Category Archives: 120mm

Features 120mm fortress artillery

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 Oelegem

Description – Fort Oelegem is a concrete (armored) fort of the first order with merged caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the eastern sector of the Antwerp defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1909. Completion followed in 1912. Its design is similar to Fort Koningshooikt and is considered to be the strongest type of fort available to the fortress of Antwerp. It features a two merged caponnieres, two side cupolas and back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts and redoubts. It features a wet moat. To the northeast one finds the redoubt of Schilde and the redoubt of Massenhoven to the south. It guarded the Capine and later the Albert Canal.

Armament – Fort First Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 4x 75mm
  • 16x 57mm

Commander 1914 – Capt. Lannoy

Current condition – The Fort of Oelegem (Oeleghem) took part of defensive operations during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. It did not receive fire from German siege batteries. When the forts of Koningshooikt, Walem, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Lier and Broechem were disabled it lost its role. It intervened on October 5th when it opened fire on the fort of Kessel since the latter was occupied by German forces. The fort still has some original grafitti located at the former northern observation tower dating back to 1915. After the war it was refitted. During the last phases of the Second World War it served as a observation and command station to intercept V1 flying bombs launched at Antwerp. It still has some drawings and writings by American soldiers on the walls of the hallways dating back to 1945. The Belgian Army abandoned the fort in 1963. Today the fort is a premier habitat site for several endangered bat species. The fort can be visited upon request during the summer. The fort is in good condition as it is maintained by volunteers.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. Van der Cruyssen, J., Smeyers, J.; De Wit, G.

Contact Link – Fort Oelegem

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Fort Koningshooikt

Description – The fort of Koningshooikt is a concrete (armored) fort of the first order with merged caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the western sector of the Antwerp defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1909. Completion followed in 1912. Its design is similar to Fort Oelegem and is considered to be the strongest type of fort available to the fortress of Antwerp. It features a two merged caponnieres, two side cupolas and back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts and redoubts. It features a wet moat. To the northeast one finds the redoubt of Tallaart (Tallaert) and the redoubt of Bosbeek to the southwest.

Armament – Fort First Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 4x 75mm
  • 16x 57mm

Commander 1914 – Major Sapin

Current condition – The Fort of Koninghooikt was one of the major scenes of battle during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. The shelling of the fort started on 30st of August. One month later German and Austrian forces employed 305mm and 420mm siege guns that forced the garrisson to evacuate the fort on October 2nd. One day later German units occupied the fort. Battles ensued since the Belgian Army retreated to the Nete defense lines. After the Great War the fort was refitted. It became widely known since it was the most northern strong point of the so called “KW defensive line” (Koningshooikt-Waver-linie). The fort did not see any action during WW II and German forces used it as a storage facility. After the war it became private property. It housed a pub (dancing club) and today it is home to an airsoft and paintball venture (Fort Knox). The fort sustained considerable damage that can be seen to this day. The site can be visited and on the whole it is in average condition. It is an official heritage site.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, 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 Kapellen

Description – The fort of Kapellen is located near Kapellen guarding the railroad connecting Antwerp to Rosendaal. It is a small concrete fort.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1893 and. In 1897 the fort was considered completed but installing armaments took until 1900. Being a fort of the Hoofdweerstandstelling it features a smaller number of artillery cupolas than the full fledged forts nearby. It is surrounded by a wet moat.

Armament – Fort Kapellen

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

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The fort did not see any action 1914 and it was disabled by the garrisson when they retreated to the Netherlands. The fort was refitted during the interbellum. Today it is part of the army base of Brasschaat and a tank museum is located nearby. The fort is in quite bad condition since the moat has been filled on one part, the main building served as a practice shooting range. Some windows are bricked up. The site is off limits to visitors, a tour might be possible upon request. The fort cannot be accessed using the main entrance since a canine training association is located on this premises. A railway junction leading to the Polygon of Brasschaat runs next to the fort.

