Category Archives: Armament

Features the type and number of artillery pieces

Blauwgaren Battery

Description – The battery of Blauwgaren was a coastal defensive structure located near Lillo (port of Antwerp) built in 1911. Its namesake dates back to earlier forts and redoubts during the Dutch war of independence against Spanish forces. This concrete coastal battery was constructed to prevent an enemy naval force sailing up the river Scheldt.

Construction & Armament – This coastal battery comprised several earth works, four gun platforms and a concrete main building. The southern flank remained open but the surrounding area could be inundated when necessary.

Armament –

  • 4x 120mm Coastal Gun (M1913)

Current condition – In 1914 Blauwgaren Battery didn’t participate in any operation but the Belgian Army command of Antwerp ordered the garrison to destroy the guns and the main building on the 8th of October. German forces occupied the site and built five bunkers during the Great War to close the Scheldt access. Remains of the battery and the German bunkers were displaced during the 1953 flood. In order to close breached dykes sand and dirt was retrieved from the earth works. Remains of the battery were burried and levelled when the port of Antwerp expanded in following years. The presence of munition could not be confirmed nor denied.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R; Oliviers, T.; Documentatiecentrum Antwerpse Noorderpolders

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Defensive Dyke

Description – The defensive dyke connects the fort of Zwijndrecht to the south with fort Fort Saint Mary to the north. It was built to allow the left bank of the river Scheldt to be secured by an inundated area. It is considered to be part of the military road connecting the forts and redoubts of the veiligheidstelling. It features two strong points: the lunet of Halve Maan and the redan of “Put van Fien” and measures approximately 2600m in total length.

Construction & Armament – Construction of the dyke commenced in 1871 together with the military road encircling Antwerp. East of the dyke the area could be flooded when a siege would take place. West the Borgerweertpolder area allowed a defending army to take refuge. It did not see any action in 1914 since the Siege of Antwerp was centered on the right bank of the Scheldt river.

Armament – Based on “Halve Maan” and “Put van Fien”

  • ?x 90mm

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The defensive dyke did not see any action during the Great War. Since no forts north of Fort Haasdonk were built it was argued that the defense of the left bank would be centered on the defensive dyke and nearby forts. When it lost its military role it was kept as a safety barrier in case of floods. In 1953 a flood damaged part of the dyke. In order to close breached dykes near Kallo much of the earth works of Halve Maan were removed. Today it still marks the administrative border between the provinces of Antwerp and Eastern-Flanders.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Fort ‘s Gravenwezel

Description – The fort of ‘s Gravenwezel is a concrete (armored) fort of the second order with detached caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the upper north of the Antwerp defensive positions. This fort guarded the main road to Turnhout together with the redoubt of Schilde.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1902. In 1907 it was considered to be completed. Its design is similar to Fort Sint-Katelijne-Waver and Fort Stabroek and features a full range of of artillery cupolas. It features a detached reverse caponniere, two side caponnieres and back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts and redoubts. It features a wet moat.

Armament – Fort Second Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 4x 75mm
  • 2(?)x 57mm

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The Fort of ‘s Gravenwezel did not see action during the Great War. Some damage to the fort was inflicted by the retreating garrison. Later it became part of a German defensive position from 1917 onwards (Hollandstellung Nord) and a garrison continued to occupy the fort until the armistice of 1918. In 1939 an anti tank ditch was built connecting the fort with the Redoubt Schilde to the south and Redoubt Audaan to the north. The fort became private property after the Second World War. Today it is a trailer residence site. Some parts of the fort are still visible but a general visit to the fort is not possible. The fort is considered to be in bad condition as much of the original layout was altered.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort Berendrecht

Description – The fort of Berendrecht is a concrete fort built on a dyke near the village of Berendrecht close to Zandvliet and Stabroek.  It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the northern sector of the Antwerp defensive positions.  Also referred to as the redoubt of Berendrecht it is considered to be a coastal defense site of Antwerp. Nearby areas could be flooded if under threat by an advancing army. The fort is sometimes known as Fort Frederic (Fort Frederik) for the now gone dwelling located within the former fort Henrik-Frederic.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1878. Completion followed in 1888. Its design is similar to Fort Oorderen differs only in details. The Fort features a wet moat surrounded by the dyke, a main building with a cupola, an entrance building and two traverses. To the west one find the river Scheldt and Fort Stabroek to the southeast.

