WWII tanks up for sale as Normandy museum closes

A WWII 1944 Chrysler M4A4 Sherman tank on display at the Normandy Tank Museum in Catz, north-western France. The museum is shutting because of a 30 per cent drop in visitors this year, which it blames on terror attacks in France in the past two years
A WWII 1944 Chrysler M4A4 Sherman tank on display at the Normandy Tank Museum in Catz, north-western France. The museum is shutting because of a 30 per cent drop in visitors this year, which it blames on terror attacks in France in the past two years.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CATZ (France) • Fancy buying a World War II tank?

Then make tracks to a museum in Normandy, France, which is closing its doors and selling off its entire collection.

One of the star lots of the 130 being auctioned off by the Normandy Tank Museum is an American M4 Cadillac tank made in 1942 which is listed at between €80,000 (S$123,000) and €140,000.

A 1944 Jeep MB is going under the hammer for an estimate of €25,000, while a military Caterpillar D-8 bulldozer is available for between €4,000 and €6,000 in the sale on Sunday overseen by the Artcurial auction house.

For smaller budgets, dummies used in the museum dressed in the uniforms of tank drivers and US Navy pilots can be snapped up for around €200, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The museum, which opened three years ago in Catz near the D-Day beaches on the Normandy coast, is shutting because of a 30 per cent drop in visitors this year, which it blames on terror attacks in France in the past two years.

"People are coming less because of the problems of terrorism in France," museum founder Patrick Nerrant told AFP.

As a privately funded museum, the Normandy Tank Museum does not benefit from the same state assistance as larger institutions, he added. Mr Nerrant and his two sons began collecting World War II vehicles in the 1980s and have restored around 20 tanks between them.

The museum houses more than 40 vehicles and thousands of objects from World War II. There is also an airstrip on the site.

The 67-year-old former Air France pilot said that petitions filed by residents against demonstration flights that regularly take place on the museum's World War II airfield led him to end the project.

He told French public radio service RFI last month that it was a shame that the museum is closing down.

"All the museums here are about the paratroopers. We are the only one about the armoured vehicles. There was a very big battle near the museum called Operation Cobra during World War II," Mr Nerrant said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'WWII tanks up for sale as Normandy museum closes'. Print Edition | Subscribe