Good morning: Fort Miles’ Delaware Defense Day coming up

Coastal facility to highlight area’s military history

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 9/15/21

LEWES — Military presence and World War II history will return to Fort Miles on Sept. 25 for Delaware Defense Day.

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Good morning: Fort Miles’ Delaware Defense Day coming up

Coastal facility to highlight area’s military history

Posted

LEWES — Military presence and World War II history will return to Fort Miles on Sept. 25 for Delaware Defense Day.

The facility’s yearly open house and living-history event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fort Miles Museum and Historical Area at Cape Henlopen State Park.

The event’s mission is to highlight and celebrate those who defended Delaware in the past, such as the soldiers of Fort Miles, and those who continue to serve the state today, according to Tyler Dreiblatt, interpretive programs manager for the museum.

Located underground in Battery 519, the Fort Miles Museum features exhibits relating to coastal defense operations, as well as portrays daily life for the more than 2,000 soldiers and civilians stationed at the fort during WWII.

Visitors can explore the historic area, watch WWII-era short films, speak with docents and interact with representatives from partner organizations.

Two artillery firings are scheduled, one in the late morning and another in midafternoon.
In addition, the “Oil Still Bleeds” exhibit about Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona will be open Sept. 25, as well.

On hand will be the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association. The association’s plan is to have about 10 members in period military uniforms and four to eight vehicles representing the eras Fort Miles served, according to HDDLHA spokesman Dr. Donald Hattier.

There will also be a display of U-boat artifacts.

“For us, it is getting back into the game,” said Dr. Hattier. “We all really want to help Fort Miles get back on the map, so to speak.”

Fort Miles was constructed during WWII as a coastal defense installation to deter potential German attacks on key U.S. infrastructure and port cities, including Philadelphia and Wilmington. Later, it was home to the top-secret U.S. Navy Sound Surveillance System.

Fort Miles also was the site of the formal surrender of the German U-boat 858 to allied forces May 14, 1945. U-858 had been captured at sea four days earlier and was brought to Lewes.

During Delaware Defense Day, the museum inside Battery 519 will be open and staffed with historians to answer questions.

There is no fee to explore the historic area, while entrance to the museum is $5 per person.
This will mark the first time Delaware Defense Day will take place in September. Next year, plans are to resume this annual event on its traditional fourth-Saturday-in-April schedule, which will be April 23, 2022.

Since 2003, the Fort Miles Historical Association and Delaware State Parks have worked in partnership to operate and expand the museum and the surrounding historic area.