FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Fort Flémalle

Page  12>
Author
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Fort Flémalle
    Posted: 01 October 2020 at 12:56
On september 20 I visited Fort Flémalle, one of the 12 forts of the pre WW1 defense ring around Liege, built between 1888 and 1892. It participated (unsuccessfully) in the defense of Belgium in WO1 and WO2. It is completely different in set up from the forts around Antwerp that I am more familiar with.

The middle part of the fort is a concrete 3 story building dug in a hill to the south-west of the city. This central part had several big gun turrets. Around this middle part there was a dry moat which on the city side had the entrance to the fort. In front (the enemy side) it had a couple of bunkers to defend against approaching ground troups. The entrance to the central part is also from the dry moat.

1: Main entrance, entering below the road level at the bottom of the dry moat



2: Entrance to the central fort from the dry moat


In the central for there is a hallway that ends with a staircase up one floor and another one down one floor. The lower floor mainly had rooms for storage of ammunition and gunpowder. The middle floor had several rooms where men could be housed and had the main machine hall (for ventilation and generating electricity). The top floor had the access to the gun turrets.

Since our group of photographers came with two expert fort guides from the Antwerp area the people of Flemalle quickly showed us the way in the fort, pointed out some risky spots (the stairs were not in the best condition) and afterwards they let us wander around freely for the rest of the day. So in the course of this thread I will show you several aspects of the fort and will start with the top floor and gun turrets

3: Right after the stairs to the top floor there was a big hall with a large mount of sand. That was kept there in case the fort got hit to build temporary cover to defend the holes in the outside (a nice theoretical solution that really didn't work too wel in practice).



4: At the other side of this hall we saw daylight coming in which is where one of the gun turrets was located. However all metal parts have been removed (scavanged), so it's now just a hole without a ceiling where the whole installation was standing



5: The entrance to the gun turret


6: Looking at the other side from the entrance



7: Inside the turret



8: A drawing and some photo's of how a gun turret looked before it was all stripped out


1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8: A7Rii + Tamron 28-200 Di III RXD
4, 7: A6000 + E10-18/4



More to follow
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
 



Back to Top
Almazar80 View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member

Joined: 16 May 2008
Country: United States
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Posts: 2692
Post Options Post Options   Quote Almazar80 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2020 at 16:49
It is nice to see these artifacts of yesteryear. We can't really travel right now, so your virtual tours of interesting places are both interesting and educational. It's great. Thanks for the narrative as well. And who know how much longer these places will be preserved?

When I was growing up, there was this sea wall near my great grandmother's house . It was crumbling but I used to walk on top of it. It was apparently part of Spanish fortifications that they built on the shore. Now, that wall is gone, along with the beach that it was on. Everything was filled up with soil to make way for a coastal road. Progress? In some ways. The inattention to history can be a very bad thing. It's good to see places like these preserved. It gives context to events in the past that should still be of import to people of today.

And the lack of planning with the landfill increased the likelihood of localized flooding, as the monsoon rains used to empty into a now non existent bay.
Back to Top
owenn01 View Drop Down
Alpha Eyes group
Alpha Eyes group

Joined: 20 May 2008
Country: United Kingdom
Location: Kent
Status: Offline
Posts: 10946
Post Options Post Options   Quote owenn01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2020 at 17:57
Hi Pieter,

Why is it that all I can think of looking at this series is "Mini Dyxum Meet; somewhere in Belgium"? How we miss the ability to travel when and where we like at the moment...

I think it's the sort of place I would have loved to have visited - not only lots to see and explore but also plenty of locations where you can bring light and angles into play as well. I think #'s 2, 3, 4 and 5 have the greatest fascination for me - they show the scale of the place really well and you've captured the decay and emptiness of the location now very well with these. Mind you, one has to wonder how anyone thought they would be immune to modern warfare, even in the lat 19th Century.

Thanks for sharing these and I will be looking forward to the next installment!

Take care and best regards, Neil.
My Mantra: "Comment on other's work as you would wish to have yours commented upon". Go on - it's fun!
Back to Top
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 October 2020 at 09:34
Thanks for the comments Winston and Neil

Winston, the fact this place is preserved is more a matter of neglect and lack of money to demolish. Slowly small groups of volunteers are establishing to preserve these forts (around Antwerp, Liege and Namur) and slowly authorities are realizing the need to at least preserve some of it.

Neil, A dyxum meet here after the pandemic is over is certainly possible but we have to plan carefully, normally the fort is only open to the public one or two days per month and usually only during the summer month.

This friday I will visit another fort (Emines) from the defense ring around Namur, so I have to get going further processing the images of Flemalle before another set is added to my catalogue. I'll see if I have some time to process more images from Flemalle today or tomorrow.
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
Back to Top
owenn01 View Drop Down
Alpha Eyes group
Alpha Eyes group

Joined: 20 May 2008
Country: United Kingdom
Location: Kent
Status: Offline
Posts: 10946
Post Options Post Options   Quote owenn01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 October 2020 at 14:53
Hi Pieter,

Thanks for the update and good luck with Emines! I think my thoughts were more to do with a relative lack of contact outside of my 'normal' routine (teleconferencing is okay but isn't quite 'person to person' is it?).

