Restoration of WWII Churchill tank gets underway

Rey Kirk and Martin McDonald, Norther Ireland Heritage Lottery Fund
The Northern Ireland Heritage Lottery Fund gave a bulk of their funding to the restoration of the WWII Churchill tank which is described as one of the most wonderful piece of historical restoration.

The restoration of a tank used during the World War II under the leadership of Winston Churchill will get its full restoration next week when it is refurbished.

“The most wonderful piece of historical restoration” is aimed at reviving the Churchill Mark VII tanks which were designed and produced by Belfast’s Harland and Wolff for the Second World War.

The tanks, which were used used mainly by the North Irish Horse, were very crucial military pieces which helped the Allies win in the Battle for Longstop Hill in Tunisia in 1942, reports.

Last October 26, one of the tank for restoration was revealed at the base of the North Irish Horse at Dunmore Park Army Reserves Center. The tank will be handed over to the those who will be involved in the process of restoring to life the historical military piece including the juveniles at Hydebank, to the Railway Preservation Society, and to the Army reservists and volunteers.

Stephen Montgomery, project manager, said the funds for the restoration project is a lottery grant of £58,000. The project will start next week and will hopefully be completed after six to nine months.

The restored tanks will then be placed in a public exhibition at the Marine Gardens in Carrickfergus. The location is ideal being known to be a new and safe manufacturing site during the Blitz when shipyards were then bombarded.

Mr. Montgomery is an ideal manager for the project given his history of being a volunteer from Cavehill and a former leader of the North Irish Horse squadron.

He said that the restoration will need the production of new parts made from scratch to imitate the original pieces. The other parts are currently being sent to England for the necessary repairs to be made.

Montgomery also related that the project needed the help of the spectrum of the community as key to the success of the restoration.

“Our whole approach was to try and get as many people on board as possible,” said Montgomery. “The educational side to this is so important to the whole project.”

UUP MLA Danny Kinahan, also expressed his delight on the restoration of the Churchill tanks. He served as a household Cavalry Officer in the 1970s and ’80s. He was also welcomed as an Honorary Colonel of the North Irish Horse.

“The tank is part of our history, having been used in the war effort, of course, but it is also the fact that our industrial expertise was used to build it,” Kinahan said.

He also expressed hopes of seeing more restoration projects after the tanks has completely been refurbished.

Meanwhile, Martin McDonald, board member of the Northern Ireland Community Heritage Lottery Fund, stated that their organization gave their full support to the restoration project after receiving the application for the funding.

“We fund a wide range of projects. With this one, the history of the North Irish Horse interested us,” said McDonald.

He also expressed the organization’s hopes of seeing the finished product of the restoration seeing the history behind the tank.



Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE