In the National Archives Record Group 407, Records of the Adjutant Generals Office, 1917-, Entry 366, are filed the various Harbor Defense Projects of the 1930s & 1940s. A Harbor Defense Project was a written document which described all existing and projected harbor defense elements, including structures, first prepared in 1932-33. Annexes to Harbor Defense Projects were published to update these projects in 1934-37. The projects and annexes were then used by the Local Board Proceedings, Modernization Program Harbor Defenses in 1941-42. Finally Supplements to the Harbor Defense Projects were prepared 1943-44 and updated 1945-46 which superceded the previously issued Annexes and Local Board Proceedings. The supplements detail the progress on the construction of the new 1940s modernization program defenses with descriptions and a set of maps that showed where these new structures were located, the field of fire of the guns, radar coverage, etc. The supplements provide extensive detailed information on all tactical and physical aspects of the harbor defenses on the date of the supplement, both existing and proposed, and a number of exhibits detailing the locations of elements.

The supplements follow a format consisting of the following items:
Annex A- Armament.
Annex B- Fire Control.
Annex C- Seacoast Searchlights.
Annex D- Underwater Defense.
Annex E- Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Harbor Defense).
Annex F- Gas Defense.
Annex G- Equipment.
Annex H- Real Estate Required.

These supplements contain specific information on each of the items cited above and contain a number of detailed maps and drawings. Exhibits included fields of fire for the major batteries, tactical organization charts, ammunition allowances, location maps, site maps, cable routings, and various appendices. These provide an excellent place to find very specific information on a given harbor defense during the World War II years.

Harbor Defenses of

Projects

Annexes

Supplements

Modernization Program

Portland

1932, 1942

1934, 1938

1945*

1941

Kennebec

no project

Portsmouth

1932, 1942

1934, 1938

1945*

1941

Boston

1932, 1942

1934, 1938

1945*

1941

New Bedford

1932, 1942

1934, 1938

1943*

1941

Narragansett Bay

1932, 1942

1934, 1938*

1945*

1941

Long Island Sound

1932, 1942

1934, 1938

1945*

1941

Eastern NY

no project

1937

Southern NY

1932

1937

Sandy Hook, NJ

1932

1937

New York

1943

1945*

1941

Delaware River

1933, 1942

1937, 1940

1945*

Baltimore

no project

Potomac River

no project

Chesapeake Bay

1933, 1943

1937, 1939

1945*

1941

Cape Fear

no project

Charleston

1933

1937*

1945*

Port Royal Sound

no project

Savannah

no project

Key West

1933

1936

1945*

Tampa

no project

Pensacola

1933

1936, 1943

1944*

Mobile

no project

Mississippi River

no project

Galveston

1933

1937*

1945*

San Diego

1933, 1943

1936

1946*

Los Angeles

1933, 1943

1936

1944*

San Francisco

1933, 1943

1937

1945*

Columbia R/W. WA

1938, 1943

1937*

1946*

Puget Sound

1933, 1943

1936, 1941*

1944*

1940-41**

Hawaii

1940, 1943

The Philippines

Balboa, Panama

1946

1946*

Cristobal, Panama

1946

1946*

Sitka, AK

1942

1944*

Seward, AK

1942

1944*

Kodiak, AK

1942

1944*

Dutch Harbor, AK

1942

1944*

Newfoundland

1942*, 1944

San Juan, Puerto Rico

1941

1941

Roosevelt Roads, PR&VI

1941?

Antilles

1944?

1944

Portland to Cape Cod

1932

Narr Bay to New York

1932

Southern Coast

1933

Pacific Northwest

1938, 1943

Panama

1946

Total: 25 files, 4016 pages, 300 MB, 1 CD

No complete projects or supplements have been located for Oahu or the Philippine Islands.

Quartermaster Building Records 1900-1941

The Quartermaster Corps kept careful historical records on the buildings and structures for which it was responsible. These records were transferred to the Corps of Engineers along with the responsibility for construction and maintenance. The Historical Record of Buildings described individual structures. The term building was used in the broadest sense, and included wharfs, manure pits, tennis courts, and even statues. The first such forms in the record, dating from 1905, are un-numbered. They contain information on two buildings, one on each side of the 10 x 12 card-stock form. Filed by post building number, the forms list the construction date, materials, and equipment (to include wash basins, showers, urinals, screen doors, and wall lockers), as well as an annual list of expenditures for repairs. Perhaps most valuable, the forms normally displayed a 4 x 5-inch black and white photograph of the structure. By 1921, the forms, now 173A, were enlarged to 10 x 14 inches and covered only one structure. On the reverse a grid pattern was provided for a simple plan of the structure. Plans were drawn for some structures; others had blueprints pasted on, while still others were blank. In 1924, the form was renumbered 117, but otherwise remained relatively unchanged. These forms cover buildings built until the Corps of Engineers assumed responsibility days before the United States entered World War II. Both permanent and temporary buildings are included, as well as a number of civilian structures taken over by the army when the land on which they stood became part of a military post.

One of the most important entries on the Historical Record of Buildings was the OQMG (Office of the Quartermaster General) plan number, which was normally listed, at least for 1891-1917 buildings. These plan numbers, in turn, lead to another valuable source. From 1891 through 1917, the quartermasters built most structures to numbered standard plans. As these plans were updated, letter suffixes were added. The Cartographic Branch at Archives II contains Standard Plans of Army Post Buildings (Received from Quartermaster Office) 1891-1917. These are hundreds of standard plans prepared by the Office of the Quartermaster General. A notebook lists the plans by number and suffix, with the number of sheets prepared. To request them, merely specify RG 77, PI NM-19, Standard Plans of Army Post Buildings 1891-1917, with the plan number and letter suffix desired.

See article by Bolling Smith in the Coast Defense Journal Vol. 16, No. 2 pp. 29-42, for more details.

The CDSG ePress has scanned in a fairly complete set of these records for all the coast artillery posts circa 1905-1940.

  • QM records for the Coast Artillery posts (4.9 GB) total pages 17,200

Aerial Photographs of Harbor Defense Forts from the National Archives

A number of aerial photographs of the various harbor defense installations were taken by the Signal Corps from 1920s to the beginning of World War II. This collection of photographic prints has been scanned and are now available as part of the CDSG offerings on harbor defenses. The collection includes photo sets of the following defenses: Baltimore (16 photos), Boston (74 photos), Canal Zone (29 photos), Charleston (14 photos), Chesapeake Bay (60 photos), Delaware Bay (21 photos), Eastern New York (28 photos), Galveston (3 photos), The Great Lakes (12 photos), Key West (4 photos), Long Island Sound (37 photos), Los Angeles (7 photos), Narragansett Bay (16 photos), NE Florida (4 photos), Oahu (53 photos), Potomac River (20 photos), Pensacola (7 photos), The Phillipines (30 photos), Portland (29 photos), Puget Sound (9 photos), San Diego (7 photos), San Francisco (38 photos), Sandy Hook & Rockaway (12 photos), Savannah (11 photos), Southern New York (75 photos), and a series of photos taken for the Western Defense Command (San Diego (2 photos), Los Angeles (5 photos), San Francisco (56 photos), Columbia River (36 photos), Puget Sound (85 photos). Each set has anywhere from a few shots to over a dozen shots of the various forts. A great collection for those interested in seeing what was at a fort in the past. The collection is available in high resolution TIFs (36.57 GB fits on 9 DVDs) of compressed JPGs (7.64 GB, fits on 2 DVDs). Contact Mark Berhow (berhowma@comcast.net) for information on ordering or if you want to only get only specific sets.

print