Portuguese militia

The Azores were Portuguese territory, and Portugal was technically neutral throughout World War II. The British, however, had an ancient treaty with Portugal allowing them use of use of their possessions in time of war. This did not extend to America, however, and the American soldiers were technically guests of the British who were not allowed weapons – or, at least, not allowed to show them too conspicuously. To make sure everybody was keeping in line, the local Portuguese militia snuck around the edges of the American camp to keep an eye on them.

The Azores are volcanic islands, and it was necessary to blast pits out of the volcanic rock for latrines. These filled rapidly, the waste having nowhere to dissipate to, and the practice was to blast new pits when needed, cover the old with a thin layer of dirt, and post warning signs. It is also important to note that water of any kind was very limited, and at this time was only available for one hour a day in the morning.

In the middle of one dark night the camp was awaken by unearthly screams. Everyone frantically armed themselves and took positions to ward off the expected Nazi attack. After quite a bit of confusion and bumping about in the darkness it was discovered that the screams were coming from one of the recently retired latrine pits. At length the story became clear: two Portuguese militiamen had tried sneaking up on an unguarded portion of the camp’s perimeter only to find themselves swimming in human manure.

Ropes were thrown and the unfortunate spies rescued, pulled to safety, and held downwind and at a distance until morning when the water turned on and they could be hosed off. There were no further recorded attempts to infiltrate the American camp and its lethal defensive perimeter.