American Forts: East

NORTH ATLANTIC &
CARIBBEAN ISLANDS

Antigua | Aruba | Azores | Bahamas | Bermuda | Colombia | Curaçao | Greenland | Honduras
Iceland | Jamaica | Navassa Island | Nicaragua | St. Lucia | Trinidad | Venezuela
South Atlantic Lend-Lease Bases

This page is primarily concerned with United States military posts of the 20th-century.
There were numerous British, French, Spanish, and Dutch colonial forts in this area
over the centuries, but descriptions of them all are beyond the scope of this website.

OTHER CARIBBEAN FORTS

The U.S. Marine occupation camps in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua
during the early 20th-century are not included here.


LEND-LEASE ACT OF 1940
GUARDING THE UNITED STATES AND ITS OUTPOSTS
ARMY MEDICAL SERVICE IN THE ATLANTIC DEFENSE AREAS

Last Update: 08/AUGUST/2013
Compiled by Pete Payette - ©2013 American Forts Network

ICELAND (formerly of Denmark)
(1941 - 1946)
American Marines were first stationed here beginning in July 1941 (replacing British forces that were sent in May 1940) to keep Germany from seizing the island, and to protect the sea and air lanes to Europe, thus becoming the first American ground forces to operate in the European Theater. Marine infantry units were posted at Camp Lumley near the capital city Reykjavik (brigade headquarters), Camp MacArthur about 10 miles from the capital near the Varma River, Camp Baldurshagi at Baldurshagi, and Camp Brauterholt at Brauterholt. Marine artillery units (75mm) were posted at Camp Tientsin. A Marine Defense Battalion (twelve 3-inch AA and thirty-six .50-cal. AA MG) was headquartered initially at Camp Ontario, then at Camp Hilton. They were also equipped with several searchlights and three SCR-268 radar sets, charged with protecting the harbor and airfield. The three USMC radar sets were emplaced at Brauterholt, Reykjavik, and Pingvellir. The Marines were replaced by Army troops between January and March 1942.

U.S. Army Coast Artillery troops initially took over the Marine gun positions. Eight Anti Motor Torpedo Boat (AMTB) batteries (90mm) were emplaced to protect the port facilities. Various anti-aircraft (AA) guns were also emplaced near the ports and airfields. Army posts included the headquarters of the Iceland Base Command at Camp Tadcaster/Pershing two miles east of Reykjavik, Camp Helgafell about ten miles north of Reykjavik, several other minor camps centered around Alafoss, and several isolated minor airfields and radio/radar stations. Early-warning anti-aircraft radar sites (SCR-270 and/or SCR-271) were located at Grindavik (two sites), Langholt, Vattanes, Siglunes, Hafnartangi, Ska'lar, Hverageroi/Vorsabaer, and Vestmannaeyjar Island (along the southern coast). The U.S. Army Air Corps built Meeks Field (bombers) and Patterson Field (fighters), both near Keflavik, in 1942.

British headquarters was located at Camp Alabaster, about one mile from the Americans' Camp Pershing. British airfields were at Reykjavik and at Kaldadharnes. British radar sites were located at Olfus, Grotta, and Vik. The last British combat troops left in January 1942. American combat troops left by the end of 1943, as Germany no longer posed a threat in this area. Iceland became independent from Denmark in 1944 (de facto 1941).

