04.10.20 Liveryman Mike Goggin

D-Day landing craft’s voyage home

This is about Landing Craft 7074 but first, let me tell you about another secret on the Hampshire coast, writes Liveryman Mike Goggin. Late March 2020 and lockdown properly arrived. Working from home became the new norm forced upon the working population. It eventually morphed into working from anywhere when coffee shops reopened in the summer.

Alessia and I had spent a considerable amount of time during 2019 discussing where we could live, a location that offered at least the smell [if not the view] of the sea and a straightforward commute one or two days a week into London. We didn’t need to stay in Surrey any longer, as nice as it is, we wanted to be somewhere offering easy walking distance to the sea.

Brighton, Hove, Shoreham-by-Sea, North Lancing and Worthing were the places we knew. We looked at a lot of properties, but we found nothing that ticked enough boxes for us. Then in July, we read an update on FaceBook that friends had posted, they had moved to Southsea and they were loving it. On reading that post I remembered only one thing about Southsea, the Isle of Wight hovercraft terminal. I had taken that noisy and smoky mode of transport to the Isle of Wight in the mid-90s. I can confirm it’s still running and still noisy.

So we went to investigate Portsea Island, the home of Portsmouth and Southsea. Sitting on the busiest waterway in the world, that is The Solent. We knew the main things Portsmouth has to offer that include the marvellous naval yards, the museums, Spinnaker Tower and Gun Wharf. We need to know more about Southsea. ‘Victorian and Edwardian elegance with tinges of Shoreditch‚’ said an article. An accurate description. One and a half hours into Waterloo occasionally on a proper commuter train and 20 minutes to the Isle of Wight. We found the house we wanted and will move in early November, fingers crossed. We will have a 10-minute walk to the beach and a 10-minute cycle to Gun Wharf. Working from home or working from anywhere close to the sea, here we go! Estate agents told us 25-30% of enquiries come from people living in or near to London. It’s no longer a secret.

Oh yes, this was to be about something else that arrived recently in Southsea.

Riding high on a beach for the first time since June 1944 is one of the last survivors of D-Day, moved to her new home overnight.

Landing Craft (Tank) 7074 made her final journey by sea in the small hours, ready to be installed as the main attraction at the D-Day Story museum in Southsea, as a £5m restoration project nears completion.

The ship is the last of 800 similar vessels which delivered men, armour and material on to the shores of Normandy in June 1944, restored to how she appeared during that fateful summer, in the same shed where sections of the UK’s new aircraft carriers were built.

It took two attempts to get the 59-metre long vessel, loaded on to a barge, from the naval base to her new home; summer storms thwarted the operation on Saturday night, but the seas and wind had calmed sufficiently for a second go at a beach landing, accomplished at 3.50am.

From there it was a road journey to the waterfront museum where she takes pride of place.

Restoration of the 300-tonne craft, carried out by the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council, was slowed by a couple of months by the pandemic and the move carried out in secret at night to prevent large crowds gathering to watch the spectacle.

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