Category Archives: 1906

Constructed in the wake of the Belgian Law of 1906

Fort Liezele

Description – The fort of Liezele 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 Puurs on the left and the Redoubt of Letterheide 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 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. Fiévez

Current condition – The Fort of Liezele took part in the siege of Antwerp in 1914 but not suffer from any bombardment .  The nearby village of Liezele is burnt to the ground in order to allow the fort to control the entire surrounding area. It would also prevent any German forces to occupy the village and thereby gaining a small bridgehead. When the Redoubt of Letterheide wants to surrender the fort commander threatens to open fire on deserters. On October 10 the commander surrenders the fort after an appeal by the city of Antwerp’s civil authorities.

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 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.

Redoubt Puurs

Description – The redoubt of Puurs (Puers) was built in the southern sector of the Antwerp Fortified Position. It is considered to be a standard concrete redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling. It did not participate in fighting during the Great War.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. It was a standard design featuring several artillery pieces. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Bornem to the west or Fort Liezele to the east.  One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling; its main task was to secure the intervals between the forts and guard the railroad Boom-Puurs-Dendermonde.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Commander 1914 – Capt. Coune

Current condition – The redoubt of Puurs saw only limited action during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. When the fortress of Antwerp had to be evacuated by the Belgian Field Army the garisson tried to reach Dendermonde (Termonde) or tried to cross the Scheldt river at Bornem. During the interbellum it was not refitted with . Today it houses a environmental protection association. It is one of the rare examples of redoubts that still show their original name above the entrance.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt Schilde

Redoubt Schilde
Redoubt Schilde

Description – The redoubt of Schilde was built in the eastern sector of the Antwerp Fortified Position. It is considered to be a standard concrete redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling. It did not participate in fighting during the Great War but it was completely destroyed by the garisson when they evacuated the position.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. It was a standard design featuring several artillery pieces. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Oelegem to the south or Fort ‘s Gravenwezel to the north.  One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling; its main task was to secure the intervals between the forts and guard the road to Turnhout.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – The redoubt of Schilde did not participate in operations during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. When the fortress of Antwerp had to be evacuated by the Belgian Field Army the garisson subsequently destroyed the redoubt. This standard procedure would prevent German forces to occupy the redoubt. During the interbellum it was refitted and bunkers (pillboxes) were constructed and the redoubt was connected to the anti-tank ditch. In 1961 the redoubt lost its military role. Today it can be visited freely but some parts are overgrown.  A fishing club is located nearby.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. De Wit, G;

Redoubt Audaan

Description – The redoubt of Audaan (Audaen) is located  built to secure the interval between Fort Brasschaat and Fort Schoten. It is a standard redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling built near ‘s Gravenwezel. It did not see any action during the Great War and was left intact by the retreating garisson.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat .  One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – The redoubt of Audaan was propably intact when the Great War ended. It is not know weither interbellum upgrades were applied but is still private property thus and off limits to visitors. The redoubt was transformed in to a living home. The concrete facade has been restored. During the interbellum it did not receive a connection to the anti-tank ditch located more to the northeast.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt Dryhoek

Description – The redoubt of Dryhoek was built between Fort Brasschaat and Fort Schoten. Named for the Dryhoek (Driehoek) commune it secured the road to Breda (Bredabaan) and is a standard redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling. It did not see any action during the Great War as it was lost to German forces on 9th of October (and possibly partly rendered useless) by the retreating garisson. Later it was incorporated in the 1917 Hollandstellung.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Brasschaat or Fort Schoten.  One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – The redoubt of Dryhoek did not see any action in 1914 but it was probably evacuated on 8th of October. Records show that it might have been partly destroyed. In 1917 it became part of the Hollandstellung of the German Army since they feared an allied invasion from The Netherlands. During the interbellum it did not receive a connection to the anti-tank ditch located more to the northeast. It is not know if the redoubt was refitted with bunkers (pillboxes) since the location of the anti-tank ditch is quite a distance to the northeast. After the Second World War is became private property; today club Dixies (Dicies Nouveau) is located in the redoubt. An extra level has been added to the existing two stories redoubt layout.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt Smoutakker

Description – The redoubt of Smoutakker was built in the northern sector of the Antwerp Fortified Position. It is considered to be a standard concrete redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling. It did not participate in fighting during the Great War but it was completely destroyed by the garisson when they evacuated the position.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery pieces. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Ertbrand to the east or Fort Stabroek to the west.  One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling; its main task was to secure the intervals between the forts and guard the road to Bergen-Op-Zoom (The Netherlands)

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – The redoubt of Smoutakker did not participate in operations during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. When the fortress of Antwerp had to be evacuated by the Belgian Field Army the garisson blew up the redoubt. This standard procedure would prevent German forces to occupy the redoubt. When the powder magazine exploded the commanding officer and one soldier were killed on October 10th. Two refugees who fled Antwerp were killed by debris. During the interbellum it was refitted and bunkers (pillboxes) were constructed and an anti-tank ditch was dug. During the Second World War some skirmishes between allied and German forces were recorded. The German army placed S-mines in the area surrounding the remains of the Smoutakker redoubt in 1944 covering their retreat to Rosendaal. This lead locals to refer to it as the “redoubt of death” since several people were injured and killed in the following years. Casulaties included both military personel as civilians. The site of Redoubt Smoutakker was declared safe on June 5th 1947 after years of mine clearing by the Belgian Army and German POWs. Today it can be visited freely but is largely overgrown. It is owned by a nature preservation association since 1999.

Sources – Own elaboration; Fox, Z.

Redoubt Massenhoven

Description – Close to the Campine Canal the redoubt of Massenhove was built. Sometimes referred to as the canal redoubt it secured the interval between Fort Broechem to the south and Fort Oelegem to the north. It was a standard concrete redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling. After the Second World War it lost its military importance.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery pieces but it is possible that additional earth works were erected to secure the canal. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Broechem or from Fort Oelegem.  One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Commander 1914 – Lieutenant Jottrand/Major Fraikin

Current condition – The redoubt of Massenhove saw only limited action during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. As far as our sources indicate it did not take any damage by 305mm and 420mm artillery contrary to the nearby fort of Broechem . On September 16th Major Fraikin assumed command of the redoubt. The garrisson opened fire towards the village of Nijlen in order to prevent German forces to take one of the bridges over the Kleine Nete river (6th). The commander ordered the redoubt to be evacuated on October 7th. The garrisson crossed the Campine Canal and managed to reach Beveren. During the interbellum it was refitted and bunkers (pillboxes) were constructed since it became part of the KW-defensive position. By that time the Capine Canal was being replaced by the Albert Canal so it is possible the redoubt served as a strongpoint for other canal bunkers. It was not involved in fighting during WW II. It was demolished when the Antwerp Water Works (AWW) constructed a water basin on the site of the redoubt (1976).

Sources – Own elaboration; Antwerpse Water Werken.

Redoubt Tallaart

Description – The redoubt of Tallaart is located between Fort Lier and Fort Koningshooikt. It is typical concrete redoubt built to secure the interval between the forts. As part of the hoofdweerstandstelling it was fully armed and was the scene of intense fighting during the siege of Antwerp.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery pieces. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Koningshooikt or from Fort Lier.  One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt

  • 4x 120mm fortress gun
  • 5x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – The redoubt of Tallaert 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 the defenders destroyed the main building when the position was abandoned. The eastern wing has been completely wrecked.  During the interbellum it was refitted and bunkers (pillboxes) were constructed since it became part of the KW-defensive position. The damaged redoubt was sold after WW II and the wet moat has partly been filled with earth and dirt. Remains of the redoubt are private property.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.