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MOTH Memorial
Springs, Gauteng

Date:post 1945
Type:Memorial
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
26°14'47.61" S 28°25'45.60" E Alt: 1635m

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INTRODUCTION

The MOTH (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) Memorial in Olympia Park, Springs was built after WWII under the direction of the Springs MUDHOOK DUGOUT. It forms part of a large Garden of Remembrance.

HISTORY

Transcribed extracts from three contemporary newspaper articles are provided below which firstly provide basic background information regarding the Memorial, secondly record details of the Dedication Ceremony and thirdly conclude with a review of the completed Memorial.

MOTHS' GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE (1)

The local Moths, as announced in our last issue, have approached the Town Council with a view to assisting them in establishing a "Garden of Remembrance" in Springs. The General Committee has investigated the possible sites suitable for the purpose and they are of the opinion that Olympia Park is the most suitable locality.

The estimated cost is £700 and of this amount the Moths have agreed to pay approximately £250 over a period of two or three years. The maintenance and control of the Garden of Remembrance is to be vested in the Council, and it is to be open to all sections of the community for the purpose of silent prayer and reverence.

The Council agreed to the establishment of a Garden of Remembrance at a cost of £700 and accepted the offer of the Moths to donate £250 over a period of two or three years, subject to the control and maintenance of the garden being vested in the Council.

The site is to be at Olympia Park adjacent to the existing sunken garden, which is just a little way from the entrance to the park and is the prettiest portion of it. It is hoped to have it completed by November for the Armistice service.

MUDHOOK DUGOUT: QUARTERLY REPORT (2)

The dedication of The Garden of Remembrance and Memorial at Olympia Park on Delville Wood Day, was one of the biggest ceremonies ever held in Springs. The dedication was performed by the Chaplain of the Dugout, Padre Menzies, in the presence of 4,000 people, the collection at this function resulted in a further £22 being sent to the Memorial Homes.

The Garden and the Memorial is the gift of our Town Council, whose generosity, in the cause of ex-Servicemen has been ever unfailing. The Dugout records its great appreciation to the Council for all the splendid service rendered to the order.

THE GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE (3)

Those of us who paraded last Sunday at the Garden of Remembrance on the occasion of Delville Wood were conscious of the purpose which has spurred our Moth friends on during the past few years in providing this beautiful memorial to the fallen. It is an impressive memorial; dignified, beautiful and above all worthy of those who have gone before, and in such surroundings - the lovely Olympia Park – it stands out in bold relief. The memorial faces West and looks on to extensive sports grounds. On a clear sunny day it is just like one of those white Indian temples one reads about. To hear the words of the ministers, the prayers of peace, with such before one is an inspiration, was something to remember.

DESCRIPTION

The MOTH memorial comprises a substantial linear concrete structure - with Art Deco detailing - placed at an angle to the rectilinear boundary of the park. The central portion of the memorial has a large trabeated structure, with a heavy beam supported on two circular columns, framing a recessed panel with an inscription in v-cut Roman letters:

-M-O-T-H-

MUTUAL HELP
COMRADESHIP
SOUND MEMORY

The inscription formalises the three Ideals (4) of the MOTH organisation, namely:

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

The central portion of the memorial is flanked on either side by two lower wings each with a semi-circular recess. The surface finish of the memorial appears to be an exposed aggregate plaster or terrazzo with finely graded river sand with rounded forms. This finish is clearly visible on the faces of the memorial.

The name of the architect or designer of the MOTH memorial has not yet been determined and neither has any documentatiThe central portion of the memorial is flanked on either side by two lower wings each with a semi-circular recess. The surface finish of the memorial appears to be an exposed aggregate plaster or terrazzo with finely graded river sand with rounded forms. This finish is clearly visible on the faces of the memorial.

A broad paved area forms the immediate threshold to the memorial with a further projection on axis which probably accommodated a memorial sarcophagus - unfortunately now removed. A large rectangular reflecting pond was also placed on axis with the memorial on the south side.

The greater precinct of the memorial includes a significantly scaled and ordered tree planting in the form of a substantial cross - created with two pairs of intersecting avenues of trees. Each broad open avenue forming the crossing is bounded on its periphery with two inner rows of Australian Bottle Trees (Brachychiton populneus) flanked on either side by a row of Canary Island Palm Trees (Phoenix canariensis). (5)

The name of the architect or designer of the MOTH memorial has not yet been determined and neither has any documentation on the design been located.

CURRENT STATUS

The MOTH memorial is now (2017) unfortunately abandoned and vandalised - however the structure and the tree planting - in particular - remain as a significant urban intervention.

Notes:
1. Unknown source but probably The Springs and Brakpan Advertiser, circa 1946.
2. The Springs and Brakpan Advertiser, 23 August 1948.
3. Unknown source but probably The Springs and Brakpan Advertiser, circa 19 July 1950.
4. http://www.moth.org.za/about-us/ - accessed 7 July 2017
5. Carl Vernon - Botanist (personal comm)

(William MARTINSON, July 2017; revised September 2018)