1920s - Portuguese Armed Forces
1920 - 1929 (cont.)
Portuguese Armed Forces
Portuguese Armed Forces
Admiral Semedo, Minister of Defense began several reviews of the military, starting in 1925 the Portuguese government began a complete reorganization of the Portuguese army based on lessons learned during WW1. The Swiss Inspired militia army was abandoned in favor of mixed model, capable of allowing the rapid engagement of operational forces. Two types of units came into existence i) territorial units spread across territory, including regiments of several arms with the primary purpose of training and mobilizing with small staff of officers and NCOs ii) units maintained in higher state of readiness so that their effectiveness in times of peace being identical to those planned for war.
In 1929 Admiral João Semedo, reorganized the naval and army command replacing many of both the navy and army leaders whom he felt were corrupt and incompetent. Included in the reorganization was the removal of half the admirals and generals including all those that had no units reporting to them.
As part of the army reorganization the Portuguese Army organization was as follows in 1928, although it took till 1930 for all the units to be in place:
Reorganization and Rearmament
Reorganization and Rearmament
- Metropolitan Army – 12 border battalions with emphasis on defense (10 in the Iberian Peninsula, 1 in Azores and 1 in Madeira), 2 cavalry brigades;
- Ultramar Army – 4 infantry regiments (2 in Angola and 2 in Mozambique), 3 battalions (1 in Guinea, 1 in Portuguese India, 1 in Timor);
- 3 Guadiana class destroyers;
- 2 frigates / cruisers;
- 2 gunships;
- 2 river gunboats;
- 4 patrol boats;
- Naval Support Ships (4 survey vessels, 2 support vessels, and 1 troop transport ship);
- Seven Vouga/Douro class destroyers from British Yarrow Shipbuilders. The first three ships to be built in Yarrow and the remaining four to be built at Lisbon with machinery to be supplied by Yarrow. The first three were delivered between 1929 and 1930 but for the remaining four being built in Lisbon, Portugal only received the machinery for one before UK broke off economic and political ties in 1931.
- Two Goncalo Velho class frigates from British Hawthorn Leslie Shipyards, as well as two frigates Pedro Nunes Class ordered from the shipyard in Lisbon with machinery from UK. All four frigates were delivered between 1928 and 1930.
- Three Delfim Class Submarines from Italy delivered between 1929 and 1931.
National Arms Industrial DevelopmentWhen Admiral João Semedo became Minister of Defense the Portuguese military industry was in no position to support the Portuguese military and security forces. Like the rest of the country it now almost relied exclusively of foreign countries for most of its military needs. The country had no modern shipyard, limited artillery, munitions and small arms capabilities. Since the 18th century the Portuguese had lost its ability to support its forces.
The largest small arms and munition factory in the country was the government owned company called Fábrica de Material de Guerra (War Material Factory) in the outskirts of Lisbon. Originally called Fábrica Militar de Braço de Prata (FMBP), the Republicans had reorganized the small Portuguese military industry and renamed it as part of their grand military plans to make Portugal self-sufficient and had consolidated the country’s arm industry. Unfortunately, like all of the Republic’s attempts, the reforms had left the country in no better situation.
In 1923 Fábrica de Material de Guerra was renamed back to Fábrica Militar de Braço de Prata and plans set in motion to expand both its munitions and various rifles and guns for both military and security forces. Production of both munitions and rifles increased during the 1920s. It began producing 81 mm mortars, Bergmann submachine guns and Vickers machine guns. During the 1920s FMBP underwent major reorganizations and expansions; in 1925 it was partially sold to private investors allowing for investment in its operation and expansion which was completed in 1929.
During the Great War the army had purchased several planes and in 1918 the army had founded an Aerospace Support company called “Oficinas Gerais de Material Aeronáutico” (OGMA). During the 1920s the army air wing purchased several planes from France and Britain which OGMA was responsible for assembling and maintaining. In 1922 it started assembling and maintaining the Caudron G-3 and in 1929 the Vickers Valpraiso.
Lastly the lack of modern shipyard was only started to be addressed in 1926 when the construction of country’s first modern shipyard was started on the southern banks of the Tejo Estuary across from Lisbon. The “Arsenal do Alfeite” shipyard construction was financed in part by the Great War reparations per the Versailles Accord. In 1929 the construction of the Viana do Castelo shipyards in Northern Portugal was started.
This is what the Portuguese armed forces sorry state looked like in 1920s. The size and composition are identical to iOTL. What we are viewing is the modernization and buildup taking place a little earlier. We have just had the POD in 1920 instead of 1926 so we would not be able to witness too great of a deviation. Question/ Comments?? Return September 2 as we outline the economic situation (it will be posted in two sections).