GREENLAND (Denmark)
(1941 - 1946/present)
German weather stations were located here in 1940, destroyed by the British that summer. The American Army arrived to take over the defense of the island in July 1941, to consolidate hemispheric defense and to protect the only known commercial source of natural cryolite (used in the production of aluminum). Another German weather station was found and destroyed by American forces in September 1941. The Germans continued throughout the war to establish weather stations, and the Americans continued to eradicate them when found. American ground troops were withdrawn by the end of 1944, but the air and naval bases continued to operate post-war. American military posts were established at the following sites in 1941-42:
Bluie East One at Torgilsbu near Cape Farewell.
Bluie East Two at the base of Ikkatteq Mountain near Tasiilaq (formerly Ammassalik), on Ammassalik Island, about 40 miles below the Arctic Circle. This was primarily a radio and weather station. An auxiliary airfield was also built. AA defenses may have been emplaced here.
Bluie East Three at Ittoqqortoormiit (formerly Gurreholm) on Scoresby Sound. This was previously a Danish science station built in 1937.
Bluie East Four at Ella Island on Davy Sound (73 deg. North Lat.)
Bluie East Five at Eskimonaes (74 deg. North Lat.). This was a radio station, seized by the Germans in March 1943. The post was re-established and relocated at Myggbukta.
Bluie West One at Narsarsuaq on the southwest coast. This was the headquarters post of the Army and Navy, with a major airfield. Anti-aircraft (AA) defenses were initially emplaced, and a 90mm Anti Motor Torpedo Boat (AMTB) battery was emplaced here after May 1942. An SCR-268 radar was also here. The defenses were inactivated in late 1944. The airbase was renamed Narsarsuaq Field in 1945. It was transferred to the Danes in 1958 and became a civilian airport, still in use today.
Bluie West Two at Kipisako.
Bluie West Three at Simiutak at the mouth of Skovfjord. This was primarily an HF/DF radio station.
Bluie West Four at Faeringerhavnen (63 deg. 40 min. North Lat.) on the southwest coast.
Bluie West Five at Qeqertarsuaq (formerly Godhavn) on the south-side of Disko Island.
Bluie West Six at Qaanaaq (formerly Thule or Cape York Station) on the northwest coast.
Bluie West Seven at Kangilinnguit (formerly Grønnedal), five kilometers east of the cryolite mine at Ivittuut (formerly Ivigtut), on the southwest coast about 100 air miles west of Narsarsuaq. AA defenses were probably emplaced here. A 90mm AMTB battery was emplaced here after May 1942. It was withdrawn in late 1944. The Navy also had a base here at "Green Valley". The naval base was transferred to the Danish Navy in 1951, and continues today as the main Danish naval base within the Greenland Command. The cryolite mine was in operation from 1865 - 1987.
Bluie West Eight at Kangerlussuaq (formerly Søndre Strømfjord), an emergency airfield located eight miles northeast of the BW-8 base camp (67 deg. North Lat.), about 15 miles inside the Arctic Circle. AA defenses were probably emplaced here. The airbase was renamed Sondrestrom Field in 1945. The base was transferred to the Danish military in 1950, but was transferred back to the U.S. Air Force in 1951 as Sondrestrom Air Base. It was closed in 1992 and became the major Greenland civilian airport (renamed Kangerlussuaq Airport) for flights from Canada and Europe.

A U.S. Navy LORAN station (NAVY 226) was located at Paamiut (formerly Fredericksdaal) in 1943 on the southwest coast. The Danish Navy took it over in 1951.

The U.S. Military / NATO still maintains a presence at Thule Air Base (1951 - present) located near Pituffik on the northwest coast. Four AAA gun battery sites (90mm AA and 75mm AA "Skysweepers") were emplaced from 1953 - 1958 before NIKE-HERCULES missiles were deployed for base defense (withdrawn probably in 1969 or 1970).

Remembering Bluie West One by Daniel Ford

The extreme north of Greenland at Cape Morris Jesup, known as Peary Land, was claimed by the United States from 1909 - 1917, based on the polar exploration of Cmdr. Robert E. Peary. The claim was withdrawn upon the purchase of the Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands) in 1917. Greenland was granted internal self-rule from Denmark beginning in 1979.

AZORES (Portugal)
(1918, 1944 - 1946), Ponta Delgada, St. Michaels Island
U.S. Marines, part of the Advanced Base Force, were sent here during WWI to prevent the islands from falling under German control. A Naval Station was first established in June 1917 at Ponta Delgada Harbour on St. Michaels Island, protected by a submarine torpedo net and three 4-inch guns manned by the local Portuguese militia. A German submarine shelled the town in July 1917, but was driven off by gunfire from the US Navy's station ship, a coaler. A repair ship and five destroyers arrived in August 1917. Marines were landed in January 1918 and erected two one-gun 7-inch gun batteries around the main harbor, one gun located on a point just westward of town to cover the harbor, and the second gun located about eight miles west of town on a high bluff to cover the newly built British wireless radio station (completed in May 1918). A Marine seaplane base was also established to scout for German submarines.
Located at Horta on Faial Island were previously established American and European marine cable and telegraph stations (since 1866), and a meteorological station (1901). Horta's harbor was used by seaplanes and the Pan Am Clipper on trans-atlantic flights to Europe before the airport on Terceira Island was built in 1943.

In 1941 the Marines were ready to go again, for the same reason, but were diverted to Iceland instead, on the request of Great Britain to relieve her troops there. Great Britain did establish a naval and air base here in October 1943. The British airbase was Lages Airport on Terceira Island, now used by NATO. British troops also garrisoned barracks near Forte de Sao Sebastiao in the village of Pipas. British 3-inch AA gun emplacements still remain on Pico das Cruzinhas, the highest point (205 meters) of Monte Brasil on Terceira Island. American forces arrived in December 1943 to share the British bases. The Americans built a separate airbase on Santa Maria Island in September 1944, now used as the international airport for the Azores. Remains of Nissen huts and concrete slabs still remain in one area. There were no American WWII coast artillery defenses.