I think developing a theme like this is good for one's photography - I need to get back to Stately Homes once the pandemic relaxes it's grip on where you can go and what you can do in the UK but I suspect that isn't going to be anytime soon by the looks of it.

As for the Dyxum meet, then I think we would be happy to organise anything for next year looking at how the whole of Europe is struggling, but I wouldn't bet that things will have changed significantly before the middle of the year somehow. A depressing thought in many ways.

Looking forward to more images plus some new ones as well (I have a few to post from our limited outings - mainly cars I'm afraid...).

Take care and best regards, Neil.
My Mantra: "Comment on other's work as you would wish to have yours commented upon". Go on - it's fun!
Back to Top
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 October 2020 at 20:52
OK, continueing our excursion to the fort.
On the top floor of the inner fort going to the front (enemy side) it ends with a long staircase down, leading to a tunnel under the dry moat to a small bunker and gun complex on the front of the fort, outside the moat. So basically you're walking four floors down:

9: Staircase 1



After passing through the tunnel there is another staircase up to the bunker and gun complex

10: Staircase 2


At the top of this second staircase there are two very long corridors leading to the guns. These corridors seem so long that I was surprised you couldn't spot the curvature of the earth in there

11: Corridor



This is also where there was some major war damage, several German shells and Stuka bombs destroyed both of the gun stands

12: Gun stand 1



13: Gun stand 2



14: Ammunition room next to the gun stand, the WC "decoration" is from much later



15: Preserved pencil mark on the wall of one of the bunkers of an electrician working on the modernisation of the fort in 1939. He was still in the fort when it got under attack in 1940 and didn't survive it


9: A6000 + E10-18/4,
10-15: A7ii + Tamron 28-200 Di III RXD


More to follow, mainly from the two lower floors of the inner fort.
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
 



Back to Top
Fred_S View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member

Joined: 12 January 2017
Country: Netherlands
Location: Noord Holland
Status: Offline
Posts: 8308
Post Options Post Options   Quote Fred_S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 October 2020 at 21:21
I had missed this before, but it is an interesting and well captured series Pieter.
The symetry of #11 is very appealing to me.
Not sure if I would have brought a 28-200 lens for such an excursion if I had one , but it works well.
TFS and looking forward to the rest of your reportage.
Back to Top
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 October 2020 at 21:51
Thanks Fred. There were two reasons to bring the 28-200, first you need to test a new lens quickly after you get it and secondly combined with the A6000 and E10-18 I could basically walk around with two cameras and never have to change lenses and be covered continuously from 15 - 200 mm FF equivalent (it's not the most clean environment inside the fort). Looking at the EXIF data for the day I made ~20% of my images at > 70 mm so I was glad I didn't bring my 24-70 which would have been the other "logical" lens to bring.

Btw, I find that new Tamron E-mount 28-200 pretty good, sharp for a super zoom, especially the corners (better than my Zeiss 24-70/4) and the aperture range is 2.8 - 5.6, but unlike most other superzooms it stays relatively bright when zooming in. At 70 mm it's still f4.0 and at 105 mm it's still f4.5, so also from that perspective it's a very versatile lens. And last but not least it's small and light , about the same as the 24-70/4 and certainly smaller than the 24-105/4. Obvious downside is missing the extra 4 mm on the wide end but as always, there's by definition a compromise somewhere when choosing a lens.
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
Back to Top
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2020 at 19:34
In the meantime I visited fort d'Émines of the defense ring around Namur, but let me first finish this tour of fort Flémalle near Liege.

We've now covered the top floor so going down one level you're at the height of the bottom of the dry moat, where there is also the entrance to the central fort

16: Entry door shield



Behind this door there is a relatively small corridor with first left and right the corridors to the troup chambers, then the entrances to some offices and the machine room and at the end the stairs up to the top floor (see previous posts) and right behind that the stairs down to the "cellar" (more on that later)

17: Central corridor:


18: Corridor to the troup chambers on the left



19: Interior of one of the troup chambers (I don't think the stretchers are original, usually they had bunk beds attached to the walls)



All the ceilings in the central corridor and on the left were increased in height by the Germans between 1940 and 1944 and cladded with arcs of corrugated iron, originally the ceilings were lower and straight


20: In the corridor on the right large pieces of "stucco" came down after a bombardment in WW2, on the right side all ceilings are still original (and higher because the rooms there are larger)



21: Troup chambers (again not original beds)



22: And another troup chamber, you can still see the wooden pegs in the wall where the original bunk beds were fastened


16-19: A7Rii + Tamron 28-200 Di III RXD
20-22: A6000 + E10-18/4


I'll finish this floor in a next post, before we go to the cellar and the air ventilation tower (about 300 meter south of the fort).
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
Back to Top
owenn01 View Drop Down
Alpha Eyes group
Alpha Eyes group

Joined: 20 May 2008
Country: United Kingdom
Location: Kent
Status: Offline
Posts: 10946
Post Options Post Options   Quote owenn01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 October 2020 at 09:37
Hi Pieter,

This latest update is, I have to admit, much more 'my' type of thing and I find it a fascinating and well seen and executed series. I feel that #'s 17, 18 and 19 really convey a feeling of the closeness and pressure the soldiers must have felt being down there when it was active and the images themselves are really good - great feeling of depth and clarity. The crest in the first one seems to spell out a feeling of invincibility that was, perhaps, long gone by the time the Fort was completed and the mechanisms and tools of conflict had moved on considerably (as so often happens with these places).

