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Fort de Tancrémont, situated in the municipalities of Pepinster and Thuex, is part of the PFL I, the Fortified position of Liège, Belgium. This fort is the last and the smallest one of the four newly built fortresses, with the purpose to protect the city of Liège en to guard the corridor between the border of Holland and the Ardennes, in addition to the eight renovated fortresses already there dating from WWI, during the interbellum.
Construction of Fort de Tancrémont
Construction of the fort started in 1935 and on the 8th of August 1937 it was taken into use. The main part of the fort is built on a square central massif and holds all the observation, gun and artillery stations, surrounded by an eight meters wide, six meters deep anti-tank ditch.
This ditch is also guarded by armed bunkers on every corner, each holding a 47 mm FRC anti-tank canon and grenade launchers to stop an armored attack.
Dug deep into the slate massif, on a depth of around 30 meters, the fort houses a command-post, dormitories, bathrooms (with showers!), a kitchen, engine rooms, ammunition storage, a hospital, a phone office and a radio post, all connected by a tunnel system with a total length of around 2 kilometers.
Notable are the integrated MG stands in the tunnels to hold off a possible break in.
The last stand of Fort de Tancrémont
On the 29th of May 1940 11:00h, a day and a half after the surrender of the Belgian army, the commander of fort de Tancrémont decides to surrender due to a shortage of ammunition, making it the last Belgian unit to fight the German attackers. In contrast to the quick fall of mighty Fort Eben-Emael, the garrison held their ground for 19 days!
Visit Fort de Tancrémont in Belgium
We think Fort de Tancrémont is definitely worth a visit! Most people go to nearby Fort Eben-Emael because of the famous story, but in Tancrémont you get a much better sense of how it could have been and you get to see a lot more authentic details.
Without a guide you can explore the place on your own, climbing on narrow ladders leading into rusted cupola’s, explore never ending staircases and tunnels leading even further down.
On the outside there is a lot to see too, as you can just walk up to the cupola’s and other structures. You can also witness that the fort has had a lot to endure with impact craters of bullets and granades still visible everywhere.
It’s cold and damp in the underground tunnels and chambers of Fort de Tancrémont, so be sure to wear warm and waterproof clothing. Also take a good flashlight with you because the lighting is minimal or absent in some spaces. The good volunteers of Tancrémont hand out a quite large metal box which contains an audio guide. Language is a problem so they hand you this solution, but as nice as this gesture is, the box is heavy, big and noisy when carried around, so we kind of regretted taking it along.
At the end of the tour a friendly volunteer took the box off our hands. Then served us a beer for one euro. We love this place!
Check the website www.fort-de-tancremont.be for more information about opening hours and dates of Fort de Tancrémont. Unfortunately the website is only in Dutch or French. Send us an e-mail if you need help translating.
Watch the complete Landmarkscout fotoalbum of this trip:
|West Wall okt 2011|