WWII veteran landing craft gets new home in D-Day museum

The last remaining vessel to disgorge armor on to the Normandy beaches will be given a permanent home in Portsmouth, the Royal Navy said.

Landing Craft Tank 7074 – one of 800 similar vessels charged with ferrying tanks across the Channel and directly on to foreign sand – will take pride of place in the city’s D-Day Museum as part of a multi-million revamp of the memorial/attraction for the invasion’s 75th anniversary.

Money from fining banks for fixing exchange rates helped save the craft from the breaker’s yard a couple of years ago, since when she’s been sitting high and dry and away from the elements in one of BAE’s ship sheds in Portsmouth Naval Base.

Some 8,000 vessels from battleships to tiny lighters took part in operation Neptune, the naval element of the Normandy invasion, but fewer than 20 remain three quarters of a century later, chiefly cruiser HMS Belfast on the Thames.

LCT 7074 is the sole landing craft (tank) of her era to survive in the UK. In her prime the 300-tonne vessel carried up to ten armoured vehicles such as Sherman tanks.

With an agreement struck between the National Museum of the Royal Navy, who rescued the ship initially and Portsmouth City Council, who run the D-Day Museum, restoration work will begin before the vessel is moved to the Southsea seafront attraction, where historians will explain her role in the landings.

“Not only will it strengthen the D-Day Museum’s collection but it will be a powerful reminder of the important role this humble, but vital workhorse played in the success of D-Day,” said Prof Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the RN.

“Her sheer size will amaze visitors since she was a 300 ton ocean-going vessel capable of carrying ten 30 ton armoured vehicles.”