Sole surviving D-Day landing craft gets restoration go-ahead for display at D-Day Museum
An original D-Day veteran Landing Craft Tank (LCT) rescued from the dockside at Birkenhead is to be restored and displayed at the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth thanks to an investment of nearly £5m from The National Lottery Fund.
Planned to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings in 2018, the restoration and unveiling of LCT 7074 will be the culmination of a long campaign and rescue operation to recover the craft, which originally landed on the coast of Normandy on the evening of June 6th 1944 loaded with tanks and crewmen.
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Over 800 LCTs with the capacity to carry 10 tanks or equivalent armoured vehicles were involved in ‘Operation Neptune’, the naval element of ‘Operation Overlord’.
The largest amphibious operation in history, it involved 7,000 ships and craft disgorging 160,000 soldiers on the beaches of Normandy. LCT 7074 is believed to be one of only 10 survivors from this extraordinary fleet and the only LCT in existence.
Now the funding is secured LCT 7074 will be taken apart and re-assembled so it can be properly catalogued and conservation work undertaken on its hull, superstructure and interior spaces which weigh in at 350 tons.
Two tanks at the D-Day Museum will also go through a similar process and be displayed on the tank deck of the LCT. Helping expert conservators with this work will be 40 volunteer and two apprentices.
The D-Day Museum is an affiliate of The National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which is managing the project.
The Southsea D-Day museum is due to reopen in 2018 following a complete refurbishment, and will offer a much more in-depth narrative on the events that took place in ‘Operation Overlord’ on June 1944 6 and looks specifically at the Royal Navy and how its crews coped on that day.
“The importance of the Normandy landings is very well understood, but as the years pass it becomes harder for people to appreciate just how much technological innovation they demanded,” said Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. “Without the development of the Landing Craft Tank earlier in the Second World War, it is difficult to see how D-Day – a hugely ambitious amphibious operation – could have succeeded.
“Now, once LCT 7074 has been restored to her original appearance… the stories of those she carried on ‘Operation Neptune’ can be brought vividly to life.”
On her arrival at Gold beach, near midnight on D-Day June 6 there was one Cromwell Tank of 22 Armoured Brigade HQ with a five-man man crew; two Sherman Tanks with 12 crew and seven Stuart tanks of the 5th Royal Tank Regiment and 28 crew onboard.
Some of the money will be used to work with surviving veterans to record and share their memories of D-Day in time for the 75th anniversary in 2019.
Post war, LCT 7074 was decommissioned in 1948 and latterly converted into a floating clubhouse and nightclub. She was a familiar sight on the Liverpool waterfront, and was renamed Landfall .
In the late 1990s, LCT 7074 was acquired by the Warships Preservation Trust which began the slow process of converting her back into an LCT but the Trust went into liquidation in 2006. In her semi-submerged and visibly deteriorating state and at the urgent behest of National Historic Ships, the National Museum of the Royal Navy compiled the bid to save her for the nation.
Nick Hewitt, Head of Exhibitions and Collections at Museum said the LCT now had “a sustainable future” completing the conservation that began with salvage in 2014
“This puts 7074 in the city’s heart, engaging a potential 4.5 million annual users of Southsea Common with the story of the ship and her people; it puts her D-Day story – which uniquely links sea and land – in context for museum visitors and ensures she survives for future generations.”
A range of activities, including community roadshows and pop-up museums, will help create interest in the new display and its significance to the Second World War. The transcript of the D-Day diary of Sub-Lieutenant John Baggott, a 20-year-old trainee who commanded the 7074, will also be in display along with narratives and photos of other D-Day veterans.
Watch a timelapse video of the LCT’s recovery in Birkenhead.
National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
The National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard, is one of Britain’s oldest maritime museums. The Museum’s mission is to preserve and present the history of the 'Fleet' - the ships and the men and women who manned them. The National Museum of the Royal Navy is…