Old soldier John Jenkins has told of his delight at seeing a D-Day landing craft recently raised from the bottom of a dock.
He was one of around 15 veterans of the Second World War landings were show the craft, called LCT 7074, in the ship hall at Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday.
The craft was built to transport tanks and is the only one of its kind left that took part in the landings.
She was raised last October by a team from the National Museum of the Royal Navy and brought to Portsmouth by boat for conservation thanks to a £916,149 National Heritage Memorial Fund grant.
John Jenkins, of Milton, said he was delighted to see the craft.
Mr Jenkins, 96, served in Normandy with the army’s Royal Pioneer Corps.
He said: ‘I didn’t think it would be as big as it is. Imagine cleaning the rust off that! It would be very nice to see it restored.’
Museum general director Professor Dominic Tweddle said the 110ft-long vessel was an important part of Royal Navy history.
He said: ‘The navy is not made up completely of glamorous ships. There were lots of workaday vessels that did a really important job and LCT 7074 is one of those.’
Mary Verrier, 92, of Southsea, was part of the first wave of Red Cross nurses who arrived on the D-Day beaches to care for wounded soldiers.
I didn’t think it would be as big as it is. It would be very nice to see it restored.John Jenkins
Mrs Verrier said seeing the vessel was ‘very emotional’.
She said: ‘It brings back a lot of memories that you try to put out of your head.
‘It was just like hell on Earth. The noise was defending and everybody was shooting. But what kept us going was the men’s courage.’
LCT 7074 could carry up to 10 Sherman tanks at a time and was one of 235 built for the navy.
After decommissioning, she was taken to Liverpool where she was later turned into a floating nightclub.
THE vessel LCT 7074 was manned by two officers and 10 ratings and on her first D-Day run, she landed nine tanks on Gold Beach.
Over the next few months she made 32 trips across the Channel ferrying vehicles, troops and supplies.
After decommissioning in 1948 she was given the name Landfall and used as the club ship for Master Mariners’ Club of Liverpool.
Fiona Talbott of the National Heritage Memorial Fund said the vessel had a rich history. She said: ‘She has the potential to offer future generous incredible insight into the experiences of the tank crews who were transported in these vessels.’