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Webmatters : The Belgian Front Line: Kattesas Sluice Gate at Nieuwpoort
Rough Map of Area

Kattesas Sluice Gate

Location

Nieuwpoort is a town in the Province of West Flanders on the south-west side of the River IJzer (Yser), three kilometres from the sea. Note that you are travelling towards Nieuwpoort (Stad) and not Nieuwpoort-Bad which is on the coast.

The main road into the town is the N 39 (Astridlaan) and this brings you out to the banks of the IJzer river. Stay on the Astridlaan, do not follow the signs for Centrum.

You will come out at a large roundabout.

The road system can appear overly complicated by the double tram line that runs along it. Be very careful that you do not turn down it instead of the road.

The memorial is close to the King Albert Monument and the Westfront Centre (worthy of a visit for an explanation of the inundation of the polders via the nearby Ganzepoot sluice gates).

The reach the Kattesas cross the tramway and take the roundabout exit in front of you. This will bring you into Handelskaai. Follow the road down to the end where you will reach the canal.

There is a small informative panel telling you that you are in the correct location.

The reach the King Albert Monument and the Westfront Centre (worthy of a visit for an explanation of the inundation of the polders via the nearby sluice gates) go back to the roundabout and turn left towards Middlekerke. This requires crossing the tramway twice as you go around the roundabout. The memorial will soon be visible off to your left. Follow the signs for Middlekerke then Westfront.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 51.135625 2.744227 Map

 

History

By the 18th October 1914 the Germans had reached Nieuwpoort in their attempt to capture the coast in what is known as the Race to the Sea.

At this stage a Belgian Staff Officer, Kapitein-Commandant Prudent Nuyten consulted with Karel Cogge, the Superintendent of drainage for Veurne-Ambacht (Noordwatering) on the possibility of completely inundating a large area in front of the Belgian positions.

Cogge stated that ideally the sluice gates at the Nordvaart needed to be opened at high tide but the military considered this to be too dangerous as the area was by now in No Man’s Land and under German shelling. An alternative was to open the gates of the Kattesas (Sometimes called the Spanish Lock), closer to the sea and out of sight of the Germans. This would require a number of other gates to be controlled and the longer route the water had to take meant that the flooding would take longer to achieve.

On the night of the 26th/27th October Cogge and Reservekapitein Robert Thys of the Belgian GĂ©nie (Engineers) attempted to open the Kattesas but failed because the weight of water forced the gates shut. The following night Cogge returned, with chains to hold the gates open, and this time the accompanying soldiers succeeded. The water level rose but too slowly to really hinder the Germans who were now at Ramskapelle — right in front of the railway line. It was now or never.

Over the next few nights a retired skipper Hendrik Geeraert would assist the military in opening the Noordvaart (at the Ganzepoot).

 

Other memorials nearby