War on The Home Front

Members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

While North Carolinians fought overseas, its coast was under attack as well. German submarines or Uboats lurked off shore, picking off merchant ships that were easy prey when silhouetted against the lit-up coastline. Lionel Gilgo was a child living on Portsmouth Island not far from Cape Hatteras, where the treacherous waters became known as “Torpedo Junction.” Gilgo still remembers how the houses shook and windows rattled, causing residents to go outside to look for the red glow from yet another ship being hit. People were scared that Germans would even come ashore. Soon, blackouts were required. Margaret Rogers, a child in Wilmington at the time, remembers blackouts well – especially after one night when she peaked through a closed Venetian blind in their dining room, popping it in the process. A soldier immediately knocked on their door and as Margaret tells the story, her embarrassed mother made certain that did not happen again!

“There were ships being torpedoed and sunk, people getting killed. Everywhere you went, every home you went into, there was talk of “Wonder how many ships will be sunk tonight and how many explosions we’ll hear.” – LIONEL GILGO

Videos

In 1942, torpedoes began wreaking havoc along NC’s coast as German submarines started targeting ships transporting oil and supplies.

Rob Holliday tells the story of Helen Snapp, a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, who flew military aircraft during World War II

Lionel Gilgo, a child living on Portsmouth Island during World War II, recounts his first experience with a dirigible.

In this excerpt, hear from local civilian Marie Colton and her remembrances of “Dan the Dog.”

In this excerpt, civilian Marlene Blake talks about being evicted to make way for Camp Lejeune on the WWII homefront.