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Sussex Countian
  • Germans to surrender again at Delaware Goes to War event

  • When German soldiers surrendered a U-boat at Fort Miles in 1945, they likely did not anticipate the event would be reenacted and celebrated year after year by local history buffs.
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    • IF YOU GO

      WHAT: Delaware Goes to War


      WHEN: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


      WHERE: Cape Henlopen State Park, Fort Miles Historic Area, 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes


      COST: Park ...

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      IF YOU GO

      WHAT: Delaware Goes to War



      WHEN: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.



      WHERE: Cape Henlopen State Park, Fort Miles Historic Area, 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes



      COST: Park entrance fees are in effect and cost $4 for in-state vehicles and $8 for out-of-state vehicles. Admission to the event is free. Tours are $3 per person.



      INFO: fortmilesha.org

  • When German soldiers surrendered a U-boat at Fort Miles in 1945, they likely did not anticipate the event would be reenacted and celebrated year after year by local history buffs.
    The Fort Miles Historic Association, in partnership with Cape Henlopen State Park, will host its 10th annual Delaware Goes to War event Saturday at the Fort Miles Historic Area.
    About 100 re-enactors representing both American and German soldiers will be on-hand, dressed in World War II uniforms and gear. The soldiers will spend the night in the barracks and will display period vehicles while also conducting artillery demonstrations. Tours will be available throughout the event, there will be games for children and refreshments will be sold by the Friends of Cape Henlopen.
    Around noon, the soldiers will re-enact the surrender of the German submarine, which Gary Ray, president of the FMHA and history professor at Wilmington University, says was the most significant WWII event to occur in Delaware and on the East Coast.
    “German U-boats had berated the East Coast of the U.S. since 1942 and most Americans had never seen one,” Ray said. “They’d only heard about them. They had seen explosions in the ocean and had seen dead bodies wash ashore, but they never saw a boat.”
    Ray said the re-enactment, paired with the FMHA’s onsite museum in Battery 519, tells the story of the German U-boats and how they “ravaged everything from Maine to Florida” throughout the war.
    The American re-enactors are members of the 261st Coast Artillery, which was the unit stationed at Fort Miles during the war. Ray said the original members of the 261st were from Georgetown, Laurel, Blades and the surrounding areas.
    “It’s living Delaware history,” he said. “The heart and soul of Fort Miles were Delaware boys from the western part of Sussex County.”
    The German re-enactors are part of the Grossdeutschland, or Greater Germany, Division. Ray said most of the German re-enactors are from Maryland and they are the largest unit of their kind in the northeast.
    Shawn Heacock, park historian with Cape Henlopen State Park, said it’s important to tell both sides of the story when conducting a re-enactment.
    “That’s why we bring in the German unit, so we can relay the idea of the Germans as soldiers, which gets lost in the realities of WWII,” Heacock said. “It’s obviously a difficult topic to approach, but it’s something we’re committed to showing in order for people to understand the lives of the soldiers and the realities of war.”
    Heacock also said focusing on WWII springs Delaware re-enacting into a more modern era.
    Page 2 of 2 - “When most people think about re-enactments, they think about the Revolutionary War or the Civil War,” he said.
    Ray said the only other state park that holds re-enactments is Fort Delaware in Delaware City; however those events focus on the Civil War. He said most Delawareans are well aware of the history of Fort Delaware, but do not know much about Fort Miles.
    “That’s why we started [the FMHA] 14 years ago,” he said. “I’ve been working with Fort Delaware since the 1960s and it’s in the Delaware conscious, but we’re still working on Fort Miles.”
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