A French Battlefields “Virtual Battlefield Tour” [This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.]
Liège lies on the Meuse River north of the great forested and hilly region of the Ardennes Forest and 30 km west of the German border. Near the city, the 200-meter wide river runs through deep ravines and, in 1914, presented a significant barrier to east / west troop movements. The soot-blackened industrial city of 170,000 possessed a good east / west rail network that was required for planned German troop movements.
The German Schlieffen Plan (see: First World War Introduction) required the defeat of the French army before Germany turned eastward to face the larger, but slowly mobilizing Russian forces. The German plan considered the Ardennes region as too rugged and without a road network sufficient to support the large military movements required to face the French Army. Thus, the thirty-four divisions of the German First, Second, and Third Armies were to be funneled around Liège through the 16 km gap between the Netherlands and the Ardennes. Not wanting to pull The Netherlands into the conflict, the plan carefully remained south of the Dutch territory of Maastricht. Belgian resistance was expected to be little more than symbolic.
Liège fortifications were constructed to protect the city from any aggressor - French or German and to delay an advancing enemy while Belgian troops could be concentrated around Brussels. The city was surrounded by twelve forts designed and constructed in the 1880s by Belgian military engineer Lieutenant General Henri Brialmont.
Brialmont's fortifications were mainly underground with soil-covered reinforced concrete providing protection for garrison troops. The forts were of similar construction and equipped with the same array of armaments. The central mastiff carried two 210-mm guns, twin 150-mm guns, two 120-mm guns, and four 57-mm guns - all in rotating armor plated turrets. Each was encircled by 6-meter deep by 8-meter wide ditch which was enfiladed by nine 57-mm casemated guns at the corners of the ditch. Garrison infantry provided rifle and machine-gun fire to repel attacking infantry.
They were placed in a ring around the city on high ground and generally 4 km from each other. The design was such that any attacked fort could receive supporting fire from the adjacent forts on either side, although communications between forts was rudimentary. The fortifications were constructed to withstand the shells of the largest cannon available at the time of their construction; however, by 1914, larger caliber guns, manufactured in secret in Germany and Austria specifically for this purpose, made the forts vulnerable to direct fire. In addition, the design placed a weaker side toward Liège. Nevertheless, Liège was considered the most formidable fortified position in Europe. By the outbreak of the First World War, the Liège defenses were not as imposing as had been planned. Although the main fortifications had been completed for some years, minor supporting installations had not been built. Garrisons were not at full strength and training had been only rudimentary.
The Liège fortifications were defended the 30,000-man Belgian 3rd Infantry Division and 6,000 garrison troops all under the command of Lieutenant General Gérard Leman. The infantry was to provide resistance in the intervals between the fortifications where the valleys of the hilly terrain could allow enemy to infiltrate between the forts and attack them from their less well-protected city side. All together, the defenders fielded 400 artillery pieces.
|OBJECTIVE||To capture the city and its bridges across the Meuse River|
36,000 men and 400 artillery pieces (Lieutenant General Gérard Leman)
|GERMAN:||59,800 men and 100 artillery pieces (General Otto von Emmich)|
|RESULT||The defenders held for ten days.|
3,000 killed or wounded; 4,000 captured
|GERMAN:||5,300 killed or wounded|
|LOCATION||Liège is 100 km southeast of Brussels|
The German Army of the Meuse, commanded by General Otto von Emmich crossed the border on 4 August with six brigades of infantry and three cavalry divisions (II Calvary Corps under Generalleutnant Georg von der Marwitz). His orders were to capture the bridges over the Meuse River at Liège for use by larger following forces. The opening engagement of the First World War was on.
On 4 August, Fort Barchon was the first fortification attacked, but Infantry Regiment 53 was driven back with heavy losses. On 5 August, the 2nd and 4th Cavalry Divisions forded the Meuse to the north at Lixhe. Belgian troops were quick to destroy the bridges above and below the city and German efforts to construct temporary crossings came under fire from the fortifications.
On 6 August, liaison officer Generalmajor Eric Ludendorff rode forward and took personal command of the 14th Brigade after its commander had been killed. Ludendorff led the troops to break through the Belgian lines between forts d’évegnée and de Fléron to capture a height overlooking Liège. At that point, he sent a surrender demand to General Leman, who promptly refused. A small force attempted a quick raid against Leman’s headquarters, which pounded the main gate with shells but was driven off. Leman, believing that he faced a much larger force and not wanting the Belgian infantry to be surrounded, sent the 3rd Division troops back toward Brussels and moved his command into Fort de Loncin on the opposite side of the city.
