PMB Moth shellhole turns 85

2013-03-25 00:00

THE Allan Wilson Shellhole in Alan Paton Road marks the 85th year of its founding this week and will be holding a sunset memorial parade on Wednesday at 5.30 pm.

This is one of several shellholes in Pietermaritzburg belonging to the Memorable Order of Tin Hats, the ex-servicemen and -women’s club popularly known as the Moths.

The organisation was founded in 1927 when a group of ex-servicemen who had served in WW1 held the first meeting in Durban on July 4.

Soon afterwards the Nurse Cavell Shellhole was formed in Pietermaritzburg and as other ex-servicemen got to hear of this organisation, more and more signed on and 11 shellholes were formed.

This led to the creation of a central controlling committee and it was decided that Nurse Cavell should become a district dugout and members split up to form four new shellholes, namely Gunga Din, Unknown Warrior, Captain Fryatt and Major Allan Wilson.

The inaugural meeting of Allan Wilson Shellhole was held on March 27, 1928, at a building in Longmarket Street. There were 16 foundation members.

The constitution states that the shellhole is “national, non-sectarian and non-political” and its objectives are to “ bring together for sociability all ex-servicemen of any war, any service”.

The name Allan Wilson was chosen in order to associate the new shellhole with an incident in southern African history. Major Wilson was the leader of the Shangani Patrol that was wiped out during the First Matabele War in 1893 while attempting to capture King Lobengula.

Over the years Allan Wilson Shellhole members met at various venues, and in 1964 a fundraising scheme was launched to build a permanent home.

They joined forces with the former Woodburn Bowling Club, renamed the Allan Wilson Bowling Club, and built new premises alongside the bowling greens.

Building got under way in May 1968 and the first sod was turned by the then Old Bill, or head, of the shellhole, Albert Mason, who had been blinded during WW1.

The formal opening ceremony was held on February 13, 1969.

Bersides the sunset memorial parade, the 85th anniversary will be marked on Friday, April 5, by the screening of the film Shangani Patrol at 5.30 pm followed by a meal. Cost R40 per person.

On Saturday, April 6, there will be a cabaret show. Cost R50 per person.

Following the Allan Wilson monthly meeting on Sunday, April 7, at 11am there will be a bring-and-braai.

Tickets are available at the shellhole or can be reserved by phoning 072 146 4163.

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