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Posted by portugalpress on March 14, 2018

Algarve historian Peter Kingdon Booker will be giving a talk entitled ‘The Battle of La Lys’ about the role of the Portuguese in World War I on Friday, March 23 in the Tavira Municipal Library at 11am and on Tuesday, March 27 in the Lagoa Municipal Library at 6pm.

The war memorial in Tavira (pictured) shows the dates for World War I as 1914-1918, which is correct for Britain, but the official dates for Portugal’s participation were 1916-1918.

Peter 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 9.

On this day, all military in Portugal parade to remember the sacrifice of their countrymen on the Western Front.

This year marks the Centenary of the Battle of La Lys.

There is no charge for the talk although organiser, Algarve History Association, welcomes voluntary monetary contributions.