Tag Archives: Temse

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 garrissonĀ  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 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.