Pulpit Rock Battery 951 Observation Tower
The tower, formally known as Pulpit Rock Battery 951, was a Base-End station. It was one of many Gun Battery Fire Control Towers along the New Hampshire and New England coast that were created and/or manned between 1942 and 1946. The eight-story concrete tower was finished in June of 1943 on 0.44 acres of land owned by the Federal Government. It was part of the Portsmouth Harbor Defense Command to coordinate with other Base-End Stations, a line of sight on enemy ships for Fort Dearborn's two 16-inch guns in the battery. The guns were never used until test fired in 1944, and then were quickly retired.
Battery 951 was broken down as such: The 8th story was used for Battery 204; the 7th story for the 103/Seaman, and the roof deck was used by the Anti-Aircraft Intelligence Service (AAIS OP7), OP for operations. Although called the Pulpit Rock Battery, it does not stand on Pulpit Rock, but is near the ledge and cliff on the ocean, called Pulpit Rock, not far from the tower. Base-End Towers were replaced by radar and were rendered useless after the war, except for possible backup in the event of radar failure.
Over the years, ownership of the old Battery 951 Tower has passed through a few hands. From the Federal Government through eminent domain, to the U.S. Navy for harbor defense, later loaned to the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department to observe illegal clam diggers, and now in the hands of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Today, Battery 951, is abandoned and the home of birds and bats. There is no entry for safety reasons.
There were six WWII Towers on the New Hampshire coast between Hampton to the South, and Rye to the North: Great Boars Head; Rye Ledge; Ragged Neck; Concord Point; Pulpit Rock and one on Appledore Island on the Isle of Shoals, not counting the Gun Battery at Fort Dearborn. The only documented sinking of a U-boat close to New England occurred on May 5, 1945. U-853, under the Command of Helmut Frömsdorf, was depth charged after torpedoing and sinking the steamer collier USS Black Point off Newport, Rhode Island. U-853 went down with all hands on board off of Block Island, Rhode Island. Largely intact and upright, it is a favorite spot for SCUBA divers in 130 feet of water.
However U-boats did prowl off the New Hampshire and New England coast during the war and were a real threat. Prior to the above event, U-853 attacked and sank the patrol boat USS Eagle 56 on April 23, 1945 off Portland, Maine. At the end of WWII with Germany in May of 1945, five to seven U-boats were reported to have surrendered to the U.S. Navy and were towed to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to be studied. Among the U-boats that surrendered and were towed to Portsmouth were U-234, U-805, U-873, U-1228 and a few others. U-505, captured before the end of the war, was also towed to Portsmouth and so it escaped being used for target practice and being sunk. It now is part of a walk-on exhibit in Chicago at the Museum of Science & Industry. It is the only U-boat on display in North America. For 63 years this proud old structure, Battery 951, has stood as a testament to the Greatest Generation.