Until April 2018, there was no memorial to the Portuguese fallen of the Great War in Britain.
As a result of the country’s involvement in the First World War, between 1916 and 1918 more than 100,000 Portuguese soldiers went to war. Two Portuguese Divisions fought on the Entente side during the First World War in Flanders. Portuguese units also fought alongside the British in East Africa. They took terrible casualties at the Battle of Lys in April 1918. Nearly 12,000 men died, including Africans from both Angola and Mozambique serving in the Armed Forces. Many others were wounded, 6,000 more reported missing and more than 7,000 were taken prisoner. Over 100 Portuguese ships were sunk or damaged by German submarines. More civilian casualties occurred when the Portuguese island of Madeira was bombarded on at least two occasions.
In honour of the Portuguese casualties, it was agreed that a commissioned stained glass window would be placed in St James’s Church in Twickenham, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames which for over 100 years has maintained a strong connection with Portugal. St James’s Church was also the favoured chapel of the exiled Portuguese king Manuel II in the first half of the twentieth century.
Marking the centenary anniversary of the Battle of the Lys, the memorial windows were unveiled on 9 April 2018 by Field Marshal Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank and HE Mr Manuel Lobo Antunes, Ambassador of Portugal to the Court of St James’s.