Within the city and its immediate surroundings, most distances can be covered on foot or with a bicycle. Within the city centre, road speed regulations prescribe 30 km/h as the maximum speed limit, making it a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly city. There are also a few car parking lots. There are several buses, primarily from the public transport company TEC, that connect the city with the region while providing travel options within the city centre. Bus 127 connects Hannut with Landen railway station and with the city of Huy. Landen railway station is located on the NMBS railway line 36 (Brussels - Liège). The European route E40 passes Hannut 3km to the North, connecting Hannut with Brussels, Leuven, Liège and the city of Aachen.
Seventeen villages are included in the greater Hannut area: Abolens, Avernas-le-Bauduin, Avin, Bertrée, Blehen, Cras-Avernas, Crehen, Grand-Hallet, Lens-Saint-Remy, Merdorp, Moxhe, Petit-Hallet, Poucet, Thisnes, Trognée (Truielingen), Villers-le-Peuplier, and Wansin.
The Battle of Hannut was a French tactical success, the stand of the Corps de Cavalerie providing time for the rest of the First Army to dig on the Dyle Line by the fifth day of operations (14 May); the German attack on the Dyle Line could not be organised in any strength until the sixth day (15 May). At the operational level of war, that the Battle of Hannut had been fought at all was a big success for the German decoy operation in central Belgium, which made the French victory irrelevant in the context of the campaign. The Corps de Cavalerie, with its organisation and equipment, would have been invaluable for a counter-attack against the German divisions over the Meuse at Sedan. When local French counter-attacks at Sedan failed on 14 May, Gamelin contemplated ordering the Corps de Cavalerie to counter-attack southwards but the XVI Panzer Corps and the Luftwaffe had inflicted such losses that the corps was incapable of such a manoeuvre. With no forces available against the penetration at Sedan, the XVI Panzer Corps was no longer needed for the feint in Belgium and was transferred to Heeresgruppe A (Army Group A) on 18 May.
The Hannut Formation correlates with parts of the Landen Formation in the Netherlands.
The formation is named after the town of Hannut in the province of Liège.
* List of protected heritage sites in Hannut
Hannut (Haneu) is a Walloon city and municipality in the Belgian province of Liege. On January 1, 2006, Hannut had a total population of 14,291. The total area is 86.53 km² which gives a population density of 165 inhabitants per km².
The Hannut Formation (Formation de Hannut; Formatie van Hannut; abbreviation: Hn) is a geologic formation in the subsurface of northern Belgium. The formation consists of marine clay and silt, alternating with moer sandy layers. On top of this the lithology changes to limestone, siltstone and sandstone and the top of the formation is formed by a layer of glauconite bearing sand. The Hannut Formation was formed during the early to middle Thanetian age (Late Paleocene, about 57 million years ago).
At the Battle of Hannut, the 2nd and 3rd DLM of the Corps de Cavalerie with 239 Hotchkiss light tanks and 176 Somua S35s had faced the 3rd Panzer Division with 280 tanks and the 4th Panzer Division with 343 tanks. The German units had only 73 Panzer III and 52 Panzer IV, while the French also had 90 Panhard 178 armoured cars, carrying 25 mm SA 35 anti-tank guns, capable of penetrating any German panzer. The 37 mm gun carried by the Panzer III was ineffective against the French tanks and the 75 mm KwK 37 of the Panzer IV could only penetrate a Somua at close-range. By fighting on the defensive, the French tanks also had the advantage of hiding in villages and engaging from cover. A lack of operational radios was a tactical disadvantage and a report from Panzer Regiment 35 called the French "leaderless, aimless, poorly-led and tactically inferior. The French still managed to inflict a considerable number of tank casualties on the Germans at Hannut (and later at Gembloux), the 4th Panzer Division being reduced to 137 operational tanks on 16 May with only four Panzer IV, a reduction of 45–50 percent. The 3rd Panzer Division lost 20–25 percent and despite the lightly damaged tanks being quickly repaired, the fighting power of the XVI Panzer Corps was substantially reduced.
The German solution was to build an advance guard of one Panzer battalion and one rifle battalion supported by two artillery groups to push forward to Perwez, 18 km south west of Hannut, if possible. But Stever ordered his guard that if they met serious resistance the attack was to be halted. The force advanced under heavy air and artillery cover against the French strongpoint at Thisnes, and simply ignored the French counterattack at Crehen in its rear. The streets of Thisnes were barricaded. Heavy French artillery and other fire met the attack, stopping the tank company on point. The remainder of the German force flanked the French position to their right, though poor visibility hampered the movement. The guard finally reached the western edge of the town, only to meet strong artillery fire from the neighbouring French strongpoint in Wansin which continued to increase. The force was ordered to regroup its tanks and riflemen and to secure a perimeter. But before this could be done, French SOMUAs counterattacked knocking out the Panzer Regiment commander's tank. After hard fighting both French and German tanks pulled back in the darkness, stumbling into each other on occasion. The French retreated to Merdorp and the Panzers to the Hannut area.
On 12 May ''4. Panzerdivision'' raced to seize their first objective, Hannut, reaching the area that morning. General Hoepner ordered the 3rd and 4th Panzer Divisions (3rd Pz. Div. and 4th Pz. Div.) to concentrate on and secure Hannut to secure the 6th Army's flank. Noting his lack of fuel and his divisions artillery and infantry support that had not yet caught up with the armour, which made an immediate assault on Hannut risky, Major-General Stever of the 4th Pz. Div. requested an air-drop of fuel. Concluding that he was only facing one French battalion, he engaged the French defences. That morning the 4th Pz. Div. made contact with a French Armoured force of some 25 tanks. The 4th Pz. Div. destroyed seven of the French tanks for no losses.
