Flugplatz Raversijde

Map number

-

Location

This strongpoint is located in a freely accessible park north of the sothern dispersal area of the airfield, just opposite today's Vlaams Luchtvaartopleidingscentrum (VLOC). The constructions are also freely accessible.

Tactical function

Defence of the southern dispersal area of the airfield (see thecomments below)
Unit(s)

Flying units:
Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 (
with Ju 87R long-distance dive-bomber)
Stab: 11.40 - 22.02.41
II. Gruppe: 11.40 - 22.02.41
III. Gruppe: 11.40 - 22.02.41
Jagdgeschwader 52
(with Bf109E)
II. Gruppe:
14.04.11 - 27.04.41; 24.05.41 - 09.06.41
Ground units:
Fliegerhorstkommandantur E2/III: 7.40 - 10.41 (Major Franz Huber)
Fliegerhorstkommandantur E 6/III (See): 10.41 - 09.43 (possibly located at the Spuikom) (Major Franz Huber)
Landesschützenzug 46/VI (reported 11.40)

Landesschützenzug 321/VI (reported 11.40)

Troops 180 (16 June 1943)

Weapons

?

Bunkers

(at least) 1x WWI bunker, 1x air-raid shelter, 2x open emplacement for mortar, 1x Tobruk for Renault tank turret (now disappeared)
Remaining bunkers 1x WWI bunker, 1x air-raid shelter, 2x open emplacement for mortar
Radar -
Comments The first airport of Oostende was not situated at Raversijde (Middelkerke) but rather at Stene (Oostende). The Belgian national airline company (founded in 1923) quickly began to use Stene as a stop on its Brussels-London route. As quickly, the limitations of the Stene airfield became obvious: the airfield was too small, take-offs and landings were possible only on a grass surface and there were no possibilities for expansion. For these reasons it was decided, in 1936, to construct a new airfield at nearby Raversijde (Middelkerke). The actual work was started from the fall of 1938 onwards and the airfield was more or less completed when the Germans invaded. The latter were able to convert the civil airport into one for military use with little effort. Hundreds of Belgian labourers were employed for the construction of the airfield.
In 1941 the single concrete runway was 602 metres long and 100 metres wide (another source states 595 metres and 90 metres, respectively). The total size of the airfield was 1190 metres in length and 685 metres in width. The airfield had the following infrastructure:
- the airfield HQ and operations section were located in buildings on either side of the main entrance on the northern boundary (which is also today's entrance).
- there were 2 or more dispersal areas, but only the southern one (still present today) ie mentioned in documents
- at the western end of the southern disperal area there were 2 hangars for repairs (there are still hangars there today).
- a small group of barrack huts were located of the northwestern corner of the airfield  However, the personnel were reported to be quartered in nearby housed and towns
- there would appear to have been a refuelling loop and an underground fuel tank on the northern boundary.
- 2 heavy and 7 light flak positios were located witin  1.5 km of the airfield.
 - the southern dispersal area was protected by strongpoints nd barbed wire obstacles.
With this information it can be assumed that the strongpoint described in detail below and its bunkers were a part of the defence of the southern dispersal area.
It was the Luftwaffe's aim to use the airfield for the fighters accompanying the bombers in the air offensive against Britain. Because of the dame to the runway, some fighters were themselved damaged during landing. The airfield was little used by the Luftwaffe after February 1941.
During the war the airfield was bombed multiple times by the allies. so that it could never be finished completely. A lot of efforts were made to camouflage the airfield buildings as much as possible
In 1942-1943 the Germans began to construct the Atlantikwall. In an effort to make air landings impossible, the airfield was dotted with hundresds of poles interconnected with metal wires at a height of 2.5 metres. From 1944 onwards the airfield was also heavily mined. Also, as a diversionary measure, the Germans placed a wooden mock aircraft at the end of the runway to fool allied pilots.
The airfield was attacked by the allies as early as 2 February 1941. On this occasion two Belgian labourers were killed. Some three weeks later (24 February) another labourer was killed. On 14 May 1941 1 Messerschmitt was damaged n a lowe-level attack.
On 8 February 1942 pilot John Fletcher sighted 4 German fighters on the ground. He attacked but was shot down and buried in the Middelkerke cemetery. In March 1942 Belgian RAF pilot Mike Bonnet attacked Messerschmitts, a hanger  and a petrol dump. On 14 April 1942 a British bomber was shot down over the airfield and the 4 crew members captured at Raversijde. On 27 April 1942 a heavy bomber was shot down above the airfield, one of whose crew parachuted onto the airfield and was captured.
In April 1943 the landing area  was obstructed with trenches and portable tripods.
On 27 February 1944 the landing area was still obstructed with trenches and the runway was unserviceable with three unfilled bomb craters and otherwise obstructed with portable obstacles.
On 27 April 1944 20 American B-17 bombers attacked the airfield and the constructions in the dunes. Some 100 bombs were dropped on the airfield, killing one girl, but causing little material damage.
Etude de Logistique
EM d/l Destruction 
Resistance
The resistance group Service Marc detailed the state of the airfield on 16 June 1943. Thus, the presence was noted of several camouflaged barracks (1 for the commander, 1 for the personnel, 5 for the crew and 20 hangars for 1 or 2 fighters)In addition, there were storage facilities for petrol, coal, explosives and ammunition. Finally, there were 3 small offices, one forge and a repair facility. However, the Service Marc also found the airfield to be non-operational: no aircraft were present, the petrol storage facility was empty, as were the hangers. In addition, the runway had been made unusable by placing chevaux-de-frieses with barbed wire on it,  The terrain was also carved with ditches and trenches. Nevertheless, some 180 soldiers were still present at the airfield.
Additional information This strongpoint is pretty unique in three respects. Firstly, it contains an original WWI German bunker. Secondly, one of the emplacements for mortar contains important inscriptions (see below). Finally, the big air-raid shelter shows how the function was changed from air-raid protection to lodging.

