V2 rocket

Antwerp was to prove a vital port to the Allies as they pushed towards Germany. The German Oberkommando realized the importance of Antwerp and the Walcheren area had the allies. In September 1944 it was decided to bombard Antwerp with V2 rockets.  The number of V2 rockets outnumbered the attacks on London with many. From october 1944 till march 1945 5960 rockets (v1 and v2) were launched in Antwerpen province. ln the early morning of 18 May the first ‘feldgrau’ soldiers from the North came into the city without a fight and the swastika flag was hoisted that same day on the cathedral. The second German occupation within a quarter century was a fact.

It made a lasting impression on all Antwerp. They would soon be confronted with a new order which took 4,5 years to be freed from. But only then the worsted  had yet to happen. Germans decided to bombard the Harbours of Antwerp with V1 and V2 rockets because of the strategic importance to the Allies. Nearly 5600 rockets where launched in the province of Antwerp.   

KBC Tower
Leader of the Flemish National Union (Dutch: Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, VNV) Hernik Elias inspects the troops at the Meir.

 On November 27, a terrible incident occurred at a major road junction near the Central Station. Teniers Plaats (Square) was the busiest intersection in town (as it still is today). Military policemen were always regulating the heavy traffic for an Allied convoy passing through the square.   

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Teniersplaats just after the V-2 struck the convoy.

 A V-2 came down at ten minutes past noon and exploded in the middle of all this activity. A British convoy was moving through the intersection and was caught in the blast. This particular rocket was believed to have exploded just above ground possibly having struck the overhead tram lines just where the traffic policemen stood. A city water main burst, water bubbling up from the ground. Soon, the whole square was filled with water.

terniersplein V2 rocket
The tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlargeThe tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlarge
terniersplein_02 V2 Rocket
Many people wachting the convoy where killed immediately. Click to enlarge

The result was total devastation. The water began to pool on the street. Floating on the water were dismembered corpses, various body parts, clothing and large amounts of debris. Several of the vehicles in the convoy exploded or caught on fire, their occupants lay burning. The glass windows of the passing trams near the intersection were all shattered causing injuries to those riding on the trams.

terniersplein V2 rockets
Several trucks from the convoy where hit. Click to enlarge

n front of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Schone Kunsten) lies a monument in memory of the victims of the V-bombs that the Germans in the months after the liberation dropped upon  the city. The monument is a granite map of Antwerp, which shows in carving all bombs impacts.Between October 1944 and March 1945  a total of 722 V-bombs were dropped on Antwerp. More than 4,000 people were killed, thousands of others were injured and thousands of homes were destroyed. The maps shows all V-bomb landings.

Antwerpen map V Bomb hits
Map of V1 and V2 rockets attacks on Antwerp. Click to enlarge