On October 11 2017 an authentic Aircraft Warning Service (“AWS”) spotter shed arrived at Fort Miles on a flatbed truck generously donated to FMHA by Coastal Towing of Lewes. This newest artifact obtained for the Fort Miles Museum was donated to the Museum by the Simmons family of Cambridge, MD.

The AWS shed was transported from its original location on Hoppers Island. Thousands of these sheds were placed along the East Coast during and manned 24 hours each day during the period 1942-1944 in an effort to spot German aircraft that might threaten the United States mainland. The Aircraft Warning Service was the creation of the U.S. Army Ground Observer Corps, with the trained observers consisting entirely of civilian volunteers.

Ray Simmons was in charge of the Hoppers Island observation shed and was tasked with the duty of finding local volunteers the work the numerous shifts required to accomplish this mission. Volunteers were equipped with drawings of the type of potential enemy aircraft that could threaten the U.S. Observers also used “spotter cards” (in the shape of regular playing cards) to help them memorize the shape and markings of German aircraft. Each spotter shed was also equipped with a telephone connected to a regional Army Filter Center. If a suspicious aircraft was observed, the spotter on duty was expected to telephone in a report within 15 seconds of spotting an aircraft.

As referenced above, FMHA’s acquisition of the AWS shed, one of very few remaining in existence, was truly a team effort. The existence of the AWS shed at Hoppers Island was discovered by Dr Gary Wray, one of the four founders of FMHA and its current President. Wearing his history professor’s cap, Dr Wray researched the shed and contacted the current property owners. FMHA’s Executive Director, Mark Chura, then worked with the owners to facilitate the donation of the shed to FMHA. Pat Bragdon, a long serving Bunker Buster volunteer, along with other Bunker Busters, arranged for the transport of the shed and will complete the restoration work over the next several months now that it has arrived at Fort Miles.

To see the October 11th WRDE interview with Pat Bragdon, please click on this link (http://www.wrdetv.com/index.cfm?ref=60200&ref2=7103).