Belgians and citizens of Antwerp in particular have always been proud of the Minerva Motor car, a luxury automobile manufactured in the heart of Antwerp till just before the Second World War. It is still told that gangster Al Capone was driven around Chicago in an (indestructable) Minerva. This may just be an apocryphal story, but fact is that armoured Minervas braved more gunfire during the fighting around Antwerp in 1914 than during the whole of Prohibition. Which, all things considered, may have been a good selling point to bootlegging racketeers during the Roaring Twenties.
The Belgian Army was among the first to make extensive use of armoured cars. After the front had stabilized behind the flooded Yser, the Army had no real use for fast armoured vehicles. As a gesture to Allied solidarity, a detachment of Minerva armoured cars and several hundred Belgian soldiers were sent to Russia where they saw action against Austrian troops in Galicia. (see the account Armoured Cars in Russia)
During the siege of Antwerp, armoured car detachments made many daring and dashing raids against German positions. Being something of a 1914 vintage high-tech novelty, they were extremely photogenic and were extensively photographed. Here is a collection of photographs of Minerva armoured cars taken during the siege of Antwerp.
from the British weekly magazine 'The War of the Nations' 1914
from the weekly news magazine 'The War Budget'
from the British news magazine 'The Penny War Weekly'
2 photos by Donald Thompson from the book 'Fighting in Flanders'
from the Dutch newsmagazine 'Panorama' 1914
on a country lane outside Antwerp
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