The History of InfoAge Science & History MuseumsWorld War II & Radar - The Caves of Camp Evans
The Caves of Camp Evans
This story is based upon documentation found in the National Archives in a Project Report classified as secret. It was declassified and we have a copy at the Infoage archive.
Upon showing the report to Mr. Sam Stein, he laughed and stated he never thought “this would see the light of day.”
The Caves of Camp Evans By Fred Carl After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor it took time for America to go on the offensive and to begin taking territory away from the Japanese Empire. The basic American and allied strategy was to attack islands held by Japanese forces, capture them and advance across the Pacific Ocean toward mainland Japan.
Before American marines would invade an enemy-held island, navy ships and planes would bomb the island and landing areas for hours. The invading marines and their commanders expected few enemy soldiers could survive the intense bombardment. They expected little resistance and often they landed with no resistance. Then they were attacked by Japanese forces who should have been eliminated. How did they have survived? The enemy was hidden deep in caves protected from the bombardment.
This was a problem costing lots of American lives. Enemy soldiers were coming out of these caves behind our lines. Hand grenades were thrown into the caves, flame throwers were used, but they did not reach deep enough. If explosives could be delivered deep in the cave the enemy could be eliminated.
How could explosives be delivered into a cave? WWII electronics were not miniaturized with transistors and integrated circuits. There were no robots. There were no smart weapons. There were just dump bombs that were thrown by men, dropped from planes, or shot by artillery. A solution was needed for a desperate problem.
A declassified report labeled ‘Wolf Project’ tells that in November of 1943 Camp Evans engineers began testing a way to deliver explosives deep into caves where they would be effective. The solution could be considered America’s first smart weapon.
Along with Watson Road and Laurel Gully Brook, simulated caves were created using piled telephone poles covered with earth. The Camp Evans shops designed special radio receivers that would detonate explosives when they received the correct signal.
Dogs and young pigs were trained to find food in caves. In combat, the ‘wolves’ were fitted with the radio receivers filled with explosives. When a cave was found that was suspected of harboring the enemy, a wolf was sent in. WWII was kill or be killed.
Not very humane, but consider the alternative of being shot while you slept, attacked from behind, or having an enemy sneak into your camp to destroy needed equipment and your fellow soldiers. The smarts in this smart weapon were provided by the ‘wolf’.
The Japanese also had a smart weapon. In contrast to using dogs, the desperate Japanese Empire used thousands of its sons to provide the smarts for their infamous smart weapon, the Kamikaze.
The WWII caves at Camp Evans are gone. But nearly thirty years later, Camp Evans would again be called upon to find a solution to the problem of enemy soldiers hiding underground to wait to attack American forces. This enemy was the Viet Cong and the problem was detecting their tunnels electronically. Yes, there were tunnels at Camp Evans. Details another day.
page created January 25, 2004
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