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.

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 4:51 pm

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.

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Visitors to the LCT 7074. Top row: Kevin Davies, George Wright, and Liz Davies. Bottom row: Kevin and Liz's other children Robin, nine, Rita, seven, and Daugal, four. Picture: Emily Turner

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.’

Nick Hewitt, head of collections and research at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, next to the LCT 7074. Picture: Emily Turner

Robin said: ‘My best bit was seeing the anti-aircraft gun.’

Rita added: ‘I like the guns most as well.’

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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.’

Felicity Wood, public participation officer at The D-Day Story, next to the memorial wall. Picture: Emily Turner

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.

LCT 7074. Picture: Emily Turner

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.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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