Published in The Coast Star on December 8, 2005
During World War II, Camp Evans was the home of Army radar development. And while one would expect all the work to be done inside the security fence,surprisingly, the north edge of the Camp Evans parking lot, now a favorite coffee-break spot of local utility workers and persons walking their dog, there were at least three giant radar towers and five or six buildings outside the security fence.
Photos in a declassified technical manual show this section of Camp Evans. For security reasons the location of the photos was not specified. The manual is dated December 1942, just a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The towers were early-warning radars that could detect enemy planes up to 150 miles away. They had obscure names like SCR-271-D, which stands for Signal Corps Radio number 271 model D. A model D and a model A were located near the intersection of Monmouth Boulevard and Watson Road.
They were just a few feet from a massive concrete guy-wire anchor remaining from one of the six 400-foot-tall 1912 Marconi wireless towers. Those towers ran from Marconi Road along Monmouth Boulevard to near Hurley Pond Road.
Upon examining the photos closely, one will note the buildings are painted with a camouflage pattern. At this point in the war there was concern enemy planes would target the Wall Township radar site for bombing.
A sign on the SCR-271-D reads “SCRL I & M School.” We do not know what the “I & M School” was.
Today, only the building constructed of concrete block has survived. In the grass on either side of it, one can see the concrete footings of the old radar towers. All the others buildings were of wood construction and are long gone.
Other SCR-271 radar units once protected major U.S. cities and Army bases around the world. The first ones were put into service to protect both ends of the Panama Canal.Throughout the war, Camp Evans personnel were responsible for upgrading the SCR-217 radar around the world with advanced components and making sure the radars could not be “jammed” by enemy equipment.
Though the radar towers were outside the security fence one can see today, they were well protected. Armed military police with guard dogs patrolled the grounds and Monmouth Boulevard was closed to civilian traffic north of Taft Street.
The declassified manual with the link to the past was given to the InfoAge archives by Ray Chase, of Plainfield. Mr. Chase is a founder of lnfoAge, a member of the New Jersey Antique Radio Club, and a collector and expert in historic World War II-era radar equipment.
Thanks to Mr. Chase, the mysterious concrete building of unknown origin by the big parking lot can take its place in World War II history.
page created January 12, 2007