Coastal Defense Battery 281 and 282
Fort McAndrew, Argentia
Batteries 281 and 282 were reinforced concrete, earth covered coastal batteries that were built in Fort McAndrew. Their purpose was to provide protection of the Argentia Naval Air Station from enemy ship and U-boat attacks. Although they were never used against an enemy vessel, they serve as a reminder of the fear that the Americans had that an attack on the Air Base was plausible.
The batteries were 200 series coastal defense batteries. Each contained a main underground bunker, with two 6 inch guns mounted on each side. The bunker was used for ammunition storage and support and was covered over with soil and vegetation to camouflage it from air and sea. Each battery had their own power generating system and could be operated if cut off from the main base.
The guns were 6 inch M1905A2 rapid fire guns mounted on M1 Shielded Barbette Carriages (SBC). The barrel length of the guns was 302.9 inches long and could fire a 105 pound armor-piercing projectiles up to 24 kilometres. Each gun was capable of firing 5 of these every minute if needed.
Today both bunkers remain and although they are slowly deteriorating more and more each year, they remain in fairly good shape. Battery 282 is the only one with its guns still remaining.
The guns and bunkers serve as a reminder of the WWII era in Newfoundland and the real threat many believed Newfoundland faced during this time.
Located on top of "Hill 195" Battery 282 is one of the best preserved coastal defense batteries on the island. Its a clear reminder of the real fears that plagued the island during the Second World War. U-boat attacks were a real problem and in order to protect the Argentia Naval Air Station Battery 282 was placed on a raised area of land overlooking the ocean.
In 2005 Battery 282 was designated a registered heritage structure with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. The reason this was made a recognized heritage site is best described in this insert taken from Canada's Historic Places website:
"282 Coastal Defence Battery has cultural and social value as it is a physical reminder of the cultural, societal and economic changes, both positive and negative, that were a result of the establishment of American military bases in Newfoundland and Labrador. For the residents of Argentia and Marquise, the American presence resulted in the forced relocation of these two communities. Almost eight hundred people were resettled to neighbouring communities, while their homes were demolished and their ancestors' graves exhumed and relocated. The American presence did, however, result in a job boom in the region. At its height, approximately five thousand civilians found employment on the base. In a society largely dependant on the credit system, the Argentia base provided local workers with a degree of financial independence not previously attainable in the traditional inshore fishery. The Americans who came to Argentia also introduced contemporaneous forms of American popular culture to the region, including leisure activities, music and fashions, that broadened the cultural sphere of wartime and postwar Newfoundland and Labrador."
-282 Coastal Defence Battery Registered Heritage Structure at HistoricPlace.ca
Battery 281 is in worst shape than Battery 282. In 1994 the guns, carriages, and shields were removed and sent to be put on display at Fort Columbia on Washington State. The concrete platforms that the guns sat on are easily visible however and the support structure is still easily accessible.
Sources & Further Exploring
Find out more about the Argentia Naval Base and more by exploring the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website found at www.history.navy.mil.
Ray, W. (2016). US Military Bases in Eastern Canada: Harmon, Pepperrell and Argentia. London, ON: HMS Press.
A map of the 200 series Batteries at Argentia
Photo Taken From HistoricPlaces.ca