Foreign Legion events: September 21 – 30

Get to know important historical data in French Foreign Legion’s history. Significant campaigns and battles, deployments and operations, the establishments or dissolutions of units. Look at the most notable events of the Foreign Legion which occurred between September 21 and September 30.

 

French Foreign Legion: September 21

1833, two Legion elite companies participated in a military operation led by Colonel Bernelle, then Legion’s commander
– the operation took place at Kolea, northern Algeria
– during the operation, all local rebel attacks against legionnaires were successfully fought off

1916, during the Balkans Campaign of WWI, fierce fighting with Bulgarian soldiers for Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team)
– the fighting occurred near Petrobak in today’s Macedonia
– the battalion had 17 men killed, including Captain Azan

1955, Operation Timgad started
– a two-week operation aimed at local rebel groups during the Algerian War
– it took place near Cheria, Tebessa region, northeastern Algeria, close to the Tunisian border
1er REP (Parachute Regiment) + 2e REI (Infantry Regiment, based in Tunisia at that time) + 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE (Motorized Companies, which would become Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group, GPLEA in 1956) + 1re CSPL, 2e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Companies) participated in
– during the successful operation, dozens of rebels were killed

1956, a fierce battle with local rebels for Captain Camelin and his legionnaires from 23e CP (Motorized Company, ex-23e CPLE), GPLEA got involved in
– the battle occurred at Djebel Foua, in the Bir El Ater region of northeastern Algeria
– that day, 26 rebels were killed
– within two weeks, the company will consolidate with the 2e REI

– in the rare image, Captain Camelin (with the cigarette) and his command car of the 23e CPLE during an operation in Algeria, 1956

23e CPLE - 23 CPLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Captain Camelin - Algeria - 1956

 

French Foreign Legion: September 22

1870, Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion) has to participate in the Franco-Prussian War (July 1870 – May 1871)
– that day, the commanding officer of the Foreign Regiment (based in Algeria) received an order to form two battalions consisting of 1,000 men to be deployed to France to join the war
– it was also ordered to exclude all German legionnaires
– they had to stay and maintain order in Algeria

1917, Battle of Thuong Thon
– a battle at Thuong Thon, in the Hanoi region of Tonkin (then title for Northern Vietnam), French Indochina
– a revolted local militia group against a group of legionnaires from Autonomous Company, 1er RE
– after two hours of fighting, 7 rebels were killed
– 1 legionnaire was also killed + 4 legionnaires were wounded
– Autonomous Company (composed of around 200 German and Austrian legionnaires in the vast majority) had been the only Legion unit stationed in Indochina since 1916
– its detachments were occupying several isolated outposts in the troubled Tonkinese region bordering China

1940, Battle of Lang Son started
– a three-day battle with the Japanese in then French Indochina
– 2nd Battalion, 5e REI and other French troops based at Lang Son, an important town in northern Vietnam, opposed to the Japanese invading Indochina
– during the battle, several legionnaires were killed
– finally, the French had to reach an agreement with Japan

1955, Battle of Draa El Melah
– a four-hour battle with local rebels in northeastern Algeria
– it occurred during Operation Timgad, at Draa El Melah near Cheria, in the Tebessa region
– 5th + 6th Company, 2nd Battalion, 2e REI (Infantry Regiment, based in Tunisia at that time) were attacked and got involved in fierce fighting with rebels
– during the battle, 21 rebels were killed
– Lieutenant Grandsard (6th Company’s commander) + 4 of his legionnaires were also killed

– in the rare photo, General Rollet, then Chief of the Foreign Legion (called Father of the Legion) holding the standard of 5e REI at Viet Tri, then French Indochina, 1936

5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - General Rollet - Indochina - 1936

 

French Foreign Legion: September 23

1925, clashes with Druze rebels in the Sweida region of southern Syria for legionnaires from 5th Battalion, 4e REI
– the next day, the town of Sweida was captured

1950, Operation Po Ma
– it took place in the Po Ma valley of the Dong Khe region, northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– launched as a response to the Battle of Dong Khe, in which 2nd Battalion, 3e REI suffered heavy casualties
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) participated in
– its Commando composed of local auxiliaries (assigned to the 1er BEP) also took part in
– Commando was led by Sergeant Holland (1er BEP) and his deputy, a former Viet Minh officer
– they got involved in a battle with the Viet Minh
– the enemy was fought off, several Viet Minh members were killed
– 12 Viet Minh members were imprisoned
– very important documents were discovered by the Commando, mapping the unit designations, positions and material of the Viet Minh in the region
– the documents stated that there are up to 30 Viet Minh battalions (over 15,000 men) in the region of Dong Khe
– however, the French command didn’t use this knowledge well
– within two weeks, the French units were ordered to withdraw their positions through Dong Khe
– in the following Battle of Route Coloniale 4, around 4,000 of French soldiers, legionnaires and local auxiliaries were lost
– during that battle, 1er BEP became the first French parachute battalion ever lost in combat

