Description – The fort of Jean Bart was located northwest of Antwerp on western side of the Borgerweertpolder and the main dyke of the river Scheldt. It was named for the French national hero and corsair from Dunkirk Jean Bart (Jan Baert). The fort never came close to completion. More to the south the fort of Stengel was also under construction.
Construction & Armament – Construction of the fort commenced in 1811. The fort was planned to have a five point star shape but when the project was halted only the outer ramparts were finished. The Scheldt dyke was connected to the outer defensive rampart of this fort.
Current condition – When Dutch rule was installed the fort of Jean Bart was far from completed and in 1814 works were halted together with Fort Stengel. It was argued that these positions, when taken and occupied by enemy forces, could serve as a base of operations to lay siege to Antwerp and block the river Scheldt access. Fort Ferdinand, located on the right bank closer to Antwerp (near Oosterweel), was deemed more suitable for the task at hand.
Sources – Own elaboration; Lombaerde, P.;
Description – The fort of Laar (Laer) was built on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was located next to the Borgerweertpolder and the village of Zwijndrecht. It secured the strategic Verbrandendijk road to the west.
Construction & Armament – Construction started in 1638 by Spanish forces aiming to secure the left bank.The fort features a square shape and features earth works. It was surrounded by a wet moat.
Armament – ?
Commander – ?
Current condition – The fort of Laer fell in disrepair during Austrian rule. On the Ferraris map of 1778 the fort is marked but seems to be in bad condition. In 1811 French forces constructed Fort Stengel a bit more to the east in order to secure the Borgerweertpolder and the Verbrandendijk road.
Sources – Own elaboration;
Description – The fort of Stengel was located west of Antwerp and controlled the entire Borgerweertpolder area. The road from Vlaams Hoofd to Zwijndrecht was secured by this fort but additional information is scarce. Based on its location it is to be considered a coastal defense fort. To the north one finds the construction site of Fort Jean Bart.
Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1811 featuring earth works (palisades). Based on maps and drawings it featured a half star-like shape. The design is based on a horn work and a small square shaped reduit. It featured a wet moat and the surrounding area could be inundated when needed.
Current condition – Some sources indicate that the fort was ordered to be demolished on 9th December 1816 while under Dutch rule. It was argued that an enemy advancing on Antwerp could capture the fort and use it as a base of operations. Other sources indicate that the fort continued to exist until around 1865. It was leveled presumably because the forts of Zwijndrecht, Kruibeke and Saint Mary were constructed or refitted. No known remains of this fort still exist today.
Sources – Own elaboration; Lombaerde, P.;
Description – Fort Zwijndrecht is located on the left bank of the river Scheldt near Zwijndrecht. It is officially referred to as Fort Colonel Brosius. It is a large brick fort with a trapezoid shape. It was constructed in order to allow the Belgian Army to conduct offensive operations on the left bank (Waasland). It is considered a unique fort since it does not feature a central reduit. Instead it commands a full fletched artillery battery. The surrounding area could be inundated, the fort of Kruibeke and the redoubt of Halve Maan (part of the defensive dyke) are located nearby.
Construction & Armament – Constructed started in 1870 and the fort was completed near 1880. It served as a base of operations for the entire left bank of the river Scheldt. Next it served as an arsenal for artillery pieces. Originally a brick fort it was upgraded with concrete by 1912. During the Great War it was not involved in any major operation.
- ?x 210mm fortress gun
- ?x 120mm fortress gun
- ?x 150mm fortress gun
- ?x 90mm fortress gun
- ?x 57mm fortress gun
Commander 1914 – Captain Verbiest / Lieutenant Vermeulen / Captain Olivier
Current condition – In 1914 the fort did not take part in direct hostilities although it seems a German spy named Paul-Auguste Ehrardt was apprehended and was put to death by a firing squad in the fort. He was interred in the Zwijndrecht church yard. German forces occupied the fort during the Great War and added a railway junction to the fort. From 1919 onwards the fort houses a munition production facility (Ateliers de Fabrication des Munitions). During the occupation of 1940-1944 a German factory (Whüle) takes over most of the activities. The fort is in mint condition and named after the Belgian commander Brosius during WW II. It still has all original structures and buildings within the fort. Some features are not found in any other fort. The site is still occupied and maintained by the Belgian Army and serves the role of ammunition dismantling facility. WARNING: This site cannot be visited. The Belgian Army employs regular armed patrols with dogs and access is restricted. The moat of Fort Zwijndrecht is filled with ammunition that contain warfare gasses (poison gas). This gasses are kept stable by the moat’s water level and constant temperature.
Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. Van Meirvenne, R; Lataer, J.;