Description – The fort of Berendrecht is a concrete fort built on a dyke near the village of Berendrecht close to Zandvliet and Stabroek. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the northern sector of the Antwerp defensive positions. Also referred to as the redoubt of Berendrecht it is considered to be a coastal defense site of Antwerp. Nearby areas could be flooded if under threat by an advancing army. The fort is sometimes known as Fort Frederic (Fort Frederik) for the now gone dwelling located within the former fort Henrik-Frederic.
Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1878. Completion followed in 1888. Its design is similar to Fort Oorderen differs only in details. The Fort features a wet moat surrounded by the dyke, a main building with a cupola, an entrance building and two traverses. To the west one find the river Scheldt and Fort Stabroek to the southeast.
Armament – Dyke Fort
- ?x 150mm fortress gun
- ?x 120mm fortress gun
- ?x 75mm
- ?6x 57mm
Commander 1914 – ?
Current condition – The Fort of Berendrecht did not see action during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. It was most likely rendered useless by the garrisson when they evacuated the fort. It is unknown if the fort was refitted during the interbellum but since the German army built the Hollandstellung in 1917 this might be plausible. The Belgian Army abandoned the fort in 1961. During the expansion of the port of Antwerp in the 1960’s the fort was demolished and its remains were covered by earth. . No traces can be found in the landscape.
Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.
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.
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.