Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Restored WWII motorboats on display at Portsmouth


The two motorboats are still seaworthy - and can move fast

Two boats that were used by the Allied forces in World War II have been saved from the scrapyard or sale abroad and will go on display in Portsmouth.

One of the vessels, a Royal Navy MGB81 motorboat, was used at the D-Day landings and is thought to be Britain's last surviving WWII gunboat.

The other one is an RAF rescue boat, high-speed launch 102.

Both have been restored by enthusiasts and bought with money from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and donors.

The MGB81 was used in D-Day to support US troops on Omaha beach.

It was being used as a houseboat on the Hamble River in Hampshire when it was discovered by Phil Clabburn, from the New Forest, who restored it to its former war glory.

German fighter attack

The high-speed launch 102 was among about 1,500 boats that helped rescue British troops at Dunkirk.

It later went on to save airmen who were shot down in the English Channel during and after the Battle of Britain.

The launch even once survived an attack by a German fighter that killed a crewman.

The RAF rescue launch 102 and MGB81 motorboat
The boats have been bought by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust

When it was found by Mr Clabburn in Dartmouth it was also being used as a houseboat.

He and his father Robin have spent several hundred thousand pounds of their own money to restore both boats.

The launch was used in the the film Enigma with Kate Winslet after its restoration.

Mr Clabburn said: "This was a very early rescue boat that was built in 1936. It was a purpose built offshore rescue boat.

"By the end of the war boats like this had picked up about 10,000 pilots and aircrew.

"I met a guy, he came on the boat and he was absolutely, completely overwhelmed.

"I said 'what are you doing here?' and he said 'well I was picked up three times during the war, I was shot down three times and picked up by boats like this.

"That's an amazing bit of unknown heritage and history of these sorts of vessels."

The boats have been bought by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust with £580,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and a further £150,000 from other donors.

They will be berthed at Gunwharf Quays near famous warships such as the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior which are kept at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

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