        And there was also quite a piece of luck involved as our military strength was rather weak at the beginning of the last war.

        During the war we had problems trying to stand by our neighbours while staying neutral, especially when we dared not refuse the transit of German troops through Sweden to the north of Norway, euphemistically called transport of troops on leave. Also we bought our neutrality then by continuing to export iron ore to Germany.
        – – –

        Re. NATO, we also have (had) to consider Finland and one strong argument against a membership was that Finland was and had an even stronger reason to stay neutral.

        After the war there was an attempt to build a Nordic neutrality union, but that failed.
        Now it seems again that it makes sense to have all the Nordic countries allied, especially as Sweden and Finland have built a strong defence cooperation and Finland decided it dared not stay neutral.

        I’m not trying to start a debate, just hinting at the background.

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Robert, Nancee, Peter , Pete, John , Kristian

    Thank you for your comments.

    This non partisan ceremony is now of interesting significance in our country. When I did service in the 70s and right through to the early 90s our country was involved in a low key Border War, as it was called , against neighbouring countries and some of its own citizens who were deemed terrorists ( probably with good reason in some instances even though they were fighting for a good cause) .

    Then in the early 90s there was a change of government and the former terrorist organisation became the governing party.

    The less said about the impact that had on this country the better , as many have come to realise.

    However this ceremony is a time to quietly reflect on ALL who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country, friend or foe, making it all the more poignant.

  • philberphoto says:

    Ian, beyond words…. just as war, even though it sometimes is inevitable, is beyond human comprehension and endurance. Photography and you make these moments unforgettable. As they should be.

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