Foreign Legion events: October 21 – 31

Explore the most important events of the French Foreign Legion’s history. Significant campaigns, battles, deployments, operations, the establishments or dissolutions of units… Today, we will present the historical events which occurred between October 21 and October 31.

 

French Foreign Legion: October 21

1833, a military operation at Kolea, in the Algiers region of northern Algeria
– two Legion elite companies participated in
– the operation was led by Colonel Bernelle, then Legion’s commander
– during the operation, several attacks conducted by local rebels were fought off

1952, in then French Indochina, a group of legionnaires from 5th Company, 2nd Battalion, 5e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place during a patrol in the Nam Dinh region of Northern Vietnam
– Lieutenant Marielle-Trehouart, who led the group, was killed

– in the photo, 5e REI legionnaires parading in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, early 1950’s

5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1951 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: October 22

1915, during the Serbian Campaign (Oct 1915 – Jan 1916), a part of the Balkans Campaign of WWI, Bulgarian attacks aimed at the positions of 11th Company (led by Captain Chavanne) from Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team)
– the attacks took place near Kalkovo, around 10 miles (16 km) north of Gevgelija, then Serbia (today’s southern Macedonia)
– the positions were successfully managed to defend

1920, at the plateau of Toulzamer, Tadla region of central Morocco, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 1er RE got involved in clashes with Moroccan rebels
– the enemy was successfully fought off

1953, during Operation Mouette, legionnaires from 10th Company, 3rd Battalion, 3e REI launched a counter-attack against the Viet Minh
– the attack took place near Cau Dai, in the Thanh Hoa region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– 28 Viet Minh members were killed

1955, heavy fighting with an important rebel group near Soukies, in the Negrine region of northeastern Algeria
– 21e CPLE (Motorized Company) + 2nd Platoon, 23e CPLE got involved in
– that day, 25 rebels were killed
– 21e CPLE and 23e CPLE were then autonomous Foreign Legion motorized units
– next year, they were grouped in the Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group (GPLEA) and a few months later, they consolidated with the 2e REI

– in the picture, an AMM8 (M8 Greyhound) armored car of the 21e CPLE with rebel weapons captured by 21e CPLE legionnaires during the fighting in the Negrine region of Algeria on October 22, 1955

21e CPLE - 21 CPLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: October 23

1942, Second Battle of El Alamein started
– a battle of WWII between the British and German forces
– it took place near El Alamein, Egypt
– two battalions of the Free French Forces’ 13e DBLE (Half Brigade) were involved in
– Free French Forces, led by General de Gaulle, were a part of the British army
– in the evening, the battle started by a British assault
– next day in the early morning, the commanding officer of the 13e DBLE, Lt Col Dimitri Amilakvari, was killed by mortar shells
– born in Georgia, Russian Empire, his family escaped from the new communist regime and moved to France
– he and his brother joined the Foreign Legion and they both made significant careers within
– after the Fall of France in 1940, Dimitri Amilakvari left the Legion and joined the Free French Forces to fight alongside British troops
– in 1944-45, the men from 13e DBLE were (re-)integrated into the Foreign Legion

1953, during Operation Mouette, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 5e REI were attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place near Chi Phuong, in the Ninh Binh region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– 5e REI had 5 legionnaires killed + 25 wounded

– in the image, General de Gaulle awarding General Koenig and Lt Col Dimitri Amilakvari (extreme right) in Egypt, 1942

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Dimitri Amilakvari - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1942 - Egypt

 

French Foreign Legion: October 24

1856, an operation ended for two battalions of then 2e RE (currently 2e REI)
– the successful three-week operation, aimed at local rebel tribes, took place in the Kabylie region of eastern Algeria
– however, 3 officers + 4 legionnaires were killed during the operation

1947, in the Hai Duong region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, the Ke Sat outpost occupied by 9th Company, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– heavily outnumbered, the legionnaires were defending the outpost during 14 hours, before the enemy retreated
– 62 Viet Minh attackers were killed

1948, 1er BEP left Algeria for French Indochina
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) left Algeria, North Africa for Southeast Asia, to join the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– established in July 1948, it was composed of 27 officers and 770 legionnaires
– the unit will be two times annihilated during the war
– during the Battle of RC4 in October 1950, the 1er BEP has become the first French parachute battalion ever lost in combat
– the battalion was redesignated to a regiment in 1955 and was disbanded as a punishment for its active participation in the 1961 Putsch of Algiers

1956, a military operation for legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 5e REI in the Tlemcen region of northwestern Algeria
– during the operation, at least 8 rebels were killed

– in the picture, 1er BEP legionnaires during an operation in French Indochina

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: October 25

1849, clashes with local rebels at Oued El Kelb, northeastern Algeria
– 200 legionnaires from 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI) got involved in
– Sergeant First Class (then sergent-major in France) Schmitter was killed

1961, a military operation started for motorized companies from 4e REI
– the operation took place at Djebel Mahouna, in the Guelma region of northeastern Algeria

1962, Foreign Legion definitively left Sidi Bel Abbes
– that day, the regimental standard of the 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE) and the last elements of the Foreign Legion left officially Sidi Bel Abbes, northwestern Algeria
– a town established in the late 1840’s around an existing Foreign Legion post
– a garrison town of the Legion since the 1850’s
– HQ of the Legion since the 1860’s until September 1962
– Foreign Legion’s HQ had to leave the town after the end of the Algerian War and the declaration of independence of Algeria
– it moved to Aubagne, close to Marseille, southern France

– in the photo, the last official ceremony at Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria, 1962

1er RE - 1 RE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1962 - Sidi Bel Abbes

 

