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Remembered Today:

Another Royal Naval Division site at Antwerp sorted out


Niko
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During the Antwerp expedition, the Naval battalions of the RND used the Linoleum factory at Berchem as a depot.

I already managed to find the spot years ago, it's just behind the church of Berchem, intra-muros, on the Mechelsesteenweg, the Malines road that leads straight into Mortsel.

It was more of a problem to find a clear picture of it, until now.

Always usefull when you see the building to get a clearer picture of what happened there.

linoleum.jpg

Edited by Niko
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And another picture I found, this time of the old brewery at Boechout, where the medical staff had its field hospital.

This brewery still exists, they recently build lofts in it, its on the border between Mortsel and Boechout, on the Liersesteenweg (Lierre Road):

 

brouwerij.jpg

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Brilliant Niko! I especially like the Linoleum Factory, which was guarded by some man of the A Company of Nelson. I am still doing research about Jimmy Miller from the A Company.

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Fascinating! Thank you.

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On 15/07/2021 at 05:54, Niko said:

the old brewery at Boechout, where the medical staff had its field hospital.

Niko

You will know from your research that the brwery was only used by the RND medical teams for about 24 hours. At 3pm on 7 October, as the RM Brigade withdrew from Lier back to the inner fort line, the dressing station was moved back to "Chateau Troyante at Berchem" (Gaskell, 'The Medical Unit of the RND', pp 640/1). Presumably it was fairly close to the RND stores depot in the linoleum factory at Berchem but have you been able to identify "Chateau Troyante"? An interweb search has revealed nothing. Like the brewery, 'Chateau Troyante' was only used for a day until the medics retreated through Antwerp late on 8 October.

Edited by horatio2
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Posted (edited)

Horatio,

It wasn't too difficult to find on old maps, it's just off the Malines Road (Grote Steenweg) extra-muros:

  • The yellow circle is Chateau Troyante
  • The red circle is Berchem Church
  • The blue circle is the Linoleum Factory

Now, what makes this interesting is the fact that the Cemetery of Berchem (green circle) was in very close proximity, so that explains why there are 3 Marines buried near the eastern entrance (eg, the closest entrance to the Chateau). All 3 died on October 8, 1914, I always wondered about that: 

WILLIAM FREDERICK FORSE
Private
Service Number: CH/10394
(RMR/B/1221). Chatham Bn. R.N. Div.
Royal Marine Light Infantry
United Kingdom
Died 08 October 1914
39 years old
BERCHEM (ANTWERPEN) COMMUNAL CEMETERY
Carre 31. 2.

A GEARD
Private
Service Number: PO/10254
(RFR/B/735). Portsmouth Bn. R.N. Div.
Royal Marine Light Infantry
United Kingdom
Died 08 October 1914
BERCHEM (ANTWERPEN) COMMUNAL CEMETERY
Carre 31. 3.

ARTHUR ADAMS
Lance Corporal
Service Number: CH/5285
(RMR/B/420). Chatham Bn. R.N. Div.
Royal Marine Light Infantry
United Kingdom
Died 08 October 1914
42 years old
BERCHEM (ANTWERPEN) COMMUNAL CEMETERY
Carre 31. 1.

Finding pictures of the chateau proves much more difficult, these are the best I could do, but will contact somebody of the local historical society to see what he has.

There is no trace in the area today, only the road that once passed the main gate is named Troyantenhoflaan.

Another problem solved, I guess, and with it the case of the three marines in Berchem cemetery.

Niko.

berchemA.JPG

berchemB.JPG

BerchemC.JPG

berchem5.jpg

berchem6.JPG

Edited by Niko
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Niko

Thank you for a comprehensive answer to my question. The modern Antwerp Ring Road (E.19/E.34) makes a search of recent maps very difficult so I am very grateful for your precise locations and the images. Do you have a similar old map showing the location of the old brewery at Boechout. That would helpfully tie in the locations of the RM Brigade after the retirement from Lier:- Chateau Rouge, Waesdonck (reserve position) + Boechout brewery (dressing station) + Chateau Troyante (dressing station)

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Posted (edited)

Horatio,

No problem, I've put the spots on a map from 1883. I also enclose a more detailed map of the Brewery area.

On the 1883 map:

  • Blue circle: depot at Linoleum factory
  • Red circle: aid post at Chateau Troyante
  • Green circle: reserve position at Chateau Rouge, Waasdonk
  • Purple circle: aid post in Brewery Boechout

On the same map, but on a smaller scale, I also marked, in yellow circle: Chateau Weyninckx

The ring road is in fact not the problem of your confusion, as it is built exactly on the remparts, but the problem is the extreme build-up in the area.