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 Kessel

Description – The fort of Kessel 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.  To the north one finds the Fort of Broechem (across the Kleine Nete river) and the Fort of Lier to the south (across the Grote Nete river).

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 Brasschaat. 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 and is part of the Hoofdweerstandstelling. It guards an isolated position in between two rivers.

Armament – Fort Second Order

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

Commander 1914 – Captain Piraux

Current condition – The Fort of Kessel sustained considerable damage during the Great War together with Fort Lier, Fort Broechem and Fort Koningshooikt. It was shelled by heavy siege artillery in 1914. The right wing of the main building has partially collapsed and breaches are found throughout the fort. Fort Kessel is involved in operations starting September 29th. On the 4th of October the fort was rendered disabled by continued shelling by both 305mm and 420mm siege artillery.  During the interbellum it was refitted. Because of its isolated position it was not included in the pillbox defense line which runs from Fort Broechem to the left bank of the Kleine Nete river at Lier. The fort has sustained major damage but can be visited. A dedicated heritage assocation has restored part of the fort and offeres guided tours upon request. The fort is in good condition and the sites of artillery impacts are very impressive. These elemets warrant a visit.

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 Ertbrand

Description – The fort of Ertbrand is a concrete (armored) fort of the second order with merged caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the northern corner of the Antwerp defensive positions. This fort guarded the frontier with The Netherlands and secured a strategic road to Bergen-Op-Zoom. To the east one finds the fort of Kapellen and the redoubt of Smoutakker 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 Breendonk, Fort Broechem 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.

Armament – Fort Second Order

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

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The Fort of Ertbrand did not participate in combat during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. It did suffer from damage done by the garrisson when the fort was evacuated. In 1917 it became part of the German Hollandstellung (north). During the interbellum the fort was refitted and the wet moat became part of the anti-tank canal (1939). During the Second World War it briefly became the theater of skirmishes between Canadian and German forces when the latter retreated to Rosendaal (1944). The fort is in reasonable condition. Since it is private property it cannot be visited. It features original writings on the wall of the hallways by German and Belgian soldiers who occupied the fort. To the east one can still find almost intact trenches and earth work defenses in a nearby forest (Mastenbos).

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt Landmolen

Description – The redoubt of Landmolen was built in the western sector of the Antwerp Fortified Position on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It is considered to be a standard concrete redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling. It did not participate in fighting during the Great War. It was refitted by the German army in 1917 when allied forces were able to increase the pressure on the western front. To the north Fort Haasdonk is located while Redoubt Lauwershoek guards the southern flank.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. Its design is based on the standard configuration featuring several artillery pieces. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Haasdonk located to the north. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun planned. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling on the left bank of the river Scheldt; its main task was to secure the intervals between the forts. To the south one finds Fort Steendorp.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun (only 1 piece installed in 1914)
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Commander 1914 – Lieutenant Pierard

Current condition – The redoubt of Landmolen did not participate in fighting during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. When the fortress of Antwerp had to be evacuated by the Belgian Field Army the garrison tried flee to the Netherlands (Hulst) were they were disarmed and put in custody. Others tried to keep up retreating to the defense line of the canal Ghent-Terneuzen. The redoubt was disabled by the garrison when evacuated. It was occupied by German forces shortly thereafter and refitted because an allied breakthrough at the western front seemed imminent (October 1918). The redoubt is located in a small forest which makes it almost invisible to identify from a distance during spring and summer. Some parts were converted to living quarters and most of the redoubt housed a mushroom growing facility. The redoubt is in relatively good condition and most features are still intact and the 75mm gun placement is still there. The wet moat has been filled with earth. Near the redoubt One can still find prints of sand bags (filled with oplaster/concrete) probably dating back to either 1914 or 1918. Local farmers remove these prints and collect them near the roads since they damage farming machines. Several bunkers were built in the vicinity but were tipped over by local farmers. There is some evidence that a (small) railway existed near the redoubt. The site is private property and is considered off limits to visitors.

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