Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth museum wins £5m for last D-Day landing craft

LCT 7074 on Gold beach on 7.6.45 Image copyright IWM
Image caption LCT 7074 landed on Gold beach on D-Day

The last surviving D-Day tank landing craft has been awarded a £4.7m grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The 183ft (57m) vessel LCT 7074 later became a floating nightclub before sinking in a semi-derelict condition at Birkenhead Docks.

It was raised from the water in 2014 and taken to Portsmouth for storage.

The vessel is being restored and put on display at Portsmouth's D-Day Museum in time for the 75th anniversary of the landings in 2019.

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Media captionThe sunken vessel was raised from Birkenhead Docks in a two-day operation

More than 800 specially-designed landing craft (Tank) vessels took part in D-Day.

Project director Nick Hewitt, from the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), said only LCT 7074 had survived after the 1960s.

He said: "She was operating as a fairly notorious riverfront nightclub on Merseyside. The tank deck was the dance floor."

A docks company took over the ship and let it corrode and sink in 2010, before the NMRM salvaged it four years later.

It was raised from East Float Dock in Birkenhead in a two-day operation, supported by a £916,149 grant from the National Memorial Heritage Fund.

Image copyright Royal Navy
Image caption More than 800 tank landing craft took part in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944

Mr Hewitt said: "Its significance is huge. Films focus on boots on the ground but the miracle of D-Day for me is that everything had to be brought by sea.

"You're trying to establish an army on a defended shore without any means of supplying it. You need tank support as soon as possible."

LCT 7074 arrived at Gold beach at about midnight on D-Day, surviving German shell fire which sank the craft next to it.

It put 10 tanks and a contingent of soldiers ashore at about 02:00 on 7 June 1944 before returning to England with prisoners of war.

The ship is in storage at Portsmouth Naval Base where it will be restored.

Image copyright NMRN
Image caption The ship is in storage at Portsmouth Naval Base

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