Major-General Rui Moura, the Vice Chair of the Association Friends of the British Cemetery, Elvas told The Portugal News that it was “Around the year 2000, when some expatriates from England, namely the first President and Honorary President of the ‘Friends’, Major Nick Hallidie, who was living around Elvas at the time decided to promote an association to save the cemetery.”
On the evening of the 13th of May, Major-General Rui Moura, the Vice Chair of the ‘Friends’ gave a talk on ‘The Paintings of Major Thomas St. Clair”, which took place in the Hotel Dom Luis, followed by dinner. For those who do not know Thomas Staunton St. Clair (1785-1847) was born in Gibraltar into a military family and during the Peninsular War he transferred to the Portuguese Army as a Major in the 21st Infantry Regiment of the Line. From 1810 to 1811 he fought at Buçaco, Massena’s Retreat, Fuentes d’Onoro and the 2nd siege of Badajoz, and remained in Portugal until 1820.
On the 14th of May at the British Cemetery of Elvas the traditional ceremony took place. The Eucharist was celebrated before the Ceremony in the Chapel by the Rev. Fran Le Blanc. Civil and military authorities from Portugal, England, Spain and the Republic of Ireland attended. Following the ceremony, the Chapel and Museum were open to visitors and a great lunch was had at the Varchotel, located on the main road to Lisbon about 3 miles west from Elvas.
On the 15th of May, Major Nick Hallidie organised a visit to Wellington’s headquarters at Monte da Gramicha in Elvas took place. During the 2nd Siege of Badajoz, at the end of May 1811, Wellington moved his Headquarters to the Monte da Gramicha, between Elvas and the Spanish frontier. It belonged then to the Gonçalves family. The current owners are Henrique Gonçalves, the Association’s Treasurer, and his mother Marivi, who very kindly allowed them to visit the property.
Following this, attendees had a wine-tasting and lunch at Garrafeira de Fronteira which happens to be the oldest garrafeira (wine shop) in Elvas.
On Tuesday, May 16, 212 years pass on the Battle of La Albuera, a warlike episode of the Peninsular War in which the armies of England, Portugal and Spain faced the French who were trying to relieve the French garrison of Badajoz that was under siege. On this date the habitual commemoration of the Battle of Albuera took place in the main square of La Albuera which was followed by wreath laying at the PWRR Obelisk, which was followed by lunch.
For more information, please visit https://www.british-cemetery-elvas.org/.