(Image: copyright @Jimmy Kets, courtesy of Antwerpen 14-18)

Antwerp builds Centenary pontoon bridge to mark 1914 siege

Posted on centenarynews.com on 01 October 2014
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The 100th anniversary of the siege of Antwerp in October 1914 is being marked with the construction of a pontoon bridge across the River Scheldt by Belgian and Dutch military engineers. 

The project commemorates the thousands of civilians and Allied soldiers who escaped across temporary bridges 100 years ago as the German Army closed in on the Belgian city.

Antwerp's church bells will ring for the opening of the bridge on the evening of October 3rd 2014. The organisers are also promising a spectacular sound and light show, called 'Les Sirènes de la Paix' (Sirens of Peace).

The pontoon stands as a symbol of bridging the gap between generations, having evolved from a war-time bridge, in 1914, to a peace bridge today. 

The project, highlight of a weekend of international cultural events, is part of the Peace Centre of Antwerp's Centenary commemorative programme.

In 1914, Antwerp briefly became the capital of Belgium after the German invasion of August 4th which brought Britain into the First World War.

Sailors and Royal Marines from the British Royal Naval Division joined the defence of the city on October 3rd, prompting a personal visit by Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty.

Heavy German bombardment destroyed Antwerp's fortifications, forcing Belgian and British troops to withdraw, and the city formally surrendered on October 10th 1914. 

More details of Antwerp's 14-18's commemorative programme can be found here. Admission to the pontoon bridge is by ticket. For information about remaining availability, click here.

Sources: Antwerpen 14-18/Visit Flanders/Wikipedia/various

Image: copyright @Jimmy Kets, courtesy of Antwerpen 14-18

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News