Portuguese Fortifications in the Azores from Instituto Histórico da Ilha Terceira

BERMUDA (United Kingdom)
(1941 - 1946/1995), St. George's Parish
American troops arrived in April 1941 in a joint defense arrangement with the British. Fort Bell was the U.S. Army headquarters, and Kindley Field was the U.S. Army Air Corps base (now the Bermuda International Airport). Battery 284 (now covered) and an Anti Motor Torpedo Boat Battery were built at British Fort Victoria. The U.S. Navy had a Magnectic Indicator Loop Station at British Fort St. Catherine. An American radar station (SCR-270 ?) was located on Skinner's Hill. An American submarine base was built on Ordnance Island. Elsewhere, Battery 283 was built at Tudor Hill in Southampton Parish. Two 8-inch railway guns were emplaced at British Scaur Hill Fort in Sandys Parish, nicknamed "Cockroach Gulch" by the Americans. The main American Naval Base was on Morgan's Island in Southampton Parish. The coast defenses were deactivated in 1945. The U.S. Navy took over Fort Bell/Kindley Field from the Air Force in 1970. The Canadian Navy had taken over the Naval Dockyard in 1951 after the British Royal Navy withdrew. A Canadian Naval Radio Station was built at Daniel's Head Beach in 1963, closed in 1993. American and Canadian forces left the island for good in 1995.
American Bases in Bermuda and Canadian Bases in Bermuda by Keith Forbes from Bermuda-Online.org

First settled by shipwrecked English colonists bound for Virginia in 1609, Bermuda, then known as Somers' Isles, was claimed by Virginia from 1610 to 1622. The Royal Naval Dockyard was built by the British beginning in 1809 to replace lost port facilities on the American East Coast after the American Revolution.

For an overview of some of the over 100 British forts built in the colony since 1612, see the following websites:
British Army Forts in Bermuda and British Royal Navy Dockyard at Bermuda-Online.org by Keith Forbes
Fort Hamilton - Fort St. Catherine - Scaur Hill Fort - Royal Naval Dockyard at Bermuda 4U.com (courtesy of David Mottershead)

BAHAMAS (formerly of the U.K.)
(1776, 1778, 1942 - 1944), Nassau, New Providence Island
American Continental Marines captured British Fort Nassau and Fort Montagu for two weeks in March 1776, and again in January 1778, for supplies and gunpowder and to try to persuade the local colonists to join the American Revolution. They declined. Nassau was later captured by the Spanish in May 1782, recaptured by the British (American Loyalists) in April 1783.

Fort Montagu (17 guns), built in 1741-42, is located on the eastern side of town at East Bay Street and Eastern Road at Montagu Bay. Immediately adjacent to the northeast was Bladen's Battery, also built in 1742. Fort Nassau, originally built in 1697 with 22 guns, was partially destroyed by the Spanish in 1700, and completely destroyed in October 1703. It was not rebuilt until late 1718, and was rebuilt again in 1741-44 with 54 guns. It was repaired in 1769, and remained garrisoned until 1790. The site of Fort Nassau (demolished in 1837) is now the Hilton British Colonial Hotel (built 1899, 1922), bounded by West Bay Street, Marlborough Street, and West Street.

Other colonial era forts on New Providence Island included Charles Town Fort (1687), a wooden stockade that preceeded Fort Nassau (the town was renamed in 1695). The town had been previously sacked by the Spanish in 1684. Old Fort (2) (ruins) (Spanish 1782 ?) is located on Old Fort Point at Old Fort Bay on the western coast. Now a private club estate, it was once known as Charlotteville. British six-gun Fort Fincastle (built 1793) is located on Bennett's Hill at the top of the "Queen's Staircase", on Elizabeth Avenue south of Shirley Street. A water tower was built nearby in 1928. A light station was built at the fort until replaced by the Hog Island Lighthouse in 1816. Fort Charlotte (built 1787-89) on West Bay Street at Chippingham Road on the western side of town (admission fee) is the largest extant fort, built under Governor John Murray, Lord Dunmore, who was previously the last royal governor of Virginia in 1776. It remained garrisoned until 1891. Located on West Street is The Priory - Dunmore House, built in 1788 as a residence for the colonial governors until 1804. It became an Officers' quarters and mess hall in 1829, later becoming a military hospital until 1891. It was sold in 1893 to the Roman Catholic Church, and is now home to the National Museum of the Bahamas. A gun battery was also located on the eastern end of Hog Island (Paradise Island) by 1790 (ruins remain ?). Another preserved stone gun battery is located at the eastern end of Potter's Cay. East of Fort Montagu near Fox Hill Road are the circular stone ruins of Blackbeard's Tower (1), a lookout post most likely built in the late 1780's (private property). Further east at Eastern Point are the ruins of the two-gun Eastern Battery (aka "Fort Winton") (1790's) (private property). Another apparently-named "Blackbeard's Tower (2)" (three-story square concrete tower) is located on Blue Lagoon Island (aka Salt Cay) north of Paradise Island. It was built in the 1920's by John McCutcheon. Also built in the 1920's by McCutcheon on Salt Cay was "Fort Canopus", a concrete observation platform on the cliff next to the main house. It was destroyed in the late 1940's. See also History of Blue Lagoon Island from Bahamas Blue Lagoon.com

