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History comes to life at Fort Miles

Facility played key role in coastal defense in World War II
Re-enactors portraying a coastal defense artillery crew prepare to fire during a demonstration at Fort Miles. BY RON MACARTHUR
May 3, 2013

History came to life April 27 during the annual spring opening of Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park.

The living history event featured dozens of American and German reenactors who showed visitors what World War II camps were like with authentic gear and vehicles. The day also included Battery 519 museum tours, plotting room demonstrations, guest speakers, artillery firings, the operation of a World War II searchlight and a reenactment of the German submarine surrender at Fort Miles in 1945.

Organizers said the event was attended by one of the largest crowds ever.

During World War II, the Delaware River was a chief priority for defense planners because of the access it afforded to the areas in and around Wilmington and Philadelphia. Fort Miles was a key piece in the nation's coastal defense at that time. Fort Miles was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

American soldier reenactors portray what members of Fort Miles' 261st Coast Artillery did at the fort during World War II.

Also taking part in the event were reenactors from the 7th Kompanie of the Grossdeutschland Division, the longest running World War living history unit, attending events for more than 30 years. The unit of German solider reenactors prides itself on authenticity. The unit’s motto is “Wenn schon, denn schon,” or if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over- doing.