Tag Archives: Massenhoven

Fort Oelegem

Description – Fort Oelegem is a concrete (armored) fort of the first order with merged caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the eastern sector of the Antwerp defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1909. Completion followed in 1912. Its design is similar to Fort Koningshooikt and is considered to be the strongest type of fort available to the fortress of Antwerp. It features a two merged caponnieres, two side cupolas and back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts and redoubts. It features a wet moat. To the northeast one finds the redoubt of Schilde and the redoubt of Massenhoven to the south. It guarded the Capine and later the Albert Canal.

Armament – Fort First Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 4x 75mm
  • 16x 57mm

Commander 1914 – Capt. Lannoy

Current condition – The Fort of Oelegem (Oeleghem) took part of defensive operations during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. It did not receive fire from German siege batteries. When the forts of Koningshooikt, Walem, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Lier and Broechem were disabled it lost its role. It intervened on October 5th when it opened fire on the fort of Kessel since the latter was occupied by German forces. The fort still has some original grafitti located at the former northern observation tower dating back to 1915. After the war it was refitted. During the last phases of the Second World War it served as a observation and command station to intercept V1 flying bombs launched at Antwerp. It still has some drawings and writings by American soldiers on the walls of the hallways dating back to 1945. The Belgian Army abandoned the fort in 1963. Today the fort is a premier habitat site for several endangered bat species. The fort can be visited upon request during the summer. The fort is in good condition as it is maintained by volunteers.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. Van der Cruyssen, J., Smeyers, J.; De Wit, G.

Contact Link – Fort Oelegem

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.