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Yes, equipment on Cadillac Mt. was set up to search for German subs off the coast.

The Portland Harbor was certainly a target of the German Wolf Packs. Two old wooden cargo ships were sunk in one of the "back ways" into the Casco Bay so the U-boats couldn't seek in.

At the mouth of the river in Massachusetts, just across from Scituate, there actually is a U-boat that grounded there.

More broadly speaking, the entire East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. needed to be protected against U-Boats.

The U.S. established the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in December of 1941, just six days before Pearl Harbor. The first objective was to establish a CAP coastal patrol on 21 bases from Maine to Mexico. Three experimental bases were opened first and in this order: Atlantic City, New Jersey, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Lantana, Florida. Within 15 minutes of the first flight from Atlantic City, NJ, CAP pilots participated in the rescue of crew members from a tanker that had just been torpedoed by a U-Boat off Cape May, NJ.

In the first six months of 1942, U-Boats sank 498 U.S. tankers and freighters off our coasts, often right in sight of people on shore. Commercial shipping was at risk because no one wanted to work under the dangerous conditions. Fuel supplies to Allied navies were threatened.

The most active CAP bases served areas where there were oil refineries. The Germans wanted to cut off supplies.

At first, CAP planes flew unarmed, though they often feigned attack by going into formation to dive at the subs. But too many times U-Boats escaped while CAP waited for other military forces to answer their alerts. Later, CAP planes carried bombs and depth charges.

The subs were not easy to spot (for example they often hid in muddy waters where rivers spilled to the sea) and other branches of the military generally did not report back to CAP on whether they had successfully sunk subs located by CAP. But the subs spotted the CAP planes By August 31 of 1943--just 21 months after CAP was founded--the Government ended coastal patrols because German subs had been chased from our shores. A German officer, taken captive, was asked why German U-Boats left US coastal waters by 1943. He replied, "Because of those damned little red and yellow airplanes."

There were two CAP bases in Maine, one in Portland and one at Trenton Airport in Ellsworth-Bar Harbor. Portland was a busy port in WWII, the closest port for crossing the Atlantic to Britain. Moreover, Bath Iron Works was manufacturing Liberty Ships and needed some protection. A Portland CAP pilot named Winther is one of few who identified a German sub in Coasco Bay with certainty. He and his observor saw a periscope wake, the sub submerged, the periscope re-surfaced later as the CAP plane followed. The CAP plane was unarmed and this was another sub that escaped while CAP pilots waited for conventional military forces to respond to their alert.

Once, a reconnaisance blimp disappeared over Mt Desert Rock. Natives reported hearing gunshots. But no one is sure what happened to the blimp. A U-Boat was suspected.

Reportedly there is a sunken U-Boat off Small's Pt. Some undersea adventurers were talking about raising it but I haven't heard anything lately.

It says something that at the end of WWII, in August of 1945, seven U-boats surrendered in Portsmouth, which was the biggest US submarine base. These were U-Boats that were in the vicinity at the cessation of hostilities. Four surrendered on one day, the others took a little longer to come in. As the crow flies, NH has only 21 miles of coastline. That might tell you something about the proximity of subs to Maine. One of these subs, the U-505, wallowed in the Piscataqua River for some time before a Chicago businessman had it towed through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Chicago where it was put on permanent display at the Museum of Science and Indsutry there. That U-Boat has seen 24 million visitors since 1954. A special 35,000 s.f. display area is now being built around the sub to protect it fromweather while the U-boat itself undergoes restoration. The exhibit will re-open in the summer of 1995.

For the most part, Americans were blissfully unaware of how close to our own shores we experienced enemy attacks, or how how much damage these subs were doing.


In addition to that the US Coast Guard had beach patrols on all coasts 24 hours a day by foot, horseback, qnd vehicles. Also they used dogs to help in detecting people coming ashore. Both the Coast Guard and the navy commandeered boats and yachts from private citizens and used them for coastal patrols. Many of these were sailboats and so were very quiet and hard to detect by submarines. They did detect some submarines

Also the Army had volunteer coast watchers whose job was to man lookouts and watch for submarines, ships and aircraft.

Probably the best known story is the beach patrol that discovered a submarine putting men ashore on Long Island. They were apprehended and they had plans to sabotage targets in New York.

Also shipping was often escorted out of harbors until well offshore.

So it was pretty much an all out effort to guard our coasts and shipping

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โˆ™ 2011-05-17 20:02:32
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Q: Did the Maine coast need to be defended against German U-Boats?
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