WWII Question: Brazilian Expeditionary force In Italian Campaign

I was in Rio de janiero last month, and saw a monument (next to Santos Dumont Airport) commemorating the dead of WWII. I did not know that Brazil was a combatant nation in WWII, but I understand that Brazil did declare war on the Axis, and did send a division or two to fight in Italy. Any war historians out there know anything about this-were the brazilians at the battle of Monte Cassino?

There was a Brazilian fighter squadron flying P-47’s in Italy. A number of them didn’t make it home, either.

As for infantry, dunno, but there had to have been some excuse for Pele being in a German POW camp in the movie “Victory”. At least he was more convincing as a soccer player than Sylvester Stallone - come to think of it, he was more convincing as an actor, too: “Please, Hatch, if you run now, we lose more than just a game.”

Brazil declared war on Germany and Italy in August, 1942, after losing a number of ships to submarines. At first their role in the war was limited to convoy escort and anti-submarine activity in the South Atlantic. In late 1943 and 1944 they started sending land and air forces to fight in Europe.

The 1st Brazilian Infantry Division fought alongside the American 10th Mountain Division in Italy.

See also

Their symbol was a nod to a common quote in which it was said that it would be easier for a snake to smoke a pipe than for Brazilians to fight in Europe.

There was a fairly recent article on the FEB in either MHQ or World War II magazine, but http://www.thehistorynet.com doesn’t seem to have it online.

I recently read an online article about the Brazilian infantry units in Italy, although I’m damned if I can find it now. It basically questioned their value (other than as a symbol of political solidarity), saying that even after extensive acclimatisation they weren’t the most effective fighting force around.

Brazil and Mexico – which also joined in in 1942 after Mexican-flag oil tankers were sunk by Axis subs, and had an Air Force squadron fight and take casualties in the Pacific – were AFAIK the only two Latin American countries that sent air/land combatant units to the fronts in WWII.

Most other major Latin American states did not formally declare war on the Axis until the last year or so of the War – though many broke off diplomatic relations in '42 or '43 over neutrality violations (espionage)-- so that even if they had the capability to project power beyond home waters, there was little time to organize anything beyond provide convoy support to shipping near their waters. Some remained neutral throughout, some joined only under much pressure (Argentina).

Some of the smaller CentralAm/Caribbean countries that were essentially US satellites, declared “state of war” early on, but more as a way of denying access to anyone hostile to the US, than in any real fighting sense. Cuban volunteers did make their way up north to join in with the Americans.


mattk, might it be this article?

I just ran across it when I was trying to see if the “smoking snake” comment originated from a quote by Hilter. I don’t think it did.

I think that may be it, Sofa King. Thanks!