Memorial – A tribute to the Portuguese Combatants
1. One hundred years after the start of the Great War the time has come to pay tribute to all the Portuguese who fought on the battlefields of Africa and Europe in defence of their homeland and freedom. Above them stands the memory of all who fell and gave their lives for Portugal.
In August 1914 the European powers embarked on an armed conflict of gigantic proportions which extended until November 1918 and was only truly brought to a halt with the end of the Second World War, nearly 30 years later.
Besides defending their national territory, including the Atlantic islands, the Portuguese military were present on the fronts of Angola, in 1914-1915; Mozambique, between 1914 and 1918; and France in 1917 and 1918.
Portugal organised several military expeditions to Angola and Mozambique, and constituted a Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (C.E.P.) for France.
In addition to these forces naval troops were also deployed and took part in operations in southern Angola and northern Mozambique. They defended the Portuguese coastline, the routes to Azores and Madeira and the national ports, whilst also ensuring the safety of the maritime transports used by the Portuguese forces. Also included are some of the pioneers of Portuguese aviation who served in the French forces as well as an Independent Heavy Artillery Corps (CAPI), who provided support for French forces in several situations during a few months of 1918.
Portugal mobilised more than 100.000 men, of which over 18.000 to Angola, about 30.000 to Mozambique, and more than 56.000 to France.
Battles were fought on all fronts but the Portuguese military only took part in one battle, the Battle of La Lys in Flanders on 9 April 1918.
In total, Portugal lost 7.760 men, had more than 16.000 wounded, with over 13.000 taken prisoner or missing.
2. The circumstances under which the Portuguese forces were deployed can be considered extremely deficient, for their training was outmoded and intermittent, weapons and equipment were generally outdated, doctrine had not evolved in response to the new challenges, and support services had great difficulties adapting to the troops’ needs.
Nevertheless, as a result of the effort and the capacity of many officers and the spirit of sacrifice of the troops as a whole, the Portuguese forces were able to fulfil the main objectives of their deployment – to maintain the colonial territories under Portuguese control and to ensure Portugal’s participation in the Peace Conference as an active belligerent.
3. The aim of this memorial is to symbolise the sacrifice of the Portuguese who served their nation in time of war, fighting for its independence, for peace and for freedom.
As far as the Great War of 1914-1918 is concerned and because so much time has elapsed, collective memory tends to dissipate the remembrance of such sacrifices, so that new generations may find here a window into the lives and the fate of the thousands of Portuguese who fought and sacrificed themselves for Portugal.
This will establish a sentimental relationship between the Portuguese of today and the memory of those who fought in the Great War and gave their lives for their country, ensuring that they will not be forgotten.
With this memorial we wish to perpetuate the memory of our grandparents, who transmitted to us a lesson of life and commitment to the values that unite us. Their sacrifice was not in vain!