Plans to land a 200-foot long landing craft tank – the last known remaining D-Day landing craft – on Southsea beach towards the end of the 75th anniversary D-Day commemorations are secure after the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s bid to conserve and move LCT 7074 has been backed by a £4.7million National Lottery grant, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
LCT 7074 is the sole surviving Landing Craft, (Tank), from D-Day. She is one of more than 800 LCTs that took part in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944. Each capable of carrying ten tanks or other heavy armoured vehicles into battle. Of this fleet, fewer than ten are believed to survive, including LCT 7074 which is understood to be the only vessel of this kind left in Britain.
On her arrival at Gold beach, near midnight on D-Day, LCT 7074 carried was one Cromwell tank of 22 Armoured Brigade HQ, two Sherman tanks and seven Stuart tanks of 5 Royal Tank Regiment on-board, in addition to 62 tank crewmen.
£916,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) enabled The National Museum of the Royal Navy to rescue her from East Float Dock, Birkenhead in 2014, where she was sunk and in a semi-derelict state following a chequered post-war career and, after being decommissioned in 1948, LCT 7074 was later converted to the floating nightclub ‘Landfall’ on the Liverpool waterfront. Having moved her back to Portsmouth, she will now take pride of place outside the D-Day Story at Southsea and be open to visitors at the new museum.
The project “Resurrecting a D-Day Hero” is a partnership between the Museum and Portsmouth City Council and secures a sustainable future for this exceptional survivor. The project will create opportunities in Portsmouth and beyond, train apprentices and volunteers, and create a unique venue.
LCT 7074 is currently in HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, and the Museum and Portsmouth City Council owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Naval Base Commander and BAE for storing and protecting her. LCT 7074 will make the short sea journey to Southsea and “ land” on the beach in a move reminiscent of her original purpose, she will later move into position alongside the D-Day Story and open to visitors in 2020.
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 said: “The Royal Navy is very proud of its heritage and understands the vital role it plays in explaining the roles of today’s exciting and expanding capability. We are thrilled to be 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 on the beaches of Normandy and a vital part of the colossal endeavour to free occupied Europe.”
The project not only brings Portsmouth and the National Museum of the Royal Navy closer together but also secures a sustainable, publicly accessible future for three related heritage collections held by National Museum and the D-Day Story:
– The LST (Landing Ship Tank) and Landing Craft Association Archive is a comprehensive collection of some 500 veterans’ memoirs, plus supporting information including photographs held by the D-Day Story.
– Two Second World War Sherman and Churchill tanks held by the D-Day Story and presently in store with very limited public access will be restored and be relocated on the craft.
– The National Museum’s Instow Collection of c.10,000 plans, trials reports and photographs of amphibious craft and technical equipment emanating from the Combined Operations Experimental Establishment base at Instow after 1942.
Further information on the National Museum of the Royal Navy is available at www.nmrn.org.uk ∎