A step back in time at Delaware Defense Day

April 27, 2022

During Delaware Defense Day, visitors were able to take a step back in time to see what life was like at Fort Miles, the most heavily fortified base in the country during World War II.

Located in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park, 32 guns, minefields and searchlights of Fort Miles played a key role in nation's coastal defense during World War II. The defense of Delaware Bay and Delaware River was critical to the war effort.

More than 75 re-enactors, including many from the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association, set up a camp April 23, complete with a church, post office, mess hall, communications center, barracks, motor pool and news service unit.

One of the featured exhibits was a 1943 M18 Hellcat tank owned by Mike Hrycak from the Wheels of Liberation Museum in New Oxford, Pa.

The day's events included music, firing demonstrations and a re-enactment of the May 14, 1945 surrender of German U-858 submarine at Fort Miles. The Fort Miles Museum was open for tours, as was the ongoing Oil Still Bleeds: Delaware's Forgotten Heroes of Pearl Harbor exhibit.

The Hooked Up restaurant chain manned the Lee Jennings Mess Hall and donated proceeds to the event.

U-858 was part of a last-ditch effort by the German high command to attack the eastern United States coast. Thanks to Allied detection of the plan, four of the six submarines were sunk. When the war ended, the remaining two sub crews were ordered to report to the nearest Allied base.

U-858 was boarded off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., where most of the crew was removed. A small crew to operate the submarine stayed on board and eventually ended up anchored at the breakwater in Delaware Bay at Fort Miles.

The remaining crew members were detained until 1946 and released.


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter