Foreign Legion events: March 01 – 10

See most important events in the Foreign Legion’s history which occurred between March 1 and March 10.

 

French Foreign Legion: March 01

1866, Battle of the Santa Isabel hacienda
– the battle took place near Parras, Mexico
– 3rd + 4th Company of the 2nd Battalion, Foreign Regiment were involved in
– about 180 men (including 7 officers + 19 NCOs) were killed by 1,900 Mexicans
– Major (Commandant) Paul-Amable de Brian, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, was also killed
– only 1 legionnaire escaped

1948, Lt Colonel Brunet de Sairigné, the 13e DBLE commander, was killed in Indochina
– he served in the Legion since 1939
– he served with the 13e DBLE between 1940-45 and 1946-48
– he was the youngest regimental commander within the French Army (aged 33 when he took the leadership of 13e DBLE in 1946)

1951, 3e REI reorganization
– 3rd + 4th + 5th Battalion of 3e REI were established

1955, 1er REC reorganization
– 6th + 9th + 14th Squadron became the 3rd + 6th + 2nd Squadron

 

French Foreign Legion: March 02

1885, Battle of Hoa Moc, Indochina, the most fiercely fought action of the Sino-French War
– over 300 legionnaires from the 1st Battalion of 2e RE took part in

1931, Foreign Legion Inspection (which became the Foreign Legion HQ, COMLE in 1984) was established to control and command the Legion
– general Paul-Frédéric Rollet became the very first inspector/commander, nicknamed as Father of the Legion

1954, heavy fights in the Trung Thon region, Tonkin
– 2nd + 3rd Battalion of 5e REI were involved in
– that day, four months before the First Indochina War ended, 5e REI lost over 250 legionnaires

1956, clashes with rebels near Taza, Morocco
– legionnaires from the 3rd Battalion of 2e REI (ex-2e RE) participated in

 

French Foreign Legion: March 03

1885, Siege of Tuyen Quang was broken
– the siege took place in Tonkin (today’s northern Vietnam), between November 1884 and March 1885
– the French citadel of Tuyen Quang was successfully defended by two French Foreign Legion companies of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e RE) against vastly superior Chinese forces
– a few hundreds of legionnaires under the leadership of major (cdt) Dominé fought off seven severe attacks lunched by about 12,000 Chinese soldiers

1949, Parachute Company/3e REI fought in the Yen Lap region, Tonkin, Indochina
– 30 Viet Minh soldiers were killed

1954, two 1er BEP (future 1er REP) companies conducted an operation against a Viet Minh artillery at Dien Bien Phu (Tonkin)

1959, 2e REI legionnaires were involved in an operation at Djebel Ksel, Algeria

1961, 5e REI legionnaires finished an operation to maintain order in Oran (an important city in north-west of Algeria)

 

French Foreign Legion: March 04

1885, Keelung Campaign in the Sino-French War

– legionnaires of the 4th Battalion, 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e RE) comprised a part of a task force led by lt colonel Duchesne, which launched that day a highly successful offensive against the Chinese positions at Keelung, northern Taiwan

1940, 13e DBMLE (future 13e DBLE) took ship in Oran, Algeria for Marseille, France to take part in mountain warfare training
– in April-May, the unit will participate in the Norwegian Campaign

1948, legionnaires of the 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE were involved in clashes at Vinh Loc near Saigon, Cochinchina (today’s southern Vietnam)

1954, legionnaires of the 1st Battalion, 3e REI were attacked at their post of Ha Giang, in the Bac Ninh region, Tonkin (today’s northern Vietnam)

1959, 5e REI participated in Operation Hibou at Oued El Hamman, Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: March 05

1949, 2nd Squadron, 1er REC participated in an operation at Plaine des Joncs, Cochinchina (southern Vietnam now), Indochina

1953, Operation Armagnac for 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Demi-brigade) in the Loc Ninh region, Cochinchina

1959, Operation Hibou ended for 5e REI
– having launched several operations in the Oran region (Algeria) since early February, 5e REI legionnaires already killed over 400 rebels and about 130 of them imprisoned

5e REI legionnaires during an operation in Algeria, March 1959

 

French Foreign Legion: March 06

1928, Foum Zabel Tunnel (Tunnel of Legionnaire) in Morocco
– at 04:30 PM (16h30), after 5 months of hard working, the tunnel has been dug through the 62-meter-long solid rock of granite by the legionnaires of Sappers-Pioneers Company (CSP), 3e REI