Elsewhere in the Bahamas, located on the northwestern end of Crooked Island at Landrail Point, are the preserved ruins of Marine Farm (Bahamas National Trust), a colonial era plantation, where Spanish guns have recently been found, suggesting use as a fortification at one time (1780's ?). American privateers may have attacked here in 1812. Located on the southern tip of Harbour Island near Dunmore Town, at the South Bar along Bay Street, was Old Fort (1), once the stronghold of the pirate Charles Vane, where six period cannons are still half-buried and facing the Harbour Mouth Channel. Located on Grant and Nesbitt Streets in Dunmore Town is Barracks Hill, which housed soldiers employed by the East India House of London from 1786 to 1797 before the Police Act was passed in the Bahamas.

The Bahamas were first settled by the British in 1648 (Eleuthera Island), and was later administered by South Carolina in 1670, becoming a separate royal colony in 1718. American Loyalists from the Carolinas settled the colony in 1783. British troops left in 1838, but returned in 1861 during the American Civil War. Between 1870 to 1891 the military garrison was reduced to 80 men until withdrawn. The Bahamas gained self-rule in 1967, and full independence in 1973.
Historic Forts of Nassau from Bahamas Dept. of Archives
Historic Photos from Old Bahamas.com

Modern defenses included one 4.7-inch QF gun that was emplaced by the British Royal Marines at Fort Charlotte during WWI (1917 - 1919). As part of the 1940 Lend-Lease Program a small U.S. Naval Air Station was built near George Town on Great Exuma Island in 1942, closed in 1944 (now Exuma Airport). An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. There were no American WWII coast artillery defenses.


JAMAICA (formerly of the U.K.)
(1941 - 1949) near Old Harbour Bay
The U.S. Navy leased the British Navy's Port Royal Dockyard and used Old Harbour Bay (Portland Bight), west of Kingston, as a fleet anchorage. The U.S. Naval Air Station was located on Little Goat Island until 1944. Fort Simonds was the U.S. Army Headquarters. The U.S. Army Coast Artillery emplaced four 155mm guns on Little Goat Island from 1942 - 1944. Battery 285 was planned here but it was never built (this battery number was then assigned to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico). The U.S. Army Air Corps built Vernam Field (vacated 1949). An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here.

Modern British defenses included: Fort Clarence (1887 - 1946) in Seafort (two 9-inch RML, replaced in 1901 with two 6-inch QF guns, replaced in 1937 with two 6-inch Mark VII BL guns, one returned to Rocky Point in 1944); Victoria Battery (1878 - 1905) and Albert Battery (date ?) at Port Royal Point (three 7-inch RML and two 64-pdr RML, replaced in 1887 with two 9.2-inch BL DC, two 6-inch BL DC, and two 6-pdr QF, in 1901 added four 12-pdr QF guns); Fort Rocky Point (aka Rocky Point Battery) (1878 - 1946) near Port Royal (three 7-inch RML and two 64-pdr RML, replaced in 1887 with three 6-inch BL DC, replaced in 1912 with two 6-inch Mark VII BL from St. Lucia, one gun removed in 1937 for Fort Clarence, returned in 1944); Fort Nugent (1908 - 1946) in Harbour View near Kingston (one 9.2-inch Mark X BL from St. Lucia); Fort Augusta (1938 - 1946) (two twin 6-pdr QF) at the tip of Port Henderson Beach; Apostles Battery (1878 - 1909) north of Fort Clarence (two 7-inch RML, replaced in 1901 with two 6-inch QF and four 12-pdr QF guns). A Canadian infantry battalion was stationed in Kingston in the summer of 1940, with the local defense forces manning the coast artillery guns. All Canadian and British troops were withdrawn after WWII. Fort Nugent was demolished in 1960 for a housing development. All other modern batteries still exist in one form or another.
(info provided courtesy of Ian Stevenson)

Older colonial era forts include the British Fort George in Stony Hill north of Kingston; Fort Montego (ruins) in Montego Bay; Fort George (1729) (now Titchfield School) and Navy Island in Port Antonio; Fort Charlotte in Lucea; Fort William near Petersfield; Cornwall Barracks near Moore Town; Fort George on the Pencar River near Annotto Bay; Fort Stewart on the Dry River near Annotto Bay; Fort George near Bensonton; Fort Charles (1656) in Port Royal (admission fee); Passage Fort in Portmore; and Colbeck Castle (1670's) in Old Harbour (a fortified manor). The Spanish archaeological site Sevilla Nueva (1509) is located at St. Ann's Bay. The British gained total control of the island from the Spanish in 1658. Jamaica gained independence in 1962.
Jamaica Forts Heritage Sites from Jamaica National Heritage Trust

