The 1936 Naval Revolt
: Revolta dos Marinheiros de 1936
) or Tagus boats mutiny
(Motim dos Barcos do Tejo
) was a mutiny
that occurred on 8 September 1936 aboard the aviso Afonso de Albuquerque
and destroyer Dão
. It was organized by the Revolutionary Organization of the Fleet (Organização Revolucionária da Armada
, ORA), a left-wing group with links to the Portuguese Communist Party
In February 1936, a coalition of leftist
groups won national elections in Spain
. Conservative partisans sought refuge in Portugal
, where a right-wing dictatorship, the Estado Novo
, established in 1926 and led by António de Oliveira Salazar
, felt threatened by the change in power in Spain. Soon thereafter Spanish conservatives led by General Francisco Franco
rebelled, initiating the Spanish Civil War
The Portuguese offered support to Franco's forces in defiance of a non-intervention agreement they had been pressured to sign by their ally, the United Kingdom
. The British government warned the Portuguese that they would not be protected from Spanish leftist attack if they continued to involve themselves in the war, making the regime increasingly nervous about its position.
While the Portuguese government increased its support of Franco, the Portuguese Communist Party
stepped up its activism in opposition to the Estado Novo. Through the Revolutionary Organization of the Fleet (Organização Revolucionária da Armada
, ORA)—which had grown in strength over the course of the early 1930s
—the party plotted a mutiny of several Portuguese Navy
ships with intention of allowing them to sail to Spain to assist the Spanish government in the war.
The Portuguese fleet lay at anchor in the estuary
of the Tagus River
on 8 September 1936.
The rebels planned to seize control of the ships present and the coastal forts. At 03:00 their ships were to begin their departure, following each other out at fifteen minute intervals.
No word was received from the fort garrisons, so the rebels' plan would only work if they could embark before shore batteries came into action. However, a wireless operator tipped off the Portuguese Admiralty to the plan at around 01:00. A boat was immediately dispatched to survey the situation of the fleet.
Upon seeing the Admiralty launch
, most of the Portuguese sailors realized their plot had been discovered and chose not to revolt. By then the crews of the Afonso de Albuquerque
had already mutinied
, forcing their officers below deck at gunpoint. The sailors on Afonso
attempted to lure the Admiralty officers aboard, but the launch fled and the crew opened fire with machine guns. It took almost an hour before the alarm was raised ashore. When the forts were finally alerted, they could not target the mutineers' ships due to a heavy mist. The rebels were hesitant to leave without further orders from their leaders, and did not attempt a breakout until daylight.
The Portuguese naval minister ordered coastal artillery
to fire on any vessel attempting to leave the harbour.
At 07:30 Afonso
raised steam and proceeded down the river at about 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph). By then the mist had cleared and the shore batteries opened fire. Afonso
responded but was soon struck. A loyal submarine opened fire on her with a machine gun. Afonso'
s bridge was destroyed in the engagement and her engines were crippled. Dão
, caught in the cross-fire between two forts, was also hit and both ships ran aground. The crews raised white flags to signal their surrender.
Government forces boarded Afonso
and arrested its crew. In an attempt to conceal their actions, several sailors stripped off their uniforms and attempted to swim ashore. Loyal Portuguese troops raked them with machine gun fire. The rebels were rounded up near Belém Tower
and taken prisoner.
The leader of the revolt, a sailor from Dão
, committed suicide.
According to historian Glyn Stone
, the revolt was "easily suppressed and remained an isolated incident" and did not pose a threat to Salazar.
The German Ambassador to Portugal, Oswald von Hoyningen-Huene
, reported that "it is even said that Salazar...provoked the dramatic development, or at the very least allowed matters to run their usual course."
The government framed the mutiny as a communist
plot to surrender the Portuguese ships to the Spanish Republican Navy
On 9 September, Salazar issued an official statement. Framing the Spanish Civil War as an international conflict and warning of the dangers of leftist revolution spreading from Spain, he appealed for the creation of a new armed force to counter such a threat.
The next day he introduced a law forcing all public servants to swear allegiance to the principles of his regime.
On 30 September, an anti-communist paramilitary force, the Legião Portuguesa
, was formed.
Communist activity in the Portuguese Armed Forces
declined after the mutiny and remained minimal in the following years.
Though it had dealt with the mutiny with force, the Portuguese government feared further revolts. Several days after the event the British press reported that several Portuguese Army
units had rebelled, prompting the Portuguese embassy in London to issue a denial and declare the foreign press was depicting the Portuguese situation as chaotic to the Spanish government's benefit, and therefore the government was "obliged to intensify its offensive against communism".
The mutiny ultimately strengthened Portuguese support for Franco's faction in the Spanish Civil War.
In October the Portuguese government officially severed relations with the Spanish government.
- ^ Meneses, Filipe (2009). Salazar: A Political Biography. Enigma Books; 1 edition. p. 200. ISBN 978-1929631902.
- ^ Alpert 1994, pp. 52–54.
- ^ Alpert 1994, pp. 54–55.
- ^ Stelmach 2014, pp. 129–130.
- ^ "Morreu o último homem da Revolta dos Marinheiros de 1936" [The Last Man of the 1936 Sailor Uprising Has Died]. Jornal Expresso (in Portuguese). Retrieved 17 February 2016.
- ^ a b c d e The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 2 October 1936, p. 17
- ^ a b c d e "Portuguese Naval Revolt". The Advertiser. Adelaide, South Australia. Associated Press. 10 September 1936. p. 24. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- ^ De Meneses 2013, pp. 200–201.
- ^ a b Stone 1994, pp. 13–14.
- ^ Raby 1988, pp. 63–64.
- ^ Stelmach 2014, pp. 130–131.
- Alpert, Michael (1994). A New International History of the Spanish Civil War. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780312120160.
- De Meneses, Filipe Ribeiro (2013). Salazar: A Political Biography. Enigma Books. ISBN 9781929631988.
- Ferreira, Hugo Gil; Marshall, Michael W. (2010). Portugal's Revolution: Ten Years On (1st paperback ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521154857.
- Stone, Glyn (1994). The Oldest Ally: Britain and the Portuguese connection, 1936–1941 (1st ed.). Woodbridge: Boydell Press. ISBN 0-86193-227-7.
- Pilger, John (2010). Hidden Agendas. Random House. ISBN 9781407086415.
- Raby, D. L. (1988). Fascism and Resistance in Portugal: Communists, Liberals and Military Dissidents in the Opposition to Salazar, 1941-1974 (reprint ed.). Machester University Press. ISBN 9780719027970.
- Sapega, Ellen W. (2008). Consensus and Debate in Salazar's Portugal: Visual and Literary Negotiations of the National Text, 1933–1948 (illustrated ed.). Penn State Press. ISBN 9780271034102.
- Stelmach, Anita (2014). "'We can't have Reds in Portugal': The Portuguese Response to the Spanish Civil War". Flinders Journal of History and Politics. 30: 111–142. ISSN 0726-7215.
Last edited on 23 April 2021, at 22:46
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.