Ironic fate of last British World War II gunboat

The last surviving British World War II gunboat in existence could be sold to collectors in Germany due to the lack of a domestic purchaser, its owner said on Friday.

Phil Clabburn has spent the past five years and £500 000 (about R5,85-million) restoring the MGB81 boat, which saw action on D-Day in June 1944, supporting American troops on Omaha beach.

The 38-year-old bought the 14-man vessel after he found it being used as a houseboat, and had hoped it could be sold as a tourist attraction inside Britain, but with no success.

“I think it will be a great shame if the boat leaves the country as it is a tribute to all those who served in this area in the war,” he said. “There is nowhere in this country that tells the story of what these boats did.”

He added: “Unfortunately, I now have to sell her because I could not get the support from organisations here with deeper pockets than mine to take the project forward.

“As there been absolutely no interest from anyone in the United Kingdom, MGB81 will almost certainly be sold abroad, probably to Germany, where there has been some interest, which is ironic, really.”

The vessel, which was fitted with an anti-tank gun, cannon, machine gun and depth charges, was built in 1942 as a fast, light gunboat, designed to raid enemy shipping at night.—Sapa-AFP

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