Lionel Gilgo

– Beaufort, NC
Portsmouth Island Resident

As a young child, Gilgo lived on Portsmouth Island, a remote barrier island off the North Carolina coast with a population of just 36 people, where horse and cart was the means of transportation and people lived off the sea. In early 1942, the island’s peaceful existence was shattered by explosions offshore that rocked homes, set the horizon aglow and swept supplies and bodies ashore. German U-boats were wrecking havoc in the shipping lanes of the Atlantic. While Lionel was excited by this and the large, silvery blimps that patrolled offshore, the adults would talk themselves into frenzies over the prospect that Germans might invade. Lionel Gilgo is one of the few remaining survivors of Portsmouth Island and often speaks about its history.

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