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Camp Tophat Belgium 1945


River Patrol
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Johan Willaert

Steve- Here is the patch for the camp

 

attachicon.giftophat.JPG

 

For an upcoming article I am looking for a clear high-res picture or scan of the Top Hat patch...

All credits will be given of course.

 

Thanks

 

Johan

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vintageproductions

Johan-I am sorry I completely forgot to get to you who bought the patch.

Tomorrow when I get to the shop I will forward you his info.

Bob

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  • 10 months later...
  • 1 year later...
Johan Willaert

Since I wrote the article, I have managed to acquire some more Top Hat items...

 

An example of the rather rare patch worn by both civilian and Military personnel of the Camp...

(Got this from a fellow board member; THANKS! )

 

 

post-92-0-05547800-1510596129_thumb.jpg

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  • 8 months later...
Nick W Peters

Hello Johan

I'm curious. Does anything remain of camp Tophat today?

regards Nick

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  • 2 weeks later...
Johan Willaert

Hello Johan

I'm curious. Does anything remain of camp Tophat today?

regards Nick

The left bank of the river remained fairly intact, although densely wooded until recently.

The general layout of the camp could still be traced in the Woods and there was a club/meeting building called Top Hat.

The Camp's main road still exists as parts of the road layout in the area and has been upgraded on several occasions

 

Seems that all has been sold, probably to be developed into housing or industry...

 

Sad, but I guess that's the way it goes...

 

Cheers

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  • 3 years later...
Collector .45

I wanted to revive this old topic today as I have come across a few cool old photos of Camp Tophat in an engineer officers photo album. I don't unfortunately have any dates as to when specifically these were taken but I do know that this particular officer was overseas from November 1944 to January 1946. 

Webp.net-resizeimage (2).jpg

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  • 7 months later...
Paula Walks

Hello, I would love to know the exact date when they started building the camp. Also it started with tents but than there was a cinema and so much more. Does someone know when it was fully finished ?

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Johan Willaert
22 hours ago, Paula Walks said:

Hello, I would love to know the exact date when they started building the camp. Also it started with tents but than there was a cinema and so much more. Does someone know when it was fully finished ?

 

From my research:

 

In June 1945, the 19th AAA Group, commanded by Colonel AC Spalding and composed of the 556th and 559th AAA Battalions, was sent to Belgium to organize a staging area in close proximity to Antwerp's world-class harbor facilities. Before construction of the camp could begin, the entire area had to be cleared of nearly 7000 German mines.


The 358th Engineer General Service Regiment designed the camp layout and construction by the 1147th Engineer Combat Group began on June 1st, 1945 by installing 13Km of pipes for water supply and sewage.
By August 1945 240 huts had been built, all equipped with water and electricity. Eventually Top Hat would become a pretty luxurious place and a virtual city of 2500 20-man tents and 500 buildings. There were five movie theaters, two Open Air Theaters with 7500 and 1000 places, a bakery, a library, washing parlor, shoe polish stands, a gift PX, Officers’ and Enlisted Men’s clubs, an ice-cream bar and even a 20-seat barber shop where the haircuts were free!
There were chapels for three religions: catholic, protestant and Jewish.

The camp was divided into 26 blocks, was 2Km long and 1Km wide, and had a capacity of 16.500 men. Thousands of donuts and 3000 liters of coffee were being sold every day…!

 

On 1st April 1946, the following order was received: “Camp Top Hat, located at Antwerp, Belgium, is discontinued as a Staging Area Camp, on or about 2nd April 1946”.

 

The US government paid the city of Antwerp 100.000 Belgian Francs as compensation for use of the site and to refurbish it after the war. By May 1946 the entire camp had disappeared nearly as fast as it had been installed one year earlier.

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