NAVASSA ISLAND (United States)
(Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge)
(1857/1916 - present)
There are no military installations here, just an abandoned lighthouse (1917-76). This is an unorganized and unincorporated territory of the U.S., located about 30 miles off the southwestern coast of Haiti. It has only a 3-square mile land area. First claimed by the U.S. in 1857, it was formally annexed in 1916. There is record of the U.S. Marines landing in May-June 1891, after rioting by guano miners. The U.S. Navy had an observation station here during WWII. The country of Haiti was occupied by U.S. Marines almost continuously from 1915 to 1934, and was declared a U.S. Protectorate during that time. The island became a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge in 1999. Public access is allowed only by Special Use Permit. History of Navassa Island

ANTIGUA (formerly of the U.K.)
(1941 - 1949/1960)
The U.S. Navy built a naval air station on Crabbs Point at Parham Harbour, and other shore installations were located along a 1.4 square mile strip of coast on Judge's Bay. The U.S. Army Air Corps built Coolidge Field, which was transferred to the Navy in 1949 (now V.C. Bird International Airport). An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. The U.S. Navy maintained a presence here until 1960, but returned later. (NOTE: U.S. Naval Station Antigua and Antigua Naval Air Station are shown on a 1995 map in the Coolidge area.)

One 4.7-inch QF gun was emplaced by the British Royal Marines at Goat Hill (Fort Barrington) in 1917 - 1919.

Older colonial era forts include British Fort James (1706, 1739) at the northern entrance of St. John's Harbour; Sir George's Old Battery at the northern entrance of Five Islands Harbour; Fort Barrington (ruins) at Deep Bay; Fort George on Monks Hill above Falmouth; Fort William on Lynch Point in Willoughby Bay; Fort Charles at Falmouth Harbour; Blockhouse Hill on Cape Shirley; Fort Shirley (1781 - 1825) (ruins) on Shirley Heights; Fort Berkeley (1704) at English Harbour; and Nelson's Dockyard (National Park) (1743 - 1794) at English Harbour (admission fee). Many of the original British Naval buildings at the Dockyard have been restored and converted into resort hotels and retail shops. A 1780's gun platform exists nearby on the grounds of the Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre (admission fee). Of interest in St. John's is the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda located in the Old Court House (1750). Antigua, with Barbuda, gained independence in 1981.
Antigua Historic Sites from Antigua Museums.org

ST. LUCIA (formerly of the U.K.)
(1941 - 1949)
The U.S. Navy built a naval air station on Gros Islet Bay on the north-end of the island, near the old British Fort Rodney (1797) at Pigeon Island (National Park) (admission fee). Ruins of barracks, magazines, and a signal station still remain. The U.S. Army Air Corps constructed Beane Field at Vieux Fort on the south-end of the island (now known as Hewanorra International Airport). An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. The U.S. Army was headquartered at Black Bay on the north-end of the island. Two 75mm field guns were probably emplaced here. The U.S. Coast Artillery had two 155mm guns emplaced at the capital of Castries, and also manned several British 3-inch and 4-inch naval guns at British Fort Charlotte (1796) (originally French - Citadelle du Morne Fortune (1764)) overlooking the harbor. The Coast Artillery also had two 155mm guns emplaced at Vieux Fort protecting the new dock facilities. Vieux Fort was named after the original Dutch fort located here in the early 1600's. The American coastal defenses were withdrawn in 1944, other forces in 1949.
(info provided by William Gaines of the Coast Defense Study Group)

Modern British defenses included: in 1888 at Vigie Battery (Castries) were three one-gun 6-inch BL DC batteries, replaced in 1901 with one 9.2-inch Mark X BL, two 6-inch Mark VII BL, and two 12-pdr QF guns (Meadows Battery); in 1888 at La Toc Battery (Castries) were one two-gun 10-inch RML and one one-gun 10-inch RML battery, replaced in 1901 with two 6-inch Mark VII BL, one 9.2-inch Mark X BL, and two 12-pdr QF guns (Rodney Battery); in 1890 at Morne Fortune Battery (Fort Charlotte) was a four-gun 9-inch RML high-angle battery. The defenses were deactivated in 1905, the guns transferred to Jamaica in 1908. In 1915 the defenses were reactivated with one 6-inch Mark VII BL from Bermuda in the two-gun battery at Vigie, and two French 14 cm guns emplaced in front of the old 9.2-inch battery; another 6-inch Mark VII BL from Bermuda in the two-gun battery at La Toc, with two French 14 cm guns emplaced in front of the old 9.2-inch battery. A French gunboat patrolled the harbor. Canadian troops manned the defenses here during WWI, not withdrawn until June 1919. The four French guns were then returned to Martinique, and the two 6-inch guns were left in situ, returned to Great Britain in 1941. All the modern emplacements are still extant. St. Lucia gained independence in 1979.
(info provided courtesy of Ian Stevenson)

