Portsmouth visitors step inside LCT 7074 as last of its kind D-Day landing craft opens to the public in Southsea
FAMILIES were able to board a one-of-a-kind landing craft getting to grips with D-Day history.
Visitors to The D-Day Story were inside LCT 7074 – the last surviving Landing Craft, Tank from the Normandy Landings.
After it was retired, LCT 7074 was turned into a nightclub but fell into disrepair and sank in Birkenhead docks.
Following a multi-million pound restoration project, the ship was returned to its former glory through a partnership between the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council.
It was unveiled at its new home outside the D-Day Story in Southsea and on Sunday visitors were finally able to go inside.
Couple Liz and Kevin Davies, from Wiltshire, were in the city visiting their 21-year-old son George Wright, a University of Portsmouth student.
They were joined by their younger children Robin, nine, Rita, seven, and Daugal, four.
Liz said: ‘It's nice to walk around and be a bit hands on, get close to the tank. The children are enjoying taking part in the trail.’
Robin said: ‘My best bit was seeing the anti-aircraft gun.’
Rita added: ‘I like the guns most as well.’
Felicity Wood, public participation officer at The D-Day Story, said: ‘It's amazing to be able to open the ship and welcome as many people as possible.’
LCTs were designed to land tanks and their crews on enemy-held beaches.
LCT 7074 had a crew of 12 men, including Sub Lieutenants John Baggott and Philip Stephens, when it carried Allied tanks and troops to Normandy during the D-Day landings.
Nick Hewitt is head of collections and research at The National Museum of the Royal Navy.
He worked on the LCT 7074 project since 2014, from the LCT’s salvation to its restoration, and then its relocation to Portsmouth.
He said: ‘You really can't understand D-Day without coming to see this ship, she's that important. The only one left anywhere in the world.
‘She was in the follow up mission to Normandy on June 7, 1944.
‘I can't emphasise how lucky we are to have her, she really survived by sheer luck as these were built quickly and cheaply.
‘It's lovely to have people on at last.’
Across the city, D-Day veterans were welcomed to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard today as the country marks the 77th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.