The Grand Curtius

On my way to Lille I stopped at Liege and checked out the Grand Curtius museum. It is actually several museums in one – but, as is usual, it was undergoing renovations while I was there and the arms & armour collection (it’s near Herstal, of FN/Fabrique Nationale fame) was mostly not on display in the one spot, or even at all. Still, a chunk of it was …

A Mitrailleuse, one of the precursors of the true machinegun and, like early MGs, treated as artillery. You can clearly see the multiple barrels at the muzzle.
A european version of the Gatling type ‘machine gun’ … also treated as artillery.
FN-2000 in the centre … ring any bells, Adrian?
P90 SMG so beloved of Stargate SG-1 teams, just above the FN-2000.
WW1 Bergmann MP-18, the one with the Luger snail drum magazine rather than the post-war MP-28 which had a more practical ‘stick’ magazine.
German FG-42, a failed attempt at the ‘assault rifle’ concept. Fired a full size 7.92 mm cartridge rather than the 7.92 ‘kurz’ used by the later Sturmgewehr series.
Sorry about the fuzzy picture … crappy lighting … but the centre rifle is a Karabiner 43 automatic Rifle. Not an assault rifle, but a step in the same direction … more so than the FG-42 which was overly complex and too heavy.
Lewis LMG with the horrible pan magazine.
They also had an impressive selection of period furniture and clocks … including this one, which, IIRC, was 2nd Empire … possibly Napoleonic.
There was also the usual selection of religious-y things, including this elaborate gold (or silver-gilt) tryptych. Not medieval, though.


The Mons city museum covered WW1 and WW2 overall and as it affected the local area.

A ‘French’ 75 mm cannon.
Different types of WW1 gas masks.

As usual, piss poor lighting and badly placed glass cases made most of the displays unphotographeable … but the museum was actually quite good despite all that.


There are a lot of WW1 museums and memorials in the area … wonder why?

The famous Menin Gate. A replacement of the original medieval one destroyed in WW2 … built by the Imperial War Graves commission to list the names of all those MIA … but someone didn’t do their sums properly and … there wasn’t enough space. So the Canadians and some others are listed elsewhere. As new bodies are discovered and (occasionally) identified their names are removed from here as they will now have an actual marked grave.
One of the two Lions, one on either side of the gate. These aren’t the originals – Menin/Belgium gave them to Australia as a ‘thank you’ for our part in WW1 … but we had exact copies made and re-gifted them to Menin in 2017.

Passchendaele Museum

This small but excellently presented museum is at Passchendaele – unfortunately most of the displays are, you guessed it, behind glass, poorly lit and almost impossible to photograph.

However, the basement has a reconstruction of a Trench Bunker system and this leads ourtside to the reconstruction of a section of German and of British trenches … but, again, the lighting in the Bunker was piss poor and only the trench sections were possible to take decent photos of!

A section of reconstructed trench – the use of wickerwork to reinforce the sides is indicative of German works (they were running out of raw materials of all sorts by the end of the war) and you can see the shelter in the rear, probably for ammo storage for a trench mortar or the like …
Better quality work indicates this was a British or Allied trench … and, of you look carefully, you’ll note that the trench proper isn’t all that deep … it only goes up to the sandbag level. This sort of arrangement was used where trenches couldn’t be dug deep enough, sometimes because of underlaying rock, but more often because the ground was too waterlogged … as was all to common at the end of the trench lines in Belgium.
A more conventional section of allied trench … note the duckboards at the left edge, designed to try and keep the solders’ feet out of water, and usually failing to do so, especially after any sort of rain. Also note the ‘zig-zag’ arrangement designed to limit the damage radius of any grenades lobbed in … and make it impossible for a raiding party to fire down more than a a dozen feet or so if they managed to take a section of the trench … turning any corner and they could be in the line of fire of waiting defenders.
Inside of one of the prefab shelters for ammo.

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