This letter is in reference to the July 4 Whidbey News-Times article titled, “A Ferry interesting history,” on page A2. The article mentions during WWII soldiers were stationed at the Ferry House. I would like to briefly expand upon that statement.
In the mid 1930s, alarmed by the increased military aggressiveness of Germany and Japan, the War Department developed Harbor Defense Projects (HDP) for updating and modernizing the U.S. Coast Defenses. The 1936 Puget Sound HDP Annex references Ebey Lodge as a candidate, among others on Whidbey Island, for an anti-aircraft operations and communications site. This candidate site evolved over the next several years into the Ebey’s Landing Military Reservation. By 1944 this included approximately 7.4 acres of leased land in and around Ebey Lodge and Island County Road No. X-51 (Ebey Road). On the military tactical map it was designated as Anti Motor Torpedo Boat (AMTB) site 3A.
The site consisted of four 90 mm guns, two in fixed concrete emplacements and two on mobile mounts, several sets of 50-caliber machine guns, a fire control station (which was still visible in the mid 1980s), portable radar set, 60-inch searchlight set (tactical #7), and a Beach Patrol station. Personnel from several batteries were stationed at Ebey’s Landing over time. In October 1944 it was manned by Battery A, 14th Coast Artillery Regiment with three officers and 99 enlisted men. Site 3A was under the command of the Harbor Entrance Command Post at Fort Worden. Under anti-aircraft fire control operations however, tactical command was transferred to the AAF 4th fighter command in Seattle. Support and supplies were provided by Fort Casey.
The guns were checked daily and competed in target practice exercises.
The gun dismount dates aren’t known yet but the Harbor Defenses of Puget Sound were deactivated on June 30, 1946 and by 1948 all guns were either scrapped or returned to the Rainier Arsenal. The concrete gun blocks at site 3A were blown up and buried on site.
We have no photographs or images of site 3A during WWII. Remnants at the site include small bits of concrete and barb wire and small pieces of the fire control structure.
Coast Defense Study Group
Whidbey Field Rep