Although the raid failed, Ludendorff now had troops within the ring of Belgian fortifications. On 7 August, Ludendorff and his driver proceeded to the outmoded Citadel de Liège. He pounded upon its gate demanding the fort’s surrender. It did. Ludendorff was awarded his country’s prestigious Pour le Mérite medal for his actions. The citadel’s dominant position gave Ludendorff control of the city and the remaining bridges over the Meuse. However, now he was trapped in the city without communications to the forces outside the ring of forts.
On 8 August, two light German howitzer batteries demolished the parapet of Fort Barchon and inflicted heavy losses to the garrison. It surrendered at 1630. The surrender of Fort d’évegnée soon followed. However, accurate fire from the forts prohibited German use of the rail network and most forts held against German infantry and light cannon.
The German Army brought forward large siege artillery including two 420-mm ‘Big Bertha’ howitzers and Skoda-manufactured 305-mm howitzers borrowed from the Austro-Hungarian Army. The 420-mm monster was capable of firing a 800 Kgm shell upwards of 14 km. Their enormous shells, armed with delay fuses, did not explode until after penetrating up to two meters of concrete. Even the effect a near miss was incapacitating for a garrison.
Fort Pontisse was the 420-mm gun’s first victim, wrecked by a shell at 1230 on 13 August. Over the next two days, six more forts were reduced. Through Ludendorff’s control of the city, one of the Krupp guns was sited in one of the city’s squares. Fort de Loncin was utterly destroyed when a shell pierced its walls and exploded the powder magazine. General Leman was seriously injured at Fort Loncin and captured. One by one, the remaining fortification succumbed, the last being Fort Boncelles on 16 August.
After the surrender, three German armies moved through Belgium. Brussels was captured without a fight on 20 August and the remainder of the Belgian Army moved towards Antwerp. The Germans swept toward the French border. However, the Liège fortifications had produced a three-day delay in the German First Army’s execution of the Schlieffen Plan. The delay would increase the pressure on German generals, General von Kluck in particular, and may have resulted in the alteration to the plan that resulted in the French victory at the Battle of the Marne.
The destruction of the Liège forts promoted a distrust of fixed fortifications among the French General Staff. The loss of faith in fortifications led to the removal of artillery pieces from the more modern structures at Verdun, contributing to the early German success against them in 1916.
Belgian resistance against overwhelming German military superiority provided a propaganda advantage to the Entendre powers that they were not to relinquish. Little Belgium and its people oppressed by the ‘Hun’ was to become a prominent and persistent theme and contributed to changing public opinion in America in favor of entering the war.
Liège was founded in 558 with the construction of a chapel along the banks of the Meuse River by the bishop of Tongeren. Situated in the valley of the Meuse River, Liège is near the borders of the Netherlands and Germany. For eight hundred years the city was the domain of a prince-bishop, not ending until 1794. Its strategic position witnessed numerous invasions despite early fortifications. Burgundy’s Charles the Bold destroyed the city in 1468. Conflicts between French King Louis XIV and the Netherlands put the city in the middle as the local prince-bishop waivered allegiance between France and its arch-enemy, Spain. It was burned by Marlborough and occupied by Napoleon. The 1830 Belgian Revolution created an independent country with Liège as the capital of the region of Walloon. The city’s prosperity was founded upon the high-grade coal found between Seraing and Herstal and its position on the Berlin to Paris main rail line. It remains the largest city in Belgium’s Walloon Region.
Office du Tourisme
Tel: +32 (0)4 222 24 56
The tour starts in the central district of Liège at the Parc d’Avroy and visits several sites near the city center. The tour continues in a counter-clockwise circle around the city’s outskirts to each of the twelve First World War fortifications. The tour then proceeds to the four Second World War forts. The GPS coordinates listed for each site permit visitors to select those sites of personal interest.
The Statue de Charlemagne (50.634951N, 5.568652E) stands at the north end of the large Parc d’Avroy. The bronze equestrian statue stands upon an intricately sculpted plinth that presents figures from the very early Middle Ages including Charles Martel and Pepin the Short. Charlemagne was born in Liège in 742 and assembled the largest European empire since the fall of the Romans. He died in 814. While he ruled his empire from Aix-la-Chapelle, now Aachen, Germany, his birth in the Liège district of Herstal (or some claim Jupille) links him to this city.
