Queen and Donald Trump to see Second World War amphibious lorry from Glinton at D-Day 75th anniversary celebration in Portsmouth
A restored Second World War amphibious vehicle took part in this week’s D-Day 75th anniversary celebrations in Portsmouth.
Graham Smitheringale has spent almost two years restoring the craft at Howe Farm, west of Glinton, before it was transported south for the festivities attended by the Queen and US President Donald Trump.
Graham, a 51-year-old farmer, described the six-wheeled DUKW as a “lorry that swims” and the “backbone of Normandy.”
DUKWs, nicknamed ‘ducks’, were used on D-Day and played a vital role in transporting cargo, including weapons from ship to shore.
He told the Mercury: “Two-thousand of these DUKWs went to Normandy beach and not many survived. This DUKH is one of those original vehicles that did the original D-Day landing at Normandy.”
Graham first became aware of the vehicles when as a ten-year-old he enjoyed a ride on one in Hunstanton.
It was this, coupled with an appreciation of our heritage and the sacrifices made by Second World War veterans that led to the restoration project.
Graham bought the rusty wrecks of two DUKWs, one from Hunstanton and the other from the Royal Marines.
The Hunstanton one had most of the base intact and the other with most of the chassis. The pair were then combined to create one restored vehicle.
“It’s not quite finished but it’s getting there. We have had to give it a total rebuild. There has been nine months of welding. The rest has been mechanical work.”
Overall, some £30,000-£40,000 has been spent on the restoration, some raised from crowd-funding, the rest his own money.
Graham says it is amazing to have what he calls a “lorry that swims” and notes how the soldiers gave their lives for tomorrow.
After the DUKW is taken to Portsmouth for the 75th D-Day Anniversary, he plans to use it at fundraising events for the Armed Forces.
The DUKW is due to arrive in Portsmouth today (Tuesday) and will stay there until Sunday.
The Queen and American President Donald Trump will be there tomorrow (Wednesday) , but it is not known if the pair will see this particular DUKW.
However, war veterans are due to see the restored the vehicle after they have enjoyed a dinner, before heading off to Normandy.
Mick White of MJ White Transport in Bassingthorpe has agreed to transport the craft free of charge.
Going with the DUKH on the back of Mick’s transporter is a restored Second World War Jeep owned by a Graham Beck of Grantham.
Mick said: “I’m a very good friend of Graham. When I heard restoration was taking place, I made a promise to him I would take him to anywhere he wanted to go, to any anniversary or re-union. he has put in so much effort.
“I am very much appreciative to be involved in the project and honoured to be given a this chance to attend this D-Day re-union. We will never get to do it again.”
DUKWs are 31ft long and 8ft wide, weigh more than six tonnes and can carry more than two tonnes. The originals could reach 50mph on the road and six knots in water.