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War Begins: Air Patrol

Freddie Faulkingham, Monhegan School circa 1940. Fred’s father, John, was the lighthouse keeper on Monhegan from 1945-1951.

The United States Army Air Force built several airfields in Maine to be used as training sites. The pilots and crews studied enemy tactics and field identification along with learning how to fly combat mission.

Planes dip often over Monhegan, sometimes dropping messages to be radioed at the signal, or notifying the island of a small boat in distress. The island is well patrolled from the air. It is in a strategic position. Rumors circulate–but so far nothing of importance has developed.

“Monhegan Donates World War I Shells for Salvage.” Portland Sunday Telegram and Sunday Press Herald, 6 September 1942.

From the WikWak guestbook, 1943. “Sept 3. – Kingfisher appears. and at 10.30 A.M. a plane passed overhead shooting at a towed target with machine gun. A crash below and the S.E. bathroom window was pierces and various articles in the room were demolished.”

Fred Faulkingham recalled the Navy planes near Monhegan in this interview from 2004.
Nick Nelson described target practice by the Navy planes in this interview from the year 2000.

In time, the sound of heavy bombardment–our own armed forces training for battle, could be heard all around us at any time of the day or night. Every morning, three planes roared over the house from the east. I never knew where they came from, where they were going, or what their mission was. All I knew was the time: 7:00 a.m., and they were punctual.”  “World War II.” Monhegan Memories, by Clara Burton, Impatiens Press, 1998, p. 78.

From the WikWak guestbook, 1942. “On the whole a very wet summer until the middle of August – but from the 17t to Sept. 9th no rain. Summer population 25% under normal-several cottages vacant, several island boys off in the service, scout planes a plenty, coast guard patrol-”no” cameras. No sea activity. Food a problem.”