Monument National à la Résistance (50.632886N, 5.569213E) commemorates Second World War Belgian resistance movements many of which were centered around Liège. The memorial is located in Parc d’Avroy and faces the Pont Albert 1st. It was designed by Paul Etienne Louis Dupont and inaugurated on 8 May 1955, the tenth anniversary of the war’s end. The approach terrace is guarded on the left by the weapon-bearing members of the Secret Army (Resistance) and on the right by a statue of a man and women cloaked as spies. Down a few steps, a six foot bronze urn is inscribed with representative symbols of the resistance including a parachutist, a resistance setting, a dynamite charge, and men carrying torches. The urn contains ashes of unknown resistance members collected from the concentration camp at Flossenbürg, Germany. The coats of arms of the nine Belgian provinces are engraved in the stone base. The promenade around the bronze urn is framed with enormous horse chestnut trees.
The German transported one of their 420-mm howitzers into this park to fire onto Fort Loncin.
Église St-Jacques-le-Mineur (50.637185N, 5.569835E) was the church for a former Benedictine Abbey founded in 1015 by the local prince-bishop. The original Romanesque church was replaced with a Gothic-style church in 1538. With the French Revolution, the abbey was downgraded to a parish church and the abbey buildings destroyed. Thus, the église St-Jacques now sits among commercial development. The exterior stonework is undergoing a long process of cleaning and restoration. The interior presents an impressive nave with a lacework vault, clerestory, and stringcase.
Musée d'Armes de Liège (50.646884N, 5.583925E)
Département des Armes
Quai de Maestricht 13
Fax: +32 (0)4 221 6809
The 18th century neo-classical building houses a valuable collection of weapons totaling 11,000 items, making it among the largest in the world. Il est surtout considéré comme le premier conservatoire du monde des Arts et Métiers de l'armurerie. The museum has been recently closed for an extensive renovation.
Contact the Office of Tourism for opening hours.
The Citadelle of Liège (50.652141N, 5.577965E) was first fortified in the 13th century during a general enlargement of the city’s walls. The current citadel was constructed on the heights above the town and the river to the north of the city by 1671. Wars between France and Spanish-held Netherlands led to its successive building and destruction. The great French master military engineer, Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban, made his contribution in 1702.
In 1974 a decision was made to finally destroy much of the citadel and construct a modern medical facility on its grounds. Some of the bastions’ walls remain and the ramparts can be enjoyed as public parkland. They hold memorials to Belgian Army units and a cemetery (see below). The citadel’s five bastions are detectable in the outline of modern streets.
The Monument aux morts du 12ème Régiment de Ligne (50.652568N, 5.574269E) stands on the ramparts to the west of the medical center’s main entrance and from which dramatic views over the city can be had. The stone memorial depicts a sword bearing woman standing over the body of a Belgian soldier.
The Monument au 14ème Régiment de Ligne (50.649971N, 5.577214E) commemorates the Belgian 14th and 31st Infantry Regiments and the 14th Fortress Regiment for their defense of the city in 1914. Also memorialized are three infantry regiments from the second war. The rear of the obelisk provides a double staircase descending to the residential district below. The site provides views over the city.
Enclos des fusillés de la Citadelle de Liège (50.652942N, 5.578434E), adjacent to the hospital’s helipad north of the complex, a small cemetery holds the graves of 416 people executed by the German occupiers of Liège during the Second World War. Many of the bodies have been disinterred and returned to family members, but their crosses remain. The St. Francis bastion, what was then part of the Citadelle, was used by the German Army as a prison. Belgian Resistance fighters, civilians, and German Army deserters were taken from the bastion, executed, and buried in mass graves to the rear. The entrance to the memorial along the Allée de l’Absent and holds a large stone with one of the remaining execution posts above a bronze plaque depicting a grieving family standing over a dead victim. A bridge crosses the ditch and passes through an arched doorway to the place d’arme which contains the cemetery. The grounds present several memorials and plaques to those who died for freedom.
