The KW line (in Dutch KW-KW-stelling or linie) was a Belgian anti-tank barrier installed between Koningshooikt and Wavre (hence the name KW) designed as a defense against the German invasion in the center of the Belgium at the beginning of World War II. The KW line was built between September 1939 and May 1940 mainly along the Dyle on the orders of the Belgian Ministry of Defence. The fortifications consisted of a series of bunkers combat, communications bunkers, anti-tank ditches and steel structures (Cointet element tetrahedra and iron bars). She was known among allies are the name of the Dyle Line and in German as the Iron Wall. The line formed with the fortified belt Liège and reduced national Antwerp, the core of the Belgian defense until 1940.
Belgian defense strategy in 1940
The KW line was a very important part of the Belgian system of defense against the threat of German invasion in 1940. The “theory of resistance” made it to the position where the French and British armies could move if Belgium was invaded.
This line was the main aim of detecting and reporting each border crossing. The alert line ran along the border with the Netherlands (Limburg) and Germany. This line was guarded by advanced territorial brigades and police units, in the Ardennes, in the avant-garde of hunters Ardennes. After the fall of strategic positions such as bridges, the troops were ordered to withdraw from fighting fires away in order to avoid encirclement.
This line had as main task to test the strength of the German troops and resist as much as possible to allow the troops to gain the protection line. In addition, it would block the roads and make them unusable. Advanced line ran along the border, Antwerp Arlon up via Maaseik. Kempen, she went behind the canal Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten and the Belgian part of the South Willemsvaart. This line was guarded by the Ardennes Hunters and cyclists border.
This line was guarded by 14 divisions, more than half of the Belgian army. The line ran along the Albert Canal to the Meuse to Namur. Along the Albert Canal, there was a bunker all with two machine guns (the height of the water level). All bridges were mined, flooded fields and anti-tank obstacles were built.
KW is the line that begins at Fort Koninghooikt, the height of the fortified position of Antwerp, through Ivy, Leuven, Wavre, Gembloux until Rhisnes where she liaises with the fortified position of Namur. The resistance line was the line where the Allied armies were positioned in case of German invasion.
These include the Wavre Ninove-line continuous line of anti-tank obstacles interspersed with bunkers, the National Bolnetwerk along the Ghent-Terneuzen (which was not yet finished) channel, coastal protection and demolitions provided along the French border (Semois, Hainaut Sambre and channels).
Inventorying and access
In 2009, the Regional Landschap Dijleland and workgroup KW-Stelling started together with other partners, a project to identify the remains of the line. In this project, access to the remains was a priority. The result is a site containing general information, a database and a bike tour in the region of Wespelaar, Tildonk Veltem and Buken.
Impact on the German invasion of 1940
The KW line proved futile because the German troops could penetrate through the Ardennes and later break to France and were able to bypass the line. In practice, it seems that the establishment of fortifications to maintain a solid defense line and continuous in time is impossible. This was also valid for this line. Means of modern war planes and other vehicles are easily moved as static fortifications had no decisive impact on the course of the war. Warfare, as opposed to trench warfare as the First World War, is based entirely on a break through the lines, followed by an advance in which the bunkers were quickly knocked out.
Fortification of the Second World War