The camera:lens combination looks a fine pairing and, I think, possibly goes a long way to confirming that there is now very few 'poor' photographic pieces of equipment at this level.

Looking forward to seeing the next series!

Best regards, Neil.
My Mantra: "Comment on other's work as you would wish to have yours commented upon". Go on - it's fun!
Back to Top
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 October 2020 at 16:15
Thanks Neil, I find it hard to imagine how this was all operated at the start of the 20th century. Then these forts were relatively modern, probably a lot cleaner and well painted on the inside and all equipment (guns, ventilation, generators) in good working order and no rust and empty spots like today. Downside was the world tension and fear of war that probably nobody really enjoyed while being stationed there. And indeed, in WW1 the "big bertha's" of the German army could fire shells at the forts from beyond the reach of the fort itself and had enough explosive power to pierce the 1,5 - 2 meter thick concrete walls and roofs. In WW2 the main damage was done by Stuka bombing, against which the forts also had little defense.

But let's continue on the ground floor, let me first introduce you to the two sentries that protect the fort 24/7

23: Choco and Lilly



24: Choco taking a rest



25: Further down the central corridor to the left you find the (empty) machine room



26: On the right there's also some foundation for which I don't know the original purpose



27: And something else of which the purpose was not clear (to me), but I liked the decoration on the wall.



28: This room was used as the main office and command center



29: And finally coming outside again this is the dry moat to the left of the entrance, now in use by a rifle club (so off-limits for visitors of the fort)


25, 26, 27: A6000 + E10-18/4
23, 24, 28, 29: A7Rii + Tamron 28-200 Di III RXD
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
Back to Top
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2020 at 14:06
Going down one level in the central fort you're really about 5-6 meters below street level. It's cold, damp and wet there which gives nice reflections on the floors and walls. It's basically a square shaped corridor (with a few smaller side corridors) which contains rooms that were used as workshops, storage, prison etc. etc. The rooms itself are not that interesting but the corridors give a nice representation of the mood in these "dungeons"

30: Even found a famous "42" here



31: Reflections



32: Entrance to one of the side corridors



33: Escalier Coffres de Tete (Stairs to the front bunker, but no longer accessible, you can still get there via the stairs from the top floor)



36: T-junction



37: Another wet and damp corridor


All A7Rii + Tamron 28-200 Di III RXD

Edited by pegelli - 17 October 2020 at 14:39
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
Back to Top
Robbie View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member

Joined: 07 February 2007
Country: Germany
Location: Bremen
Status: Offline
Posts: 1035
Post Options Post Options   Quote Robbie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2020 at 14:10
Thanks for sharing this interesting spot with us. To find a favorite among those huge number of pictures isn´t easy but I like #11 most. But all they have a good balance between lights and shadows and the subjects are interesting. I´m looking forward to the next one
Back to Top
pegelli View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum Administrator

Joined: 02 June 2007
Country: Belgium
Location: Schilde
Status: Offline
Posts: 29637
Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 October 2020 at 20:52
Thanks Robbie, here's the last post on my visit there


About 300 meter from the fort (on the theoretical "friendly side") there is a big concrete tower which was built between WO1 and WO2 as an air inlet. Big ventilators sucked in air through the openings in the top rim of this tower via a tunnel system into the central fort. The idea was that it would make the fort less vulnarable for gas attacks.

When the Germans tried to take the fort in 1940 and found they needed too many big shells to do enough damage to the fort itself they directed their fire to the air inlet tower. When it got hit several times more and more dust and debrie was sucked into the fort making the atmosphere in there unbearable which hastened the surrender of the fort. So in the end this tactical improvement proved to be an achilles heel.


38: Air inlet tower



39: Evidence of a minor hit



40: More hits higher up



41: The tower and its "defense" bunker underneath



42: Looking through the plants that are now groing out of the tower you can see the shelling finally pierced a big hole in the side



45: After we left the volunteers that were there during the day closed the entry gate, so I'm now closing this series with an almost identical shot as whet got it started


All A7Rii + Tamron 28-200 Di III RXD

Thanks for watching and comments still welcome.

P.S. All the "scratches" on the tower are part of a local art project and have nothing to do with any military history of the fort.
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
Back to Top
Dyxum main page >  Forum Home > Dyxum Photographs > Open Views Page  12>

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.078 seconds.

Monitor calibration strip

Dyxum.com - Home of the alpha system photographer

In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania

Feel free to contact us if needed.