 

See this strongpoint on Google Earth



Yellow indicates existing constructions
Red indicates
disappeared or more or less invisible constructions. Some positions may be approximate only.
 
Below are some impressions of this strongpoint
The numbers below refer to the above Google Earth map
1. Brick building (ruins)
The first construction we come across is the ruin of what used to be a brick building. These are actually the remains of 4 Luftwaffe brick barracks, three large ones and one smaller one. These were constructed by the Germans in 1940-1941, when the airfield was actively used.
What used to be the entrance, seen from the inside.
This looks like a window that was closed off at a later time in a very rudimentary fashion.
2. WWI bunker
The first bunker is very close to no. 1 above. This is actually a WWI bunker, which was re-used by the Germans in WWII. During WWII the bunker most likely served to accommodate the personnel of the nearby mortar emplacement (see no. 3 below)
The northern end shows an opening, most probably some kind of window.
The bunker is surrounded by what is now a low wall. This wall was actually higher, as it should been relative to the sunken bunker.  In the background we see a small emplacement, possibly for a searchlight.
This would appear to be the main entrance of the bunker
The central corridor inside gives access to a room on the left and another one on the right.
These are most interesting pictures showing an opening with oblique walls. Such oblique openings elsewhere have usually turned out to be typical of WWI German bunkers. There is another WWI bunker with just such an opening quite nearby in Ostend.
These pictures show the bunker to be quite a large rectangular construction.
Not quite sure what this is.
3. Open emplacement
Here we see a rather large open emplacement. It was constructed by the Germans later in the war (1943-44) to house a medium mortar (French 8.14cm 278 or Russian 8.2cm 274). As such this emplacement would have been part of the close defences of the airfield. Let's not forget the strongpoint is located right opposite the southern dispersal area of the airfield.
This picture shows the first signs of an amazing relic hiding underneath the concrete crown of the emplacement on the inner side. Shown are the letters KZ at regular intervals, the codes 330, 331, 332, 333 and the word Sperrfeuer. The latter word means 'barrage fire', while KZ stands for Küstenzielpunkt on 'coastal target point'. In case of an enemy invasion pre-planned and pre-calculated firing targets, located on the beach and drawn on German maps as large circles, would be used. The forward observation officer only needed the mention the number of the KZ and the mortar crew immediately knew where to fire. The codes 330-333 in the emplacement simply indicated the direction of each KZ, making the firing process easier for the crew. These target circles were indeed located just in front of Stp Tirpitz.
This theory is confirmed by the existence of a map showing these numbered Küstenzielpunkte. Actually, the first KZ on the French-Belgian border was 271, the entrance of the port of Ostend 349 and that of Zeebrugge 408. The numbering stopped at around 430.
These pictures show these important relics.
The entrance to the emplacement. Inside and underneath the leaves and dirt the central pivot to fix the special plate that supported the mortar and the steel circle on which it rotated are still present
While the top of the emplacement is made of concrete, the underlying construction is clearly made of brick. Thus the construction is actually feldmässig. The picture shows one of the small rectangular cavities inside the wall of the emplacement. What was their purpose, as they would appear to be too small to store ammunition?
4. Air-raid shelter (Luftschutzbunker)
The construction with the clearest purpose is this air-raid shelter. The pictures above show the western entrance and side of the bunker.
The entrance from close up.
Once inside there is a small space right in front (see below) and the main passage to the left.
The small space right in front (see above)
Here we see a first corridor which turns right at the end.
A view of the roof of this construction
Here we see the middle corridor and that location of the central part of the air-raid shelter, where one would be most protected from any blast outside.
a ventilation opening?
Behind the brick well, where there must have been a door, the corridor briefly continues before turning left. In fact, the presence of these brick dividing walls in highly fascinating, as it suggests that the bunker probably had 2 lives. Firstly, in the period 1940-1942 the bunker did indeed serve fully as air-raid shelter. However, with the airfield fallen into disuse later in the war, dividing walls and doors were added probably to give the bunker its new function of quarters, most likely for the crew of the nearby mortar.
This is the corridor leading towards the eastern entrance/exit to the bunker.
In this picture we look back towards the central corridor.
The daylight reveals that were are hetting closer to the entrance/exit. Here, another door would have been in place.
Here, too, we find a small space, opposite the entrance
Finally, the eastern entrance/exit.
The eastern entrance/exit seen from outside
This picture shows that smething was located on the roof. It might have been an open emplacement for Flak or searchlight.
Another view of the bunker
5. Open emplacement
The second open emplacement, this time close to no. 4 above. Here , too, the top is concrete while the supporting walls are brick.
This picture shows small additional supports against the wall.