Part of the site will soon disappear as works completing the Antwerp ring road proceed. For archaeologists this was the last chance. The wood was the location of a large repatriation camp for American soldiers returning home after liberating us.
“It’s here the American GIs stayed while they waited for the boat home. In all 270,000 soldiers passed through the camp. Some left items behind or buried them in the hope of being able to return later to collect them” says City of Antwerp archaeologist Jef Vansweevelt.
“We found money, bullets, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shaving soap. There are weapons including pistols and daggers as they weren’t allowed on board. We retrieved personal belongings too like self-made jewellery.”
“We found dog tags too. Every soldier had two in case they were killed. One stayed on the body, a second was sent home. We’ll be sending them to the families.”
The archaeologists have been working with detectorists, who have been combing the site for years and have a lot of experience and recognise items. The objects found will be exhibited in time. Follow the excavations via antwerpenmorgen.be.