Battle of Lys: Two ceremonies honoring Portuguese soldiers

Battle of Lys: Two ceremonies honoring Portuguese soldiers

This Saturday 13 April 2024 two commemorations were held to commemorate the Battle of Les (9 April 1918), in Richbourg (62) and La Couture (62), to honor the soldiers of the Portuguese Expeditionary Force and the nurses of the Portuguese forces. Portuguese Red Cross, died during the Great War in France. The region, fully committed to its duty of remembrance, was present so as not to forget.

The meeting was held on Saturday, April 13 at 11 a.m. at the Portuguese Military Cemetery in Richbourg in the presence of:

  • From Lieutenant General Joaquim Chito Rodriguez, President of the Fighters Association,
  • From Ms Ana Isabel Xavier, Secretary of State for National Defense of Portugal,
  • From General of the Army José Nunes da Fonseca, Chief of the General Staff of the Portuguese Armed Forces,
  • From General Thierry Bourcard, Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces,
  • From Mr. Raymond Jacquier, Mayor of La Couture and District Councilor, on behalf of the President of the District Council of Pas-de-Calais,
  • From Mr. Xavier Bertrand, President of the Hauts-de-France Region,
  • From Ms. Caroline Parmentier, MP for the 9th district of Pas Calais,
  • From Mr. José Augusto Duarte, Ambassador of Portugal to France,
  • From Mr. Jacques Pelant, Governor of Pas-de-Calais.

The first honors were presented in honor of the Portuguese soldiers who died during the Battle of the Laez 106 years ago, on April 9, 1918.

Portuguese Military Cemetery in Richbourg: a place of memory

The Portuguese Military Cemetery in Richbourg is a symbol of Portuguese commitment to the side of France and the United Kingdom during World War I. This site is one of 139 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 43 of them are located in Hauts-de-France, an area particularly marked by the two major global conflicts, where many memorial sites have been created to commemorate them.

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Two years ago, a peace park was established near the site.

La Couture: a municipality committed to the duty of memory

In continuation of this tribute, and to commemorate the 106th anniversary of the Battle of Lys, a second ceremony was held in front of the War Memorial in La Couture to honor all the French, Portuguese and other nations who fell defending their values ​​of freedom, justice and peace.

In recognition of outstanding services of the highest merit rendered over the years to the duty of commemorating Portuguese veterans, Lieutenant General Joaquim Chito Rodríguez awarded the Order of Merit Honoris Causa: Gold Class, to the City of La Couture.

Battle of Lys: An attack by the German army

The Portuguese military cemetery in Richbourg bears witness to the brutality of the fighting during the Battle of Lys launched by the German army on April 9, 1918. After the Battle of the Somme, this was the second major offensive launched by Germany in the spring of 1918, in an attempt to snatch victory from the Allies, after closing the Russian front and before arriving Collective American forces to Europe. .

Forced withdrawal to La Couture

The attack, which the Germans called “Georgette”, took place along the Lys Plain on the morning of 9 April. The two Portuguese divisions, which had recently arrived at the front, were completely surprised by the attack of ten German divisions. They are then forced to retreat and cling to La Couture, where there is currently a monument commemorating resistance to the Portuguese. Afterwards, the Germans captured Armentière (59) and Bailleul (59) respectively. But their momentum was halted by Peyton (62), which was then bombed.

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1831 A Portuguese soldier died on the front

After their country entered the war in 1917, a Portuguese expeditionary force was based between Armentières and La Basie (59) under British command. In 1831 Portuguese soldiers stationed at Richbourg died fighting at the Battle of Lys, and then during the counterattack that led the Allies to victory.

Four places of memory

In addition to the Portuguese Military Cemetery in Richbourg and the La Couture War Memorial, Hauts-de-France is home to two other places of memory honoring Portuguese soldiers: the Portuguese Military Square in the Oriental Cemetery in Boulogne-sur-Cie (62), the Portuguese Monument to Amplitius (62).

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About the Author: Germano Álvares

"Desbravador de cerveja apaixonado. Álcool alcoólico incurável. Geek de bacon. Viciado em web em geral."

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