WORK to upgrade the D-Day Museum has taken its next leap forward after historians began removing tanks from the Southsea attraction.
The first of several vehicles used during the pivotal 1944 beach landings has been shipped out of the site with more set to go next week.
Conservationists tackled the mammoth task of transporting the 30-tonne beach armoured recovery vehicle from inside the museum.
Affectionately named Vera, the converted Sherman tank was loaded on to a flatbed truck before being moved into storage.
The work signals the next phase of the world-renowned attraction’s £4.9m revamp.
Portsmouth’s culture boss, Councillor Linda Symes was there to witness the removal of Vera and said it was an exciting moment.
‘It was quite emotional to see them move her onto the low-loader – I think the staff felt that way too,’ she said.
‘They were excited in one respect because this marks the museum’s next big step, but upset in another.
‘But it’s great to see that now the work can finally begin and that the space inside the museum has finally been cleared.’
Vera was one of 58 beach armoured recovery vehicles (Barv) used during the Normandy invasion.
The original Barv used during the landings, was a modified Sherman M4A2 tank with the turret replaced by a tall wave-piercing structure.
Operating in up to 9ft of water, the tanks were used to remove vehicles that had been damaged or swamped in the surf and were blocking access to the beaches.
They were also used to refloat small landing craft that had become stuck on the beach.
Vera’s move comes just weeks after historians painstakingly removed the 272ft Operation Overlord tapestry.
The work to transform the museum will cost just shy of £4.9m.
The funding has been provided by Portsmouth City Council with the lion’s share coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Cllr Symes added: ‘The museum is going to look fantastic when it re-opens. It’s going to truly be able to tell the stories of those who were involved during D-Day.’
It’s expected the new site will open in spring 2018.