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Relic WWII gun mount found on FL beach after Hurricane Michael

St Andrews State Park Dunes (Royalbroil/WikiCommons)
February 07, 2019

When Hurricane Michael blasted the shores of Florida in Oct. 2018, it brought with it winds so intense it exposed a buried WWII artifact in a state park.

A World War II gun mount was found in the 1,200-acre St. Andrews State Park just east of Panama City Beach, ABC 6 News reported.

The unearthed two-gun mount dates back to the 1940s and has drawn in locals and tourists to the popular park since it was discovered.

One visitor, Kitch Millard, said, “It’s my first time seeing it in 7 years.”

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No one was ever able to see the gun mount because before it was unveiled by the powerful hurricane, it was buried deep in sand dunes.

Parts of the artifact had been partially exposed from previous storms but not enough to get the view that is available now.

Park Specialist David Morris explained, “They were placed here in 1942 and the set up was finished in 43 and they were only active for about 9 months.”

This is a little piece of history that he likes to share with visitors.

Morris said, “Whenever they formed the shipping channel in the 30’s the area really became important for the local economy. The weapons were placed in the area to help protect merchant ships from German U-boats.”

Last December, a similar artifact was discovered on Sullivan’s Island beach in South Carolina, Moultrie News reported.

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This unearthing was due to erosion, but it had made an appearance following Hurricane Matthew in March 2017.

This relic was a Panama mount gun turret. In 1942, it was installed in Marshall Reservation, a sub-post of Fort Moultrie.

The rare vestige is only one of three in that area.

Dawn Davis, Charles Pinckney’s public affairs specialist who assists the National Park Service, said, “It’s staying there. It’s pretty significant in size. It’s huge, it’s buried in the sand and it’s also property of Sullivan’s Island… it would be quite an endeavor to try to dig that out.”

The Moultrie News reported that a handbook from the National Park Service recorded, “the 155-mm guns had barrels nearly 20-feet long and a range of over 10 miles. The guns were an attempt to fill in the gaps of Charleston’s harbor defense when the United States officially entered the war.”

“For whoever does see it out there for the first time it does feel like finding something new. It does provide a link to the past, it’s a very big link,” Davis said.