Walthère Dewé was a Liège born engineer who directed espionage networks during both world wars. His ‘White Lady’ network was founded in 1916 and provided information on German troop movements; his extensive Clarence network was founded in 1940 and eventually grow to 1,500 agents collecting military intelligence. He was shot and killed in Brussels by a German Gestapo officer during a mission on 14 January 1944. A stele (50.657569N, 5.581473E) in a small park memorializes his heroic actions. The face of each step leading up to the stele carries an inspirational message. A walkpath leads up the hill to the Chapelle St-Maurice (50.657943N, 5.58246E) whose rear wall holds a statue of a secretive ‘White Lady’ which is purposely hidden from view from the roadway. A plaque dedicated to Dewé is attached to the chapel façade to the left of the entrance.
Fort La Chartreuse (50.632621N, 5.596837E) was built by the Dutch in 1817 and was transferred to the new Belgian Army after the creation of the Belgian State in 1830. On 7 August 1914, German General Eric von Ludendorff led the German 14th Infantry Brigade into the suburban community of Queue-du-Bois where fierce street fighting occurred. The next morning Chartreuse was occupied and the Germans invaded Liege by crossing the two bridges (now named Pont Albert 1st and Pont des Arches) that had not been destroyed.
During the First and Second World War, Fort de la Chartreuse was used as a prison by the Germans. At the end of the Second World War Chartreuse was used as a military hospital by the Americans. Until 1980 the fortress was in use by the Belgian army when it was abandoned and became derelict. The site is closed to visitors, but a few glimpses of the decaying barracks buildings can be viewed through its entrance gate.
Stèle des Fusillés de 1914-19 (50.633172N, 5.601343E), dedicated to those political prisoners executed by the Germans during the First World War, stands in an accessible parking area to the rear of the Fort La Chartreuse barrack buildings. A stone stele holds a bronze statue of a blindfolded man about to be shot. Panels to either side list the twenty-six names of the victims and the place of execution. The memorial was transferred to this location from St-Leonard prison grounds before its demolition.
Fort de Fléron (50.617817N, 5.692109E) was constructed in a triangular configuration with a strong central mastiff that carried the usual arrange of turreted guns. The fort was subjected to a heavy bombardment starting on 11 August. By the next day, the ammunition hoists were inoperable and conditions inside the fort became difficult. The appearance of the German 420-mm shells on 13 August added to the fort’s woe. Commandant-Captain Mozin surrendered the 387-man garrison at 0945 on 14 August. There were only five battle casualties.
The fort was strengthened between the wars with the addition of longer rang guns, grenade launchers and machine guns. Repeated air attacks in May 1940 quickly destroyed the electrical system. No longer defendable, the garrison surrendered.
The fort is currently surrounded by apartments and has been filled with soil to form a public park. Nevertheless, a remaining memorial wall carries a plaque identifying the last remnant from the May 1940 bombardment.
A memorial to the defenders of Fort de Fléron (50.61827N, 5.691932E) stands alongside a quiet lane north of the park that now occupies the site. Plaques on the stele commemorate the units involved and their heroic resistance to enemy guns.
Fort d’évegnée (50.645766N, 5.712751E) is one of the smaller Liège forts. Its position protected rail lines to Aachen. The garrison surrendered on 11 August after being struck by shells from the Krupp howitzers. In 1940, it held out for three days before surrendering on 19 May. The fort is presently an industrial site and is not open to the public.
Fort de Barchon (50.672773N, 5.691023E)
Rue du Fort
Tel: +32 (0)4 387 58 37
Fort de Barchon was built in the 1880s in a triangular shape and represents one of the larger Liège forts. The garrison comprised 300 artillerymen and 90 infantry commanded by Captain-Commandant Hannefstingels. During the 8 August bombardment, most of the fort’s armaments were damaged and twenty-two men killed. The fort surrendered at 1630. The fortifications were upgraded in the 1930s with added turrets, grenade launchers and machine guns. A fortified air intake tower was also added to improve ventilation, which had proved problematic in 1914.
On 10 May 1940 the fort fired against German glider infantry which landed atop Fort Eben-Emael. Two days later German infantry attacked the fort and attacks continued for five days. A Stuka air attack on 17 May inflicted more damage. Finally on 18 May the 105-mm turret was damaged and a subsequent German infantry attack using flamethrowers forced the fort’s surrender. The garrison suffered twenty-six casualties.