Armament – Dyke Fort

  • ?x 150mm fortress gun
  • ?x 120mm fortress gun
  • ?x 75mm
  • ?6x 57mm

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The Fort of Berendrecht did not see action during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. It was most likely rendered useless by the garrisson when they evacuated the fort. It is unknown if the fort was refitted during the interbellum but since the German army built the Hollandstellung in 1917 this might be plausible. The Belgian Army abandoned the fort in 1961. During the expansion of the port of Antwerp in the 1960’s the fort was demolished and its remains were covered by earth. . No traces can be found in the landscape.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort Bornem

Description – The fort of Bornem is a concrete (armored) fort with an unique design. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the south-east corner of the Antwerp defensive positions. This fort guarded the bridgehead of Wintham and the river Scheldt. To the east one finds the Redoubt of Puurs and Fort Steendorp to the north. Guarding the strategic bridge (crossing) of Temse and railroad to Antwerp proved to be invaluable to the Belgian Army in 1914.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1906. In 1914 it was considered to be completed. Its design is unique as it features a hybrid setup. Merging elements from the dyke forts and classic concrete forts it is referred to as a concrete fort with cupolas on the flanks/site. It features a wet moat and the unique design might be attributed to the fact that it’s location is quite isolated and due to its mixed role. Some might consider it to be a dyke fort on steroids.

Armament – Fort with Cupola’s on the flanks

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • ?x 120mm fortress gun
  • ?x 75mm
  • ?x 57mm

Commander 1914 – Capt. Rasquin / Capt. Jallay

Current condition – The Fort of Bornem did not participate in major fighting in 1914. It stopped the advance of the German Army (4th Erzats Division) and proved crucial since it was able to keep the the strategic railroad Antwerp-Boom-Temse open. The Belgian Army was able to evacuate the fortress of Antwerp using this railway and the bridge over the river Scheldt at Temse. This allowed for a retreat to positions defending the Canal Ghent-Terneuzen. On October 10th the fort surrendered after an appeal from the Antwerp civil authorities and after rendering useless most of the fort. Today the fort houses recreational associations and clubs (fishing). Part of the fort is being restored while others are a protected habitat for bats. Considered to be in more than reasonable condition its unique design warrants a visit.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort Brasschaat

Description – The fort of Brasschaat is a concrete (armored) fort of the second order with attached reverse caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the eastern corner of the Antwerp defensive positions. The fort has the same design as Fort Kessel. To the east one finds the Fort of Kapelles and the redoubt of Dryhoek to the southwest.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1906. In 1914 it was considered to be completed. Its design is similar to Fort Kessel and differences are only found in details. Being a fort of the Hoofdweerstandstelling it features a smaller number of artillery cupolas than first order designs. It has an attached reverse caponnieres and a back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts. It is surrounded by a wet moat, later an anti-tank ditch was constructed. To the northeast one finds the Brasschaat Polygon military site and base.

Armament – Fort Second Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 6x 120mm fortress gun
  • 8x 75mm
  • 18x 57mm

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The Fort of Brasschaat did not see any action during the siege of 1914. The garrisson evacuated the fort and retreated to The Netherlands. In 1917 it became part of the German Hollandstellung (nord). It was refitted during the interbellum and a anti-tank ditch was constructed, some locks are located nearby. After the Second World War the fort was decomissioned although it remaind a military site. The Belgian Army conducted explosives practice on the fort; the left wing of the fort has been partly destroyed. The fort is in average condition but is off limits to visitors.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort Breendonk

Description – The fort of Breendonk is a concrete (armored) fort of the second order with merged caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the southern corner of the Antwerp defensive positions. This fort guarded a strategic railroad towards Antwerp. To the east one finds the Redoubt of Letterheide and the inundation of Heindonk (Heyndonck) to the east.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1906. In 1914 it was considered to be completed. Its design is similar to Fort Liezele, Fort Broechem and Fort Ertbrand. It features a smaller number of artillery cupolas than first order designs. It features two merged caponnieres and a back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts and redoubts. It features a wet moat.

