A Gallipoli Gunboat Is To Be Opened To the Public for a Centennial Commemoration

The only boat to have survived the battles in Gallipoli, a British vessel, is to be unveiled and open to the public for the very first time in history. It is to be commemorating the campaign’s 100th anniversary, and shall stand as a reminder to those who were lost. And as an informative piece which elaborates more on the setting of WWI and its many trials and tribulations.

The ship itself, was a Monitor HMS M33, a very practical and robust navy vessel at the time. When it was still in use, it was one of the boats that bombed and shelled Turkish owned areas and positions. Specifically that of around the Dardanelles, formerly known as Hellespont, this place in particular was a very narrow strait off the northwest in Turkey. The ship, was to help aid the Allied Powers in gaining an advance up the peninsula, in order for their soldiers to capture Constantinople and overthrow The Ottoman Empire (Founded by Oghuz Turks under Osman Bey, Included that of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa). If they were to achieve this great feat, the Empire itself would be completely out of the war. Thus offering a great array of opportunities for Great Britain and their Allies.

For almost 20 years the gunship had been under reconstruction. People hard at work, labouring upon the vessel so as to restore it to its former glory. The restoration work occurred in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, due to a sum of £1.75 million. This however did not come from a sponsor, it came from a spot of luck due to a large lottery win.

The money, will go an extremely long way and help to further the National Museum of The Royal Navy as well as Hampshire County Council to expand upon their resource-dilapidating plan. Which is to pay tribute to the Gallipoli campaign. The large-scale commemoration requires the amount of an estimated £2.4 million. And is of no exception to being any cheaper than that of the restoration to the HMS M33.

When this great ship is finally revealed to the public eyes of history enthusiasts and the sons and daughters of veterans still alive or long past, those visiting will be capable of viewing the Monitor HMS M33 where she lays in her Dock. Which is a short distance from her cousin the HMS Victory. A different boat with a whole other story to tell.

The project Director, Matthew Sheldon had this to say about the boat –

“It will be wonderful to open the ship to visitors next year on her centenary; finally we’ll be able to share the story of her part in the Gallipoli Campaign, and reveal what it was like for the 72 crew who were crammed on board.”

One of the professors who works as Director-General for the National Museum helping to bring the ship into the limelight, Dominic Tweddle, also had this to say –

“Next year M33 will be the only British warship of World War 1 that the public can get on board. She will be a permanent commemoration and a reminder that the war took place at sea just as much as on land.”

When the Great War ended, the navy vessel took part in the action and fighting in the Russian Civil War (USSR), it helped to provide defences for the withdrawal and pulling back of Allied as well as White Russian Troops at the River Dvina. This was before she made her way to rest peacefully in Portsmouth, the Royal Navy reports.

The museum is adding this ‘Commemorating Gallipoli: The HMS M33’ project to its wider programme, the ‘Great War At Sea 1914-1918’. It will be an extremely fruitful addition in marking and celebrating the centenary. One of the accompanying exhibitions will be ‘Gallipoli: Myth and Memory’, this will open to the public on March of 2015.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE