Portugal´s Secret War

Peter Kingdon Booker


Report of talk by Chairman of British Historical Society in Faro


On Saturday 25 October, 2008 the Algarve was fortunate in receiving the Chairman of the British Historical Society of Portugal to give a lecture. Dr Paulo Lowndes Marques spoke on The British Community and the APN, and his lecture was given at the bookshop Pátio de Letras at 26, Rua Dr Cândido Guerreiro in Faro. This unusual yellow bookshop has within its walls a space for lectures and reading as well as a patio bar. The shop itself is open from 10:00 to 20:00 Monday to Thursday and 10:00 to 24:00 on Friday and Saturday; it sells some English books, and I think some Dutch, as well as Portuguese. The bar is apparently open until the early hours every day.


Paulo Marques gave his lecture on the occasion of the opening of a small exhibition in the bookshop concerning activities in wartime Lisbon and Portugal. The language of the exhibition is Portuguese and it is nonetheless interesting to non-Portuguese speakers for its photographs and other artifacts from the war years. This exhibition remains at least until Christmas.


For those English speakers less comfortable with spoken Portuguese, the speaker kindly produced a typescript in English. His talk ranged over his own boyhood reminiscences and the quirky and amusing Anglo-Portuguese spoken by his family, since his mother was British and his father Portuguese. The Marques household had visits from such luminaries as Evelyn Waugh, Cyril Connolly and Aldous Huxley. Dr Marques numbered among his relations Hilaire Belloc, one of whose rhymes found its way into this discourse:


I am tired of verse

I am tired of wine

But money gives me pleasure all the time


He covered briefly the history of English (and British!) involvement in trade with Portugal both in Lisbon and Oporto and touched on the difficulties experienced by the British residents of Lisbon with regard to their Protestant religion.


The APN (Anglo Portuguese News) was founded in 1937 by Major CE Wakeham who was the correspondent of The Times in Portugal. Because Portuguese law did not then permit foreigners to occupy such positions as editor, Dr Marques´ father accepted the position, and he remained editor until his death in 1976, thirty nine years later. During the war, the APN received a subvention from the British government and although part of the paper was in Portuguese it was for a time the only English language newspaper on the Continent of Europe. Goebbels, the German Minister of Propaganda called the paper Churchill´s mouthpiece in Europe. Its original price was 1$00 – about one centimo in today´s money.


There was apparently a British plan to conduct a campaign of demolition within Portugal if the country were faced by a German invasion. They, in my view quite rightly, did not trust Dr Salazar to destroy his own country´s assets in such a circumstance. There were of course British business interests in the country ranging from the port shippers, to wolfram mines and the São Domingos mine just to the north of Mértola.


Wartime visits to Lisbon by Britons included those by the ex-Prime Minister Lloyd George, the Dukes of Windsor and Kent (although of course not together) and Rose Macaulay of “They went to Portugal” fame. Other visitors (who became permanent residents) included the ex-King Carol II of Rumania. Apart from the difficulties of current political imperatives, any relationship of exiled royalty with Portugal´s own exiled royals could have caused Dr Salazar´s regime major problems; ex-king Carol was a direct descendant of King Miguel.


Dr Marques mentioned the visit by two rabbis (one Sephardic and the other Ashkenazi) to Lisbon at the end of the war to give thanks to the Portuguese Government for the help given in aiding the flight from Europe of so many Jewish refugees. Portugal was of course in the years 1940 – 44 the last bridgehead in Europe for the Americas. Aristides Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul at Bordeaux in 1940 whose personal intervention provided help to so many Jewish refugees, was not honoured by the Portuguese state – nor indeed by Israel - until many years after his death.


After the war the British subsidy came to an end and editor Luíz Marques bought the paper which he then published fortnightly. He continued to edit this newspaper in an apolitical manner until his death in 1976, scarcely acknowledging in print even the Carnation Revolution. His widow continued to produce the paper until she sold it to Nigel Batley in 1979, who continued its production for another 25 years. He produced its last edition in 2004. The Anglo Portuguese News thus had a lifespan of 67 years.


Pátio de Letras at 26, Rua Dr Cândido Guerreiro in Faro (just to the north of the new market building) tel 289 825 146 Email páEste endereço de email está protegido contra piratas. Necessita ativar o JavaScript para o visualizar.

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