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Report - Fort Eben-Emael - Belgium - Sep 2010

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Cydoimus, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. Cydoimus

    Cydoimus Guest

    Fort Eben-Emael (“Eben e Malâ€) is a Belgian fortress located between Liège and Maastricht, near the Albert Canal, built to defend the Belgian-Dutch border. A feature of the fort's defences are the large artillery turrets which could be raised for firing, then retracted again into their massive concrete housings. Constructed between 1931–1935, it was thought to be impregnable, with a successful ground assault from the North, South, East or West being impossible.

    However, on 10 May 1940, seventy-eight German paratroopers (in what Captain Mainwaring would call a “shabby Nazi trickâ€) landed on the top of the fortress in gliders and, using special ‘shaped charges’, destroyed most of the fort’s artillery defences in minutes.

    A stalemate then ensued as, although the Germans were unable to get inside the fort’s underground galleries, the surprised defenders were unable to drive them off. The fortress surrendered a day later, when the German paratroopers were reinforced by German infantry units.

    The inside of the fort is open to the public on set dates and times. When we got there it wasn’t open, so we set off for a bit of an explore, eventually panting our way to the top of a very steep track where we were greeted by the giant, steel and concrete ‘flying saucer’ that marks the centre of the fort below.

    It really is very spooky coming across the ‘saucer’ for the first time, just sitting there in the middle of a ploughed field. On the way up the track, we came across a few buildings hidden in the woods that would be missed on the ‘proper’ tourist tour. Time didn’t permit much more than a cursory look around, but we did find a lot of spent ammunition, all post-war – it turns out the area is still used for training by the Belgian army.

    If time isn't an issue, there is a lot to found here that doesn't get seen if you do the official, guided tour. We got just a little taste but will be back again next year!

    About a third of the way from the top of the track.

    Typical blast damage, mostly bricked up to prevent access.

    Air vents on top of bunker.

    Machine gun position in surprisingly good nick.

    Our first view of the 'spaceship' which marks the centre of the fort below.

    View from supporting machine gun/observation turret to 'spaceship'.

    This is a view down into the hole in the top of the turret in the previous picture. On the day, it was just a 'black hole', this is what the camera flash revelealed.

    One of the artillery turrets in the raised, firing position.

    And onwards to the 'spaceship' itself.

    Bugger, now I've got to walk back...

    Shaped charge penetration point. Might not look much from the outside, but the enormous blast overpressure and heat it caused inside would have been devastating.

    De rigueur arty pic 01...​

    Thanks for looking.

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