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WW II Watchtowers on Delaware Beaches
WW II Watchtowers on the Delaware Beaches as seen from the Air...

-Fly over these amazing WW II relics to see how they kept our shores safe during the Second World War.

-Better if viewed from the air - easy to do from KGED or KOXB.

-We went to see them on 17 July 2015 and took this photo and many more. They are fascinating and a great glimpse into American military history.

Mike Marra, Keystone Flight of Central PA

Background

For 70 years, visitors to Delaware’s beaches have gone swimming in the shadow of strange concrete towers that are a grim reminder of a time when America was at war on these shores.

Built between 1939 and 1942, the 11 observation towers along the state’s coastline were designed to last 20 years. But standing on treated wooden pilings, they are likely to last another half-century. The towers, spread over 40 miles, housed military spotters who scanned the sea for enemy vessels that might threaten industry up the Delaware River – the Philadelphia shipyard, chemical plants at Wilmington, and oil refineries critical to the Allied effort. Eight soldiers, perched at heights of up to 80 feet, would call in coordinates if they sighted any German U-boats or warships. When two towers sighted the same target, a fix could be determined. Just north of the resort town of Rehoboth Beach, in what is today Cape Henlopen State Park, twin 16-inch guns were hidden in the wooded hills at Fort Miles, ready to blast huge shells up to 25 miles out to sea. They covered the entrance to Delaware Bay, along with four 12-inch guns, four 6-inch guns, eight 8-inch guns mounted on railroad cars, and other artillery. The threat was quite real, as German submarines sank U.S. ships along the East Coast and survivors often ended up on Delaware beaches.

One German sub surrendered off Fort Miles at the end of the war in 1945. Visitors can now see the 16-inch guns up close, their massive barrels still pointed out to sea. And Tower 7 at Fort Miles is open to the public, offering visitors a chance to see where the soldiers worked, peering through slits in the concrete during eight- to 12-hour shifts. At the very top, a person can look across green hills to the coastline, the beaches and other towers, standing alone like strange creatures left over from a science-fiction movie set. Four more stood across Delaware Bay at Cape May, N.J., but only one remains. Restored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities in 2008, Fire Control Tower 23 is open to the public, as well, with a spiral staircase to the watch room, interpretive panels and wooden ladders resembling the originals used by soldiers stationed there.

On hot summer days, as beachgoers swim in the surf or fish from the backs of SUVs, the grim-looking watchtowers both disturb and comfort. They remind us that there was a time when war was necessary – and may be necessary again – to protect our shores. And when it came, Americans rose to the challenge.

Together, the Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation (DSPF) and Fort Miles Historical Association are raising $300,000 to renovate Tower 3, which is in the middle of one of the heavily visited state beaches south of Rehoboth. “Our goal is to preserve the tower,” says Ernie Felici, the foundation’s chairman. “Fort Miles has a tower with access to visitors. We want to do the same at Tower 3 in Dewey. It’s got parking, and it is right on Route 1, which is very heavily trafficked.” To go to Cape Henlopen, you have to make a special trip away from the beach, he points out. If a tower could be opened for beach crowds, Delaware would have another valuable tool for teaching people about the state’s role in World War II.

“People can’t drive past without asking, ‘What are those towers? What is inside?’” Felici says. “This is a very important link to the history of the United States in our own backyard. It’s amazing that these towers, with a 20-year life span, have lasted this long and are still sound. They honor all who served.”
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Website http://shorebread.com/2013/01/24/the-watch-towers-that-line-the-de-coast-signs-of-world-war-ii/
Phone Number (302) 739-9220
Categories Museums
Distance from
Home Airport
(home airport not set in profile)
Submitted By MIKE MARRA MIKE MARRA (429 destinations have been submitted by this member)
Last Reviewed Sunday, April 24, 2016
Recommended Airport
Name GED-SUSSEX COUNTY
Distance Not Applicable
Open to the Public? Yes
Longest Runway 04/22 - 5000 x 150 feet, Asphalt, in Good condition
Control Tower No
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     View    DE14   HUEY    8.9 nm at 292 degrees   (Private)
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     View    6MD8   WHITE'S AIRSTRIP    14.9 nm at 188 degrees   (Private)
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     View    DE15   PEVEY    16.6 nm at 254 degrees   (Private)
     View    4MD3   CAREY FIELD    17.6 nm at 148 degrees   (Private)
     View    9MD9   G W FARM    18.3 nm at 303 degrees   (Private)
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     View    2MD4   ENNIS AERODROME    19.9 nm at 208 degrees   (Private)
     View    4MD1   BUNTING'S FIELD    20.1 nm at 163 degrees   (Private)
     View    MD35   SPRING HILL    20.5 nm at 222 degrees   (Private)
     View    1N5   BENNETT    20.5 nm at 216 degrees   (Public)
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     View    0N6   HENDERSON AVIATION    21.2 nm at 337 degrees   (Public)
     View    SBY   SALISBURY-OCEAN CITY WICOMICO RGNL    22.0 nm at 199 degrees   (Public)
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     View    3MD5   HIDDEN HILLS    23.0 nm at 260 degrees   (Private)
     View    7MD1   MAGENNIS FARM    23.1 nm at 272 degrees   (Private)
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There are over 100 destinations within 100 nautical miles of this location, only showing the first 100   Increase Range
     View    Arena's at the Airport      0.0 nm at NaN degrees
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     View    Camp Miles Coastal Defense Fortress and Guns      7.9 nm at 48 degrees
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     View    Crab Shack Gift Shop, Tangier Island      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
     View    Daley and Son Grocery Store of Tangier Island      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
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     View    High Tide Gift Shop, Tangier Island      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
     View    Island Treasures of Tangier Island      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
     View    Jimmy's Gift Shop of Tangier Island      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
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     View    Sandy's Place Gift Shop, Tangier Island      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
     View    Spanky's Ice Cream of Tangier Island      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
     View    Swain United Methodist Church for services, 11 + 7      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
     View    Tangier Island History Museum      59.9 nm at 210 degrees
  

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