Protagonists (Factions) of the Portuguese Colonial War

Flags of Portuguese Colonial War - Banner

During the Portuguese Colonial War Portugal faced 27,000 insurgents spread across three theatres (Cann, 1997). The insurgents represented a wide range of, and often conflicting, liberation movements. Factions within a wider insurgency. I’ve only listed those that had armed forces in the field. Generally they fought in small groups; a force of 200 insurgents gathered in one place was rare.

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15mm Portuguese Machine Guns – MG42, MG13, Madsen

Cazadore with MG42 Converted from German

If you’ve seen my page on 15mm Figures for the Portuguese Colonial War you’ll know that Peter Pig is the only source of Portuguese figures, i.e. with the G3 rifle and Portuguese cap. The trouble is the machine guns. The Peter Pig figures have a GPMG as the squad support weapon and some Russian thing on wheels as their heavy (HMG). That might be suitable for insurgents but not for Portuguese.

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Timeline for the Portuguese Colonial War

The Portuguese had been in Africa a long time before the Portuguese Colonial War started. The Portuguese founded Luanda in Angola in 1576 (see my African New World) and in the late 19th Century the Portuguese scrambled for the interior of Africa along with the rest of Europe (see Portuguese Scramble for Africa). There had been many wars and revolutions within the Portuguese African possessions throughout those centuries but, in a sense, the ultimately successful liberation wars really began with a UN resolution in 1955.

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UNITA Order of Battle during the Portuguese Colonial War

In Mar 1966 UNITA (União Nacionalpara a Independéncia Total de Angola) broke away from the FNLA under Jonas Savimbi (Abbott & Rodrigues, 1998; Morris, 1974). They received Chinese support and some UNITA men were sent to China for training but many promises of military aid were not fulfilled. They operated from the western part of Zambia until expelled in 1968. They recruited from Angolan refugees in Zambia and had support amongst the Mbundu and Luchazi tribes peoples of the Moxico District. Unlike leaders of other independence movements Savimbi spent considerable time with his units inside Angola and gained considerable respect as a result. Following expulsion from Zambia in 1968 they had at most 500 active guerrillas.

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UPA / FNLA / GRAE Order of Battle during the Portuguese Colonial War

The UPA (União das Populações de Angola) was a non-marxist nationalist organisation formed in 1957 (Abbott & Rodrigues, 1998; Cann, 1997; Morris, 1974). There membership was largely from the Bakongo people whose territory spanned Angola and Belgium Congo. As time went on they gained support from the more southern Ovimbundu and Nhaneka-Humbe peoples. Belgium Congo (Zaire) became independent in 1960 and from 30 Jun 1960 the new regime began to support the UPA including allowing them a radio station and training camp. The movement received support from Congo, Algeria and the US

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