On July 4, 2016, the Foreign Legion commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Belloy-en-Santerre. The battle, which occurred on July 4, 1916 near the river Somme in the Picardy region of northern France, was part of the Battle of Somme, the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front. That day, hundreds of legionnaires were killed within a few hours, including the American poet Alan Seeger.
On the 4th July of 1916, about 2,000 legionnaires and war-period-volunteers from RMLE (Foreign Legion Regimental Combat Team, commanded by Major Cot) attacked fortified German positions at Belloy-en-Santerre, 800 m (875 yards) distant, to liberate the occupied village. Whitin a while, hundreds of RMLE men were killed, because of intensive shelling and German machine guns. That day, the RMLE lost almost all officers and NCOs and more than 800 troops. For that action, the unit was mentioned in order of the Army.
After many severe attacks launched all the night by German troops on Belloy-en-Santerre, the RMLE took about 750 prisoners (more than the number of combat-ready men within the then RMLE itself), including 15 German officers. By the way, these actions, including the battle at Belloy-en-Santerre, are known as the Battle of Albert in the English-speaking world.
In 1919, the RMLE became the most decorated unit of the French Army. In 1920, it was redesignated as 3e RE, and as the 3e REI (3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment) in 1922.
On July 4, 2016, a ceremony took place at Belloy-en-Santerre, to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the battle and to pay homage to fallen legionnaires and war-period-volunteers from the RMLE, including Alan Seeger and the Catalan Camil Campanya, another famous poet killed the same day.
See photo gallery from the ceremony: L’hommage à la Légion étrangère