This blog is part of a site named where you can find the stories of more than one hundred planes that during WWII landed or crashed in Portugal. Here I will announce the updates and also publish stories and information related with WWII in Portugal. All the stories will be in English and there another twin blog in Portuguese... forgive if sometimes the English is not always correct...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lisbon… International mail office

It is well known that Portugal was, during WWII, a door to get in and out of Europe. Many cases related with refugees or spies are often remembered, and truth is that Lisbon was a base used by both sides in conflict for many different things.

Many of the so called parcels from the Red Cross that were delivered to the allied prisoners passed through Lisbon. They arrived on ships from the USA and from Britain and were delivered in this country to the International Red Cross (IRC), that would take them by train to the prisoner camps. This parcels usually had food, candies and cigarettes between other things. Also the mail between the prisoners and their families used channels that crossed Lisbon and other neutral countries.

So it no news that Portugal was a big mail office to the allied forces.

The Dornier DO 18. About 170 of this aircraft were produced.

The German flight magazine “Flieger Revue”, from last March, brings more information that ads more importance to Lisbon and Portugal on those days: the Germans also tried to establish a “post office” to ling their prisoners – many sent to the USA – to the mother country.

One article signed by Hand-Heiri Satpfer states that it was already known that IRC, with the headquarters in Geneva, had explored this possibility. New is the fact that recently discovered documents in the Swiss archives reveal a slightly different story.

It were the Germans that made the proposition to the IRC and not the contrary. And it was a very concrete approach, as the German regime were ready to offer two DO 18 so that the IRC could cross the Atlantic.

The contact was made in the Spring of 1943 with the objective to deliver food and mail to 250 thousand German prisoner soldiers and some more thousands civilian internees.

In the end of 1942 the Germans had suffered the first defeats on the hands of the western powers. First Montgomery had sustained and defeated the Africa Corps in El Alemein. Soon after, in November, British and American forces landed in the Moroccan and Argelian coast.

In the beginning of 1943 about 130 thousand Germans were imprisoned by the western allies. In the Spring, with the total defeat of the axis forces in North Africa, that number grew to a quarter of million men.

The allied had already decided to take those prisoners to a place where they could be easy to keep and there were no possibilities for them to cause problems. Reason enough to transport them to the USA. The US had about 155 main camps and 511 secondary camps for German prisoners in 44 of the American states.

German prisoners in 1944
(Picture Nara)

With no other way to make mail and other things reach those men – the allied would never make direct negotiations – the nazi regime searched for another option. It was on thos occasion that the Luftwaffe put the two DO 18 planes at the disposal of the organization.

They had the “Werknummer’s” 866 and 869. They would be painted with the colors of the IRC and would be based in the Tagus River, in Lisbon. The voyage would include stop in the Azores for refueling, as it already happened with the Clippers that connected the Portuguese capital with New York.

Hans Stapfer reveals some curious information’s ,although. Even with the refueling operation it would be difficult for such one airplane to complete the voyage between the two coasts. A little stronger contrary wind would immediately jeopardize the three crew members of the plane.

The installation of a reserve tank would reduce the transport capability of the aircraft. Besides the volume of the tank that had to be mounted inside the fuselage, you had also to count the weight of that extra fuel. The calculation points out that about 50 thousand letters had to be kept behind so you could install all those extras.

Problems that were never discussed. For reasons unknown to the author the process never went a step further and the Lisbon Axis Mail post was never created either.

The Dorniers DO 18 would return to the Luftwaffe and the final destiny of the two planes is not known.

Certain is the fact that by May 1945, when V day arrived, there were about half a million German prisoners in the USA…

Friday, November 19, 2010

Major critical material… the Cork

It was already known that the Portuguese wolfram was a strategicall product during the war. The discussion involving this mineral took several hours of meetings between the Portuguese ruler Salazar and the Allies or the Axis personnel.

This news cut published in November 29, 1942 in the “Sauk Centre Herald” reveals that Portugal was exporting another strategicall product: Cork…

The army and navy munitions board even talk about a “major critical material”… “all imported from Portugal”.

One of those things… who would imagine that a tree would be so important.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Interesting moments

This is one of the most interesting collections of on-line pictures from Portugal in the forties that I know about.

There are about 50 minutes of filming, in seven movies, covering several motives. Some scenes are repeated several times from different angles.

We can see a animal market, refugees in Caldas da Rainha, refugees entering a boat on the way to America and other destinies, diplomat’s, several receptions, military ceremonies, the arrival of a Clipper aircraft in the Tagus River and also the way the Portuguese and foreign press in Portugal was working and covering the event’s.

Each footage has a technical file explaining what images you are seeing and also the names of certain personalities that appear.  Every footage has is interesting in it’s own way and it is worth to follow each movies that belongs to the NARA wand were made in Portugal during the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943.

The Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has put them on line…

Sit comfortably, click on the words and enjoy...

 "Refugees in Caldas da Rainha"

Refugees in Lisbon

Friday, October 15, 2010

The story from the SS Quanza

Portugal, and especially Lisbon, was during WWII one of the safe ports where tens of thousands of refugees found one open door to get to the United States and other countries. It is still difficult today to know how many refugees – most of them Jews, but not only – crossed the border to Portugal in those years.

Here is a small video that talks about the fate of some 317 of them. They Left Lisbon hoping to find a new future and suddenly – some – were faced with the possibility of having to return to Portugal after being so near the Promised Land…

This is just one of thousand stories related with refugees in Portugal in those years….

Friday, October 8, 2010

Site Update (1)

It's time to make the first update in site.

During the last month I have received some new material about aircraft tha might have crashed near Portugal. I'm still investigating and as soon as I get confirmations the material will become available in the site.

There have also arrived some pictures that I pretend to insert in the site as soon as I can.

In the last month the site has received about 1500 visits and more that 15.000 pages have been seen. I think it is a good sign. Most of the visitors are Portuguese, followed by the British and by the American's.

The update is related with one C-47 that has British and American crew, and crashed somewhere in the Portuguese coast in November 1942. The names from the 10 parachuters that hey transported are now included as is the serial number.

Here is the Link

Best regards to all...

Still in the Azores route

After the publication of the earlier articles there were some feedbacks, especially in the “twin” Portuguese Blog, that I must forward, in order to complete the story of the Azores. I know there will be always new material coming but I believe this gives a wide image of what has happened.

I will let out the material only in Portuguese, although, if someone is interested please go to the Portuguese Forum in or e-mail me. I will send the information over.

Anyway there is a Portuguese item in this post, because I believe it has great “visual” information. A couple of days ago a video was posted. It was in English and had some great pictures. I found another video with even more material. There are some pictures from the earlier British Pathé movie, but it is mush more complete.

Pass the first three minutes and you will start to see “Fortresses”, Hudsons’s, and even a Wellington in a camera movement that shows a couple of planes stationed in the airfield. There are also pictures with Portuguese people helping in building the infrastructure and so on. The images include also the arrival of the Americans and the first Hangar’s and other buildings.

At the end you can see a party offered by the local’s to the British newcomers, with a bullfight and so on. Hope you like it….

Gonçalo Mendes in the Portuguese Blog suggests also the following book and link. Both have the American point of view.

The book is “OPERATION ALACRITY - The Azores and the War in the Atlantic” from Norman Herz. He arrived in the island as a corporal with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 928th Engineer Aviation Regiment, and latter wrote this book about the events and the importance of the island for the war effort.

There is also a site dedicated to the 801st Engineer Aviation Battalion in Word War II, that arrived in January 1944 in the Azores. It was made by the son of Robert Hawks, one of the soldiers that was part this battalion.

This is the Link:

 Besides that I would also leave the official site of the base in our days…

Best regards to all...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First moments of the Brit's in Lagens Airfield, Azores

After a book that tells the story about the B-17 Fortress in the Azores, nothing better than see a cine-report from the “British Pathé”, made on the first days after the arrival of the Allied forces in the island. You can see the arrival of the engineers and other forces and also the landing of a B-17 (it looks made for this Forum). The film was released on 23 December 1943…


To see other precious images you can click on the homepage from “British Pathé”

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A few questions to Robert M. Stitt

By Carlos Guerreiro

Robert Stitt recently published his first book, that has already been presented in this Blog. “Land in Portugal” was able to send some questions to the author that present’s the story of the Fortress on service of the Coastal Command, but also the story and their mission in the Portuguese islands of the Azores.

The Agreement to concede facilities in the Azores – Terceira Island, in the Lagens Airfield – was signed in August 1943 between the Portuguese and British Government. With this treaty Portugal conceded benefits to one of the belligerents, continuing although as a neutral country until the end of the conflict. The Fortresses were in the first groups that arrived there.

Part of what happened there in first years after the agreement can be found in this book.

Land in Portugal: Why a book about the Fortress in Coastal Command?
Robert Stitt: I had previously written the history of a USAAF Boeing B-17E Fortress that had crash-landed in Papua New Guinea in January 1943 - I visited the site in 1977. This aircraft was originally supposed to go the Britain for the campaign against the U-boats and documenting the type's history with RAF Coastal Command was a natural follow-on project.

LP: How long and where did you researched to complete the book?
RS: The Fortress with Coastal Command project took six years to complete. I visited The National Archives in the United Kingdom twice to get started. At the same time my network of 'helpers' grew and grew and I was very fortunate to make contact with many generous fellow researchers around the world, veterans who served on the Fortress and their families.