Fort de Barchon occupies an impressive height above Liege. It controls all approaches from the northeast. The famous Fort Barchon Tour d’Aire, of large air intakes, is visible to the west of the entrance and can be approached by turning left on Chemin aux Ruelles as one approaches the fort entrance. The tower is barely visible above ground level because the terrain rolls down into a valley. The fort is now the property of l’ASBL Solidarité et Services de Blagny et Environs.
The fort is approached after 0.2 km down the rue du Fort. A memorial to the dead of Fort de Barchon (50.672047N, 5.68977E) from the two world wars stands at a sharp curve in the road before the fort entrance. The marble tablets are affixed to a stone wall and list the names of the dead.
Guided tours start at 1400 on the second Sunday of the month from April to November and last about three hours.
At 0800 on 12 August, Fort de Pontisse (50.692094N, 5.639387E) was the first fort to be attacked by the Krupp-manufactured 420-mm howitzers. After four and one-half hours of punishing bombardment and with the fort extensively damaged, the garrison surrendered. During the second war, Pontisse provided support fire for Belgian field units until its surrender on 18 May 1940. The fort is currently not accessible.
Fort de Liers (50.699672N, 5.581854E) fell under the shells of the German siege artillery on 13 August. The fall of adjacent Fort de Pontisse allowed the Germans to fire upon Fort de Liers from its more vulnerable rear. By 0900 the next day, the garrison, demoralized by dust and fumes from the black powder used in the guns’ explosives, surrendered. The fort was a munitions store during the Second World War. The fort is in private hands and it is not accessible to the public.
Fort de Lantin (50.694704N, 5.525737E)
Rue de Villers, 1
Tel: +32 (0)4 246 55 44
The fort was bombarded on 15 August and surrendered by 1230. The entrance accesses the 5-7 meter deep ditch whose interior was lined with concrete walls. A roadway to the left goes to the top of the central concrete structure surrounded by a earthen berm. The fantastic firepower of the fort is displayed on the roof by the 150-mm gun turret in the center, 210-mm howitzer cupola, two 120-mm gun turrets at the right and left extremes and the searchlight cupola in the rear. All of those cupolas were retractable but remain in the down position. The entrance bunker offers an audio tour that augments multi-lingual explanatory signs.
Open weekends from April to September from 13:00 to 17:00. Fee
Fort de Loncin Memorial (50.672999N, 5.491791E) commemorates the 250 men who died in the fort on 15 August 1914. The 18-meter high stele is topped with a bronze statue of a Roman legionnaire representing the honor done by ancient fighters to the 1914 defenders. The stone base depicts a woman with extended arms standing over a dead soldier at her feet.
Fort de Loncin Museum (50.673754N, 5.493304E)
Rue des Héros 15
4431 Ans, Belgique
The Fort de Loncin Museum doesn’t look like much from the outside and its appearance might discourage people from entering, but you must go inside if you have any interest at all in WWI, fortifications, or the battle for Liege.
Professional displays present artifacts beginning from the Franco-Prussian War and through the following years. There are a few weapons including a unique 57-mm cannon that was buried during the explosion and an unusual model 1909 Maxim machine gun mounted on a two wheel bicycle type platform which is pulled by two dogs. A wonderful diorama shows the fort under construction and how structures of this type were made. A large scale model of the completed fort comes apart with the lower level lifting up to expose the interior. Push buttons light respective functions. A miniature of the 57-mm cupola shows how it was raised and lowered, and how the gun rotated.
Open Saturdays and Sundays April to June and September and October from 14:00 to 18:00. The museum guide is not in English. Fee.
Fort de Loncin (50.674624N, 5.492381E)
The entrance path to Fort de Loncin passes stone statues of Belgian soldiers as it descends to the gated doorway. The door accesses the ditch where a plaque on the wall records the names of those killed in the explosion. The fort remains exactly the way it was after August 1914. The ruins of the central mastiff present a fantastic example of the power of one artillery shell and what it can do to a fortification. All of the cupolas and retractable turrets are still here in various stages of destruction including the mechanisms that were used to raise and lower the cupolas. The armored plated shells were literally blown out of the ground and now the rounded parts are down and the mechanisms exposed.
The grounds also hold a cemetery as the bodies of the 250 victims of the explosion remain entombed. A crypt holds the bodies of sixty-eight soldiers recovered from the ruins after the war, the remainder are lost in the wreckage.
