Thursday, 22 March 2018

Partizan 2018... A little more on the WW1 Portuguese Army

Nuno Pereira... aka... Kingscarbine...
Has sent me a couple of snippets of info on the Portuguese Army in WW1...

This is an animated map of the Battle of Lys showing the Portuguese deployment and engagement during the attack...

I quote Nuno's appraisal of events...

"As you can see, this animation shows that the Portuguese Corps didn't run away as many British sources state but that the three brigades that were to be replaced by British units died on Line B as ordered by the British High Command and delayed the German advance allowing the allies to reorganise and stall the German offensive. Some battalions even refused to surrender after being surrounded. Some resisted with British ad hoc reinforcements until they ran out of ammunition. It's clear to see that the Portuguese artillery maintained positions until the last moment and then moved back to new positions. Some battalions were completely destroyed or scattered though."

Here is another rather amusing anecdote...

According to one story, when the Portuguese first arrived, the military authorities happened to have on hand a large surplus of tinned rations of pork and beans, of which our own men had long been heartily sick, and the opportunity was taken to pass them on to the Portuguese.
To the general surprise, the newcomers took to the pork and beans with avidity, and the ration established itself as their favourite food. Their fondness for it highly amused everybody, and then a song came out at a Divisional Concert Party performance with the refrain, "Pork and Beans for the Portuguese!"
Apparently, however, someone in authority became anxious lest the nickname, which, through the Concert Party song, had become widespread, should give offence to the Portuguese, and issued the following order:
"In future the forces on our left shall be referred to by all ranks as 'Our Oldest Allies', and not as heretofore as the ' Pork and Beans '."
 The order was intended to be confidential, but an indiscreet adjutant reproduced it in battalion orders, with the result that the order became a general jest.
The above explanation of the phrase was taken from "Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases..." by Edward Fraser and John Gibbons, 1925, but there might be others!
Portuguese. From the observation that British army ration pork and beans contained very little, if any, pork, and therefore alluding to the fact that the Portuguese had very few troops on the Western Front. This, however, is a myth: the Portuguese (one of Britain 's oldest allies), sent 120,000 men to the Western Front, as well as having 80,000 troops serving in Portuguese East Africa at that time. Their determination and gallantry was second to none - General Ludendorf's surrender speech praised the Portuguese, stating that had Portugal been on their side, they would have won the war. Also vaguely onomatopoeic.
Pork & Cheese, Pork & Beans Portuguese soldiers.
‘Pork and beans’, World War I. From 1916 (Partridge). Attested in B&P, Digger Dialects, and Partridge. ‘Pork and cheese’, World War I. Attested in Partridge.
Partridge suggests that the term ‘pork and cheese’ was popular mainly with the New Zealand troops; it was rhyming slang for ‘Portuguese’.

I love this tale as it typifies the British/Commonwealth Tommies...
Ypres = Wipers
Pork and Cheese = Portuguese...

Fear not More toys soon...

All the best  Aly