Dawn of the Legend: Preserving the Devanha lifeboat
At war’s end the Devanha returned to peacetime duties, carrying passengers and freight for the P & O shipping line. In 1919 it sailed to Australia ; during the trip one of the passengers learned that a lifeboat used at Gallipoli was still aboard. The passenger, whose name has not been recorded, immediately made a written appeal that the lifeboat should be preserved “as a war relic of our brave Anzacs who gave their all”.
The donation of “Lifeboat No. 5” was quickly arranged, and it joined the Memorial’s growing collection. It remained on display for many years, but by the 1990s was clearly in need of repairs and conservation work. Careful research helped to establish details of its original appearance, equipment, and history. In early 2004 Memorial staff began the complex task of conserving the lifeboat and preparing it for display. Damaged areas were examined, stabilised, and repaired. Missing parts, such as the internal timber floor, lining panels, and lockers, were replaced. The surviving paint layers provided detailed evidence of the boat’s 1915 colour scheme.
The completed work has returned Lifeboat No. 5 to how it looked 90 years ago.
The cost of preserving the Devanha lifeboat has been generously sponsored by Emu Bottom Homestead, Victoria.