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Portugal in World War 1: The Battle of La Lys (Tavira)
Friday 23 March 2018, 11:00am
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A talk by Peter Kingdon Booker

The war memorial in Tavira shows the dates for World War 1 as 1914 – 1918, which is correct for Britain, but the official dates for Portugal´s participation were 1916 – 1918. Peter Booker explains the possible reasons for this apparent mistake, as well as the reasons for Portugal joining the war effort in Flanders. In 1916, pressed to supply troops to the Western Front, Portugal raised two divisions and early in 1917 these two divisions left Portugal and landed at the port of Brest in France. Then by rail to the front. These troops were clothed in British cloth, they ate British rations, and their officers disappeared on leave. Used to the hotter climate of Portugal, they suffered perhaps more than their allies in the cold and wet of the Flanders trenches These troops were thoroughly disheartened. The German Spring offensive in 1918 was well under way before it struck the part of the line occupied by the Portuguese, and in spite of various acts of bravery, they were completely overcome. This main action by Portuguese troops is known as the Battle of La Lys, and its anniversary is on April 9th. On this day, all military in Portugal parade to remember the sacrifice of their countrymen on the Western Front. Peter Booker gives the account of Portugal´s contribution in this dreadful conflict.

Location Municipal Library Tavira
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