Flagler Beach and other Flagler County beaches played a pivotal role during World War II. Watchtowers were setup to patrol around the clock. They kept a watchful eye for German U-boats that would come close to the United States shores. Their patrol from air, water and ground made the United States impenetrable to Nazi Germans during the war.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, horse patrols began to spring up in the United States. These patrols covered most beaches. Mounted horse and donkey patrol became one of the most effective ways for the United States Coast Guard and military to keep the United States safe from Nazi German attacks.
Horse patrol was setup in the 1940s on Flagler beaches. The coast guard horse patrol was known as the “Sand Pounders”. Horses and donkeys were effective because they could more easily navigate the sands on the shoreline. Two volunteers were trained with horses or donkeys and a dog to form their local team. A coast guard station was located at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. Watchtowers were manned by volunteers watching for German U-boats and German submarines in the area. Most of the volunteers came from Army Reserve cavalrymen and retired military. Horses have not been used since World War II by the United States Coast guard.
The importance of these patrols by foot and by horse are not recognized enough for their value during the war. They looked for anything suspicious from ships to the smaller U-boats to aircraft and submarines. Their patrols helped to stop communications between any craft spotted at sea and anyone on United States soil.
Flagler Beach Coast Guard played an important role in deterring Nazi U-boats from landing on shore. The Nazis knew about the patrols and opted not to attempt an attack onshore as a result.
Flagler Beach airport was also important. United States military aircraft took off from Flagler Beach airport and dropped 100-pound incendiary bombs offshore to help protect United States shipping interests from Nazi Germany’s attacks.
In 1942, Nazi teams were discovered being put ashore by Nazi German U-boats on the shores of Florida. Nazi Germans literally went unscathed for some time patrolling the Gulf of Mexico easily. Americans have no idea just how infiltrated the Nazis were in Florida. The severity of the situation was kept quiet. 70 ships in Pearl Harbor were destroyed, many of them coming to and from Tampa. The Nazis sunk seven ships coming to and from Tampa, Florida. these attacks took place close to Stuart, Florida. Other beaches that saw live warfare were Vero beach, Jupiter Beach, and Flagler Beach.
Capt. Reinhard Hardegen was charged with leading the attacks in the United States. The Nazi “Operation Drumbeat” lasted from May 1942 through April 1943. Hardegen claims that the United States was not well protected at all and that they had their choice of targets on United States shores. The Nazis literally came onto shore without too much difficulty. Nazis lines the shores of the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico until patrols were solidly put into place. The United States government kept the Nazi attacks on United States soil and offshore a secret for the entire duration of the war.
Pearl Harbor was the symbol of attack on American soil by the Japanese, but the Nazi German U-boat attacks were not only more damaging, but more serious on an infiltration level. Flagler Beach Coastguard and the Coastguard across the United States proved to be so important at deterring Nazi German attacks on United States soil, they should be credited today with helping to thwart a full-on invasion.