Dutch Water Line


Location: 51°58'26.33"N    5° 9'23.97"O


Lekdijk  58
3998 NJ   Tull en 't Waal  - Houten

Fort Honswijk was built between 1841 and 1848 and started off as an earthwork. But already in 1844 was decided to build a bomb free gun tower in the fortress.

The gun tower had originally two floors above ground level and a parapet on top. However after 1860, the artillery improved in accuracy and power.
The brickwork could be shot to pieces.

Between 1881 and 1885 the tower was degraded to be a bomb free Troop Barracks and Storage building.
The parapet and second floor were removed.
A layer of sand and clay was added on the roof and the tower was protected against direct hits by a 180º screen of ground covered bomb free buildings, under a thick earth wall at the enemy side.  This is called a "Contrescarp".

Lots of other bomb free buildings and open gun positions were added.

The improvements were finalized in 1885, with adding a concrete gun garage next to the protective screen  and  building a double Casemate in the left front Bastion, to cover the inundation sluice gate.

In 1897 the shooting holes, of the Casemate,  that were originally made for 8 cm canister guns, were adapted for the use of Gardner M50 machine guns.


Here you see the layout, the right side is the east side(the enemy side). The buildings under the earth covering are drawn in red.

  1 = Gun Tower.
  2 = protective "Contrescarp".
  3 = infantry firing step "Banquette".
  4 = protected rear gun position.
  5 = fortress keeper's house.
  6 = Gun Garage "Remise", with gun
         positions on three sides.
  7 = infantry firing step "Banquette".
  8 = Entrance building "Potèrne".
  9 = gun powder & projectiles Storage.
10 = storage shed.
11 = infantry firing step "Banquette".
12 = Gun Garage "Remise", with 4 gun
13 = infantry firing step "Banquette".
14 = infantry firing step "Banquette".
15 = protected rear gun position.
16 = infantry firing step "Banquette".
17 = Gun Garage "Remise", with a
         Gun Casemate.
18 = Gun Casemate shooting ditch
         "Embrasure", aimed at the
         inundation sluise gate.
19 = front gun positions, protected by
         traverse hills.
20 = storage shed.
21 = concrete Gun Garage "Remise",
         with storage cellar and 3 gun
22 = inundation sluice gate.
This is the gun tower, probably somewhere in the 1960-ties.

Originally, the tower had its own moat, but the moat was filled again in 1886.

Recent photograph of the entrance of the gun tower.

The tower should also function as a last retreat "Reduit", within the fortress, see the rifle slots in the door,

A shooting hole and the stone to honor king Willem II, who initiated the building period of the New Dutch Water Line.

He visited the fortress during the building period.

The Dutch Water Line was officially called the New Dutch Water Line, after a part of the Line was shifted to the east, to get the town Utrecht behind the Line (between 1840 and 1860).

The fortress was officially named Fort Willem II, but that name was not used much.

The military, usually, named each fortresses after the village nearest, or to an other important object in the area.
They did not make an exception for the King. A typical Dutch thing.

The interior of the gun tower.

Left is the inner core and at the right are the gun rooms.

The water pump stand, however the pump levers are gone.
The so called "Contrescarp Gallery".

Left is the ground covered bomb free building of the protective ring "Contrescarp".

Here you see a nice overview of the position of Honswijk.

At the end of the 19th century, the strength of the position was as follows:

34 guns and howitzers of various calibers.
14 mortars, type Coehoorn.
10 machine guns M90,
10 officers
31 lower officers
518 soldiers.

The fortress is still used by the bomb squad department of the military, but will be handed over to the ministry of
Economy, Agriculture and Innovation.

Then a new purpose and use will be determined.

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Last revised on 26-12-2012