Ostend in May 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by rewdco, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    During my research on the Dunkirk and De Panne evacuation beaches, I have also found many pictures of Ostend. These pictures made me so curious about what had happened in Ostend that I started to do some research on the May 1940 history of that city as well.

    When Germany invaded Belgium on May 10th 1940, Ostend soon became a target of the Luftwaffe as it was a big port. Already on May 13nd German aircrafts started dropping bombs on Ostend. These air raids would go on almost daily, until the Belgian capitulation on May 28th. The German bombs hit a lot of civilian targets. Famous Ostend photographer Maurice Antony took lots of pictures of burning houses and the ruins that remained, and sold these “souvenir sets” to the German soldiers… These postcards, plus some pictures that were taken by the German soldiers themselves, form the basis for this study… Where possible I have made some “then and now” comparisons, with the help of Google Streetview. More detailed information (on a day to day basis) can be found on www.oostendsenostalgie.be/?p=78 .

    Let’s start our virtual trip at the Leopold III laan. Here we find the shipwreck of the trawler “Freddy”. (Pictures of Freddy are often wrongly captioned as “Dunkirk”…) This Belgian ship was sunk on May 21st by German aircraft, it was later salvaged and commissioned by Kriegsmarine.

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  2. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    At the other side of the dock we see the Vindictivelaan:

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    The house on the corner is severely damaged by bombs:

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  3. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    We are in a side street of the Vindictivelaan now, at the corner of the Beernaertstraat and the Serruyslaan:

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  4. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Another street in the same neighbourhood is the Stockholmstraat.

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    Another bomb damaged house:

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    A bit later during the war another house in this street was used as a theatre for the German soldiers:

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  5. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    This is another side street of the Vindictivelaan: the Christinastraat:

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    Unfortunately I can’t find this location in Streetview…
     
  6. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    The next side street of the Vindictivelaan is the Kapellestraat (a famous shopping street). This street was more than once the target of the German incendiary bombs.

    If we walk through the Kapellestraat, in the direction of the sea, we come across these scenes:

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    This damage was caused by bombs that were dropped before May 21st:

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    But the May 21st air raid made a lot of extra damage. The Uniprix shop (together with many other houses) was damaged on that day:

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  7. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

  8. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    We are almost at the crossing with the Ooststraat. This area was hit during several air raids by many bombs, as can be seen from the pictures that were taken there:

    The Kappellestraat – Ooststraat corner, seen from the Kapellestraat, south side. Notice the “De Meester” sign on the shop on the corner:

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    The De Meester shop is at the left of this picture. A paper informs the customers where the owners can be found now…

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  9. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Same corner, seen from the Ooststraat, west side:

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  10. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Same corner, seen from the Ooststraat, east side:

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  11. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    We are now standing in the middle of the crossroad, and we look in the Ooststraat (east side):

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  12. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    We are still standing in the middle of the crossroad, and now we look in the Kapellestraat (north side):

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  13. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Same corner, seen from the Kapellestraat, north side:

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  14. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    We are still in the Kapellestraat, walking towards the crossing with the Wittenonnenstraat:

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  15. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    We are almost at the crossing with the Wittenonnenstraat. We look back at the Kappellestraat – Ooststraat crossing:

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  16. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    We are at the crossing with the Wittenonnenstraat now, and we are still looking at the Kappellestraat – Ooststraat crossing:

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  17. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    After another 100 meters we arrive at the Wapenplein. On this square we find the Town Hall, the Library, some hotels and restaurants, and a bandstand. Bombs hit the Wapenplein during at least three different air raids (May 21st, May 27th and May 28th). It is difficult to give a good overview of the situation. Many photographs are available, but they have been taken from different angles, at different moments in time. Some of the houses that are still standing in one picture, are gone in another picture…

    This is a pre war picture of how the Wapenplein looked like when we come out of the Kapellestraat, walk over the Wapenplein and look at the southeast corner of the square. Some cafés and restaurants on the east side, the Town Hall on the south side and the band stand in the middle of the square:

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    During the air raid of the May 21st, bombs have damaged the houses in the middle of the east side. The gable of the house on the right is still standing. The Town Hall has also been hit by bombs, but is still standing:

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  18. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    During this attack the top of the tower, together with the Town Bells, came down.

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  19. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    On May 27th the Wapenplein was bombed again. More houses on the east side of the square are hit, only the front door of the house on the right is still standing:

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  20. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Later that day it was decided to remove the remains of the glass marquise of the Town Hall. This proved to be a good idea, as the Town Hall was bombed again the next day (May 28th).

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    The Town Hall was first hit in the centre:

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    Later another bomb destroyed the tower at the right of the building:

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    The photograph below shows people standing in the Kapellestraat, looking at a burning building at the Wapenplein. I think that what they see is the burning tower at the right of the Town Hall.

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    Later that day Belgium would surrender…
     

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