Category Archives: 240mm

240mm Coastal defense gun.

Fort Saint Mary (II)

Description – Fort Saint Mary is located on the left bank of the river Scheldt close to Kalloo. It is named for an earlier fort built by Spanish forces during the siege of Antwerp in 1585. The fort was built to secure access to the city together with Fort De Perel (La Perle) up north and Fort Saint Philip to the northeast (right bank). It served as the headwaters of the Fortress of Antwerp on the 9th of October 1914.

Construction & Armament – Construction of the fort started in 1855 altering the existing design of the previous defensive structures. In 1858 the major works were completed. A coastal battery was built on the side of the fort close to the river. Between 1877 and 1878 an armored battery is placed on top of the existing battery building.  Later an underwater battery for torpedoes was built (1881-1882). It features a wet moat and the fort lies in an inundation area. To the south the fort connects to the left bank defensive dyke where one finds the redan (redoubt?) of Put van Fien.

Armament – Fort Saint Mary (III)

  • 6x 240mm (armoured battery)
  • 6x 210mm
  • 27x 150mm coastal gun
  • 12x 120mm coastal gun
  • ? x Whitehead torpedoes

Commander 1914 –

Current condition – The Fort Saint Mary has been altered several times. In all instances it was one of the spearheads of the coastal defense of Antwerp. When constructed the soil proved to contain organic material. In order to gain enough sand for the earth works a pond in the middle of the fort was dug. The armoured battery was one of the unique features of the fort but these have been removed. The presence of a torpedo battery next to the fort is also worth mentioning, remains can still be seen when the tide of the Scheldt is low. Today a secondary school is located on the fort, it served as an base for the Belgian Navy since 1861. This site can be visited upon request. Some of the original structures are still visible although a bit overgrown.

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 Saint Philip

Description – Fort Saint Filip is located close to the Scheldt river at the port of Antwerp. It was named for after an earlier fort built by Spanish forces and subsequent Austrian military commands. It was built to secure the access to the river together with fort Saint Mary and fort De Perel and is considered to be a coastal fort or battery.

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

Armament –

  • 3 Coupolas
  • 4x 240mm coastal heavy artillery
  • 2x 280mm coastal heavy artillery

Current condition – Fort Saint Philip was damaged in 1914 by its retreating garisson rendering the coupolas useless. During the 1960’s it was used to burn off waste oil of the nearby refineries. Hence it is in pretty bad condition, but remains are still visible. CAUTION: visiting the site is prohibited and considered to be very dangerous due to (chemical) waste on site and in the lower parts of the fort itself.

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