World War II Coastal Defenses
at The Aransas Pass
In the late 1700s, the U.S. began a coastal defense system to protect ports and strategic points. Texas, which became a state in 1845, featured several Gulf Coast sites that would prove important in U.S. Military engagements in the 19th century and later. In March 1941, before the U.S. entered World War II, the War Department created the Southern Defense Command (SDC) as part of its National Defense System. Led by Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, the SDC included the Southern U.S. coastline from North Carolina to Brownsville.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941), the U.S. increased defense efforts along the Texas coast, which included several military bases as well as key wartime industries. A month later, in what may have been a false alarm, a German U-Boat, or submarine, was reported just miles off the entrance to the Aransas Pass. The SDC dispatched a temporary field artillery battery of the 2nd Infantry Division to Mustang Island, where they set 105-MM Howitzers. In April 1942, relief came to these troops when Battery E, 50th Coast Artillery Regiment arrived. The new troops remained until October 1942 and began emplacing two French-designed, 155-MM GPF guns on Panama mounts and building timber magazines, a commander station, searchlights and a camp for 360 men. Two companies later stationed there finished the work: Battery G, 20th Coast Artillery Regiment (Oct. 1942-Mar. 1944) and Battery E, 20th Coast Artillery Regiment (Mar.-Jul. 1944). In conjunction with the Coast Artillery, the U.S. Navy operated a harbor entrance control post. Officially designated as Temporary Harbor Defenses at Aransas Pass, the coastal defense complex just south of the South Jetty closed in July 1944, after enemy naval threats in the Gulf were no longer a concern.