1956, a platoon of legionnaires from 6th Motorized Company, 3e REI got involved in fighting with local rebels in the T’Kout region, northeastern Algeria
– several rebels were killed and wounded

– in the picture, 1er BEP legionnaires in French Indochina, in the early 1950s

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - French Indochina - 1952

 

French Foreign Legion: September 24

1925, Capture of Sweida
– an action during the Great Syrian Revolt
– an important town of southern Syria was captured by French troops
– legionnaires from 5th Battalion, 4e REI took part in

1957, Capture of Saadi Yacef
Saadi Yacef was the well-known military chief of the rebel’s Autonomous Zone of Algiers, the capital of Algeria
– he was captured by legionnaires from the 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the operation helped to end the Battle of Algiers, a year-long campaign of urban guerrilla warfare

1960, Operation Cigale ended
– a two-month operation in then Vialar region (now Tissemsilt), northern Algeria
– legionnaires from 1er REP took part in
– during the operation, 115 rebels were killed

2006, 3rd Company, 1er REG (Engineer Regiment) took ship in Beirut, Lebanon to return to France
– between July-September, it participated in Operation Baliste
– an operation to evacuate French citizens living in Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War
– during the operation, at least 8,000 French citizens were rescued
– 3rd Company, 1er REG was the first French Army unit to take part in the operation in Lebanon

– in the image, 1er REP legionnaires returning from an operation, Algeria, 1960

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria -  1960

 

French Foreign Legion: September 25

1856, an operation started in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria
– its purpose was to calm down local rebellions
– two battalions of the 2e RE (2e REI now) participate in
– that day, several fights took place
– 2 officers + 3 legionnaires were killed
– 4 officers + 35 legionnaires were wounded

1955, during Operation Timgad, legionnaires from 7th Company, 2e REI (Infantry Regiment) got involved in fighting with local rebels near Djeurf in the Draa El Melah region, northeastern Algeria
– several rebels were killed and wounded

1983, 3rd Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) took ship in Beirut, Lebanon to return to France
– between May-September, it participated in the Multinational Force in Lebanon, a considerably chaotic peacekeeping mission, in which peacekeeping soldiers faced the escalation of a civil war
– it was the first such mission for legionnaires
– 2e REI (Infantry Regiment) + 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) also took part in
– during the mission, dozens of French soldiers were killed, including many legionnaires

– in the photo, 1er REC legionnaires and their AML armored cars in Lebanon, 1983

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Lebanon 1983 - AML

 

French Foreign Legion: September 26

1915, during WWI, in the Somme region of northern France, Legion positions were shelled by German artillery
– the positions were held by men from 2nd Regimental Combat Teams (provisional regiments) of the 2e RE (2e REI now) and the 1er RE
– that day, the Legion lost 209 men killed, wounded or missed

1946, a task force composed of legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 2e REI got involved in heavy fighting with the Viet Minh
– the fighting took place near the canal of Cau An Ha, in the Saigon region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– that day, long-serving Sergeant Major Frantisek “Francis” Vejmelek was killed
– Sergeant Klein + another 2 legionnaires were also killed
– Lieutenant De Grimouard and several legionnaires were wounded

1949, Operation Engraissor
– an operation in the Thu Dau Mot region of southern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Company, 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 2e REP) were involved in

1955, legionnaires from 6th Motorized Company, 3e REI (Infantry Regiment) were attacked by a large group of rebels near Lambaesis, an ancient Roman town in the Batna region of northeastern Algeria
– during the attack, Sergeant Khaak + legionnaire Westerweller were killed

– in the image, an M3 Scout Car of the 6th Motorized Company, 3e REI during a patrol in the Batna region of Algeria, 1955

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - M3 Scout car - Algeria 1955

 

French Foreign Legion: September 27

1855, during the Crimean War, legionnaires were attacked by Russian Cossacks in the valley of Baidar in the Crimea, Russian Empire
– Captain Leclerc + Sergeant Marini + a legionnaire were killed

1883, Tonkin Campaign started for the Foreign Legion
– that day, 1st Battalion (about 600 men, commanded by Major Donnier) of the Legion took ship at Algiers, the capital of Algeria
– it will be sent to Asia to participate in operations in Tonkin (then title for northern Vietnam), against local Chinese and Vietnamese armies

1917, Cross of the Legion of Honour for RMLE
– that day, RMLE (Foreign Legion Regimental Combat Team, 3e REI now) was awarded by then General Petain (later Marshal) with the highest French civil and military award, the Cross of a Knight of the Legion of Honour (Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur)
– during WWI, RMLE became one of the two most awarded units of the French Army

