The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in Art & History

Gallipoli Lifeboat from the SS Devanha

Shrine of Remembrance Joy of Museums 1

The SS Devanha Lifeboat No 5 is a lifeboat from the P&O ship SS DEVANHA. It is one of only two surviving craft that took ANZAC troops to the landing beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey in the first landing stages of the World War I Gallipoli campaign on April 25, 1915.

Built around 1905, this timber lifeboat from the SS Devanha known as Troopship A3 at the time of the Gallipoli landing in 1915. The Devanha served as both a troop transport ship and later hospital ship. SS Devanha was built in 1905-6 for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). The ship was originally used on the UK to India and Far East route before being commandeered into military service in 1915. All requisitioned vessels continued to be manned by their normal P&O staff of officers and their peacetime P&O crews.


ANZAC troops first setting foot at Gallipoli

The night before the landings the order was given for the troops to move from transport ships into destroyers, which had crept up on either side of their respective transports. With decks crowded and towing behind her the Devanha’s empty lifeboats, the HMS Ribble headed toward the landing beaches with the six other destroyers, all similarly loaded. During the Gallipoli landing the boats each carried over 30 soldiers with their equipment and were rowed to shore using oars via rowlocks mounted on the gunwale.

As dawn broke on 25th April 1915, the troops were towed ashore in lifeboats to land at what became known as Anzac Cove, and some way short of the planned landing place. ‘The boats missed their bearing’ and it proved to be a costly mistake. On the first day over 2,000 men lost their lives and little ground was won.

Landing at Gallipoli (13901951593)

ANZAC troops landing at what soon became known as Anzac Cove.

Anzac Cove (Turkish: Anzak Koyu) is a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. It was the site of World War I landings of the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on 25 April 1915. The cove is 600 metres (2,000 ft.) long. Following the landings, the beach became the main base for the Australian and New Zealand troops during the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign.

Soon after the first day of landings, the Devanha evacuated her first load of casualties and began service as a hospital ship. As a hospital ship HMHS Devanha transported sick and wounded troops from the battlefield to hospital bases in Egypt. Devanha continued with these duties until the end of the campaign and HMHS Devanha was the last hospital ship to leave the Dardanelles.

After the war the SS DEVANHA resumed commercial service and in 1919 a passenger noted the lifeboat’s connection with Gallipoli and P&O donated the craft to the Australian War Museum.

Gallipoli Campaign Casualties

Dead Wounded
Ottoman Empire 56,643 97,007
United Kingdom 34,072 78,520
France 9,798 17,371
Australia 8,709 19,441
New Zealand 2,721 4,752
British India 1,358 3,421
Newfoundland 49 93
Total 113,350 220,605

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

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Essential Facts:

  • Title:                         Lifeboat from the SS Devanha
  • What:                       Used in the landings at Gallipoli during WWI
  • Built:                        1905
  • Builder:                    Harland & Wolff
  • Designer:                 R Chisholm
  • Previous Owner:    P&O
  • Dimensions:            8.74 m × 8.33 m × 2.71 m (28.66 ft × 27.33 ft × 8.9 ft)
  • Museum:                  Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

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“As a leader you must celebrate life, you must celebrate success and paradoxically, you must celebrate heroic failures.” Lieutenant General D.M. Mueller

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Archives New Zealand from New Zealand (Landing at Gallipoli) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 3) BBy Joseph McBride – Joseph Bell McBride, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link