Moving our historic vehicles

Moving our historic vehicles

In May 2017, three vehicles were moved out of the D-Day Museum and into storage. The vehicles will be held offsite during the Transforming the D-Day Museum project, until the renovated museum is ready to welcome them back. With some expert help from Railway Support Services, the vehicles were successfully removed from the D-Day Museum and transported to storage. Railway Support Services are specialists in moving large vehicles such as derailed trains, and therefore had the perfect expertise to move these historic vehicles.

The first to go was 'Vera', the converted Sherman tank. Vera is a Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle, also known as a BARV. Around sixty BARVs were used during the Normandy invasions, including Vera. These were Sherman M482 tanks, which were waterproofed and had a tall, armoured structure in place of the turret. Vera would have been able to operate in up to nine feet of water, moving vehicles which were broken-down or blocking access to the beaches. Since neither of the vehicles can be driven, they had to be carefully towed out of the museum and onto flatbed trucks. Vera was pulled out of the museum, and loaded onto the truck waiting in the car park, before being driven away from the museum and into storage. It was a clear, sunny day, and Vera looked very impressive being led out of the car park and through Portsmouth.

The next day, the DUKW, also known as 'Duck', left the museum. Duck was an amphibious vehicle, mainly used to carry supplies to shore or to transport wounded men away from combat. Museum staff had already cleared away the shingle beneath the vehicles, clearing a path for them to exit the museum via the large back doors. Unfortunately, it was a wet and windy day, however the moving team still managed to expertly manoeuvre the DUKW onto the waiting truck, and secure it for transport.

The last to leave the museum was the huge landing craft, which had been at the D-Day Museum for over twenty years. L247 was one of the landing crafts used during the D-Day Landings, later becoming a houseboat, before coming to the museum and going on display. This was a mammoth task for Railway Support Services, who custom-built a steel frame to move the landing craft. After several hours of effort, L247 was successfully taken out of the museum, and driven away for secure storage until reinstallation.

Now that the vehicle shed has been emptied, work will begin to refurbish the interior of the museum and rearrange the layout, in preparation for the newly-designed displays to be installed. James Daly, Collections Researcher at the D-Day Museum said: "The vehicles in the D-Day Museum's collections play an important role in telling the story of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. They will be a key part of our new displays, and will be exhibited along with other objects that explain their part in the story. They will be made accessible to visitors in new and exciting ways and we are really looking forward to welcoming them back and re-installing them". The transformed D-Day Museum will reopen, complete with these vehicles, in Spring 2018.

By : Museum Editor /22, May 2017