La Couture


The Portuguese Memorial

La Couture is a small village some eight kilometres north-east of Béthune in the Pas de Calais. It is situated just behind the battlefields of Neuve Chapelle and Richebourg.

From Béthune follow the signs for Armentières until you are on the D171. Continue on this road through Essars and Le Touret village.

At Le Touret turn left following the signs for La Couture. On reaching the village turn left towards the church. The memorial is immediately in front of the church on the left.

The dramatic conflict

The dramatic conflict

Historical Information

The Portuguese National memorial is located on a site given to them by the local council in September 1923. On the 11th November that year, the first stone was placed and five years later the sculpture was inaugurated in the presence of numerous dignitaries from Portugal, France and Belgium including Maréchal Joseph Joffre.

At the time of the monument's inauguration the church had yet to be rebuilt and was still a pile of ruins.

The sculptor António Teixeira Lopes has depicted a Portuguese soldier (Note his British helmet) fighting amidst the ruins of a Gothic cathedral. The enemy is depicted as death himself replete with his scythe.

Behind the soldier, Portugal herself brandishing the sword of Nun'Álvares Pereira assures that victory will be gained.

Condestável Pereira was largely responsible for Portugal's ability to defend herself against Castile during the period of 1383-1385 (A period in which Castile attempted to reclaim the throne of Portugal).

The dramatic conflict

The rear of the memorial is just as detailed

In later life he retired to a monastery and devoted the remainder of his days to prayer. He was canonised on the 26th April 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

His only daughter married the Duke of Braganza which provided Portugal with its royal family.

It is rather ironic therefore that Portugal had become a Republic by the assassination of the king and crown prince in 1908 and the revolutionary overthrow of the last of the Breganzas, Manuel II in 1910.

Contrary to many of the royalist party the deposed king sided with Britain and France and worked tirelessly for the Red Cross throughout the war.

Much of the plight of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps can be placed at the feet of their government which towards the end of the war favoured a German victory - some royalists also believed that a victory for the Kaiser would increase their chance of regaining the monarchy.

The memorial has received a superb cleaning in 2010 returning it to pristine condition.


The Portuguese Expeditionary Corps The Portuguese Expeditionary Corps
The Portuguese Cemetery The Portuguese Cemetery
The Battle of the Lys The Battle of the Lys

Within a short distance there are a number of memorials and cemeteries from the Great War, in particular:

Le Touret Le Touret Memorial
Neuve Chapelle Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial
Vieille-Chapelle Communal Vieille-Chapelle Communal Cemetery