Evocation of Portuguese Participation in World War I
World War I found Portugal in the process of changing from its centuries-old political system – Monarchy – to a Republic.
This transition was not peaceful, despite popular acceptance of the new system. The partisan violence that broke out exceeded all expectations, leading the country into a situation that modern historians describe as “intermittent civil war,” even creating divisions at the heart of the Armed Forces, which themselves became politicised.
This particular situation, once the political decision had been made to openly participate in the con ict, came to be a huge vulnerability, adding to the hardship of the operational environment in which Portugal found itself, the lack of vital cohesion among mobilised contingents, the lack of discipline and indi erence of the rear-guard, crucial conditions when a country decides to enter a war. Historians have identi ed various reasons justifying Portugal’s participation in the Great War: upkeep of the colonies (the only consensual objective) which were under threat from the Central Powers, not to mention some Allies; the evocation of the alliance with England as a means of obtaining nancial aid in order to confront the serious situation Portugal was experiencing and independence in relation to its European neighbour; recognition of the new regime by the international community.
The fact is that, a hundred years ago, a poorly equipped, ill-disciplined Armed Forces, with out-dated knowledge of the operational reality of Theatres of Operations in Africa and Europe, mobilised and engaged in combat more than a hundred thousand soldiers, seamen and airmen – a signi cant e ort for a population of no more than six million.
The fact is that, a hundred years ago, and as a result of political decisions, the Portuguese people were faced with 38,000 casualties resulting from the war, who were either dead, wounded, handicapped or imprisoned, with inevitable repercussions for the whole of society, which could not help but feel the e ects of the war at all levels.
The fact is that, a hundred years ago, many, many people gave their all to do their duty to their country; it was an enormous sacri ce by and for everyone!
The Portuguese Ministry of Defence undertook to create a Coordinating Commission for Evocations of the Centenary of World War I with representatives from the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, the Liga dos Combatentes (Combatants’ League) and the Portuguese Military History Commission. The word evocation was well chosen to describe the purpose of the Commission, as its work has aimed, from the outset, at paying tribute to all the soldiers of the Great War, bringing to light in the present day the hardships they experienced, their setbacks and their victories.
Yes, there were military losses in Angola, in Mozambique, in Flanders.
Yes, the Battle of the Lys, on 9 April 1918, was a heavy military defeat.
But still, Portugal paraded under the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, on 14 July, on the Victory March.
And still, Portugal had an opportunity to settle its continuity within the context of the new winds of freedom, a result of the con ict that, were they not pursued at all, would belittle and denigrate the sacri ce of those who fought and died for them a hundred years ago.
The philatelic issue resulting from a partnership between the CTT Correios de Portugal and the Coordinating Commission for Evocations of the Centenary of the Great War is proof that, a hundred years later, the Portuguese have not forgotten those who, doing their duty, fought for Portugal a hundred years ago.
President of the Commission Mário de Oliveira Cardoso Lieutenant General
Technical DetailsIssue Date: 30.06.2017
Designer: Folk Design
Size: 80 x 30,6 mm
Values: €0,50, €0,63, €0,85