Open daily except Monday, from 14:00 to 18:00.
Fort de Hollogne (50.646324N, 5.466074E)
rue de l’aéroport, 10
Tel: +32 (0)4 330 91 62
After the terrible explosion and damage at Fort de Loncin, a German delegation escorted Fort de Hollogne’s doctor and an accompanying officer to view Loncin. Fearful of the same result in their fort, the garrison planned an escape but found itself surrounded. After further bombardment the next day, they surrendered. The fort was not improved between the wars, but still suffered Stuka bombings. The Germans used the site to launch V-2 rockets; the American used it as a hospital. After the second war, it became a Belgian Air Force base. It remains adjacent, and almost overcome, by the Liège Airport.
The fort is preserved by the Comité de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine Historique du Fort de Hollogne. Open for guided tours in French, Dutch, and German at 14:00 on the third Saturday of the month from March to October.
Musée du Fort de Flemalle (50.607727N, 5.465033E)
0, Avenue du Fort
Tel: +32 (0)4 233 32 30
In Fort de Flémalle, fearful of suffering the same fate as in Fort de Loncin, Captain-Commandant Falize surrendered the 150-man garrison on 16 August. In May 1940, the upgraded fort provided supporting fire for other forts for a few days until aerial bombardment destroyed the gun turrets. The garrison surrendered on 17 May.
The fort is now preserved by a volunteer organization and almost all of it is open to the public. Infosigns present the evolution of war and armaments. The galleries which housed the garrison can be visited and a small museum presents a collection of weapons and military equipment.
Guided tours the first Saturday of every month at 10:30, 13:30 and 15:00, except in January and July; open 21 July.
A tall tower surrounded by stone spires comprises the Mémorial Interallié (50.6199N, 5.569811E). The exterior, on the city side, has a stepped promenade and level courtyard overlooking the housing estates and industrial part of the city. A lower patio contains five monuments: a soldier with rifle and bayonet bears an Italian inscription; a most impressive pyramid of Macedonian Greek helmets holds Greek inscriptions on white marble tablets: a stylized blue bird flying over a prone man with a flag waving under his two outstretched arms commemorates the Russian and Soviet soldiers who died in the world wars; within an alcove, a freestanding wall commemorates the memory of the British Armed Services; and, finally, a brass plaque remembers Polish soldiers who fought for liberty for years in the fields of battle in Poland, Belgium, Germany, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Italy, Libya, Norway, Netherlands and USSR.
The grand memorial looks down upon a number of rail lines and blocks of housing estates to the east. Unfortunately, the memorial appears terribly decrepit and can be disappointing.
The Basilica Sacré Coeur (50.6198N, 5.568615E) is of brick construction under a cement shell. Some of the cement has fallen exposing the underlying bricks and, in general, the exterior is not well maintained and presents the same derelict appearance as the Interallied Memorial. The structure is locked. Both Basilica and Memorial are on a precipice overlooking the southern districts of the city.
Fort de Boncelles (50.577677N, 5.528623E) was a typical Liège fortification with standard armaments. It was bombarded by the Skoda howitzers and surrendered at 0730 on 15 August 1914. In 1940, the fort was taken by assault after bombardment by air and artillery. Much of the fort has been buried and the terrain enclosed by housing. However, the massive air tower can be seen in the fields west of the houses. Two bunkers remain on the site.
La Tour d’Air (50.579437N, 5.528186E)
85/90 rue du Commandant Charlier
Info: S Alexandroff:
Tel: +32 (0) 4 73 40 70 11
A new interpretative center is under development.
Fort de Boncelles Memorial (50.577999N, 5.531546E) commemorates the fort’s dead of the Second World War. Inscribed on the stone walls are Commander Numa Charlier’s words ‘Me go? Never!’ Commander Charlier died during the final enemy assault.
Boncelles Belgian War cemetery (50.5743N, 5.543075E) holds 159 dead from the First World War, many of whom died in defense of the fort. In addition, it holds 86 Belgian soldiers who died in the Second World War. The graves are in orderly rows, each backed by a wall of shrubs. A memorial statue baring the Belgian flag stands in the center of the cemetery.
Ougrée Belgian Military Cemetery (50.583947N, 5.548635E) contains a mass grave holding the bodies of 210 soldiers from the First World War. Plaques attached to the memorial wall list their names.
