ADVENTURES IN BRAZIL - 1923-1925
The journal reads like something from the old "Boys' Own Annual" with Dean Lamb performing like Superman and, incidentally, planning the world's biggest bank robbery. The Brazilian National library reports that the following section on Brazil (below) was largely correct in the names, casualties, battles and the historical figures mentioned. However it could find no mention of Dean Ivan Lamb in newspapers of that time. The Language barriers were difficult to overcome. I have included Lamb's alleged exploits in Rio Grande do Sul that I sent to the National Library - make of it what you will?
Dean Lamb took part between May, 1923 and March, 1924, in the civil war in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil between the 'Maragatos' and 'Chimangos'.
He kept a journal of his experiences in Rio Grande do Sul. The following dates of the major events might be out by a day to two.
May 28, 1923: Lamb began negotiations with the head of the State's Brigada Militar, Colonel Affonso Massot, and Dutra Villa, Chief of Police in Porto Alegre to fly for State President, J Antonio de Madeiros, against the Gauchos, outside of the major cities, who had rebelled against what they considered fraudulent elections and killings of the previous year.
Lamb was caught up with a protest march against the president. Lamb claims State Forces at the presidential palace fired on the crowd, killing 30 men, women and children. Lamb claims that in retaliation he killed a young Lieutenant in charge of the troops and a machine-gunner. He later found out that this lieutenant was the son of Colonel Massot.
He says the Porto Alegre newspaper that day made mention only of the death of Lieutenant Massot. He claims to have become a confirmed Maragato supporter following the killings.
May 28 - June 8, 1923: Lamb played a double game, negotiating with President Madeiros and Massot while trying to steal an aircraft and a Thompson machine gun from the State forces. He was at Porto Alegre's airfield on May 29 at what was the birth of the Brigada Militar's air force section when Noemio Ferraz (pilot) and Osorio Olveira Nunes (Observer) flew one of the French Breuguet aircraft. During this period Lamb stole one of the Thompson machine guns from the aircraft and planned to fly the one serviceable aircraft to Maragato territory outside the capital. President Madeiros gave Lamb a contract to fly for the Brigada Militar. However before Lamb could fly the aircraft to 'safe' territory, he was betrayed by a Maragato supporter named Machado, and fled Porto Alegre with the help of Moraes Fernandez, Carlos Correa, secretary of the Revolutionery Committee, and other Maragato supporters.
June 10, 1923: Lamb was in Alegrete, the temporary revolutionary capital. It was his first stay in Alegrete, a city with which he eventually fell in love. He was welcomed with open arms and befriended by Maragato supporters, particularly by a Dr Alexander Lisboa.
June 13, 1923: Lamb joined the Maragatos' Western Division under General Honorio Lemes, styled "The Lion of Cavera."
June 16, 1923: He took part in a skirmish between Maragatos and Chimangos near Alegrete. Lances were used. There was a total of five dead on both sides.
June 19/20: Battle at Bridge across the Iburapuitan River on the outskirts of Alegrete. Lamb was in charge of the machine gun section that had an old seven-barrelled Gatling machine gun. The routed Maragatos suffered about 90 dead and wounded. Chimangos under Francisco Flores da Cunha and Nepomoceno Saravia had 150 killed and wounded. Lamb claims to have shot Guilliame Flores da Cunha, brother of the commander. However, other Gauchos also claimed to have shot the Lieutenant.
August 6, 1923: Engagement at Vista Alegre. Lamb used the Maragatos' one Thompson machine gun (it had arrived the day before) to great effect. Casualties unknown.
September 4. Battle of Poncho Verde (Green Poncho). Chimangos used four machine guns. Lamb used the only good Thompson machine gun and claims to have inflicted severe casualties. Maragatos lost 80 killed and 48 wounded. Chimangos under da Cunha and Nepomoceno beaten with casualties of more than 300 killed and wounded. (The Maragatos counted 115 Chimango dead found on the field).
October 14, 1923, Artigas, Uruguay: Lamb, on a mission to buy arms got Honorio Lemes (and airplane if possible) in neighbouring countries, kills a State government agent, a man named Motta, in a formal pistol duel allegedly watched by the entire town. Referees in the duel were Major Meno Barreto, Uruguayan army commander in Artigas, and the Police Chief. Flores da Cunha places a reward of 15 contos on Lamb's head.
