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Visiting Fort Miles 70 Years Later
May 2013
Two years ago while in Lewes, DE visiting a family friend, we took a ride to Cape Henlopen State Park because there was an event going on at Fort Miles. I knew that my grandfather, George Stroup. was stationed somewhere in the Lewes area during World War 2, but didn't know much more than he was stationed on some sort of signal tower. During a tour of Battery 519, the guide was talking about how there had been a Navy unit stationed at the base and as he explained their function, monitoring and challenging ships coming into into the bay, it became apparent this was what my grandfather did. I commented on this fact when I posted the photos I took that day to my website. (You can view them here.)

Over a year later, I got an e-mail from Dan Brown from the Fort Miles Historical Society asking if I had any photos taken during my grandfather's time there. As it turns out, my grandfather has an album that documents his entire time in the Navy. Some of the photos of the base in my grandfather's album included some never before seen views. After sharing the photos and talking to several others including a historian named George Contant, I helped my grandfather record some narrations and answer some questions. Before we knew it we were heading to Fort Miles so he could be interviewed. This album is from the day we went down there with my grandfather. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to help preserve the history of the base, a history that my grandfather was a part of. It was just as rewarding to be able to walk around with him at a place that he hadn't been back to for nearly 70 years and likely thought he'd never return to. I'm sure that the 22 year old Navy Signalman 2nd Class (SN2) who stood watch on that tower would never believe he'd someday return with his daughter and grandson, both adults, to be interviewed about his everyday activities of 70 years prior.

You can learn more about visiting Fort Miles at the Delaware State Parks site and be sure to checkout Bill Manthorpe's extremely informative Navy at Cape Henlopen site to learn about the fascinating Naval history of the base through the years, much of which is still being learned and preserved thanks to the hard work of folks like George, Bill, Dan and many others.

(click any photo for a larger version)

01 Fort Miles Sign 02 Biden Center Sign 03 Navy at Cape Henlopen Sign
Arriving at Fort Miles with my grandfather. The first he's been back since World War 2.
We met with the folks from Fort Miles at the Biden Center where they interviewed my grandfather
It's slowly becoming clear that the Navy's history at Fort Miles is more extensive than the Army's
04 Battery 519 Entrance 05 Battery 519 Gun 06 Pop and Shawn in Battery 519
Entering Battery 519
The 12-inch gun in Battery 519
Shawn hands the trigger to my grandfather
07 Pop, Mom & Shawn in Battery 519 08 Pop & Mom in Battery 519 09 Pop in Battery 519
Explaining how to fire the gun
Ready to fire!
Ready to fire!
10 Pop in Battery 519 11 Battery 519 Gun Sign 12 Pop in Battery 519
My grandfather puls the trigger to fire the gun that might've been used if he'd ever spotted an enemy ship while on watch during his years at Fort Miles.
About the gun in Battery 519
My grandfather takes in the view from behind the gun
13 Battery 519 Gun 14 Phones 15 Searchlight
The gun at Battery 519
Waiting on a call from the Harbor Defense Unit
Searchlight
16 Shell 17 Powder 18 Pop & Mom at Brick Wall
A wooden representation of the shells fired by Battery 519's gun
This is the ammount of powder required to fire the gun
My mother and grandfather take in the wall of commemorative bricks
19 Battery 519 Hall 20 Dangerous Explosives Sign 21 Plotting Room
Looking down the massive concrete lined hall in Battery 519
The explosives are long gone, but they've done an amazing job of keeping this facility feeling alive and historically accurate
Pre-computers, the plotting room is where enemy positions would be calculated and firing solutions determined
22 Tower Model 23 Desk 24 Desk
This tower model is what first connected us with the folks at Fort Miles. While building it, they found my website and contacted me about my grandfather.
Period furniture brings even more realism to Battery 519
Period furniture brings even more realism to Battery 519
25 Tower Model 26 U-Boat Anti-Aircraft Gun 27 Mines
This tower model is what first connected us with the folks at Fort Miles. While building it, they found my website and contacted me about my grandfather.
Guns off of German U-Boat U-853, sank off Rhode Island. It was a sister ship to U-858 which surrendered at Fort Miles in 1945.
Two types of mines
28 Pop and Mine 29 Battery 519 Hall 30 Mast Shaft
My grandfather's ship, PGM-22, blew up mines in the Pacific during World War 2. I'm sure he never imagined he'd ever be this close to one!
Looking down the massive concrete lined hall in Battery 519
Looking up this shaft gives you a perspective on exactly how thick the concrete walls really are
31 Battery 519 Entrance 32 HECP Tower 33 HECP Tower
The entrance to Battery 519
My grandfather stood watch in the Harbor Entrance Control Point tower during World War 2.
My grandfather stood watch in the Harbor Entrance Control Point tower during World War 2.
34 HECP Tower 35 Ship Reporting Station Sign 36 Pop and Mom at HECP Tower
My grandfather stood watch in the Harbor Entrance Control Point tower during World War 2.
Today the Harbor Entrance Control Point tower is used by the Delaware Bay Pilots Association
My grandfather and mother take a look at the Harbor Entrance Control Point tower where he served 70 years ago
37 Pop at HECP Tower 38 Pop, Mom & Michael at HECP Tower 39 Pop at HECP Tower
My grandfather returns to the Harbor Entrance Control Point tower where he served as a signalman 70 years ago.
I'm sure my grandfather never thought 70 years ago that he'd be back at the Harbor Entrance Control Point with his daughter and grandson.
My grandfather visits the Harbor Entrance Control Point tower almost 70 years after his last watch came to an end.

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