The Regimento de Artilharia de Costa (Coastal Artillery Regiment - RAC) was a unit of the Portuguese Army charged with ensuring the defence of the ports of Lisbon and Setúbal. It was based on fortified fixed batteries equipped with heavy pieces of naval artillery. Plans for these defences, constructed in the 1940s and 1950s, were commissioned by Salazar from the British, under a General Barron, and became known in Portugal as the “Plan Barron”. Episode 5 of the 11th series of the RTP programme “Visita Guiada” takes us to the sites where the heavy guns used for the defences are still maintained, including to one rather surprising location.
At a talk organised by the Society in 2015, amateur divers Pedro de Carvalho and Pedro Tomás showed this film of the story of the wreck of RMS Hildebrand off the coast of Cascais.
The ‘Fronteira da Paz’ museum established in 2019 in the railway station of Vilar Formoso is dedicated to the many refugees who first touched Portuguese soil in this border town. It also looks at the work of the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who was responsible for issuing visas to many of those refugees. The video can be seen by following this link. An earlier video from 2004 on Sousa Mendes is also available here.
To reach Portugal from France, refugees needed transit visas for Spain. Similar to the Portuguese Consul, Sousa Mendes, these were issued during a limited period of time by the Spanish consul in Bordeaux, Eduardo Propper de Callejón. He was the grandfather of the English actress Helena Bonham Carter and a short video showing her learning more about his work is available here.
One of these refugees was the Belgian playwright Jean-Claude Van Itallie, who tells us that, from the windows of the Pensão Royal in Monte Estoril, ‘wherever I looked, there was the sea’. A brief account of his stay in Monte Estoril in 1940 can found in this film.
You may also be interested in the following links to contemporary newsreel footage from Lisbon:
A set of fascinating photographs of Lisbon from about 70 years ago can be seen by clicking here.
In the first half of the 16th century the Portuguese Discoverers travelled to far corners of the world and left a legacy of Portuguese words being adopted in other peoples’ languages. Perhaps most examples come from the Indonesian language, as can be seen in this amusing video.
The Japanese call captain "kapitan" after the Portuguese word “capitão”, glass "koppu" after “copo”, bread "pan" after “pão”, and soap "shabon" after “sabão”. The Portuguese word “caju” became “cashew” in English and the word "fetish" comes from the Portuguese word “fetiche”, as do the words "molasses", "mosquito", and "piranha". Perhaps the most universally adopted Portuguese words are “banana”, which is as easy to pronounce, and the ubiquitous “coffee” which come from the Portuguese word “café”, which is no longer just beans and drinks, but also the place where it is drunk.
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