Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

WWII torpedo boat to be restored

Torpedo boat
The Schnellboot took part in attacks on American servicemen

A German torpedo boat that took part in an attack which led to the death of more than 700 American troops during World War II is to be restored.

Kevin Wheatcroft has bought what is thought to be the last surviving vessel of its type for 1, but is planning to spend 3m rebuilding it in Cornwall.

Mr Wheatcroft's family owns Donington Grand Prix Museum in Leicestershire.

Over the next five years he plans to restore the Schnellboot - fast boat - into a memorial to the men who died.

The Schnellboot - or S-boot - was part of the German force that attacked American servicemen training at Slapton Sands for the D-Day landings in April 1944.

These boats virtually cut England off from the rest of Europe, so they play a big part in British coastal history
Kevin Wheatcroft

As a consequence of the action, 749 American servicemen lost their lives.

The vessel was later used by the Royal Navy in covert operations during the Cold War.

Mr Wheatcroft bought the shell from the British Military Powerboat Trust which had been struggling to find enough money to restore it.

He told BBC News that it would be restored at the Southdown yard in Cornwall and that he would like the boat to stay in the West Country as a floating museum and memorial.

"It is such a famous craft and is the last of its breed surviving so I felt it warranted the money invested in it."

Spares would be taken from other wrecks to make the restored boat as authentic as possible, Mr Wheatcroft said.

"It will be like stepping back in time, but it will be there as a memory.

"These boats virtually cut England off from the rest of Europe, so they play a big part in British coastal history."



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