Crusty old Joe's

Kodiak Alaska Military History

The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum

George Reynolds

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Long Island and Kodiak, AK... 
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 22:07:43 -0500 

In your article about Ft. Tidball on Long Island, you wrote,

Fort Tidball was active during World War II on Long Island, adjacent to the city of Kodiak on Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA. All land on Long Island was procured by the government on June 14, 1941. The island is now entirely owned by Lesnoi Inc. and is only reachable by chartered boat from Kodiak. It's about a half-hour trip. There are no facilities on the island. All of these building have been abandoned since 1945 except for some informal recreational use. The headquarters complex buildings are completely gone.

Just wanted to let you know that your information is in error... Long Island was an active part of my duties at Kodiak from January, 1947 until September, 1949. The 6" guns and turrets as well as the 4- 8" guns at Miller's Point and Cape Chiniak were routinely maintained until they blew up the 8" guns in November of 1948.. I have a few pictures of the remains of the 8" weapons after they were destroyed... The majority of my pictures of the weapons have been lost or destroyed along the years but I do have a shot of the breech rings of one of the 8" guns after destruction and I think I have a snapshot of an 8" gun and the old plywood weather covers they were in for years after the war.. These were on the Miller's point and Cape Chiniak guns.

For a couple of years or more before the weapons were destroyed (8" guns) the breech blocks, mushroom heads or spindles and firing mechanisms were removed from the weapons and were stored inside the ammunition magazine.They simply placed them in a section of a cut off oil barrel and covered them with cosmoline to keep the metal from rusting.. We checked them on a regular basis when doing routines on the weapons..

The 6" guns were maintained until I left the islands in September, 1949 and I would imagine for some time after that too... They had several hundred rounds of ammunition in the bunker that we were working on to repaint and restencil when I was sent back to the states...

I am going to try to send you 4 pictures and identification in separate letters... ..

If I am ever lucky enough to find my lost pictures, I will try to get you some copies forwarded, with identification, if they will be of benefit to you. I tried this some years ago but could never make the scanner work then... Now, with a new and different computer and scanner, maybe we will have better luck..

George W. Reynolds

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image005.jpg 
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 21:56:53 -0500 
This is the old Army pier on Long Island at high tide... The tide fall would leave a lot of the bay high and dry when it hit the low tide... I think you are probably used to that by now...We used to dig clams here when that happened...

Huge truck tire sized halibut were seen in the bay now and then....We took several nice 18 to 30 inch fish from just outside the harbor mouth.

This picture was taken from the rear of the mess hall and living quarters that we stayed in during our time on the island...

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image003.jpg 
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 21:41:29 -0500 
One of the breech rings from one of the 8" guns about a week or so after they were destroyed in November of 1948.. These weapons were destroyed by a demolition group from Anchorage or the states, I don't remember which.. We were told that they stuffed the muzzles of the weapons with mud filled sandbags and then the explosives went into the chamber and lower end of the tube...Then the rest was packed with mud again and the whole mess set off...

We were working on Long Island at the time the Miller Point weapons were destroyed and we could hear the explosions from there..

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image004.jpg 
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 21:37:19 -0500 
This is one of the 6" guns on Long Island, looking out to sea...These were on a regular exercise routine as well as the 8" guns... Ammo and powder was on hand here too...

The power plant in the bunker consisted of 3- 5 cylinder Worthington diesel engines that were started by compressed air.. They each drove a 440 volt DC generator if my memory serves me right.. Auxiliary power and lights were established in the power unit area by two other units, one driving a compressor and the other a 220 volt AC generator for overhead lights..

After some 50 + years, my memory may be a bit off but I think this was the setup for local power at the guns

All wet cell batteries for the telephone exchange were removed and placed in one of the two hangers located at the foot of Mt Barometer near the air strip on Kodiak.....

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image002.jpg 
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 21:29:57 -0500 
One of the 8 " guns with the weather resistant covering...This was made of plywood and covered with roofing or tar paper...The doors just had a hasp and a small padlock most of the time..

The weapons were on an exercise program that required that they be elevated and then depressed and were also traversed a certain amount each month to insure functioning..

Ammunition in the bunkers was kept clean, dry and inventoried on a regular basis..Both HE, Armor Piercing projectiles were on hand as well as powder bags stored in water tight containers at the time I worked on these weapons..

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject:  Long Island and Kodiak, AK... 
Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 23:00:24 -0500 
If I remember correctly, all 4 of the 8" guns had plywood and tar paper shelters over them.. I seem to remember them being nearly identical for all practical purposes..

The 6" guns at Ft. Tidball did not have anything to protect them from the elements.. In fact, when we did use the power from the bunker to exercise then now and then, we had a little problem getting the electrical motors to function.. They just sat in one position too long I guess..

Most of the time the 6 inchers were operated manually for exercise...

Now for what I hope is a pleasant surprise... I recently found a box containing what I think is most of the 35 mm film negatives that I took at Kodiak.. I have yet to check it out but if it is what I hope it is, we should have access to just about every picture I took on the island... I just hope it is not too fragile to reproduce from... The containers have been sealed and I think moisture proof..

I have pictures of the J-boat we used for transportation to and from Long Island if some of those would be of value..

The other weapons from Puffin Island, Kodiak and Long Island that were used for other defensive purposes, .50 Cal, .30 Cal, 40 mm and 90 mm's, that were for anti-aircraft use were stored in one of the two Army Hangers at the foot of Mt Barometer.. We also had 10 - 60" searchlights and their power supplies there too..All wet cell batteries for the telephone exchanges from the three outlying gun locations were kept there too...That way, we maintained a constant liquid level and the proper gravity on them.. Seems to me that we put them on trickle charge too but I can't be sure of that...

