The contribution of Portuguese troops during the Spring Offensive, Operation Georgette and the Battle of The Lys of March and April 1918 was commemorated by the French and Portuguese Governments today at the Portuguese War Memorial on the Western Front.
Interesting photographs taken by Joseph Zimet @josephzimet on Twitter.
April 9th 1918 / 2018 is obviously an important day in Portuguese army history, as set out in The Portugal in WW1 Wikipedia entry: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portugal_during_World_War_I
April 9 1918: The Battle of La Lys, as it becomes known in Portugal, or Operation Georgette or the Battle of Estaires to the British, starts with a heavy artillery barrage from the Germans, followed by a German offensive with intensive use of lethal gas. The German Sixth Army deploys eight divisions (about 100,000 men), supported by intensive artillery fire. Against the force, the Portuguese have 20,000 soldiers and 88 guns. As a result, the Second Division is annihilated during the battle. The Portuguese CEP loses 327 officers and 7,098 soldiers, about 35% of its effective fighting capacity. The survivors are sent to the rear, some of the units being integrated into the British Army later on.
During this battle, one of the most courageous acts in Portuguese military history is perpetrated, as private Aníbal Milhais (also known as “Soldado Milhões” [“A Soldier as good as a million others” in his commanding officer’s words]) defends the retreating allied forces with nothing but his machine gun, allowing them to fall back and regroup. Once he runs out of bullets, he escapes the battlefield.
After defeating two German regiments and forcing the remaining German forces to go around him (they find it impossible to defeat what they believe to be an heavily armed post), he gets lost along the way, having to eat nothing but the sweet almonds his family had sent him from Portugal for three days. Lost and exhausted, he is able to rescue a Scottish major from drowning in a swamp. The major leads him to the Allied camp and tells of Milhais’s deeds. (Infomation source: Wikipedia)
More about the Portuguese Expeditionary Forces in WW1
Plans for a memorial in England were recently suggested here http://www.centenarynews.com/article/memorials-for-a-king–country-plans-for-tribute-in-uk-to-portugals-fallen
56,500 Portuguese troops were sent to the Western Front, of these approximately 2,100 were killed, 5,200 wounded and 7,000 taken prisoner.
The Portuguese Fireplace is an unusual Memorial of Canadian and Portuguese troops on forestry duty in the New Forest. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Fireplace
There is a small amount of information about the Portuguese Army in Britain and Western Front in WW1 on the Imperial War Museum website.
I knew that the Portuguese Army of WW1 fought in French sky blue coloured British Army cut uniforms with unusual fluted steel helmets from a comment on some sky blue painted Airfix WW1 British figures I had posted online in 2016.
I couldn’t remember where I had seen coloured illustrations of such troops, it wasn’t in my usual reference of Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour. Instead I found a page on Portugal 1917-18 in Andrew Mollo’s Army Uniforms of World War 1.
Modellers and gamers should be able to adapt WW1 British Army figures with steel helmets or soft caps into suitable Portuguese troops.
Aly Morrison featured some beautifully painted Portuguese WW1 conversions and colourised photographs of WW1 Portuguese troops.
Including a superb colourised photo of some drummers and Portuguese troops marching
An interesting bit of WW1 history that I knew little about.
Remembering many gallant Portuguese soldiers 100 years on.
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN 9 April 2018