In Belgian lithostratigraphy the Hannut Formation is one of the two formations of the Landen Group. The other formation is the younger Tienen Formation (continental and lagoonal sands and clays from the late Thanetian age), which is normally found on top of the Hannut Formation. In the northern and eastern parts of Flanders the Hannut Formation lies stratigraphically on top of the Heers Formation (middle Paleocene sands and marls).
The Battle of Hannut was a Second World War battle fought during the Battle of Belgium which took place between 12 and 14 May 1940 at Hannut in Belgium. It was the largest tank battle in the campaign. It was also the largest clash of tanks in armoured warfare history at the time.
To the south-east of the plain, German forces began their assault over the Meuse River: the Wehrmacht's principal effort. To the north, General Hoepner launched spoiling attacks and tied down the powerful French First Army, so that it could not intervene. Hoepner believed the newly arrived 3rd Pz. Div. had only weak enemy forces before it; the 4th Pz. Div. on the other hand, he believed, faced strong French mechanised forces at Hannut and Thisnes—which the French had in fact already abandoned—and possibly a second French mechanised division south of the Mehaigne. The Luftwaffe struck in the late morning to soften the enemy defences. The 3rd Pz. Div. advanced on Thorembais. The 4th Panzer was to move in parallel on Perwez, against an expected strong Belgian anti-tank line. XVI Army Corps thus fell back on the 6th Army's instruction to push immediately on Gembloux.
The Germans reached the Hannut area just two days after the start of the invasion of Belgium but the French defeated several German attacks and fell back on Gembloux as planned. The Germans succeeded in tying down substantial Allied forces, which might have participated in the Battle of Sedan, the attack through the Ardennes. The Germans failed to neutralise the French First Army completely at Hannut, despite inflicting significant casualties.
At 11:00 A.M. on 11 May, Billotte diverted most of the French 23rd Fighter Group (Fighter Groupement 23) to cover the advance of the First Army and its neighbouring units. After more fighters had been removed for bomber escort missions, few fighters were left to cover the cavalry. The Allied bombers concentrated on retarding the dangerous advance of Hoepner's Panzers. Prioux's ground reconnaissances fell back before the Panzers, toward the main body of French cavalry, which was established in strongpoints along a 40 km front with the 2d DLM from Huy on the Meuse and north, then westward along the Mehaigne creek. The 3d DLM formed a front from the area of Crehen to Orp and then northward along the Petite Gette stream to the area of Tirlemont. The battleground which Prioux chose consisted of a plateau with occasional woods, a dense road network, extended localities and a few isolated large farms. The Mehaigne and Petite Gette were small streams flowing within two-to-three-meter-deep rock cuts with many crossing points, often fordable by tracked vehicles, and offering good cover for would-be infiltrators. But the key terrain feature was the ridge running from Hannut through Crehen and Merdorp. North of the ridge, the Petite Gette flowed north into the Escaut river, south of it, the Mehaigne flowed south into the Meuse. This ridge formed a natural corridor for mechanized forces.
The Battle of Hannut became the largest tank battle of the campaign. The French DLMs had two Brigades Légères Mécaniques each.
On the ground, Stever's 35th Panzer Regiment advancing toward Hannut ran into fierce resistance. The French armour was deployed under cover and during the battle counter-attacked several times. The French forces then yielded Hannut without a fight. German forces attempted to outflank the town, unaware of the retreat. Some 50 light Panzers ran into the French strongpoint at Crehen. French defences equipped with 21 Hotchkiss tanks of the 2d Cuirassiers, supported by parts of the 76th Artillery Regiment plus fire from the nearby 2d DLM. The dragoons lost heavily, but it was the Hotchkisses which carried the burden of the defence, despite the loss of their commander. Firing from prepared positions, German medium tanks attempted to pin down the French while the light tanks moved around the French position. The main French force retreated to Merdorp. The encircled 2d Cuirassiers were freed by an armoured counterattack from the 2DLM. SOMUA S35s breached the German line and the French units broke out, suffering heavy losses in the process. The right flank of the 4th Pz. Div. was now dangerously exposed.
Hoepner pursued the French despite warnings from Panzer Brigade 35 of the 4th Panzer Division, that its losses from Hannut meant any further damage would be tantamount to "suicide". Hoepner did not wait for the infantry divisions to close up and tried to bounce the French out of their defences. The XVI Panzer Corps ran into retreating French columns and inflicted many losses. The closeness of the pursuit created severe problems for the French artillery, which was reluctant to risk inflicting casualties on its own side. The French set up new anti-tank screens and lacking infantry support, Hoepner was forced into a frontal to attack. The two panzer divisions reported many losses on 14 May and were forced to slow their pursuit. In the aftermath, the French armoured units were joined by fresh formations which then set up a new defensive position to the east of Gembloux.
The primary purpose of the Germans was to tie down the strongest elements of the French First Army and keep it away from the main German attack by Army Group A through the Ardennes, as laid down in the German operational plan Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), by General Erich von Manstein. The German breakout of the Ardennes was scheduled for 15 May, five days after the German attacks on the Netherlands and Belgium. The delay was to entice the Allies into believing the main thrust would, like the Schlieffen Plan in World War I, come through Belgium and then down into France. When the Allied armies advanced into Belgium according to the Dyle Plan, they would be tied down by German offensive operations in eastern Belgium at Hannut and Gembloux. With the flank of the First Army exposed, the Germans could thrust to the English Channel which would encircle and destroy the Allied forces. For the French, the plan in Belgium was to prepare for a prolonged defence at Gembloux, about 34 km west of Hannut. The French sent two armoured divisions forward, to conduct a delaying action against the German advance and give the rest of the First Army time to dig in at Gembloux.