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Threat of War: Submarines

Maine was an area of interest for the Germans due to the naval stations in Kittery, Portland, and Brunswick. Known as the Coastal Picket Force, the Coast Guard Auxiliary patrolled the coast watching for German submarines in donated private yachts, and fishermen were given radios to report submarine sightings.

Monhegan Press. 20 Nov. 1939.

U.S. vessels, including the Monhegan mailboat Nereid, painted American flags on their hulls so that they could be easily identified by submarines.

“In the summer of 1943 I was a ‘trip counselor’ for a boys camp in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. I had taken 6 boys on a camping trip and on the itinerary was a visit to Monhegan Island even though the war was on and the complete island and lighthouse were blacked out. We sailed from Thomaston on the mail boat… We walked to the lighthouse and after a brief discussion with the Coast Guardsman on duty, he said he would allow us to stay and sleep inside until 5 a.m. the following morning because regulation forbid entrance inside but since we all (mostly the boys of ages 12-14) looked so forlorn. He also said there were German submarines off the coast.”  From a letter from Harry Cohn dated August 21, 1995.


Monhegan Press, 20 Nov. 1939, p.1.

In a letter to summer resident, Warner Taylor, Elva Brackett worried about the submarines keeping summer friends away from the island.

“Planes go over us nearly every day, both land and water species. I hope this Atlantic submarine menace does not keep our good friends away this summer. I believe we are safer here than those in the large cities. Nothing here that they’d come that far to bomb.”  January 31, 1942.