Feature Articles - The Minor Powers During World War One - Portugal
Portugal entered the war in March 1916. Originally giving naval assistance, Portugal sent an Expeditionary Force of 50,000 men to the Western Front in the February of 1917. They saw action for the first time on June 17th in Flanders.
On April 19th, 1918, a major German offensive began at what was called the Battle of the Lys. One Portuguese division there was hit by four German divisions and the preliminary shelling was so intense that one battalion refused to go forward into the trenches. The division was pushed back, 6,000 prisoners were taken and a three-and-a-half mile wide gap was punched in the British line.
7,000 Portuguese soldiers died in combat during the First World War.
'Bantam' was a term to describe members of battalions between 5ft 1in and 5ft 4in.
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