Sunday, December 2, 2012

Blaise Castle, in Bristol, England

Blaise Castle, spring 1944. Herbert Koller (from Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is kneeling in the center. On the far right is Richard J. Justice (from Ashland, Wisconsin). I think the man on the far left might be Phillip Rose (from NY)
Blaise Castle as seen in November 2012. Photo courtesy of Anthony Beeson.
My grandfather's WWII photo album had three interesting photos of a Medieval-looking tower. He labeled them as "Antwerp," but after posting the images here I learned it is actually Blaise Castle in Bristol, England.

My grandfather served in the 304th Port Company of the 519th Port Battalion, US Army. His unit was stationed in Bristol from April 11, 1944 to May 30, 1944. A veteran of the battalion identified some of the faces in the top photo (see caption). I know these men were also from my grandfather's 304th Port Company, so I assume the whole group from the same company.

Anthony Beeson, a retired Fine Art Librarian at the city library in Bristol recently emailed me about these photos. I was interested to see the state of the building in the 1940s, and he sent me the modern-day photo above. Thanks Anthony!

An unnamed GI from the 304th Port Company at Blaise Castle, Bristol, England.

An unnamed GI from the 304th Port Company at Blaise Castle, Bristol, England.


  1. Update from Dave Weaver: "The castle is 'The Steen' in downtown Antwerp, very old, historrical, on the banks of Schelt river (which flows through town into the Port of Antwerp). The guy kneeling in the middle is Herb Koller from Milw. and the guy on the right is Dick Justice from Ashland, WI. The section leader of Ray Sonoski and Red Ruidl(James Otto Ruidl) was Sgt. Pierre Bricault. Also in that section was Jim Whitby (a great guy!) from Orchard Park, NY"

    1. Sorry to say this is blase castle estate Bristol its 10 mins walk from my house an the Us army base was on the golf course opposite my house

  2. I am very sory to tell you this little castle isn't 'The Steen' in Antwerp. I've asked the Simon Stevin Stichting if they knew where it was but they have no idee. They think the building style is English or Irisch. I send a picture of the Steen to Andrew so you can see the difference.

  3. Hi Raf, After looking at pictures of the real Steen, I see that this tower is way too small. Maybe it is something near Bristol. I am just noticing now that there are no 1st Engineer Special Brigade patches on their jackets. That would imply a pre-invasion date.

  4. Blaise Castle is a "Folly" in Bristol England within walking distance of the billets used in Stoke Bishop and Sea Mills during April 1944.


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