Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses
Journal of Military History
'"Not only useless, but dangerous?’ The Portuguese Expeditionary Corps in France in the aftermath of the battle of La Lys, 9 April 1918'
Optional Fields
In the wake of the battle of La Lys (9 April 1918), the British High Command on the Western Front fought a sustained campaign to keep the remnants of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (CEP) from returning to the front lines. This article examines this campaign, which rested on the British view that the CEP had been largely responsible for its own destruction and for placing the Allied position in Flanders at risk. Portuguese officers were especially singled out as incompetent and too proud to adapt to the new realities of the battlefield. The question was made complicated by the sometimes ambivalent attitude to the conflict of Portuguese President Sidónio Pais, who had staged a coup against the country’s interventionist government in December 1917. Pais, more concerned with establishing what he called a “New Republic” than the war, did not view the CEP as his deposed predecessors had done—as the key to a glorious future for Portugal. Still, in the wake of La Lys, he maintained that the CEP should be reorganized, reinforced and returned to the front lines. Caught in the crossfire between the Portuguese government and the British High Command, the CEP’s officers and soldiers, employed in secondary duties many saw as humiliating, waited for a final decision regarding their future. In the very last days of the war some units did return to the front, but only after a number of mutinies were repressed.
Lexington, VA
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