Armament – Fort Second Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 6x 120mm fortress gun
  • 8x 75mm
  • 18x 57mm

Commander 1914 – Capt. Weyns

Current condition – The Fort of Breendonk was hit by 305mm siege artillery during the Great War. On October 8th a final bombardment cripples the fort. It surrendered the same day when the commander was mortally injured and the fort had used up almost all ammunitionThe German army occupied the fort but in 1918 it got disarmed. During the interbellum it serves as a depot and a strong point for infantry units. During the German invasion of Belgium in 1940 it served as the headquarters of King Leopold III. It acquired a grim shortly thereafter as it was transformed into a concentration camp. After the liberation in 1944 it served a short time as a prison. Today it is a national monument to the victims of WO II. The fort is considered to be in good condition but most of the earth works were removed (1940-1944) and the setup of the fort was altered to serve the role as concentration camp.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort Broechem

Description – The fort of Broechem is a concrete (armored) fort of the second order with merged caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the eastern corner of the Antwerp defensive positions.  To the north one finds the redoubt of Massenhoven and the fort of Kessel to the south.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1906. In 1914 it was considered to be completed. Its design is similar to Fort Breendonk, Fort Ertbrand and Fort Liezele. Being a fort of the Hoofdweerstandstelling it features a smaller number of artillery cupolas than first order designs. It has two merged caponnieres and a back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts and redoubts. It is surrounded by a wet moat and is part of the Hoofdweerstandstelling.

Armament – Fort Second Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 6x 120mm fortress gun
  • 8x 75mm
  • 18x 57mm

Commander 1914 – Captain Van der Eycken

Current condition – The Fort of Broechem sustained considerable damage during the Great War. It was shelled by heavy siege artillery in 1914; the traditoire battery was hit as was the main building. On the 7th of October the defenders left the fort and regrouped near Zwijndrecht. During the interbellum it was refitted and pillboxes between the fort, Fort Kessel and the redoubt of Massenhoven were built. They are still present in the landscape. The fort can no longer be accessed using the main entrance, part of the moat has been filled with dirt. After WW II British forces occupied the base. Fort Broechem is still an army base and the Province of Antwerp owns the nearby terrain.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort De Perel

Description – Fort De Perel was located near the river Scheldt  at Kallo, now located in the port of Antwerp. It was named after an earlier fort built by Spanish forces and subsequent Austrian military commands at rougly the same location. It was built to secure the access to the river together with fort Saint Mary and fort Saint Philip. It was considered to be a coastal fort or battery.

Construction – This fort was designed for coastal defense and has the same basic design as fort Saint Pilip. It features a dry moat, a central reduit with three armoured coupolas which were powered by steam kettles. Because of unstable soil the fort was built using long wooden piles/beams. A gunpowder magazine was located at the landside entrance and deviates lightly from the Saint Philip design.

Armament –

  • 3 Coupolas (never installed)
  • 4x 240mm coastal heavy artillery (never installed)
  • 2x 280mm coastal heavy artillery (never installed)

Current condition – Fort De Perel was probably left undamaged in 1914.  In 1944’s it was used as a storage facility by the German army for sea mines. When they were forced to retreat they detonated the remaining mines causing damageThe fort was demolished in 1958 when the port of Antwerp expanded to the left bank of the Scheldt river.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R., Oliviers, T.

Fort Duffel

Fort Duffel
Fort Duffel


Description –
The fort of Duffel is a small fort built in order to secure the railroad between Antwerp and Brussels. It is a hybrid fort equipped with armored cupolas. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the southern sector of the Antwerp defensive positions.  To west one finds the fort of Walem and the fort of Sint-Katelijne-Waver to the east. It held out for a considerable time during the siege of 1914.

Construction & Armament – The fort had brick walls and concrete vaults. It is considered to be a hybrid fort. Initally its design featured only earth works (1888). Later it was armed with cupolas and concrete protection covering the brick underground hallways (1894). The fort is surrounded by a wet moat and features three cupolas (1x2x150mm and 2x1x57mm).  It was formerly known as the Railway Redoubt (redoute du chemin de fer) later as the small Fort of Duffel (fortin de Duffel).

Armament – Fort Duffel

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 6x 57mm fortress gun

Commander 1914 – Lieutenant Hastray

Current condition – The Fort of Duffel was besieged in 1914. The fort held out for a considerable time while positions at Walem and Sint-Katelijne-Waver were lost. The garrisson destoryed part of the fort when they were forced to evacuate on the 3rd of October. The traditoire battery still shows considerable damage. It was not refitted during the interbellum and did not participate in any operations during WW II.  German forces stripped most of the metal from the fort. The fort was sold to a construction firm when the Belgian state declassified the entire site. For some time it remained in the same condition as during its abandonement. The fort was purchased by the Province of Antwerp and has become a heritage site. Today it can be visited; it offers information to visitors and some exhibitions are held. Several restorations and repairs have been carried out (e.g. the brigde has been rebuilt). These efforts have given back much of its former splendor. It is quite good overall condition.

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Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.;