I did not realise until around 1992 when some Portuguse friends told me that their Great-Uncle had been a medic on the Western Front, that Portugal had been involved in the First World War. As England’s oldest ally, Portugal sent soldiers, nurses and material to help the Allied cause both on the Western Front and in East Africa.
A few months later, Aníbal once again held back a German assault single-handed with his Lewis gun, allowing a Belgian unit to retreat safely to a secondary trench without casualties. Both the British observers and the Belgian commander included his action in their reports. Aníbal was awarded the highest Portuguese distinction - the Order of the Tower and Sword - and the French Légion d'Honneur.
After the war, Aníbal, by then a national hero and with the nick-name ‘soldier worth a million soldiers’, married his sweetheart and went back to farming. However, he was unable to earn enough mony to support his family. The Portuguese government promised to help, but instead of an allowance, they named the village where he was born after him.
Aníbal went to live in Brazil, where he was warmly welcomed. When the Portuguese community in Brazil realized that Aníbal was in need, they collected sufficient funds to send him back to Portugal with enough money to provide for his family. He returned to Portugal on 5th August 1928 and began farming again. He was allocated a small pension which gave him enough to live on.
Aniíbal died on 3rd June 1970. A permanent exhibition remembering his achievements can be seen in the Military Museum in the city of Porto. A statue was erected in his hometown as a national tribute and as a symbol for Portugal of a very brave man. In April 2018, a Portuguese film entitled “The Soldier Millions (O soldado Milhões)” was released telling the story of Aníbal’s WW1 exploits - directed by Gonçalo Galvão Teles, Jorge Paixão da Costa, Written by Mário Botequilha, Jorge Paixão da Costa and starring João Arrais, Miguel Borges, Raimundo Cosme
For information about Portuguese Nurses during the First World War, see https://inspirationalwomenofww1.blogspot.com/search?q=Portuguese+nurses
A post about another Portuguese soldier in WW1 - https://fascinatingfactsofww1.blogspot.com/search?q=Portugal