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Historic Gallipoli lifeboat to star at Shrine

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BerichtGeplaatst: 05 Apr 2011 23:52    Onderwerp: Historic Gallipoli lifeboat to star at Shrine Reageer met quote

THE boat believed to have carried Gallipoli hero Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick ashore to Anzac Cove is now likely to come to Melbourne to be put on permanent display at the Shrine in time for the centenary of the landing.

It is the only existing lifeboat used to row the first wave of Anzacs ashore to land on Turkey just before dawn on April 25, 1915.

The boat will be the centrepiece of an ambitious $35 million plan to open up a huge 2000sq m of unused space beneath the Shrine as a display gallery.

The plan will involve state, federal and private funding.

Shrine CEO Denis Baguley said the Shrine had decided to prepare a business plan for the State Government to consider for its share of funding from next year's Budget. "We will also be in talks with the Federal Government," he said. "Our window of opportunity is narrowing to get the boat in place in time -- we don't want to have a construction site at the Shrine in the lead-up to the centenary."

The historic lifeboat, from the troop transport Devanha, will be lent by the Australian War Memorial for permanent display at the Shrine. It is now in safe storage in Canberra after undergoing extensive conservation and restoration.

Mr Baguley first noticed the boat when he toured the War Memorial storages over seven years ago.

After talks with director Steve Gower, who describes the boat as a "treasured relic", an agreement in principle was reached for the Shrine to have the boat on loan once it was restored.

The War Memorial has another Gallipoli boat on public display -- but this was used to take troops ashore much later on the first Anzac Day.

The Shrine boat was one of six that the original Anzacs of the 12th Battalion Headquarters and 3rd Field Ambulance rowed the final distance to shore under heavy fire. It had been launched from the Devanha, then towed closer to shore in a string of six by the destroyer HMS Ribble.

One of the ambulancemen was Pte Kirkpatrick -- later to become famous as Simpson and the donkey.

Using one of the donkeys brought in for carrying water, he transported wounded men day and night from the fighting in Monash Valley to the beach on Anzac Cove. He did so, according to Charles Bean, through "deadly sniping down the valley and the most furious shrapnel fire". He was killed by a sniper or machine-gun fire on May 19 while carrying two wounded men and is buried near the beach at Hell Spit.

The landing boat was later used as a hospital lifeboat to ferry the wounded to waiting ships off Gallipoli. It was bought by the War Memorial in 1919 when the lifeboat was recognised by an Australian after the Devanha went back into service as a P&O liner.

Kept in storage for decades, the boat has had 23 coats of paint stripped back so that it now replicates its original condition, painted grey, on the first Anzac Day.

The one-tonne lifeboat, about 10m long, took 36 men and had to be rowed the last 200m to shore.

Mr Baguley said the redevelopment of the Shrine galleries would help relieve existing pressures on the available limited display space.

The Shrine is already one of Melbourne's greatest attractions.

"We are currently getting 550,000 to 600,000 visitors each year and growing, while our education program attracted 45,000 schoolchildren to the Shrine last year.

"We believe getting the Gallipoli boat on display here will help explain a defining moment in Australia's history for generations to come."
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