Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB)

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Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB)

Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB), a unit that served in Italy with U.S. General Mark Clark's Fifth Army from August 1944 to May 1945 in the Allied campaign against the German Nazis and Italian Fascists. Led by General João Batista Mascarenhas de Morais, the Força Expedicionária Brasileira, as the unit was known in its home country, was comprised of 25,334 officers and men, of whom some fifteen hundred were casualties. On 15 September 1944, the Sixth Regimental Combat Team (São Paulo) entered the line north of Pisa near the Serchio Valley and advanced northward as the Germans withdrew to the Gothic Line. By October only the First Division remained after two others were canceled by President Getúlio Vargas. The First Infantry, Sampaio (Rio de Janeiro), Eleventh Infantry (Minas Gerais), Divisional Artillery (Rio and São Paulo), Ninth Engineering Battalion (Mato Grosso), Second Motorized Reconnaissance Squadron (Rio), and First Medical Battalion (Rio and São Paulo) were deployed south of Bologna, in the Reno Valley, ahead of which lay Monte Castelo, a key position in the Gothic Line. The FEB launched four unsuccessful assaults on Monte Castelo between 24 November and 12 December 1944. After ten more cold, grueling weeks a fifth attack, on 21 February 1945, succeeded. The FEB pushed forward with the U.S. Tenth Mountain Division and by April received the surrender of three Italian divisions and the 148th German Grenadier Division. The Brazilians then pushed into the Po Valley and on to the French frontier.

Distrustful of this truly national, combat-tested force, Vargas disbanded it upon its return to Brazil in July 1945 and ignored General Mascarenhas. Chief of Staff Colonel Floriano de Lima Brayner was shipped back to Italy to care for the Brazilian cemetery at Pistóia, and the junior officers were posted to isolated interior garrisons. Nevertheless, many of the staff and line officers (henceforth called Febianos) later achieved prominence, especially during the 1964 revolution against President João Goulart, after which Chief of Operations Humberto Castello Branco served as president (1964–1967). Supporters of the uprising included Chief of Intelligence Amaury Kruel, who commanded the powerful Second Army (São Paulo), and Staff Liaison Officer Carlos de Meira Matos, who led the Minas Gerais column against Brasília. Brazilian-based FEB interior officer Henrique Batista Duffles Teixeira Lott served as minister of war (1954–1960) and was a presidential candidate (1960), and coconspirator Artur da Costa e Silva actually served as president (1967–1969).

Line officers João Segadas Vianna and Jurandir Mamede founded the Anti-Communist Crusade. Legalist infantry colonel Nélson de Melo served as minister of war (1961–1962) but later broke with Goulart and joined the conspiracy. Raimundo Ferreira de Souza led his Sampaio regiment against the Goulart government. Ernesto Geisel became president (1974–1979). On 29 October 1945 FEB Artillery Commander Oswaldo Cordeiro de Farias delivered the military's ultimatum to Vargas, provoking his resignation. The Febianos Cordeiro de Farias and César Obino were also instrumental in founding the Escola Superior Da Guerra (Superior War College), in 1949. Many Febianos made fast friends with U.S. liaison officer Vernon A. Walters, later the U.S. defense attaché to Brazil (1962–1967). Thus, the friendships forged on World War II Italian battlefields affected Brazil from 1945 on.

See alsoArmed Forces; World War II.


João Batista Mascarenhas De Morais, A FEB pelo seu comandante (1947).

Joel Silveira, As duas guerras da FEB (1965).

Floriano De Lima Brayner, A verdade sobre a FEB (1968).

Raymond Estep, The Military in Brazilian Politics, 1821–1970 (1971).

Lewis A. Tambs, "Five Times Against the System," in Perspectives on Armed Politics in Brazil, edited by Henry H. Keith and Robert A. Hayes (1976), pp. 177-206.

Vernon A. Walters, Silent Missions (1978).

Additional Bibliography

Ferraz, Francisco César Alves. Os brasileiros e a Segunda Guerra Mundial. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 2005.

Gonçalves, José and Cesar Campiani Maximiano. Irmãos de armas: Um pelotão da FEB na II Guerra Mundial. São Paulo: Códex, 2005.

                                      Lewis A. Tambs

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Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB)

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