Monday, July 5, 2010

Antwerp in World War II

At the beginning of my research I was hoping there was a book devoted to Antwerp's war time experience. Unfortunately, there is no such book in print, but there are two books about the V-weapons that feature a full chapter about Antwerp. London is known to be targeted by Hitler's V-1s and V-2s, but Antwerp was actually the city that was more heavily bombarded. Consequently, these two books each feature a chapter titled "City of Sudden Death" after the 1945 TIME article that popularized that nickname. The two books' chapters approach the subject from different angles, making them complimentary pair.

Impact: The History of Germany's V-Weapons in World War II was written by Benjamin King and Timothy Kutta. King was the Command Historian of the US Army Transportation Center at Fort Eustis, VA. Since my grandfather's 519th Port Battalion was a Transportation Corps unit, King's concern with supply issues was especially useful to me. His chapter on Antwerp tended to me more technical, focusing on bombing figures, rocket flight patterns, antiaircraft artillery, etc.

V-2: A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile was written by Tracy D. Dungan. Dungan runs His chapter deals more with the personal experience of the people who suffered through the bombardment.

When my book Longshore Soldiers is published this month, I'm pleased to report its description will further contribute to the study of WWII Antwerp.


  1. Hi

    Don't know if you have come accross this but I am interested in my family history with which there may be a connection.

    I am lead to believe that my uncle, Bob Westover, was temporarily promoted to command reconstruction of Antwerp Docks and it's Associated railway following it's capture to allow the forwarding of allied supplies.

    Sadley I have no records to support this as, following his death, another part of the family were "very effective" in disposing of his possesions and papers.

    I would be very grateful if you could supply any other information on this.

    I have spoken briefly with some members of PFT, the Belgian railway preservation group who may have information on this but nothing has come to light, presumably as the railway at that time would have been under military rather than railway company control.


  2. Hi Ian, You might want to check out The Saga of the 708 Railway Grand Division by A. G. Gregory, published in 1947. You should be able to get a copy through inter library loan. The 708 was the Army unit in charge of the railway in Belgium. I believe the book lists the names of all the guys who were in it.

    The National Archives has a searchable page for WWII enlistment records. I found a couple Robert Westovers. Maybe you could find some clues there.


Thank you for your comment! You can email me too (see at right).