La Toc Battery: St. Lucia's Military Heritage Preserved from Strabon-Caribbean
History of St. Lucia from St. Lucia Tourist Board

TRINIDAD (formerly of the U.K.)
(1941 - 1949/1960)
The U.S. Navy leased four acres adjacent to the British naval base HMS Benbow at Port of Spain. Fort Read was the U.S. Army Headquarters, and Waller Field was the main Army Air Corps field at Chaguaramas. An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. Carlson Field was also built. The batteries planned for the Trinidad Defenses were to have been two casemated 12-inch gun batteries (500-series) at Corozal Point and on Chacachacare Island, Battery 271 on Corozal Point, Battery 272 and Battery 273 on Monos Island, Battery 274 on Chacachacare Island, and Battery 275 on Green Hill. None of these were built.

What WERE actually emplaced by the U.S. were eight 155mm guns on Chacachacare Island (Battery U at Boca Grande, and Battery V at Boca de Navos); four 155mm guns in two positions on Monos Island; four 155mm guns on Green Hill (Battery W) (two guns transferred to Venezuela in 1942); 90mm AMTB/AA batteries at Fort Read, Cumuto, Port of Spain, Piarco Field, Edinburg Field, and Nelson Island; and 37mm AMTB/AA batteries at Mucurapo Point, Laventille Hill, Port of Spain, and Sangre. The HECP (with an SCR-582 radar) was located on Chacachacare Island. The Americans used contact mines and anti-submarine nets in the harbor. These defenses were to protect the South Atlantic approach to the Panama Canal. American coast defenses were withdrawn in 1945. The Air Force withdrew in 1949. The U.S. Navy withdrew in 1960. Ruins of the U.S. Naval Fuel Depot still remain in the Lumber Lane area. An ammo bunker still remains on the old Huggins plantation. Of interest to historians is the Chaguaramas Military History and Aviation Museum in Chaguaramas (admission fee).
(info provided by William Gaines of the Coast Defense Study Group)

Chaguaramas Development Authority

The British Royal Marines emplaced four one-gun batteries (4.7-inch QF) in 1917 - 1919 at Gaspar Grande Island, Nelson Island, Point-à-Pierre, and Brighton. The gun on Nelson Island was transferred to Gaspar Grande in 1939.

British defenses emplaced in 1939 were two 6-inch guns at Point-à-Pierre, two 6-inch guns at Point Fortin, two 4.7-inch guns (from WWI) on the western side of Gaspar Grande Island, and five AA gun batteries. The British used underwater magnetic detection loops in the harbor. The British also built two new batteries for two 9.2-inch DC guns each at Cap-de-Ville and Claxton in 1940, but the gun tubes were never emplaced. These two batteries are still extant. Locally raised forces manned the defenses in WWII. The two 4.7-inch guns on Gaspar Grande were replaced with the two 6-inch guns from Point Fortin in 1947 (they still remain today in a public park). The two 6-inch batteries at Point Fortin and Point-à-Pierre were then demolished. The remaining defenses were deactivated in 1954 or 1956, and the last British troops left in 1962.
(info provided courtesy of Ian Stevenson)

Colonial era forts include British Fort George (1804 - 1889) in Port of Spain, Fort Picton (? - 1889) in Port of Spain, a small fort in Las Cuevas on the north shore, and reported fort ruins on Gaspar Grande Island. Spanish Fort San Andres is in Port of Spain, the last remaining extant Spanish fort on the island. British troops left in 1889. Trinidad, with Tobago, gained independence in 1962.

PATOS ISLAND (Venezuela)
(1942 - 1944)
This small island is located just west of Chacachacare Island, off the coast of Trinidad, on the western-side of the "Dragon's Mouth". Two 155mm guns were transferred here from Green Hill in Trinidad, along with two .50-cal. AA machine guns, to better cover the sea lanes. The guns were later manned by Venezuelan troops from 1944 - 1945 until removed. Shortly after the American troops left in 1944, a U.S. Navy plane accidently bombed the position. No injuries were reported.
This island was claimed by the British as part of Trinidad until 1942.
(info provided by William Gaines of the Coast Defense Study Group)

