Gallipoli ship to open to public

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The only surviving ship from the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War is to be opened to the public for the first time thanks to £1.75 million of lottery cash.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the grant to the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth, Hampshire, to restore the HMS M.33 in time for the centenary commemorations next year.

Matthew Sheldon, project director, said: “HMS M.33 is a small ship but has a big history.

“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.”

The Gallipoli Campaign, fought between April 1915 and January 2016 in what is now Turkey, claimed more than 100,000 lives of personnel from all round the world.

HMS M.33 is a ‘Monitor’ ship which, at 568 tons and with a shallow draft, was able to get close in to shore and fire at targets on land.

It carried two powerful and oversize 6in guns but has been described as “a basic metal box lacking in comforts”.

A NMRN spokeswoman said: “The 72 officers and men who sailed for the Gallipoli Campaign were crammed inside and away from home for over years.”

After the war in 1919, the M.33 was refitted and returned to action in the Russian Civil War, where it covered the withdrawal of Allied and White Russian troops from north Russia during the Dvina River Campaign.

Following its return from Russia, the M.33 spent the rest of its active life in Portsmouth Harbour.

The M.33 will be the only British warship from the First World War that will be open to the public and the project has received funding from Hampshire County Council to help meet the full £2.4 million cost of the project.

The ship sits in No 1 Dock next to HMS Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and visitors will enter through a new entrance on board where there will be an “immersive” battle experience bringing to life the ship’s history as well as the history of the Gallipoli Campaign.

Carole Souter, chief executive of HLF, said: “The role of the Royal Navy in the First World War deserves to be much better known.

“Now, thanks to lottery money, visitors to M.33 will be able to the learn more about the crucial part it played during the war, particularly at Gallipoli, alongside experiencing first-hand something of the conditions in which sailors lived and fought.”

Professor Dominic Tweddle, NMRN director-general, said: “Next year HMS M.33 will be the only British warship of the First World War that the public can get on board.

“We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has made this grant to the NMRN to conserve and restore the ship – she will be a permanent commemoration and a reminder that the First World War took place at sea just as much as on land.”

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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