History comes alive at Fort Miles

Annual spring event scheduled for April 27
Re-enactors fire one of Fort Miles' 3-inch guns during an artillery demonstration. BY RON MACARTHUR
April 19, 2013

Fort Miles Historical Association and Cape Henlopen State Park are gearing up for the annual spring event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

With the theme, “Delaware at War,” re-enactors from the 261st Coast Artillery as well as re-enactors from the German Grossdeutchland Division will be on hand to offer visitors a chance to see what camps looked like during World War II.

Artillery demonstrations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m., noon, 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. A re-enactment of the German U-858 submarine surrender will take place at 1 p.m. There will also be events for children.

Tours at $3 a person of the association's World War II museum in Battery 519 will take place all day. Photographer Ron MacArthur will have limited edition prints for sale commemorating the arrival of the USS Missouri gun barrel to Fort Miles. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Fort Miles Historical Association.

Speakers at the event include: James Diehl, author, 10 a.m., The Home Front; Maj. Everett Bennett, Major Commander of Civil Air Patrol, 10:15 a.m., Fort Saulsbury; Brigadier Terry Wiley, retired from Delaware National Guard, 11 a.m., Fort DuPont; Bennett, 11:15 a.m., Civil Air Patrol; and Capt. Bill Manthorpe, former deputy director of Naval Intelligence, 2 p.m., The Navy at Cape Henlopen.

Fort Miles, located in Cape Henlopen State Park, was a key piece in the nation's coastal defense during World War II. The defense of Delaware Bay and Delaware River was critical to the war effort.

The heavy guns, mine fields and searchlights of Fort Miles provided in-depth defense; however, the growing use of long-range missiles brought an end to harbor defenses in the United States.

By 1958, Fort Miles was no longer important to the defense of the region, and in 1964, 543 acres of the base were returned to Delaware, forming the heart of Cape Henlopen State Park. In April, 2005, Fort Miles was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Fort Miles Historical Association had its first movie night April 14 in a theater made out of the former motor generator room. Gary Wray, association president, said 60 people paid $100 for dinner and a movie. “The people loved it and we plan to do it on a regular basis,” he said.

The first film shown was “The Enemy Below,” a 1957 movie about a high-stake cat and mouse game played by the captain of a U.S. destroyer and a German U-Boat commander.

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