ARUBA (Netherlands)
(1942 - 1946)
British troops arrived in September 1940, replacing French troops from Martinique that had arrived in May 1940. The Americans took over the British/Dutch defenses here in February 1942 to protect the oil fields. U.S. Army Headquarters was at Camp Savaneta near San Nicholas. Two 37mm AMTB guns were located here. The camp is still in use today by the Dutch Marines. Four 155mm guns on Panama mounts were emplaced southeast of San Nicholas near the oil refinery at Seroe Colorado on Colorado Point (mounts still extant in 2005). Two 90mm AMTB guns and two 40mm AA were also at this location. AA machine-guns were located around Dakota Field southeast of Oranjestad. It is now Queen Beatrix International Airport. An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. Remaining Dutch forces manned three 7.5-inch guns at Juana Morto, on the southeastern coast north of San Nicholas, built in 1940 (battery ruins still extant in 2006). The oil refineries were shelled by German U-boats in February 1942.
(info provided by William Gaines of the Coast Defense Study Group)

History of Aruba in WWII from Historia di Aruba
The Defense of Aruba in WWII by Dan Jensen

Aruba is a separate Dutch colony from the rest of the Netherlands Antilles. The old Dutch Fort Zoutman (1796) and King Willem III Tower (1868) are located in Oranjestad.

CURAÇAO (Netherlands)
(1942 - 1946)
Americans took over the British/Dutch defenses here to protect the oil fields. One 155mm gun was emplaced at Hato Air Field on the north shore. This is now Plesman Airport. An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. Three 155mm guns were emplaced at Blauw Baai (Bay) on the southern shore west of Willemsted near St. Michiel. Twelve 37mm AA guns were emplaced all around the Shottegat Channel into Willemsted Harbor. One of those guns was emplaced at Fort Nassau (1797), and another was emplaced at Fort Amsterdam (1635, 1769), two of the older Dutch forts on the island, of eight once built. Fort Amsterdam is now used as the governor's residence and government offices. Another 37mm AA gun was located across the bay north of Willemstad at Emmastad. U.S. Army Headquarters was at Camp Suffisant. Camp Parera was the U.S. Navy shore installation. The remaining Dutch forces manned two 120mm guns at Bullen Baai (Bay) west of Blauw Baai, three 7.5-inch guns east of the Shottegat, one 75mm gun and three 3-inch naval guns on the western shore of the Shottegat. The oil refineries were shelled by German U-boats in April 1942.
(info provided by William Gaines of the Coast Defense Study Group)

Historic Forts of Curaçao from Curaçao Tourist Board
The Netherlands Antilles in WWII
Forts of Curaçao by Marko Tjemmes

CORN ISLANDS (Nicaragua)
(1914 - 1971)
Two small populated islands, Great Corn and Little Corn, and uninhabited Blowing Rock, about four square miles total land area, located about 30 miles off the east coast of Nicaragua, were leased by the U.S. Navy as outposts for the defense of the Panama Canal. Military facilities and defenses are unknown. The country of Nicaragua was occupied by U.S. Marines from 1912 - 1925, and 1926 - 1933, becoming a U.S. Protectorate in 1916.
Corn Islands Tourism

SWAN ISLANDS (Honduras)
(1863 - 1972)
Two small uninhabited islands (Great Swan and Little Swan), about three square miles total land area, located about 95 miles off the northeastern coast of Honduras, were formally claimed by the United States in 1863. A U.S. Weather Station was established in 1938. No known military defenses. A 3800-foot grass airstrip was built on Great Swan Island (date ?). Honduras currently maintains a small naval post here. The country of Honduras was occupied by U.S. Marines intermittently from 1907 to 1925.
A Brief History of the Swan Islands by Donald Keith

SAN ANDRÉS ARCHIPELAGO (Colombia)
(1869 - 1981)
Located off the east coast of Nicaragua, between Panama and Jamaica, are several islands and submerged reefs, formally claimed by the United States in 1869, claimed by Colombia since 1886: Rosalind Bank (submerged), Serranilla Bank, Bajo Nuevo (New Bank) (or Petrel Islands), Quito Sueño Bank (mostly submerged), Serrana Bank, and Roncador Bank. Roncador Bank was formally annexed by the U.S. in 1949. The U.S. Navy maintained outposts on Serrana Bank (Southwest Cay) and Roncador Bank (Roncador Cay) during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961. A lighthouse was built on Roncador Cay in 1978. All U.S. claims to these islands were withdrawn in 1981. The Colombian Navy currently maintains outposts and lighthouses (all since 1982) on Serranilla Bank, Bajo Nuevo, Serrana Bank, and Roncador Bank. These islands are administratively attached to the Colombian Department of San Andrés and Providencia.
San Andrés Tourism


SOUTH ATLANTIC LEND-LEASE BASES

GUYANA (formerly British Guiana)
(1941 - 1949)
The U.S. Navy built a naval air station on the Essequibo River near Suddie. The U.S. Army Air Corps built Atkinson Field, on the Demerara River south of Georgetown, now Timehri Airport. An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. The last American forces withdrew in 1949.

