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15 October 2014
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by WilliamMiller

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Vincent Wing
Location of story: 
The Somme, 1914-1918 War
Background to story: 
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Contributed on: 
14 November 2003

My Great Uncle, Lieutenant Vincent Wing was
fighting on the Somme when he was withdrawn, sick with a lung disease.

In the field hospital he saw men far more seriously ill then he was, with wounds, and dying. He felt guilty, only being infected in the lung.

Many of the wounded there were from a Portuguese regiment, allied to the British side. There was a serious shortage of nursing and medical staff.

Vincent Wing decided to ingore his own illness, get up and help. He only had his pyjamas.

Presently a Portuguese General made a visit to see his injured troops, and was amased to see Lieut. Wing helping in his pyjamas.

"Thank you so much for helping my troops," said the impressed General. "Is there anything I can do for you, you seem to be short of clothes?"

Wing replied, "My kit has been lost and I am in fact rather cold."

"Well please take my great coat, I have another at GHQ." Replied the General.

Wing declined saying, "I couldn't possibly wear that sir, it is a General officer's coat, and I am only a Lieutenant!"

"In that case," said the General, "I will make you a General for a day; please do take my coat."

Wing accepted, and as he started to put on the coat there was a screaming rush of wind as an artillery shell flew through the air and hit Wing directly, killing him instantly. The General stading next to him was unharmed.

The General, so moved and upset by the unjust reward meted out to this selfless British Officer, made an immediate order that Wing should be given a ceremonial Portuguese military funeral, with a Portuguese flag draped over the coffin. Our family has the flag to this day, in memory of this young officer, with a huge heart, who in his last hours helped so many dying Portuguese soldiers.

May he rest in peace, all our love, William Miller

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Message 1 - Re: General for a day

Posted on: 14 November 2003 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

This war anecdote must relate to the Great War (World War I). Portugal, under the fascist dictator Salazar, remained neutral during World War II. No Portuguese troops were engaged on either side.

Portugal entered the Great War on 9 March 1916 and troops were sent to France in January 1917. This was the 'Corpo Expedicionário Português', known to the British as the CEP.

The full story of the Portuguese soldiers on the Western Front is here: links

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