1943, 4e DBLE (Demi-brigade) returned from Senegal to Morocco
– a few weeks later, it will successfully participate in the Tunisian Campaign (while retitled as 1er REIM)

1950, during Operation Tonneau taking place in the Ninh Giang region, Tonkin (northern Vietnam now), 1st Battalion of 5e REI encircled and attacked the enemy
– 250 men of the Viet Minh were killed, almost 40 imprisoned

1958, 1er REP launched an operation in the Djebel Besbessa, Algeria

Adjudant Michez (in the middle, black kepi), a platoon leader with some of his 38 legionnaires, which participated on the construction of the Foum Zabel Tunnel in Morocco. Bearing khaki kepi and a cigarette, captain Edard, the then CSP/3e REI commander…

 

French Foreign Legion: March 07

1952, Operation Ouragan
– the operation took place in the Red River delta, Tonkin (northern Vietnam now)
– 1er BEP + three squadrons from 1er REC + 3rd Battalion of 2e REI took part in
– during the operation, the Viet Minh suffered a severe defeat
– two of its regiments were annihilated

1953, Operation Nemesis ended
– the operation also took place in the Red River delta, Tonkin
– four squadrons from 1er REC participated in

1959, Operation Iris ended for 5e REI
– the operation also took place in the Oran region, Algeria
– several rebels were killed

– on the picture, an Alligator of 1er REC in the Red River delta, Tonkin during Operation Ouragan, March 1952

 

French Foreign Legion: March 08

1921, Tunisian detachment of the Legion was established at Sousse, Tunisia
– next year, the Detachment will become the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC)

1947, a large French convoy with 1st Battalion of 3e REI left Hanoi, the then capital of Tonkin (northern Vietnam) to take part in operations in the Nam Dinh region

1951, 4th Battalion of 13e DBLE left Tra Vinh to take part in Operation Pamplemousse in the Vinh Long region, Mekong Delta, southern Vietnam
– about 50 Viet Minh soldiers were killed
– 1st Squadron of 1er REC took part in the operation, too

1952, 4th Battalion of 3e REI left Luang Prabang, the then capital of Laos, to participate in operations taking place in north of the country

1er REC legionnaires at Sousse, Tunisia in the 1930s..

 

French Foreign Legion: March 09

1945, Japanese coup de main (direct assault) in French Indochina

– 5e REI outposts located in French Indochina were attacked by the Japonese, a lot of legionnaires were massacred

– next day, French units (including 5e REI legionnaires) received an order to leave the country for China to be regrouped there

– in next 93 days, legionnaires had to march almost 1,600 km (1000 miles) through the jungle and fought against the Japanese until they reached China in June

– on July 1, 5e REI was disbanded in China

– the survived legionnaires formed the Provisional Battalion/5e REI (BM/5) and had to fight their way to Saigon, northern Vietnam to be shipped to the then Legion HQ in Algeria

– the repatriated legionnaires of 5e REI landed in Algeria in January 1947, most of them had their five-year contract expired long ago

 

French Foreign Legion: March 10

1831, French Foreign Legion establishment

– the 10th March is celebrated by the Legion as an official date of its creation

– on March 10, 1831, a decree of the French Council of State ratified the royal ordinance signed by Louis Philippe, the King of the French, on March 9

– in the ordinance comprising three articles, the king authorized to form a Legion composed of foreigners

– the ordinance also stated, that the Legion has to be engaged outside France only

– on March 10, 1831, a second ordinance signed by King Louis Philippe followed

– the ordinance thoroughly specified the establishment of the new unit composed of foreigners and named the unit as Foreign Legion

– this ordinance allowed foreigners to serve for France under a declared identity, a permission valid to this day

– this Legion (which is called Vieille Légion, Old Legion now) was based in northern Algeria and participated in the pacification of the then French colony until 1835

– in June 1835, the whole Legion (about 4,000 men) was sent to Spain to be transferred to the Spanish forces loyal to Madrid, to fight the Carlists in the First Carlist War

– in December 1835, a royal ordinance of King Louis Philippe ordered to create a Nouvelle Légion, New Legion

– this New Legion, with its HQ also based in Algeria (up to 1962), became the current Foreign Legion

– when the war in Spain ended in 1839, only 200-250 survivors from the original Vieille Légion returned to France

Foreign Legion - 1831 - establishment

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: March 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: February 22 – 29
French Foreign Legion history