A large, detailed map dedicated to World War II submarine battles will be preserved by the Fort Miles Historical Association and moved to its Battery 519 museum at Cape Henlopen State Park.
The map – made by U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Henry Draper Sipple – was discovered in the garage behind his former Rehoboth Beach home.
At a recent board meeting, the association accepted a $9,100 bid from Atelier Art Services of Philadelphia to prepare and move the 12.5-foot-by-7-foot map. The company will be responsible for securing the map, cutting out the wall it's attached to make a frame for transport.
The company plans to cut a hole in the side of the garage, remove the framed map using a crane and then place it in a climate controlled trailer for the move to Fort Miles.
The current owner of the house – who wants to remain anonymous – is planning to renovate the garage this summer.
Association President Gary Wray said saving the map is one of three phases in the project. Phase II will be the actual preservation of the map, which could cost as much as $20,000, he said. “This is very labor intensive just like preserving a painting,” he said.
Where the historic map ends up as part of Phase III could depend on where funding comes from for preservation, Wray said. “Hopefully, it will be with us but other people might want it,” he said.
Wray said a team of five would work for two days to remove the map before the end of July.
Sipple passed away in 1992 at the age of 79; the map has remained undisturbed on a garage wall. A 1937 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Sipple served for decades before retiring to Rehoboth Beach, where he started plotting submarine battles on a map glued to the wall.
Sipple was born in Milford and has deep roots in southern Delaware, with relations in the Sipple, Grier and Draper families, Wray said. Sipple commanded the USS Trench and won a Bronze Star in 1944.
Sipple mapped in detail the location of each of the 52 submarines lost in the Pacific Theater, depicting each one with a small white cross, with the name of the sub and number of casualties shown on the map. The map pays homage to those who were lost; Sipple listed the casualties as 3,131 men and 374 officers.
Using color-coded strings, he also traced the many locations around the world where he served or visited before, during and after World War II. The strings cross the United States and Canada as well as Europe, Australia, South America, the Caribbean and even the Middle East.
See more about the Fort Miles Historical Association at fortmilesha.org.