French Foreign Legion: October 26

1952, Lieutenant de Tholozany and his 10th Company, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place at Ban Pe Trong near Ta Khoa, in the Na San region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– at least 14 legionnaires were killed

1962, 1st Foreign Regiment’s regimental standard landed in France
– having left Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria, the regimental standard of the 1st Foreign Regiment (HQ of the Legion) arrived in Marseille, France, accompanied by Colonel Vaillant, then commanding officer of the regiment
– they will move to Aubagne, the new base for the HQ of the Legion

– in the image, having left Algeria, the color guard of the 1st Foreign Regiment landed in Marseille, France, October 26, 1962

1er RE - 1 RE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1962 - Mers El Kebir

 

French Foreign Legion: October 27

1919, RMLE arrived in Morocco
– RMLE (Foreign Legion Regimental Combat Team) was one of the two most decorated unit of then French Army during World War I
– that day, the unit arrived in Oujda, Morocco to be stationed in then French protectorate
– next year, RMLE would become 3e RE (3e REI in 1922)
– the regiment will take part in the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)

1951, in the Bac Ninh region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in clashes with the Viet Minh
– several legionnaires were killed

1959, a military operation for legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– it took place at Djebel Achour, in the Djelfa region of northern Algeria
– 4th Squadron, 2e REC was involved in
– during the operation, 13 rebels were killed

– in the picture, 2e REC legionnaires rendering homage to their fallen comrades, Algeria, 1959

2e REC - 2 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: October 28

1913, a battle with Moroccan rebels
– the battle took place near the M’Coun valley, Tamnaseft region, Morocco
– legionnaires from 7th Company, 2nd Battalion, 1er RE got involved in
– the rebels were successfully fought off

1960, a three-week military operation ended for legionnaires from 3e REI
– the operation took place near T’Kout, in the Batna region of northeastern Algeria
– during the operation, at least 129 rebels were killed

– in the old postcard, 1er RE legionnaires in front of an outpost near the M’Coun valley, Morocco, before WWI

1er RE - 1 RE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - M'Coun - Morocco

 

French Foreign Legion: October 29

1881, a decree was issued
– it allowed to French volunteers to join the Foreign Legion again
– the French government had forbidden the joining of the Legion for the French since 1871

1952, Operation Lorraine started
– a large, four-week operation in the Phu Doan and Yen Binh regions of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– up to 30,000 French troops were involved in, including legionnaires from 1er BEP, 2e BEP (Parachute Battalions, later 1er REP and 2e REP) and 2e REI
– during the operation, the Viet Minh lost over 3,500 men

1957, a military operation started for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– it took place at Djebel Rhifouf, in the Negrine region of northeastern Algeria
– during the operation, 26 rebels were killed

– in the image, 2e REP legionnaires during an operation in northeastern Algeria, 1957

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: October 30

1947, a French supply convoy was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place in the That Khe region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– the convoy was guarded by legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– 20 legionnaires were killed during the attack
– between those killed, Senior Corporal Christian Simenon
– he was a former Walloon volunteer fighting on the Eastern Front during WWII and a brother of Belgian writer Georges Simenon, best known as the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret

1952, near the city of Ninh Binh, Northern Vietnam, two military outposts were attacked by the Viet Minh
– they were occupied by platoons from 7th Company, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– during the fights, 30 Viet Minh attackers and 18 legionnaires were killed

1955, an operation for 22e CPLE (Motorized Company) in the Biskra region of northeastern Algeria
– during the operation, a legionnaire was killed + an officer and 2 legionnaires were wounded
– 22e CPLE was an autonomous unit of the Foreign Legion
– next year, it became part of the Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group (GPLEA) and a few months later, it consolidated with the 2e REI

– in the photo, 13e DBLE legionnaires during a patrol in French Indochina, the early 1950’s

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - French Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: October 31

1939, Sappers-Pioneers Company, 4e REI disbanded
– formed in Morocco in August 1926 and assigned to the 4e REI
– its main task was to carry out military and public infrastructure projects in southern Morocco, in the Tadla and Agadir regions
– it participated in clashes with local rebels near Togha, Ouarzazate region, in 1931
– it became a Foreign Legion road building company in 1937

1955, Foreign Legion Transit Company disbanded
– in Southern Vietnam, CPLE was disbanded
– created in May 1947, the unit was based in Saigon
– CPLE served as a transit unit for legionnaires to enter or leave then French Indochina
– for example, in 1950, over 21,300 legionnaires passed through the company
– legionnaires stayed there several days to take rest and to get determination of their future unit assignment

1956, Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group disbanded
– in Algeria, GPLEA was officially disbanded
– a little-known, short-lived motorized battalion of the Foreign Legion
– officially established in June 1956, it grouped 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE (Motorized Companies)
– based at Djelfa, GPLEA participated in the Algerian War
– next day, its three companies consolidated with the 2e REI

1959, a military operation for legionnaires from 2e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company) near El Azreg, in the Mascara region, northern Algeria
– that day, 20 rebels were killed

1982, 61st Engineer-Legion Mixed Battalion disbanded
– in northern France, 61e BMGL was disbanded
– a mixed engineering unit established in 1971
– consisting of legionnaires and French sappers
– its main task was to build up Camp Canjuers, the largest military training area of Western Europe
– its Legion company was dissolved two days later

– a Kepi blanc magazine cover shows Captain Le Berre (right, bearded) and the fanion guard of his 2e CSPL in Algeria, 1959

2e CSPL - 2 CSPL - Saharan Company - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: October 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: October 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: September 21 – 30
Foreign Legion events: September 11 – 20
French Foreign Legion history