My Wife and I will be hosting a 4WD run along a HISTORIC 4WD trail called the Pole Line Road. It was constructed in 1942 through an alliance between Mexico and the United States in order that the USA would be allerted to Axis presence in the Sea of Cortez.
4WD Run Information - November 19-21 (or 23rd San Felipe), 2011
Published article on the actual route...
Mexico and the Defense of California
American concern for the security of Mexico was intimately related to the extent and proximity of any threat to United States territory. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the security of Baja California became a matter of acute interest to the United States. Just as lend-lease was a manifestation of American interest in the security of Mexico, so the measures taken by General DeWitt and General Cardenas, singly and jointly for the defense of the United States' southwest and Mexico's northwest were concrete expressions of Mexican cooperation in the defense of the United States.
There were three fields of activity in which the defense of California involved joint action with Mexico: first, the placing of aircraft detector stations in Baja California; second, the building of airfields and highways there; and third, the formulation of joint plans by General DeWitt and General Cardenas.
The proposal to establish radar stations in Baja California grew out of a study made by the GHQ Air Force early in 1941, disclosing that vital areas in the southwest, near the Mexican boundary, could not be adequately covered either by a ground observation system or by radar detectors in American territory. "An enemy desiring to attack Southern California," a later Air Forces report stated, "may be expected to be aware of the limitations of our Aircraft Warning Service, and will make his approach over or from Mexican territory. " 74 The Air Forces therefore recommended taking steps to obtain Mexico's permission to establish at least two detector stations in Baja California. These views were brought to the attention of the War Plans Division sometime in April. Without denying the merits of the proposal, the War Plans Division informed the Army Air Forces that the moment was not propitious for discussing the subject with the Mexican staff representatives, then in Wash-
ington. The Air Forces continued to agitate the matter during the next three months, only to receive the same reply: "The War Department considers it inadvisable to submit to the Mexican representatives a request to station detachments of U.S. Army armed and uniformed forces in Mexican territory, as it is convinced that the Mexican Government would reject such a request at this time." 75 In framing the War Plans Division reply, Colonel Ridgway, then serving as one of the American staff representatives, noted, "there is no probability of securing Mexican consent . . . at least until an Axis attack is delivered or imminent." 76
No action was taken until 3 December 1941, four days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the American staff representatives presented their Mexican colleagues with a proposal for an immediate reconnaissance of Sonora and Baja California for the purpose of locating sites for radar stations. Although it was agreed that the necessity of using the installations might never arise, the American representatives nevertheless proposed that the preliminary steps be taken at once and that small mixed groups of United States officers and Mexicans, in civilian clothes, should survey the area within two hundred miles of the border for access roads and radar sites.77 An appeal on 8 December brought a reply from President Avila Camacho the same day giving full permission to make the reconnaissance and install the radar stations. To the original purpose the Air Staff had, however, added that of investigating rumors of Japanese airfields and fuel caches. A separate party under Maj. A. P. Ebright conducted the Air Staff survey, entering Mexico on 16 December. An attempt by the War Department to identify the Ebright mission with the radar station reconnaissance no doubt contributed to the initial confusion and suspicion that attended it.78 Although no signs of enemy activity were uncovered, the Ebright party remained in Mexico until the end of January to investigate suitable sites for landing fields, to report on the availability of water and other supplies along the route of communications from the border south, and in general to add to the Army's store of information about the area.79 As the immediate post-Pearl Harbor frenzy subsided and as the scope and positions of the Ebright mission became clarified,
General DeWitt's Western Defense Command headquarters gave it firmer support against the continued skepticism at the headquarters of the Southern California Sector.80 Meanwhile, other groups had crossed the border, and had tentatively chosen sites for radar detector stations at Punta Salispuedes, 20 miles northwest of Ensenada; Punta San Jacinto, 125 miles south of Ensenada; and Punta Diggs on the northeast coast of the peninsula.
With all this activity going on, the issue that had threatened the negotiations over staging fields the previous summer-whether Mexico would permit the entry and stationing of armed and uniformed American soldiers promised to become a hardy perennial. On the earlier occasion, it had been solved by accepting the Mexican position, and when the proposal for the reconnaissance of Baja California was presented to the staff representatives on 3 December the wearing of civilian clothes by the soldiers making the survey was accepted by the American representatives as inescapable. The first draft of the instructions for `the reconnaissance, drawn up on 9 December for the Chief of the Army Air Forces, stated, "United States personnel will be limited to officers and they will wear civilian clothing," but at the suggestion of G-2, and with the concurrence of Colonel Ridgway, this particular restriction was deleted.81 Because of the United States' belligerent status, it was no longer appropriate. General DeWitt was especially insistent that no soldiers cross into Mexico unless in uniform and armed, but the point was not raised with Mexican representatives in Washington. Consequently, the Ebright group was turned back at the border and not permitted to cross until the men changed into civilian clothing and left their weapons behind. Sometimes, depending on the attitude of the local Mexican commanders, American parties were permitted to enter the country in uniform, but never under arms, and not even the excellent personal relations that existed between General DeWitt and General Cardenas could bring about a definite acceptance of the American view. The War Department as well as the Department of State took the position that, unsatisfactory though it might be to send American soldiers into Mexico in civilian clothes and without arms, to arrive at an impasse with Mexico and risk having permission to install the radar sets refused would be even more undesirable. Accordingly, on 20 December General DeWitt was authorized to accede to Mexican wishes in the matter. His efforts to obtain a less dangerous and more face-saving solution