1953, near Ban Phou Sinam in the Nam Suong region of northern Laos, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 8th Company, 3e REI got involved in a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– 4 legionnaires were killed

1959, during Operation Jumelles, clashes with local rebels for 4th Motorized Company, 3e REI in the Kabylie region, northern Algeria
– that day, 30 rebels were captured

– in the picture, the regimental standard of RMLE with the Cross of the Legion of Honour (the red one) in 1918

RMLE - standard - flag - drapeau - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1918

 

French Foreign Legion: September 28

1915, during the second offensive of Champagne of WWI, an attack against German positions around the Navarin farm, close to Souain-Perthes, northern France
– the attack was launched by legionnaires from the 2nd Regimental Combat Teams (provisional regiments) assigned to the 2e RE (2e REI now) and the 1er RE
– during the attack, the Legion had 955 men killed, wounded or missed

1953, legionnaires from 21st Company, 61e BG (Engineer Battalion) were attacked by the Viet Minh in the Hai Duong region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– a legionnaire was killed
– 21st Company was composed of legionnaires
– 61e BG was a French mixed unit consisting of regular military engineers and legionnaires
– in Indochina 1946-55, there were several mixed engineering units consisting of Legion elements and French regular military engineers

1958, Operation Referendum
– legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) participated in
– the operation took place in Algiers, the capital of Algeria
– the legionnaires maintained order during the French National Referendum of September 28, held after the 1958 May Putsch conducted by General de Gaulle

– in the photo, 1er REP legionnaires during an operation in Algeria, 1958

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria - 1958

 

French Foreign Legion: September 29

Saint Michael Day (Saint Michel in French)
– Saint Michael the Archangel is the patron of all French paratroopers
– every year on September 29, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) of the Foreign Legion commemorates its patron
– Saint Michael Day is the regimental holiday for 2e REP legionnaires

1955, 2nd Amphibious Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) left Indochina for North Africa
– the group consisted of three squadrons
– in North Africa, it moved to Morocco to be assigned to the 2e REC
– it became its Motorized Squadrons’ Group, GEP

1962, the exhumed bodies of General Rollet (Father of the Legion), Major Aage de Danemark (Danish prince) and legionnaire Zimmermann (the last legionnaire of 1er RE killed in action during the Algerian War) were transported to the cemetery of Puyloubier, close to Aubagne, southern France
– they had to leave the Legion cemetery of Sidi Bel Abbes, the Legion’s Motherhouse and main garrison town in Algeria since the 1850s, due to the Algerian independence
– during Sep-Oct 1962, the Foreign Legion’s HQ had to leave Algeria to be based in southern France

– in the photo, 2016 Saint Michael Day inside the 2e REP’s Camp Raffalli located close to Calvi, Corsica

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Saint Michel - 2016

 

French Foreign Legion: September 30

1842, heavy fighting with local rebels for legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment) in the Oran region of northwestern Algeria

1856, a fierce battle in the Kabylie region of eastern Algeria
– a battalion of the 2e RE (2e REI now) participate in
– Sergeant Major Wagner was killed
– 12 legionnaires were wounded

1940, Infantry Division Reconnaissance Group 97 dissolved
– GRDI 97 (also GRD 97) was established in Morocco in early 1940
– a unit participating in the 1940 Battle of France (May-June), WWII
– it was composed of legionnaires from 1er REC and 2e REC (Cavalry Regiments)
– during the battle, its commander (Lt Colonel de La Tour) was killed
– GRDI 97 also lost two thirds of its strength (about 400 men of 650)
– its survivors returned to Morocco and joined the 1er REC

1950, Battle of Route Coloniale 4 started
– that day, Operation Tiznit was launched
– it is seen as the start of the Battle of RC4
– Operation Tiznit was a two-day operation to re-take Dong Khe
– Dong Khe was a town in Northern Vietnam
– it was attacked and seized by the Viet Minh in mid-September
– 3e REI suffered heavy casualties there
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) took part in the operation
– two days later, Dong Khe was partially retaken

1990, Operation Daguet
– first legionnaires landed in Saudi Arabia to take part in Operation Daguet, part of the Gulf War
– 2e REI as a whole + two squadrons of 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) + a company of 6e REG (Engineer Regiment, currently 1er REG) landed at Yanbu, Saudi Arabia
– the operation was aimed at Iraq in order to liberate Kuwait

1999, 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment received the regimental standard
2e REG was established in July of the same year
– the youngest regiment of the Foreign Legion
– the “mountain regiment” has been placed near Saint Cristol, southern France

– in the photo, the 2e REG legionnaires lined up at Quartier Maréchal Koenig, their HQ located near Saint-Christol, France, in 2016

2e REG - 2 REG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Quartier Maréchal Koenig - Saint-Christol - 2016

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: September 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: September 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: August 21 – 31
Foreign Legion events: August 11 – 20
French Foreign Legion history