1976: Training units left Corsica for Castelnaudary

In October 1976, training units of the French Foreign Legion left Corsica. Having been stationed there since June 1962, they would move to mainland France. The training units of the Legion would be stationed at the town of Castelnaudary, their future garrison in the southern part of the country.

Training units of the Foreign Legion, then called Foreign Legion Training Group (Groupement d’instruction de la Légion étrangère, GILE) moved to the island of Corsica from Algeria, their homeland. They were composed of five training companies, including two enlisted volunteer companies – the 1st + 2nd Enlisted Volunteer Company (CEV).

In Corsica, the 1st Enlisted Volunteer Company (1re CEV) was based in Bonifacio (the south of the island), in the Montlaur citadel. The citadel then served as the home of 2e RE (now 2e REI). The 2nd Volunteer company was based in the citadel of Corte (northern Corsica).

On October 11, 1976, both enlisted volunteer units left Corsica for mainland France. The 1re CEV was temporarily placed at the Foreign Legion Invalid Institution of Puyloubier near Marseille, in southern France, the home of Foreign Legion veterans. The 2e CEV was temporarily placed within the headquarters of 1er REC in Orange, in place of the 4th Squadron having been deployed to Corte in Corsica at the same time.

The enlisted volunteers doing their four-month basic training stayed at their provisional locations until late November.

On November 23, first legionnaires arrived in Castelnaudary, southern France. They were placed at Quartier Lapasset (also Caserne Lapasset), the old barracks of Mobilization Center 143 in the town center. On December 11, 1976, the first Foreign Legion parade was organized for local people.

Next year, Team leaders Training Company (CIC) left Corte, Corsica in early August 1977, as the last training unit of the GILE and also moved to Castelnaudary. A month later, the battalion-sized training unit would be reorganized and redesignated. On September 1, 1977, GILE became the Foreign Legion Training Regiment (RILE). Three years later, on June 1, 1980, the training unit was renamed again. RILE became the 4th Foreign Regiment (4e RE).

Since July 1986, training units of the French Foreign Legion have been based at the new headquarters, Quartier Capitaine Danjou, located in the outskirts of Castelnaudary. However, Quartier Lapasset would be used by the 4e RE until the early 1990s.

GILE in Bonifacio in the Montlaur citadel
Montlaur citadel in Bonifacio, the home to the 1st Volunteer Company of GILE
GILE in Corte in the Citadel
The citadel of Corte (on top), the home to the 2nd Volunteer Company of GILE
GILE is leaving Corsica
GILE leaving Corsica (October 11, 1976)
2nd Volunteer company of GILE is travelling to Orange
2nd Volunteer Company of GILE on the road to Orange (October 1976)
1st Volunteer company of GILE is travelling to Puyloubier
1st Volunteer Company of GILE on the road to Puyloubier (October 1976)
1st Volunteer company of GILE in Puyloubier
1st Volunteer Company of GILE in Puyloubier, during a ceremony (November 1976)
GILE parading in Castelnaudary in December 1976
GILE – the Foreign Legion’s first parade in Castelnaudary (December 11, 1976)
GILE headquarters in Castelnaudary in December 1976
Crowd of people in front of the new home of GILE in Castelnaudary (December 11, 1976)
GILE headquarters in Castelnaudary in December 1976
New home of GILE, the old military barracks in Castelnaudary (December 1976)
Quartier Lapasset
New entrance of Quartier Lapasset (or Caserne Lapasset)
Quartier Lapasset
Quartier Lapasset of 4e RE

 

The Citadel of Corte. Young legionnaires from the 2nd Volunteer Company of GILE during an instruction in 1972.

 

Information & images source: Kepi blanc magazines

 

Related posts:
4e REI: History of the Regiment of Morocco
Foreign Legion in a 1978 documentary
French Foreign Legion 1949 documentary
History of the French Foreign Legion in pictures