Aachen Batterie

_HISTORY

 

A tour, images 'past and present' and a 3D visit on the Aachen battery:

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The Aachen Battery is the only German World War I coastal battery of which sufficient constructions have been preserved in order to paint an accurate and complete picture of coastal defence during WWI. 

The Battery was built on what was then the Royal Domain, created by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1903.
Construction of the battery was started on 8 January 1915. It became operational at the end of April 1915. You can still make out the four artillery platforms, flanked by two observation bunkers. The western observation bunker also served as a command post. In time, it was also used by the Deutschland Battery in Bredene. The guns were placed under steel turrets in order to protect the artillery. A narrow gauge railway connected the artillery platforms with the different ammunition depots hidden in the dunes. Near the observation post you can still find the original telemeter, which was used to determine the distance to potential targets at sea. A portion of the trenches and the bombproof shelter, made of sheets of corrugated iron and covered with sand and concrete, have also been preserved. The wooden buildings have all disappeared, i.e. several crew quarters, a building that served as officers’ quarters, a guard post and a first aid post.

One of the three wells was located at the Duinenstraat entrance to the Battery.  A small monument was built here and was named after the patron saint of gunners: Saint Barbara. The aforementioned Barbara Brunnen is still visible today. Another entrance was situated at the sea front promenade.

After the war and the death of King Albert I of Belgium, his son, Prince Charles, took an interest in the Royal Domain. However, it was only after his regency, which came to an end in 1950, that he settled there permanently. It is thanks to him that the Aachen Battery and the constructions dating from the Second World War have been preserved so exceptionally well. He made sure that nothing was demolished, so that everything could be restored after his death. It became a provincial domain in 1988. Since then, the Aachen Battery has also been listed as a monument.

The province of West Flanders recently decided to have the battery completely restored. The aim is to develop a separate WW I area on the domain with as few visible WW II relics as possible. Due to these restoration works, the Aachen battery will be closed until the end of June 2017.