SURINAME (formerly Dutch Guiana) (formerly of the Netherlands)
(1941 - 1946)
The U.S. military first arrived here in November 1941 to protect the area's bauxite mines. The U.S. Army Air Corps built Zandery Field, now used as the international airport. In December 1941 the U.S. Coast Artillery emplaced several anti-aircraft guns (probably 40mm). Four surplus American 6-inch MK VII naval guns were given to the Dutch sometime later (part of the lend-lease agreement with the Netherlands) and were emplaced at Fort Nieuw Amsterdam (1734) in Nieuw Amsterdam. American troops may have manned these guns at first, but all American coast artillery troops were withdrawn in August 1943. All four guns are still extant in a public park. An SCR-270 early warning radar was also located here. A U.S. Naval Air Station (blimps) was built at Paramaribo in 1943.

The local Dutch defense force had a 200-man garrison posted at Fort Zeelandia (1651) in Paramaribo. Located at the old Dutch Purmerend Redoubt (1748), northwest of Leonsberg, were three four-inch MK IX naval guns (possibly still extant but site is overgrown). These were surplus American guns sold to the Netherlands in early 1940.
Suriname in WWII

ASCENSION ISLAND (Great Britain)
(1942 - 1947)
The U.S. Navy leased the British naval base at Georgetown on the western side of the island, and the U.S. Army Air Force constructed Wideawake Field on the southwestern point of the island as a stopover between Brazil and the Belgian Congo. The U.S. Army was headquartered at Camp Casey just north of the airbase. The U.S. Coast Artillery manned a four-gun 155mm battery on Catherine Point just south of Georgetown, with fire-control stations at Cat Hill and Cross Hill. An SCR-270 anti-aircraft early warning radar was also located on the island. Two British 5.5-inch naval guns (emplaced 1941) in Georgetown (one at Fort Hayes (1830's) on Goat Hill, and one at Fort Bedford (1840's) on Cross Hill) were manned by American troops in 1942. The American coast defenses were withdrawn in 1944. NASA later had a tracking station on the east side of the island.
(info provided by William Gaines of the Coast Defense Study Group)

The British first built Fort Thornton in Georgetown in 1817. In 1830 it was enlarged and renamed Fort Cockburn. In 1922 all the British forts were unarmed.
The Fortifications of Ascension Island by Bill Clements, Fortress Study Group


Also: A U.S. military base is, or was, on Barbados (need info).

Modern British defenses (after 1870) on other Caribbean Islands include:
Barbados - Fort Charles (1878 - 1890) at Needham Point armed with two 7-inch RML and two 64-pdr RML. Also - one 4.7-inch QF at Brittons Hill (WWI), one 4.7-inch QF gun at Wanstead Hill (WWI), one 4-inch naval gun at Fort Charles (WWII);
Grenada - one 4.7-inch QF gun at Richmond Hill (Fort Matthew) (WWI), one 12-pdr QF (WWII);
St. Vincent - one 4.7-inch QF gun at Cane Garden (WWI);
Dominica - one 4.7-inch QF gun at Morne Bruce (WWI);
St. Kitts - one 4.7-inch QF gun at Quarry (WWI).
Great Britain withdrew its defenses from most of the Caribbean in 1870, leaving regular garrisons only on Bermuda, Bahamas (80), Jamaica (652), Barbados (237), Trinidad (117), British Guiana (239), and British Honduras (248), along with the naval dockyards on Bermuda and Jamaica. The Barbados garrison was transferred in 1890 to St. Lucia. Local forces on each island were thereafter responsible for defense. After 1919 only Bermuda and Jamaica were garrisoned by regular troops.

Modern French defenses (1890's - 1920's) on Martinique include:
Fort St. Louis - four 27.44 cm, five 24 cm, six 19.4 cm guns;
Fort Desaix - four 27.44 cm, four 19.4 cm, eight 13.6 cm guns;
Fort Tartenson - four 16.47 cm, three 13.86 cm, four 13.86 cm (detached) guns.
The French military continues to garrison Martinique.
(info provided courtesy of Ian Stevenson)

LINKS TO OTHER CARIBBEAN FORTS:
St. Eustatius Tourism - Netherlands Antilles
Fort George, Grenada (briefly attacked and occupied by the USMC in Operation Urgent Fury 1983) (Fort George website courtesy of J. David Zimmerman)
Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts - Nevis
The Cabrits Garrison and Fort Shirley, Dominica

QUESTIONS ? Please send any corrections and/or additions to this list to:
"Updates" at NorthAmericanForts.com


Eastern Forts