Freitag, 23. September 2011

The Belgian coast during World-war I

From November 1914 onwards, the "Marinekorps Flanderen" installed captured Belgian fortress guns and field-guns around Oostende and Zeebrugge.

This Corps was recruited in Germany before the war because an occupation of the Belgian coast was being considered. The Corps has been installed on 23rd Aug 1914 at the Belgian coast.

The "Marinekorps Flanderen" had a dual task. It's primary function was coastal defence. Several batteries were installed and between them there were infantry positions armed with machine guns.

Search-lights and tracers were used for nocturnal fights.

It's secondary function was protection of the ports, namely Oostende, Zeebrugge and Brugge. The submarine and sea-plane bases had to be defended. Therefore more heavy batteries were built around the sea-ports.

The batteries proved their usefullness when on the 23rd of April 1918, the British navy tried to block the ports of Oostende and Zeebrugge to stop the submarines from the Brugge base gaining access to the North Sea. The port estuary of Zeebrugge was only partially blocked and at Oostende the block-ships were destroyed outside the port by German batteries. The flagship on the Zeebrugge raid was the old cruiser Vindictive. On the 10th of May 1918 the raid was re-tried against Oostende with the Vindictive being used as a block-ship, it was sunk near the port estuary, but this caused no trouble to the German ships. Today, the bow of the Vinctive is a monument and lies next to the Oostende harbour lock.

The allied offensive started on the 28th of September 1918 and one day later Admiral Schröder was advised to consider the evacuation of the coast.

On October the 14th the Yzerfront was raised and on the 15th they started to retreat. Guns were demolished and the infrastructure of the ports of Oostende, Brugge and Zeebrugge were heavily damaged.

The Marinekorps withdrew via Eeklo to St-Niklaas and Lokeren where they surrendered on November the 11th. The corps was dismantled in Wilhelmsstad on December the 6th.

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