Sir Peter Luff

 

Speech at the opening of HMS M33, Portsmouth, 4th August 2015

 

Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the privilege of leading the Heritage Lottery Fund. On occasions like these we are often thanked for the contribution we have made to projects.

But what I wish to do today is to acknowledge with gratitude the role of National Lottery players in commemorating the events of the First World War.

For what the Fund does is to pass on to good causes a share of every lottery ticket sold. Without the Lottery player we would not be standing here today with pride and satisfaction at the restoration of HMS M 33.

This ship may be a unique survivor of one campaign, but she is no lone project. She is one of over a thousand, large and small, that we have funded to commemorate the events of the First World War.

Look, for example, at HMS Caroline in Belfast, the last surviving battle ship of the war which will open next year in time for the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland.

There’s the First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum London which have welcomed tens of thousands of visitors since they opened in 2014.

And the Yorkshire Film Archive’s ambitious project to research the stories of people featured in it collection of film captured at the time of the War.

Look at the hundreds of local projects happening around the nation through our community grants programme First World War: then and now.

For me, though, this ship is something personal.

That's because my father, born in 1894, landed at Suvla Bay in August 1915 under the covering fire she offered.

Fighting with the Berkshire Yeomanry, my father Tom and his two brothers, Edmund and Henry, went on to take part in the battle for Scimitar Hill two weeks later. His Turkish opponents in that battle were led by Mustafa Kemal, the future Ataturk, himself.

Recently I went there and saw the graveyard where their many comrades from the Yeomanry lie.

I have a photograph of my father and his brothers after the battle and I have photographs of the landing.

Perhaps one of the ships silhouetted in those photographs is the so-called lucky ship, HMS M 33.

So you will understand my particular gratitude to the lottery players who have made this restoration possible

I hope they will take pride in their contribution to the restoration of this remarkable ship

And as they and others visit the ship – perhaps because of their own personal connection, or to learn more about the campaign in which it first served - I hope they will marvel at the courage and sacrifice of the young men from all around the world a hundred years ago.

And I hope they will learn too those remarkable and generous words of reconciliation of Kemal Ataturk.

As first president of Turkey, he wrote in 1934 of "Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives" and said

"You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom, and are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well."

Ends