Having a wedding to attend and some other business will take me out of town until about the end of the month.. When I return, I will shake out the film cans and see what we have...


From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image011.jpg 
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 11:11:31 -0500 
Hi Joe,

Here are a couple of pictures taken the day of the demolition of the Miller Point's 8" guns.. You can see that the demolition crew has removed the muzzle covers and were getting ready to fix the charges.. The tar paper and plywood weather protection covers show up well here too... I have no idea who the GI is on the gun barrel.. The crew was not from our organization...


From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image012.jpg 
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 11:18:27 -0500 
Forward section of one gun tube after the blast.... As you can see, these guns were of the "Built Up" version...

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image013.jpg 
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 11:21:07 -0500 
Center section of one gun tube.. Not being there, I don't know which gun this was...I had given my camera to one of the Demolition Crew and he took the pictures for me...

From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Emailing: image014.jpg 
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 11:26:32 -0500 
This is the remains of the carriage of one of the guns...The picture was taken from the front of the carriage to the rear...Notice the breech ring in the background... This gives you an idea of the force used to destroy the gun tubes and mounts..

I think this is probably the last of the pictures I have of the Miller's Point guns but if I find any more I will try to forward them to you...


From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Re: Kodiak gun bunkers, your questions... 
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 12:03:56 -0500 

In regards to the bunkers at Miller's Point... I do not recall them being heated in any way.. In that we did not have power to the positions when they were idle, there was no provision for the heaters or dehumidifiers as far as I know. I do know that the 6" gun position on Long Island had water on the floors about 80% of the time when it was open... It got to be such a problem that we had one GI almost get electrocuted when a switch box shorted out when he flipped it on... Naturally, he was standing in about 2 inches of water...

The powder canisters were always elevated as well as the shells on the high racks so they were out of the water but what dripped from the ceiling was always a problem...We could always smell the gun powder when we opened the magazines.. That sort of tells you that something was leaking somewhere... You will notice that all the positions have explosive proof lamps in them, the regular light bulb inside a glass shield... I feel that the potential was always there for a good explosion if the magazines were not vented before they flipped the lights on...

As far as I know, all the ammunition bunkers at Miller's Point were empty except for the gun position. I don't remember any 6" or 8" shells or powder back at Ft Greely.. We had several magazines in the Buskin River area but they were mostly used for small arms ammo..

The Fire Direction center bunker located at Miller's Point used to have a small Koehler generator that provided power for normal use until one resident of Kodiak took it upon himself to remove the equipment... I do remember that he was caught, convicted and I understand sent to prison. In that we didn't make runs to Miller's Point when we were at Long Island or Chiniak, that left plenty of time for people to rummage around at the point... As a general rule, things were pretty well left alone during the times we made occasional runs to the locations...

Now that I have you thoroughly confused, I had better leave while I can.. Hope the pictures get there OK, if not let me know and I will resend...


From: George W. Reynolds    Geowreynolds (at)>
Subject: Contact... 
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 06:48:46 -0500 
Hi Joe,

Thanks for the info on the pictures... In that they were taken by the demolition crew for me, I didn't really have any first hand information on "when and where" you know... I will mark them as being at Chiniak and we will know where they are from for a change..

In fact, I don't think I visited the gun positions more than a couple of times after they were destroyed... Most of our work was at Long Island after that and then I was reassigned to work out of the motor pool about 4 months before I left the island..

You mentioned the old tent city on one of your articles... My gang was involved in the cleanup of that place.. When it was abandoned, they left stacks of scrap lumber, tar paper and canvas all over the place... Of course the concrete floors were there too as they probably are now.. Anyway, the brass at the Army said just to stack up the trash on the concrete slabs and burn it.. And then true to our duties, we did just that... We found several live 20 mm shells, one 75 mm and several other bits of odd and end junk...I tell you that because after we started the fires to burn the trash as we were told to, there were two or three explosions.. This scared the heck out of us after finding the ammunition.. In the long run, we found that the concrete was exploding...Probably the results of moisture trapped inside it.. I had never heard of concrete doing that until that time.. Once was enough... The rest of the trash was piled up on the ground and burned...

I might add too that the Army brass caught heck from the Navy..They sent 3 crash trucks in a hurry to the smoke and flame..They thought there was an unauthorized aircraft on fire at the end of the strip... With the old tent city so close to the end of the runway, they had a valid reason I guess... Anyway, the Navy really chewed on the Army for a while.. >From then on, we had to notify them of any fires in the vicinity of the airstrip..

Sometime back I mentioned that I had found some 35 mm film and would review it... Well so far, it is stuff that I took at Aberdeen Maryland, Ft Sill, Oklahoma and Ft. Hood Texas... Still looking for the Kodiak films that I know exist somewhere...

I see that you are a ham too... That's great... Maybe after I get moved and get my station back on line, we can hook up for a QSO... Would love to have an eyeball but that will have to wait... The call here is W5TXB in case you are interested...

In fact, a ham that lived on Woody Island, Frank Devereau (?), KL7FC, was nice enough to talk to me in Kodiak about ham radio many years ago... It was through him that I really got interested in it.. I spent several hours listening on an old Hallicrafters SR 20 from Special Services after that...

See you,


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Main index This page created 2003 May 13, updated 2009 June 8