Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

The Bunkers at Sint-Joris-Weert

Today the Flemish government is having an Open Monument Day, with hundreds of normally inaccessible historical sites on display to the public. Our commune's contribution to this event is two squat structures in Sint-Joris-Weert, which I have driven past on numerous occasions without giving them a second glance, now revealed as bunkers built by the Belgian army in the late 1930s and actually used by the British in May 1940 shortly before the retreat to Dunkirk.

This was part of the KW-line, integrated into the so-called Dyle plan, using the river Dijle as a defensive barrier. You can see the river on the left in the first photo below, and it's pretty obvious that it's not much good as a defensive barrier.

Local volunteers dressed as British soldiers had staffed up one of the bunkers to give some idea of what it would have been like, watching for the Germans coming from the east.

A Bren gun inside the bunker with bullets artistically scattered below it:

And the volunteers tried to explain how it would have worked. (Would have been very bad for the hearing of anyone firing it in such an enclosed space.)

Outside another volunteers waits for the German planes by his Vickers machine gun:

In real life I imagine the equipment would have been rather more chaotically arranged.

The other bunker, across the road, was unlit inside; apparently it is now a nesting place for bats.

And there was a small exhibition around the corner about the impact of the war in our area. It's open today as well.

A lot of people will be thinking about a different conflict today. But it was sobering to reflect that the elderly ladies and gentlemen unsteadily sipping glasses of wine as they looked at the exhibition of faded wartime photographs had lived through a time when our peaceful village was the front line in the war between Hitler and the Allies.
Tags: world: belgium

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