In a quiet corner of the St Mary’s Cemetery in Taunton, Somerset, sit a pair of headstones.
Both are adorned with the word Portugal, and have the word Trabalhador (translated as Worker) and the phrase Corpo de Lenhadores Portugueses (or Portuguese Forestry Corps) inscribed on them.
During the Great War, vast quantities of timber were required by the Army in France. Initially imports from Canada provided most of what was needed but, as the war progressed, ships were required for other essential supplies, so imports of timber fell dramatically.
In 1916, the British government asked the country’s oldest ally, Portugal, to send workers to assist with the war effort. Soon both the Portuguese Forestry Corps and Canadian Forestry Corps had teams working all across the United Kingdom, totalling many thousands of men.
This side of the war effort was not without its casualties, and those serving were accorded Commonwealth War Graves.
There is no information readily available for Manuel Ferreira Maio. He would have come to England from Portugal at some point in 1916, but the only record of him is that of his passing.
He died on 7th October 1918, although the cause of his death and the age at which he passed are lost to time.
Manuel Ferreira Maio lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in Taunton, Somerset.