Launched in May 1915, she is the sole remaining British veteran of that year’s Gallipoli Campaign and the only British warship from the First World War that will be open to the public during the Gallipoli Centenary next year.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy and Hampshire County Council have worked as partners to develop the £2.4million ‘Commemorating Gallipoli – the HMS M.33 Project’ in order to conserve, restore and interpret HMS M.33. The ship sits in No.1 Dock alongside HMS Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
When open, visitors will start their journey through HMS M.33 with a 6 metre descent into the bottom of the dock before stepping aboard. This new entrance will provide a unique view of the hull of the ship and of No.1 Dock, the scheduled ancient moment in which she is berthed. New interpretation, including a stunning immersive battle experience, will bring to life HMS M.33’s history, the stories of the men who served on board, and the history of the Gallipoli Campaign.
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 modern day Turkey, claimed over 100,000 lives of personnel from all round the world. HMS M33 is a ‘Monitor’ of 568 tons. With her shallow draft she was able to get close-in to shore and fire at targets on land. She carried two powerful and oversize 6” guns but was a basic metal box lacking in comforts. The 72 officers and men who sailed for the Gallipoli Campaign were crammed inside and away from home for over 3 years.
After the War in 1919 she was refitted and returned to action in the Russian Civil War, where she covered the withdrawal of Allied and White Russian troops from North Russia during the Dvina River Campaign. Following her return from Russia, she spent the rest of her active life in Portsmouth Harbour.
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 M33 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, Director-General National Museum of the Royal Navy 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".
‘Commemorating Gallipoli – the HMS M.33 Project’ is part of the NMRN’s wider ‘Great War At Sea 1914 – 1918’ programme to mark the Royal Navy’s First World War. It will be also accompanied by the special exhibition, ‘Gallipoli: Myth and Memory’ opening in March 2015.