October 28/29, 1923: Engagement at Paso do Armado on Rio Santa Maria near Alegrete. Dean Lamb, and a Gaucho, Duarte (surname unknown), and seven other men, were trapped at Santa Maria River. They decide to hold the river ford. Lamb and Duarte, using 'Tommy guns', kill 146 Chimangos, wound two and capture 4, virtually wiping out a Chimango column under Negrito Barrios. (This feat, if the figures and Lamb's participation are correct, would have to be the greatest 'one-man-stand' in the military history of the 20th century!)
November 3, 1923: General Honorio Lemes attacks and occupies Santa Ana do Livramento, killing seven and wounding 24 Chimangos. Maragatos claim a loss of only one wounded.
November 7, 1923: Federal Minister of War, General Setembrino da Carvalho, arranges an armistice between Maragatos and State forces. The Federal Government stepped in to ensure that peace prevailed in Brazil while Ministers were negotiating a loan with a visiting British Financial Mission to Brazil. The peace negotiations were to be held in Bage.
November 8 - December 21, 1923: Lamb travels continually between Alegrete, the peace conference talks at Bage and Santa Rita where Honorio Lemes' division was based. Both sides believed the fighting would be resumed. Lamb received at this time two proposals to rob banks. One proposal came from millionaire Mena Barreto and the commander of the Maragato Eastern Division, Zeca Neto (also spelt Zecco Netto in some publications), for the Eastern Division to attack Pelotas, near Porto Alegre, once fighting resumed. Lamb was to first bomb the Presidential Palace in a aircraft bought by Mena Barreto, land for the attack on Pelotas and, as Colonel and commander of the Machine Gun Corps of the Eastern Division, rob and loot six large banks and the State sub-treasury office. It was estimated that the robbery would net them US$7 million, in what would at the time have been the world's biggest bank robbery. Lamb attributed purer motives to Meno Barreto: he wouldn't share in the loot but wanted supplies for the Division to continue the fight. A top Argentinian lawyer - his name is not given - was involved and explained to Lamb how the North American could get away scot-free. At this time foreigners were in charge of the various machine gun Crops attached to the Maragato Divisions: Dean Lamb in the Western; the German Ernesto Emfelt of the Eastern and an Englishman with the name of Butler in the Northern.
During this time the Chimangos made several unsuccessful attempts on Lamb's life. Flores da Cunha's price tag of 15 contos on Lamb's head still stood - and it did until he escaped eventually from Rio Grande do Sul.
December 14 or 15, 1923: Peace terms between Maragatos and Chimangos were agreed upon. Maragatos, however, felt betrayed. They had turned in their arms while the Chimangos were under no condition to do so. The killing of unarmed Maragatos was a daily occurrence, according to lamb.
December 22, 1923, at Alegrete: Antonio Carvalho of the Brigada Militar murders Lieutenant Carlos Nobre of the Maragatos on the streets of Alegrete. Lamb, who was with Nobre at the time, claimed the bullet was meant for him. Maragatos arm themselves and board up in the houses. Carvalho surrenders to the Federal Army but is later released and goes to Uruguayana where he runs a small tavern on the outskirts of the town. The Federal Army units patrol the streets of Alegrete continuously to stop fighting. Over the next few weeks there are three assassination attempts on Lamb. These fail due to the intervention of the Federal Army. Lamb, still with a price on him, keeps on the move about the State but cannot leave because he can't get a safe conduct pass from Dutra Villa, Port Alegre's chief of police.
March, 1924: Lamb heads for Uruguayana where he arranged with a Colonel Vianna to escape across the river to Argentina. Before he crossed the river, Lamb claimed to have 'kneecapped' Carvalho to leave him a cripple for life.
Here Lamb's journal breaks off.
Late 1924: Lamb is reported to have been involved as a machine gunner with Bolivian forces in the Gran Chaco dispute in 1924. (I can't find any trouble in the Gran Chaco at this time. However the dispute between Bolivia and Paraguay was a long-running sore that in 1929/30 erupted in war).