Monday, May 12, 2014

5/12/14 Report - German Spy Cache, Florida in WW II and Civilian Watch Towers,

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

WW II Observation Tower at Ormond By the Sea.
You might not realize the impact of World War II on Florida.  If you live along the Treasure Coast you are probably aware of the amphibious training base that operated along the beach between Vero and Stuart. 

It wasn't uncommon in the past to dig up relics from WW II on our Treasure Coast beaches.   WW II dog tags, shell casing and bullets, and canteens and other WW II artifacts have been discovered on the beaches of the Treasure Coast.

My 2/17/12 post showed some dug Browning shell casings found on the beach, and I told how to identify them.  I'm sure a few more are still out there on the beaches and will be uncovered by future storms.

Here is that link.

I don't think most people today realize how close the war came to Florida.  The web site from the following link says, The Germans sank 24 ships in Florida waters during the war, eight of them off Palm Beach County between February and May of 1942. Half of those went down near Jupiter Inlet.

I'm sure that there are occasional items from WW II wrecks that are still encountered at times along the Treasure Coast beaches.

It is known that German spies from one submarine landed on a Florida East Coast beach, buried explosives, went to the grocery store and generally surveyed the area while planning sabotage.

The one known case was at Ponte Vedra.  The article obtained by using the following link says,

Beachgoers crowd Ponte Vedra Beach now, many unaware of the World War II German spies who landed here 70 years ago.

"No one spotted them," said Taryn Rodriguez-Boedee of the Beaches Historical Society. 
She said in June 1942, a German submarine closed in on Ponte Vedra and four German spies came to shore.

"They sunbathed. Went swimming. They were in the swimming trunks," Rodriguez-Boedee said.

They buried boxes full of explosives on the beach planning to come back for them.

Two of the four German spies were executed, and the two who revealed the plot to sabotage America, were returned to Germany.  The FBI dug up the explosives.

Those are the ones we know about.

There were 15,200 watch towers along the US coastline where civilians spotters monitored the coast for enemy planes and ships.  There was a watchtower about every six miles.   The photo above shows one of the few remaining watch towers at Ormond By the Sea.

Here is a link for more about that.

There are still a few remaining signs of a couple of those towers on South Hutchinson Island.  One was just below the condos north of Douglass Beach. 

There is also what appears to be a WW II dump just back of the beach a few miles south of that.

As recently as 2013 the Army Corps was trying to find and remove any remaining scullies, which were placed along North and South Hutchinson island for WW II training exercises.  Scullies are those big crossed iron beam things that look something like huge jacks, if you remember that item that girls used to play with. 

I remember one big project to do that back in the eighties or nineties when they removed many of them from the shallow water north of the Seal Museum.

With the sandy beaches and poor conditions that exist on the Treasure Coast now it is not likely that you'll find much WW II stuff, but we lose a lot of sand some time in the future things like that might pop up again.

Right now on the Treasure Coast the tides are fairly flat, the surf is around two or three feet, and the wind is now more out of the East.

Can't find the find picture that I was going to post.  Maybe tomorrow.

Don't forget the blog poll.

I think I'll end there today.

Happy hunting,