Owner of one of the few remaining working World War 2 DUKW’s or duck as they are called. He is looking to fill in his knowledge about the one he has acquired.
Derek Luckhurst from Portland in Dorset UK is trying to trace the number of such similar operational amphibious vehicles both here in the UK and around the world.
He has spent several years and over £40,000’s getting the one he obtained from a field in Cornwall back on the road once again.
His one is dates back to 1943. He would love to get any details of where it was used by the military. He suspects yes in Northern France, but where else?
When he brought it back to Dorset it had been used as were many for tourist trips. Many were taken out of civilian service after several incidents, some fatal!
Fitted with bucket seats and a metal cover over the passenger compartment so it was suitable for tourist trips.
However, Derek wanted to get it back to as close as possible to its military configuration and look.
DUKW Back In Working Order Again
This involved cutting off the top and putting it back to as close as possible US service spec!
Unfortunately the original engine was missing so a replacement engine had to be fitted. Which works really well and powers the vehicle along the roads at respectable 45mph.
Using a little artistic and design interpretation the DUKW has now been fitted with twin 50mm calibre machine guns, something that was not probably by the book. However, in the field many modifications were carried out and he felt it would be in keeping.
Certainly it is a key exhibit at the D Day Centre in Castletown, Portland along with many other vehicles of the period.
It has a very ‘hands on’ approach where the exhibits are concerned. As many items within the museum are able to be handled and or climbed on.
This makes it very child friendly and those with impairments get to experience a military museum in certainly a very different way!
History You Can Handle
Signs that state ‘you may enter this vehicle’, ‘climb aboard’ or ‘handle’ are scatted throughout the complex. I like their ‘history you can handle’ slogan.
Opened around 6 years ago and it is growing its visitor numbers year on year.
Its purpose is to educate visitors about the role this small area of Castletown played in World War 2. For it was over the nearby beach and pier that around quarter of a million of US troops boarded ships for the Normandy invasion on June 6th 1944 and the following days.
It also remembers the local residents who worked in the dockyard and people like Poppy Butcher now in her mid 90’s. As a school girl she members seeing masses of vehicles, ships and soldiers in the port. Only to wake up on the morning of June 6th and see the port mostly empty!
Today, there are still two huge items to be seen at the museum from that wartime period. They are Mulberry harbour units made from concrete and sitting on the seabed of Portland harbour 200 yards from the building.
These units never made it to Northern France but the temporary harbour system itself did make a huge contribution to the overall success of the D Day invasion.
Regarding Derek’s DUKW itself. He is very keen to learn more about its military history. Or indeed any information about these unique and now rare military vehicles.
You can pass on any messages to him via their contact page at https://ddaycentre.com/