This coming August 6th marks a historic day for the only surviving ship of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. On that day, exactly one hundred years after her birth, The National Museum of the Royal Navy (Portsmouth, UK) will open its HMS M.33 exhibit for the first time. Many consider this vessel a miracle ship because of how battered it was during the battle of Gallipoli, yet not a single crew member aboard lost their life.
The Gallipoli Campaign
Although many people have heard of the battle of Gallipoli, few outside of the UK, Australia and New Zealand can tell you what actually happened during the campaign there; it was the single biggest loss of life for Australian and New Zealand troops (Anzacs) of any battle in the entirety of WWI. It has become known as one of the biggest military disasters of all time.
Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, had become increasingly impatient with the stagnant western front in WWI. Germany’s ally, the Turks, were providing a solid defense of the strategic Dardanelles straits and any warships that entered those heavily fortified and mined waters took a pounding. The idea behind the campaign was to hit the Turks on the Gallipoli peninsula so hard it would effectively eliminate them from the war, enable the allies to push forward from the stagnate western front and also take some pressure off the Russians at the same time too.
The allies badly underestimated the fighting capability of the Turks, who put up a robust defense of the peninsula as they quickly reinforced the troops stationed there. The allies were only able to make their way a few hundred yards inland as the heavily dug-in Turkish forces held the all-important high ground. Instead of helping to get the stagnant western front moving again, all the campaign did was create another one.
All told, some 58,000 allied soldiers, including some 11,000 Anzac troops, lost their lives in the campaign. Losses on the Ottoman Turk side approached some 90,000 men. The campaign never did come close to achieving its objectives, although it did divert some pressure off the Russians as Turkey reinforced its troops on the peninsula.
The HMS M.33
This warship was one of forty ships of the ‘monitor’ class that were built in hasty fashion following the outbreak of the First World War. It took only seven weeks to build this ship, whose main armaments were two oversized and powerful 6” deck guns. The ship was built so quickly that it did not even have a naming ceremony before being launched into service. After its 65 crew and 7 officers survived the horror of the Gallipoli campaign, there was no longer a need to call the ship anything other than ‘blessed’ or ‘lucky.’
The restoration was done by Ian Clark Restoration and it was done in a manner where as much of the ships original feel and look will come through on the museum tour. Although the men and women that served on her are no longer with us, the proud ship lives on as a fitting tribute to both their memory and the others who lost their lives in WWI.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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