The “Veiligheidsstelling” or safety defensive line features updated brick forts and concrete redoubts. In case the main defensive position was breached this line should be able to slow down enemy advance.
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.
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.
Description – Fort IV is located near Mortsel and next to an important railroad that connects Antwerp with Brussels, Mechelen and the Campine region.
Construction & Armament – Fort Mortsel is considered to be a typical brick work Brialmont defensive structure. It is also known as fort Cpt. Wagner, and fort Oude God (Vieux Dieu). The fort features a wet moat, a central reduit, artillery entrance. It is the only fort that is equipped with rear defensive brickwork structures. Just before the great war it was reenforced with (unarmed) concrete.
Current condition – The fort itself is in good condition due the fact that the Belgian Army (ABL) continued to occupy the fort after the Second World War until 1980; it was nominated as a site of heritage and some parts have been restored. You can visit the fort free of charge during office hours but the central reduit is not always accessible.
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.
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 damage. The fort was demolished in 1958 when the port of Antwerp expanded to the left bank of the Scheldt river.
Description – Fort III is located near Borsbeek and close to the airport of Antwerp (Deurne).
Construction & Armament – Despite its name it was the first Brialmont fort to be built. Hence it has several features that are not found at other forts. It features a moat with water, a central reduit but the caponnières located at the flanks are unique. It was reenforced with concrete.
Current condition – The fort is in bad condition since the Belgian Army abandoned the site in 1975 but some parts can be visited freely. The central reduit is badly damaged and the moat has been filled. Luckily the unique flanking caponnières are still present. Some construction works by the German forces during WO II are present. Since the fort is located close to the commercial airport of Antwerp, an expansion would require parts of the fort to be demolished.
Description – Fort II is located in Wommelgem. It was part of the veiligheidstelling and sometimes erronously identified as Fort Borsbeek.
Construction & Armament – This fort was constructed between 1859 and 1864 as Brialmont brick fort. It features a moat with water and a central reduit. It was based on an altered design of Fort III since it featured an armoured coupola at the central reduit (never built).
Commander 1914 – Capt. Baudelet
Current condition – In 1914 the fort had to send reinforcements to Fort I Wijnegem since part of the garrison had deserted. To the south it commanded the Redoubts I and II. When these were abandoned the guns were disabled and the fort was evacuated on October 9th. Part of the garrison reached the Netherlands. Fort II has largely been preserved but some parts have been demolished. The Belgian Army left the site in 1975. Later the community of Wommelgem was able to buy the terrains and the fort. The reduit is in good condition and can be visited since it houses several recreational clubs. A sports field was constructed filling part of the moat.
Description – Fort I was located in Wijnegem close to Antwerp. It was built to secure the access to the city guarding the main road to Turnhout and the Campine Canal.
Construction & Armament – This fort was a premier example of a Brialmont brick fort. It features a moat with water and a central reduit.
Commander 1914 – Capt. Raulier
Current condition – During the initial phase of the Great War and the siege of Antwerp in 1914 a part of the garrison left the fort. The fort commander and 70 other men remained so Fort II Wommelgem had to intervene. 100 additional soldier were dispatched. It was demolished in 1959 by the Pauwels construction firm.
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.
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.