Fortress IIA FL459 - involved in the sinking of U707 in 9 November 1943. This is one of the 14 colour profiles by Juanita Franzi that you can find in the book

LP: What was the impression of the crew’s about the plane?
RS: They all seemed to love and trust the Fortress. It was stable, reliable and comfortable (well, relatively) and I got the impression that, although the Liberator had greater range and load carrying capability, crews preferred the Fortress.

LP: From your point of view how important were the Azores in the final period of the war?
RS: They were very important for two reasons. Firstly, Allied shipping losses across the central Atlantic were unsustainable until the Azores base became operational. And Lagens quickly became a vital staging point for aircraft being delivered to the United Kingdom, Middle East, and Far East.

One page from the book where you can see two pictures taken in the Lagens Airfield. In the first you can see how the modern and the old lived together. On the other you can see the base from above and understand the poor conditions in which the men lived.

LP: How did the crews looked to the Azores and to the Portuguese people?
RS: I believe they were very proud of the role they played in the war and got on well with the Portuguese people, except perhaps when they were being shot at by over-zealous Portuguese anti-aircraft gunners who had recently been equipped with British guns as part of the deal to use the islands! I know too that one Fortress captain married the governor's daughter!

LP: What were the biggest difficulties they found in the island?
RS: There was only tented accommodation when the airmen arrived so they virtually lived outside for several months. Water was often in very short supply and there was a population very large rats. The steel plank runway was covered with red volcanic soil and conditions were both extremely dusty at times and very noisy when aircraft landed and took off, day and night. The dust also contributed to a deadly outbreak of polio. Strong winds were often not in alignment with the single runway and visibility could be very bad, forcing pilots to chose between a blind approach between two ridges or diverting to Santa Ana (in S. Miguel Island) with its soft runway and often similarly bad weather. On the positive side, there were plenty of fruit, vegetables, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, a town to visit with no blackout, and no enemy aircraft.

LP: Can you describe the situation that most impressed you while you were researching for the book?
RS: The help received from other researchers and the trust of the families of veterans who lent me their precious documents, photographs and mementos.

LP: What would you like to say to your reader?
RS: The young men of RAF Coastal Command who flew Fortresses and other aircraft - crew members were often under 21 - did extraordinary things to ensure the survival of Britain and its Allies. They need to be remembered and I hope my book goes some way to helping this happen.

To know more about this book please click here

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The B-17 in the Azores

A new book was released this summer about the B-17 in service of the RAF Coastal Command, named “Boeing B-17 Fortress in RAF Coastal Command Service”.

The British baptized the aircraft “Fortress” and it initially equipped Coastal Command, because the earlier Fortress I (B-17C) had performed poorly during operations with 90 Squadron, later models were not available in sufficient numbers, and the type was unsuitable for the night time bombing role.

The Bomber Command used as heavy bombers the Lancaster, the Halifax and the Stirling. The Fortress and the Liberator (B-24), both of American construction, were used by this Command for secondary missions (electronic counter-measures, patrol, transport and others).

Initial deliveries, sent by the Americans, would be allocated to the Coastal Command. A bonus that this command cherished, as most their aircraft – especially in the first part of the conflict – were the leftovers from the other commands of the RAF (Fighter and Bomber).

It is not for any reason the Coastal Command become known as the “Cinderella Service”.

This book has the particularity of following the activities from the B-17 in the Coastal Command and to dedicate one fifth of its pages (43 in 248) to their presence at the Lagens base, in the Azores.

All the aircraft involved are listed, the work of their crews described, including some epic encounters with enemy submarines. It is fully illustrated with many wartime photos, and scale plans of the airframe modifications. There are also full colour profiles of representative aircraft.

Here is the index of the book related with the Azores.

The Azores......................79
Obvious Choice..................82
Operation Alacrity .............85
Building a Base.................88
Day-and-Night Team..............89
Life at Lagens………...............94
Typical Mission.................95
Precious Petrol……..............102
Attacking a U-boat ............105
Desired Effect…................107
Transit Point….................108
The Americans Arrive...........111
Action and Departure...........112
Maintaining the Guard..........116
Engine Failures…...............118

To purchase the book you can link here:

Best regards
Carlos Guerreiro

(This post has suffered changes related to historical aspects,in 28 September 2010, after the contact from the author of the book wish I thank)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WWII in Portugal is on-line

From now on the site about the men and aircraft that landed or crashed in Portugal is on-line.
Be welcomed to visit

This blog will, from now on, bring the news about the updates and other material related with WWII in Portugal. The language used will be English. There a portuguese version of it in

Carlos Guerreiro

Sunday, August 29, 2010

September 1...

On September 1, 2010,  71 years after the beginning of WWII this blog and the site will be activated. Untill then...