Last Surviving D-Day Tank Carrier Raised for Restoration

“Landfall” being floated.  Photograph: Artelia International
“Landfall” being floated. Photograph: Artelia International

“Landfall” being floated. Photograph: Artelia International

Landfall, or LCT 7074, is the last surviving UK tank carrier to have taken part in the D-Day landings (Operation Overlord on 6 June, 1944).  Once a member of a fleet of 800 LCTs (Landing Craft Tank), the 60 meter long vessel was an amphibious assault ship designed to land tanks on beachheads. LCT 7074 was designed to carry 10 Sherman tanks.  Landfall carried that many to Normandy, and 9 made it to the beach without breaking down or being hit by enemy fire.  Later, Landfall returned to Normandy carrying American troops for the assault on Cherbourg.

Most LCTs did not survive World War II.  The ships were used hard, in dangerous conditions and under heavy fire, and many of them only lasted a few months before they were destroyed or damaged beyond repair.  Most of the ones that did survive were sold off for scrap after hostilities ended.

Landfall survived, and in extraordinarily good condition.  When the war ended, it was safely in Liverpool being refitted.  After it was decommissioned, it became a floating headquarters for the Master Mariners Club in Liverpool.  Then it became a nightclub and restaurant at Canning Dock, where it remained during the 1960s and 70s.  The Warship Preservation Trust later purchased her, with the intent of carrying out a full restoration, but sadly the ship sank not long after funding collapsed in 2006.  A sad fate for a vessel listed on the register of National Historic Ships, The Guardian reports.

Now, years later, the National Museum of the Royal Navy has raised her back up.  With the help of a £916,000 National Heritage Memorial Fund grant, some flotation bags, and a giant crane, the ship was successfully refloated in a two day operation which took place over the 15th and 16th of October.  After being made safe for sea travel, and some time for local residents to pay their respects, the vessel is intended to make a final voyage to Portsmouth where the old ship will finally be restored as has long been planned.  More planning and funding will be needed to complete the project, which is likely to take several years, but once complete Landfall is currently intended to take its place in an exhibit for the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth.

A fitting end for such a hardworking ship.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE