History comes alive: Fort Miles event to feature gun park construction

13 Fort miles jeep prisoners

Re-enactment of the surrender of German submarine U-858 at Fort Miles in 1945 is among the highlights of this year’s Delaware Goes to War at Cape Henlopen state Park. In photo, U-858 crew members are taken away following their surrender.

LEWES – The 12th annual living history event on 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.

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Guns at Fort Miles will come alive during Delaware Goes to War.

“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 battleship USS Missouri the day the Japanese surrendered to end the war in September 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,” Dr. 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.

13 Fort miles FLYER

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,” Dr. 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.

For more information, call 645-6852.

NOTE: Information for this article was provided by Ann Sagi Ward.

13 Fort miles german weapons

German soldier re-enactors prepare to fire weaponry in a display at last year’s Delaware Goes to War at Cape Henlopen state Park

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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