Let me know if you need any more 'local' help!

Greetings,

Niko.

berchemE.JPG

 

 

berchemF.JPG

boechout.JPG

boechout2.JPG

Edited by Niko
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Another big 'thank you', Niko. It is so helpful to be able to place the  RM Bde movements in proper context over those crucial two days of 7 and 8 October, when the dispositions were, to say the least, 'fluid'.

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Niko

While you are in full 'Antwerp search mode', would you be kind enough to pinpoint two more RND positions on your old maps?

On arrival in Antwerp at Wilrijk station on 6 October, the 2nd (Naval) Bde (GOC Commodore Backhouse) selected Chateau Elsdonk as the brigade HQ. The general area of Elsdonk is shown on modern maps around Fort No.5 and I assume the chateau was somewhere inside (behind) the fort line. The HQ only used the chateau for a day or two before moving across to Wilrijk Station, about 2 km to the west, "where shell-proof trenches were constructed in a nearby garden" (Sellers "The Hood Battalion"). Modern maps do not show the railway lines and station.

Thanks in advance for any help on this one.

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No, problem, Horatio:

Red circle: Wilrijk Station, it was a station on the old military railroad next to the military road, long gone now.

Yellow circle: Chateau Elsdonk, no trace exists these days. During the olympics in 1920, the garden was used as a cycling piste for a public of 15000, known as garden city.

I'll try to find some pictures of both places.

elsdonkthen.JPG

elsdonknow.JPG

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So, several questions solved, but new arise!

In Gaskell's book is this map, showing the positions of the Aid Stations....

Now, 3 (the brewery at Boechout) and 4 (chateau Troyante at Berchem) we pinpointed, but what about 1 and 2?

Did some reverse counting on the map and put it on an old (1938) map that shows the Lierre Road.  1 would have been around Donk or Klaplaar, very close to the RMLI's positions around Lierre, and 2 was around Boshoek, probably in the area of the intermediate line.

Question is.....Where? There doesn't seem to be any buildings in the area? a farm? a chapel? a small railroad station? or just at a crossroads in open air?

Can any one enlighten me here? Probably medical units from the Marine Brigade?

mdrnd02.JPG

mdrnd03.JPG

Edited by Niko
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I can find no references which position those first two “dressing stations”. These, Gaskell points out, were apparently manned by Fleet Surgeon Finch (MO of RM Bde and of Chatham Bn) and his fifty RNASBR ratings. The latter were “picked up” at Dunkirk on 3 October en-route to Antwerp.

The RND’s RM Medical Unit (RMMU) was not formed until mid-December, well after the RND returned to England from Antwerp, so the medical support at Antwerp would have been provided by RM battalion first aid men and the ad hoc RNASBR team.

It is not surprising that the 1st Dressing Station is shown as being in rear of Finch’s Chatham Bn and also in the centre of the RND front line. The RM Bde Op Order (based on an unidentified 1:40,000 scale map) described the Chatham No,2 Sector as “From ‘de’ of Chemin de Fer railway line E. of Turnhout (???) exclusive, to the bend of the road 300 yards South East of ‘K’ of Klepaar.” The Op Order does not mention the dressing stations.

The 2nd Dressing Station also remains a mystery. It was apparently in rear of the RND reserve (“Portsmouth Bn at ‘R’ of Route D’Avers”). Gaskell does not help his narrative by only stating that “Fleet Surgeon Finch … at first established a dressing station at BOUCHOUT Brewery,” Although Gaskell’s map shows 1st and 2nd Dressing Stations closer to Lier, it may be that he is confusing these with his statement that “The regimental [battalion] medical officers established themselves in aid posts a few hundred yards behind their battalion lines close to a straight road – the Route Militaire – which ran for three or four miles parallel to the trenches.”

My best guess is that, given their forward positions, 1st and 2nd Dressing Stations were actually Battalion Aid Posts. It should also be noted that, although Gaskell later served as ADMS RND, he did not serve at Antwerp so he does not speak from first-hand, personal knowledge but from later briefing.

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Thank you for the reply. I know these operational orders, I based my maps on my webpage on them. 

That put them between the railroad and the Lierre road, behind Chatham bn.

The reserve positions were closer to Lierre than the 2nd Aid Post on his map, so I'm guessing these aid men followed the retreat of the RM Brigade, as the Chatham Bn took up positions at the intermediate line to the north of the Lierre Road at Boshoek, in the general area I could make out from the map.

It's interesting to see the link between the medical unit and the Chatham bn.

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