Tag Archives: Steendorp

Redoubt Lauwershoek

Description – The redoubt of Lauwershoek was built in the western sector of the Antwerp Fortified Position on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It is considered to be a standard concrete redoubt of the hoofdweerstandstelling but features a slightly different design. It did not participate in fighting during the Great War. It was refitted by the German army in 1917 when allied forces were able to increase the pressure on the western front.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1909 and 1912. Its design is based on the standard configuration featuring several artillery pieces but one of the towers of the main building is built closer to the entrance. The redoubt featured a wet moat and during war time the garrison entailed units from Fort Steendorp located to the south. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. It was part of the hoofdweerstandstelling on the left bank of the river Scheldt; its main task was to secure the intervals between the forts. To the north one finds the redoubt of Landmolen.

Armament – Hoofdweerstandstelling Redoubt (Asymmetric design)

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

Commander 1914 – Lieutenant Stevelinck

Current condition – The redoubt of Lauwershoek did not participate in fighting during the siege of Antwerp in 1914. Some munition was transferred from the redoubt in order to replenish Fort Bornem and Fort Liezele. When the fortress of Antwerp had to be evacuated by the Belgian Field Army the garrison tried flee to the Netherlands (Hulst). Most of the garrisson  were able to keep up with the army retreating to the defense line of the canal Ghent-Terneuzen after disabling the guns of the redoubt. It was occupied by German forces shortly thereafter and refitted because an allied breakthrough at the western front seemed imminent (October 1918). The asymmetrical design might be contributed to the fact that the fort of Steendorp is located a bit more to the south. It is private property had is being used to shelter farming animals (cows). The redoubt is in relatively good condition and most features are still intact (the 75mm gun placement is still there although filled with dirt). The wet moat has been filled with earth. One can still find prints of sand bags (filled with plaster/concrete) probably dating back to either 1914 or 1918. Several bunkers were built in the vicinity. The existence of the redoubt might be in danger since the site was marked for sand reclamation.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. Van Meirvenne, R;

Fort Steendorp

Fort Steendorp
Fort Steendorp

Description – Fort Steendorp is close to the Steendorp community on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It is one of three forts constructed in order to safeguard Antwerp just before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war. It was constructed in order to secure strategic bridgeheads for the Belgian Army. It guarded the left bank of the river Scheldt and is constructed on a hill top. Initially referred to as Fort Rupelmonde it was the last brick fort constructed in Belgium.

Construction & Armament – Construction started in 1882 and completion, after some setbacks, was heralded in 1892. It is the last brick fort constructed but also the most expensive one (two milion gold francs). By the time it was completed it was considered outdated because of new artillery. Building the fort on top of a hill proved to be cumbersome. The soil proved unstable and was not able to support the full weight of the brick works. Because of this, a planned coupola was never installed and concrete refitting was deemed risky. The fort features a central reduit and offers an unique feature: a dry moat surrounding the fort. Because the fort guards the bridgehead of Rupelmonde-Wintham several annex batteries were constructed. Next to this the fort offers a caponniere and two half caponnieres featuring unique designs. Two very deep drilled water wells served as an emergency drink water supply.

Armament –

  • ?x 120mm fortress gun
  • ?x 150mm fortress gun
  • ?x 210mm mortar (?)

Current condition – The fort did not suffer a siege during the Great War but during the retreat of the Belgian Field Army to the Canal Gent-Terneuzen it was damaged by the garisson. During the interbellum a military factory was built to produce war gasses (poison gas). The main building sustained heavy damage and the artillery entrance is partly destroyed. The dry moat has changed into a wet moat due to insufficient maintenance. The surviving parts of the fort are amongst the most remarkable and beautiful examples of brick defensive structures. The caponniere features oreillons and the overall aestethics are simply impressive. The annex batteries have been, to our current knowledge, been demolished. The fort currently serves as a hibernation site for bats.

CAUTION: This site can be visited upon request but is not freely accessible. Some parts of the fort are flooded by rising ground water and the dry moat is very treacherous.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.