Did you know the Reduit Base was completed in December 1941 and it occupied 221 acres of estate land plus seventeen acres at Morne Pimant and the southern side of Pigeon Island?
It was used as a communication base named ‘Peter Item’.
All the buildings were constructed with prefabricated steel frames, pound concrete foundations and decorative plaster interiors.
There were barracks for 300 men, quarters for 25 officers, a ten-bed temporary medical center, a mess hall and kitchen, power plant, cold storage plant, two industrial buildings, two timber piers, two timber ramps, three magazines, a concrete parking apron, a large concrete water catchment areas with two tanks for rain storage and ten steel tanks for gasoline.
The three magazines were built on the hill to the south of the base. The Reduit swamp was partially filled in using half a million cubic yards of sand from the bay and over this reclaimed land, a public road to Gros-Islet was constructed just outside the chain link fence that encircled the base.
Strict security measures were enforced and the public were compelled to use the new road instead of taking shortcuts through the base.
Did you know on February 01, 1942, Reduit base formally became a naval air station?
It functioned as a sub-station of the Trinidad sector and would service a squadron of twelve VP airplanes; however, it never handled more than four or five of amphibious planes at once.
There was a navy complement of six officers and 46 enlisted men, plus a marine corps of three officers and 49 men.
They undertook patrols, convoy and rescue missions in the Windward Islands and were responsible for the surveillance of Martinique.
In addition, 74 St. Lucians were employed at the Reduit base, in jobs varying from powerhouse foreman – Lionel Ellis, truck driver – Walter Alleyne, to cook – Joseph Louis and mess hall officer – Altenor Joseph.
Source: A history of St. Lucia by Harmsen, Ellis & Devaux – 2012
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]