THE last surviving D-Day landing craft tank will be restored in time for Portsmouth’s D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations, it has been confirmed.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy says that the 200ft long landing craft tank (LCT) 7074 has received a £4.7m National Lottery grant, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
LCT 7074 is the sole surviving landing craft tank from D-Day left in Britain, with £916,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund allowing the National Museum of the Royal Navy to recover her from Birkenhead, where she was originally sunk.
Having moved her back to Portsmouth, she will now take pride of place outside the D-Day Story in Southsea and be open to visitors at the new museum.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: ‘LCT 7074 is a unique time capsule, of enormous importance to the history of D-Day, and Operation Neptune, that vastly complex plan to mount the largest amphibious operation the world has ever seen.
‘They were huge seagoing craft, built crudely and quickly, everyday workhorses that were unrecognised for their effort. Few survived beyond 1945.
‘Now thanks to National Lottery players, we can pay our respects to her and ensure many thousands of visitors have a chance to go on board.
‘This project presents one of the last opportunities to collect these testimonies as the events of June 1944 pass from living memory, and share them with families, historians, students and visitors to D-Day Story and the 4.5 million annual visitors to Southsea Common.’
Commodore Jim Higham, Naval Base Commander added: ‘The Royal Navy is very conscious of the importance of its heritage and the role LCTs played in Operation Neptune and on the beaches of Normandy.
‘We are very pleased that we have been able to support both The National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council in storing LCT 7074 safely and congratulate the Heritage Lottery Fund in securing the future of such an important artefact; a mainstay of the amphibious operation to free occupied Europe.’
The project will also secure a sustainable future for The LST (Landing Ship Tank) and Landing Craft Association Archive, two Second World War Sherman and Churchill tanks held by the D-Day Story and the National Museum’s Instow Collection of c10,000 plans, trials reports and photographs of amphibious craft and technical equipment emanating from the Combined Operations Experimental Establishment base at Instow after 1942.
Councillor Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and sport, said: ‘LCT 7074 conveys the scale and magnitude of the D-Day landings.
‘This is the last surviving LCT of the 800 which took part in the Normandy Landings, it’s a veteran of the campaign and a pivotal element in the accounts of those who embarked on the allied liberation.
‘We’re thrilled that LCT 7074 will be conserved and ultimately displayed at The D- Day Story to enhance the experience and understanding of D-Day for future generations.’
The 75th anniversary of D-Day is on June 6, 2019.