Fort Miles Event to Feature Gun Park Construction

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Fort Miles Event to Feature Gun Park Construction

By Ann Sagi Ward

The 12th annual living history event April 30 at Fort Miles will showcase construction of an artillery park at the World War II coastal protector in Cape Henlopen State Park.

“Delaware Goes to War: Victory in Europe,” co-sponsored by the park, will show visitors the role the fort played to protect  the East Coast during the war and mark the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945.

“This annual event reminds our guests of the importance of Fort Miles defending against German surface ships during World War II. Those ships were a very real threat at the beginning of the war, and Fort Miles was in a vital location to protect important industries in Wilmington and Philadelphia,” said Dr. Gary D. Wray, president of Fort Miles Historical Association.

This year, visitors can see construction in progress for an outdoor display that will gather the fort’s big guns in one location, including the 16-inch barrel that was on the USS Missouri the day the Japanese surrendered to end the war in August 1945.

The gun barrel will be assembled with other parts to form a display that will point across the bay to Cape May, N.J., when the artillery park is completed in June.

“That’s the centerpiece,” Wray said. “That 16-inch gun is the focal point of the artillery park. We can’t wait for that to be complete.”

The April 30 event begins at 10 a.m. and will include firing demonstrations of the fort’s 3-inch guns; children’s games; lectures; and a band playing 1940s music. The FMHA gift shop will be open with new merchandise and food will be for sale.

Visitors can tour Battery 519 for a reduced price of $3 and see what volunteers have accomplished to restore the underground bunker that houses a 12-inch gun.

Historians wearing U.S. and German uniforms will occupy the fort and drive vintage vehicles. The uniformed historians will re-create the surrender of German submarine U-858 in 1945 at what is now the Cape Henlopen fishing pier.

At 3 p.m., FMHA officials will hold a ceremony to salute people whose relatives purchased pavers in their names for the Fort Miles Wall of Honor in Battery 519.

“This is a very important part of our Delaware Goes to War event. Every year, we honor those who have served our country in the military, and those whose families want them to be remembered,” Wray said. “It’s a lasting tribute to their loved ones.”

He added that Delaware Goes to War brings history to life and teaches the importance of remembering the past.

“This is a great learning opportunity. We need to keep the past alive and preserve the contribution that Delaware made during World War II,” he said.

Information: 302-645-6852.

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Attachments: The three photos are from the DE Goes to War event in 2014 and should be credited to George M. Ward, FMHA.