Below is the story behind our amazing project to restore Landing Craft Tank 7074. The short story is we need to raise funds to restore her and at the moment we don't have enough to carry out the full works required, despite generous grants and support. Can you help?
On 6th June 1944, 7,000 ships landed 156,000 troops onto the beaches of Normandy and what ensued was to become the largest seaborne invasion in history. 800 landing craft were involved in the campaign and among these were Landing Craft Tank, known as LCTs. These LCTs were large and capable of carrying ten tanks or other heavy armoured vehicles into battle.
LCTs were built quickly in sections and considered to have covered their build costs if they made one successful trip, so few survived beyond 1945. However, we have the very last surviving Landing Craft Tank in the world known to have participated in the Normandy Landings, and we want to restore her back to her 1944 configuration so she can be saved for the national and continue to tell the story of D-Day for years to come. LCT 7074 has been through a lot since D-Day, having been used as a nightclub in the 60s and 70s and then sunk at her moorings in Birkenhead until she was rescued by the National Museum of the Royal Navy. We are now working with our partner, The D-Day Story to restore LCT 7074 and display her to the public.
This year sees the 75 anniversary of D-Day, and as time ticks on and we sadly lose the first hand accounts from those who served, it is ever more important that we preserve the history and craft of the D-Day campaign.
LCT 7074 was commanded by a 20-year-old trainee solicitor from Swindon, Sub Lieutenant John Baggott, supported by the equally youthful Sub Lieutenant Philip Stephens, who kept a remarkable and vivid D-Day diary which we are fortunate enough to have in transcript form.
Other Commanding Officers of Tank Landing Craft at D-Day were much like Sub Lt John Baggott. They were often Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, weekend sailors with limited seafaring experience. They were noticed for their potential as Officers but were underprepared and received short periods of training for such a huge responsibility. Regular Officers in the Royal Navy were sent to purpose built warships, however young men like Sub Lt John Baggott, who had far less experience at sea were sent to command Landing Craft, with their flat bottom, blunt bow and being chronically underpowered, they were a far greater responsibility in many ways than a warship, not to mention the 10 tanks on board. To be responsible for a vessel at just 20 years old would not have happened anywhere else within the Royal Navy, so this huge responsibility which was entrusted to these young men is a huge credit to them and the heroism they demonstrated in the midst of conflict.
LCT 7074 is a crucial piece of world history. After restoring her, we will display her to the public at the D-Day Story in Southsea for visitors to see and interact with. Two Second World War Tanks will be reinstated on her tank deck and you will be able to go on board and see what life was like for the small crew of 12 who served on her. She will help to tell the story of D-Day in a way never done before.
Conservation work is due to commence but we still don't have enough to complete all of the restoration required to bring LCT 7074 back to her original configuration. We have had a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fun but we still need to raise £600,000 towards the restoration and move of the craft. We hope to raise £25,000 from this crowdfunding campaign to go towards our target. This will make a huge difference!
By donating to this campaign, you are saving a piece of history for the nation and helping the local community and visitors alike to remember the sacrifices made at D-Day, in June 1944. We must never forget. Help us to restore this lasting memorial for future generations. Thank you!