Fort d’Embourg (50.581574N, 5.618091E)
Rue du Fort
Info: Jean-Marc Lebrun:
Tel: +3204188.8.131.52 (0)4 97 20 35 70
Embourg is positioned high above the sounding terrain and overlooks the Ourthe River Valley and the roadway to Spa. Embourg was pounded by the Krupp 420-mm and Skoda 305-mm howitzers starting 12 August before effecting the garrison’s surrender at 1730 on 13 August. The upgraded fort’s resistance in 1940 was more effective but aerial bombardment and German infantry infiltration forced the garrison surrender after five days of repeated attacks. A plaque on the interior ditch wall lists the names of fifteen killed in the Second World War.
Guided tours are available on the fourth Sunday of each month and last approximately 1½ hours. Fee
Fort d’Embourg Memorial (50.583822N, 5.616224E) presents a thick stone cross inscribed upon a stone block that is topped with the symbol of royal artillery. It commemorates those soldiers who were killed in the fort during both wars. The memorial stele is inexplicably flanked by a modern tank.
Fort de Chaudfontaine (50.591002N, 5.641265E)
Rue du XIII Août 50-86
The fort’s shape was different from other Liège fortifications but is carried similar armaments. The bombardment started on 12 August. On 13 August, a shell hit the 210-mm turret causing an internal explosion and fire killing 58 men. Toxic fumes spread through the enclosed spaces and the fort surrendered at 0900. The upgraded fortification was subjected to heavy air attacks on 16 May 1940 and succumbed to a German infantry assault the next day. The grounds now house an adventure park. A small cemetery is located outside the main gate that contains 71 dead from 1914.
Four fortifications that were constructed after the First World War extended the defensive ring around Liège. In May 1940, although considered strong military positions, they again succumbed to a German invasion.
Fort Tancrémont (50.552994N, 5.5790889E)
Route de Tancremont
The approach road to Fort Tancrémont winds several km up the heights above the valley, until the retractable turret of the fort comes into view across the farm field at the edge of the wood. The turrets at Fort Tancrémont are pristine and do not present effects of shell fire. The visible parts of the fort are in good shape and without damage.
Open the first Sunday of the month from May to October, 13:00 to 17:00. Also open on 21 July.
Fort Battice (50.645406N, 5.838375E)
Fort Battice was constructed in the 1930s and is the nearest to the German border. In May 1940, the 700-man garrison sustained a twelve-day siege under heavy German artillery and aircraft. Among the 70 causalities were 26 men defending Bloc 1, the result of a bomb that ricocheted from the antitank rails at the entry and pierced the combat block.
Fort Battice is marked by the Belgian flag flying along the roadside, visible until one rounds the bend in the highway. A four-language sign at the entrance to Bloc 1 describes the history of Battice. The fort is upon a hill but does not offer the tremendous sight lines over the surrounding valleys available from the other forts. A military communications tower remains and no photos are allowed. A bicycled path encircles the fortification and views of several Blocs are possible. From east of Bloc 1, a view over the ridge into the enormous sweep of the valley below and to Germany is possible.
Open the last Saturday on the month from March to November from 13:30.
Fort Aubin-Neufchâteau (50.720883N, 5.788625E)
ASBL Fort d’Aubin-Neufchâteau
Rue du Colonel D’Ardenne, 2
4608 Aubin Neufchâteau
Fort Aubin-Neufchâteau remains Terrain Militaire despite the brown tourist sign off the N608 at the rue du Colonel de Ardennes. At the entrance driveway to the fort, a war memorial with the Belgian flag flying behind it commemorates those that died here from 1940 - 1945. The view of the valley to the SW from the entrance is spectacular. A 7-meter high defensive ditch surrounds the central soil-covered mound. The entrance block presents significant damage and all of the doorways have been blasted off. Bullet holes and marks on the gate are a testimony to the ferocity of the 1940 battle.
Open the third Sunday of the month from April to November; tours begin at 14:00 and are conducted in four languages. Fee
Fort Eben-Emael (50.796516N, 5.673816E)
rue du Fort 40
Tel: +32 (0)4 286 28 61
Open one weekend per month from March to November and 21 July. Fee
[Fort Eben-Emael and the attack of 10 May 1940 is covered in detail in Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium.] See: Capture of Fort d’Eben-Emael.