Category Archives: 75mm

Features 75mm fortress artillery

Redoubt Dorpveld

Redoubt Dorpvel
Redoubt Dorpvel

Description – The redoubt of Dorpveld is located south of the village Sint-Katelijne-Waver. It lies close to the redoubt of Bosbeek to the east. To the west one finds the forts of Sint-Katelijne-Waver and Walem. Is is a unique half redoubt and mirrors the design of Bosbeek. Both defended the village and a main road to Antwerp. It is a part of the hoofdweerstandstelling.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912 just before the outbreak of the Great War. It is one of two half redoubts in existence. It features a wet moat and only one side (flank) is armed with artillery pieces (2x 120mm and 2x75mm). One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it has one 75mm gun installed.

Armament – Half Redoubt

  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 3x 75mm

Current condition – The redoubt of Dorpveld was involved in heavy fighting during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. Shelling by 305mm and 420mm artillery close to the redoubt took place, but it held out for one week against overwhelming odds. Its defenders fought to the last man even after they ran short of ammunition. In 1931 a monument was erected commemorating their valiant sacrifice. The redoubt, although a bit damaged is well worth a visit since it was restored to good condition. During the interbellum it was upgraded with heavy machine guns. Today it is private property but the main features are easy to see from a distance.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort Sint-Katelijne-Waver

Description – Fort Sint-Katelijne-Waver is located near Mechelen. It was the first concrete fort to be constructed. It features a wet moat and a detached reverse caponniere; Fort ‘s Gravenwezel is her only counterpart. Fort Groenstraat or Fort Midzele are known to be common nicknames. It was built to secure access to Antwerp guarding the village of Sint-Katelijne-Waver (Wavre-Sainte-Catherine) and the strategic railroad between the two cities. West one finds Fort Walem and to the east two half redoubts (Dorpveld and Bosbeek) were built. Close to the fort a railroad offered logistics support.

Construction & Armament – Construction started in 1902 and completion was scheduled for 1914. It is concrete (armoured) fort 1st order and the first one to be constructed at the hoofdweerstandstelling. A back (traditoire) caponniere secures the intervals between the forts while the wet moat is guarded by a detached reverse caponniere. It is considered to be a medium-well armed fort.

Armament – Fort Ist Order

  • 4x 150mm fortress gun
  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 6x 75mm (only 4 were installed)
  • ?x 57mm

Current condition – The fort Sint-Katelijne-Waver was besieged together with Fort Walem. Because of shelling by 305mm and 420mm heavy artillery the fort is badly damaged. The entrance of the fort still bears the deep scars left in 1914. During the interbellum it was only partly restored. Today small dwellings are located on the fort. It can be visited without charge but the bad condition of the main building and post-war small buildings do not enhance its stature.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort Zwijndrecht

Description – Fort Zwijndrecht is located on the left bank of the river Scheldt near Zwijndrecht. It is officially referred to as Fort Colonel Brosius. It is a large brick fort with a trapezoid shape. It was constructed in order to allow the Belgian Army to conduct offensive operations on the left bank (Waasland). It is considered a unique fort since it does not feature a central reduit. Instead it commands a full fletched artillery battery. The surrounding area could be inundated, the fort of Kruibeke and the redoubt of Halve Maan (part of the defensive dyke) are located nearby.

Construction & Armament – Constructed started in 1870 and the fort was completed near 1880. It served as a base of operations for the entire left bank of the river Scheldt. Next it served as an arsenal for artillery pieces. Originally a brick fort it was upgraded with concrete by 1912. During the Great War it was not involved in any major operation.

Armament –

  • ?x 210mm fortress gun
  • ?x 120mm fortress gun
  • ?x 150mm fortress gun
  • ?x 90mm fortress gun
  • ?x 57mm fortress gun

Commander 1914 – Captain Verbiest / Lieutenant Vermeulen / Captain Olivier

Current condition – In 1914 the fort did not take part in direct hostilities although it seems a German spy named Paul-Auguste Ehrardt was apprehended and was put to death by a firing squad in the fort. He was interred in the Zwijndrecht church yard. German forces occupied the fort during the Great War and added a railway junction to the fort. From 1919 onwards the fort houses a munition production facility (Ateliers de Fabrication des Munitions). During the occupation of 1940-1944 a German factory (Whüle) takes over most of the activities. The fort is in mint condition and named after the Belgian commander Brosius during WW II. It still has all original structures and buildings within the fort. Some features are not found in any other fort. The site is still occupied and maintained by the Belgian Army and serves the role of ammunition dismantling facility. WARNING: This site cannot be visited. The Belgian Army employs regular armed patrols with dogs and access is restricted. The moat of Fort Zwijndrecht is filled with ammunition that contain warfare gasses (poison gas). This gasses are kept stable by the moat’s water level and constant temperature.

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