Category Archives: Concrete

Structure was made out of unarmed concrete

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.

Fort Stabroek

Description – The fort of Stabroek 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 Bergen-Op-Zoom (The Nederlands) and part of the Scheldt river.

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 ‘s Gravenwezel but features a smaller number 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 Stabroek 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) 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 of Smoutakker to the east and the Redoubt of Berendrecht to the west (part of the Scheldt river defensive positions). In 1944 it was damaged due to skirmishes between Allied and German units when the latter retreated to Rosendaal (the battle for the Scheldt river ensued short time later). Today it houses a paintball and airsoft venue (Stafort) and can be visited during opening hours. The fort still has original German wartime sings and markings.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt Bosbeek

Description – The redoubt of Bosbeek is located close east of the village Sint-Katelijne-Waver. It lies close to the redoubt of Dorpveld to the west. Further to the east lies the fort of Koningshooikt. It is a unique half redoubt and mirrors the design of Dorpveld; both were built to secure access to the village and guarded the road to Antwerp. Both redoubts are part of the hoofdweerstandstelling.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912 just before the outbreak of the Great War and in tandem with Dorpveld. It is thus 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 had one 75mm gun installed.

Armament – Half Redoubt

  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – The redoubt of Bosbeek was involved in heavy fighting during the siege of Antwerp in 1914 as was its counterpart Dorpveld. Shelling by 305mm and 420mm artillery close to the redoubt took place. The redoubt was left relativity undamaged. During the interbellum it was refitted with heavy machine guns. Since 1998 is has become a protected heritage site. Much of the redoubt has been overgrown and access is quite difficult. The redoubt is private property.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

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.

Blauwgaren Battery

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.

Armament –

  • 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.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R; Oliviers, T.; Documentatiecentrum Antwerpse Noorderpolders