Foreign Legion events: December 21 – 31

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

 

French Foreign Legion: December 21

1946, two different groups of legionnaires from 8th Company, 3e REI were attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attacks took place in the Vinh Long sector, south-west of then Saigon, Southern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– that day, at least 5 legionnaires were killed

1952, Battle of Phuong Ba
– a fierce battle in the Tonkin Delta in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– 12th Company, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in
– its legionnaires were attacked by the Viet Minh at the village of Phuong Ba
– many legionnaires were badly wounded

1958, Zeralda Road Accident
– in northern Algeria, during a heavy rain, a convoy of the 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) was moving from Mascara to Algiers, the capital
– close to Zeralda, the garrison town of the regiment, a truck of the 1st Company slipped on a wet road and crashed into a ravine
– Lieutenant René Gastaud + 6 legionnaires died
– by coincidence, his brother Jean Gastaud, who served as a lieutenant with the 2e REP, was killed in action only five months earlier, in July 1958

– in the picture, Lieutenant René Gastaud of the 1er REP, killed on December 21, 1958

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Lieutenant René Gastaud - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: December 22

1947, a Viet Minh attack during an operation in Central Vietnam, then French Indochina
– that day, legionnaires from 64e CRALE (Foreign Legion Auto Repair Company) were attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place near Ca Na, in the Nha Trang region
– 2 legionnaires from 64e CRALE were killed
– 64e CRALE was an independent Foreign Legion military logistics unit tasked with vehicle recovery missions in Indochina

1956, Anglo-French withdrawing from Egypt
– that day, Anglo-French Task Force had to finish withdrawing from Egypt, after the Suez Crisis ended
– legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) + 2nd Squadron, 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were between them
– Suez Crisis was an operation to regain Western control of the Suez Canal
– France took part in, alongside Great Britain nad Israel
– they invaded Egypt
– the operation ended by Anglo-French withdrawal following international pressure
– legionnaires returned to Algeria in late December

– also in 1956, a two-day military operation ended for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) at Djebel Anoual, in the Tebessa region of northeastern Algeria
– during the operation, 33 rebels were killed

– in the photo, 1er REP legionnaires and an AMX 13 tank of the 2nd Squadron, 2e REC during withdrawing from Egypt, December 22, 1956

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Egypt

 

French Foreign Legion: December 23

1883, an order to deploy to southeast Asia for 2nd Battalion, Foreign Legion
– the battalion will reinforce the 1st Battalion already stationed there
– both battalions would take part in the Tonkin Campaign in Northern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion left Algeria four days later

1947, in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, a convoy was heavily attacked by the Viet Minh
– the convoy was accompanied by legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– durinng the attack, the French suffered 11 men killed + 26 wounded

1958, a week military operation ended for legionnaires from 2e REI, 5e REI and 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved in
– the operation took place in the Ain Sefra region of Algeria, close to the border with Morocco

– in the image, a military field camp of both, the 5e REI and the 1er REP, during a joint military operation in Algeria, late 1958

5e REI - 5 REI - 1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: December 24

Noël (Christmas Day)
– together with Camerone Day (April 30, marking the 1863 Battle of Camerone), Noël is the most celebrated day within the Foreign Legion
– today, December 24, all officer, non-commisioned officers and legionnaires stay together at their military bases or their outposts to celebrate Christmas Eve as a family, with the traditional gift-giving and by sharing a traditional common meal at mess hall
– as a long-living tradition, the “crèche” (Nativity scene) with a Legion theme is produced by every platoon of legionnaires to present it on Christmas Eve

– in the photo, an example of the traditional Christmas “Creches” created by legionnaires (here those of the 2e REG)

Christmas- Noel - Creche - Foreign Legion Etrangere

 

French Foreign Legion: December 25

1870, that day in the early morning, during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), many men from the Provisional Foreign Regiment (consisting of non-legionnaires in the majority since mid-December) were found frozen to death at their field camp near Vierzon, central France
– the regiment (three battalions) was formed in October to participate in the war
– the original Foreign Regiment (comprising two battalions of German-speaking legionnaires) stayed in Algeria to maintain order there

1946, Liberation of Hai Duong
– that day, Hai Duong was liberated by 1st Battalion, 2e REI
– the city of Hai Duong is located near Hanoi, Northern Vietnam
– it was occupied by the Viet Minh
– several legionnaires were killed and wounded

1947, in the That Khe region of northern Vietnam, an outpost occupied by legionnaires (led by Sergeant Grimault) from 6th Company, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– after heavy fighting, the attackers were fought off

– in the picture, legionnaires arriving in then French Indochina, late 1940’s

Foreign Legion Etrangere - late 1940's - French Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: December 26

1914, during WWI, 4th Regimental Combat Team (nicknamed Garibaldi Legion, composed of Italian volunteers) of the 1er RE launched an attack on German positions at the plateau of Bolante, in the Argonne region, northeastern France
– it was the first fighting for the Garibaldi Legion
– in 10 minutes, the unit lost 161 men (including 30 men killed)
– between the killed, 2nd Lieutenant Bruno Garibaldi
– he was a brother of Lt-Col Giuseppe Garibaldi, the founder and commander of the Garibaldi Legion

1946, in the Tra Vinh region of Southern Vietnam, then French Indochina, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh for legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI
– Second Lieutenant Richard + 2 sergeants + several legionnaires were killed

1949, Battle of Hieu Tu
– a severe battle with the Viet Minh in then French Indochina
– it took place at Hieu Tu, in the Tra Vinh region of Southern Vietnam
– in the evening, 1st Company, 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, now 2e REP) jumped over the Hieu Tu village and got involved in a four-hour battle with a battalion of the Viet Minh
– 3 legionnaires were killed + many legionnaires were wounded
– the following day, the Viet Minh battalion was annihilated by a French task force, including a squadron of the 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)

1952, during Operation Bretagne in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 2e REI were attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place near Tam Thum Phuong, in the Nam Dinh region
– that day, 148 Viet Minh attackers were killed

1958, a military operation for legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) at Djebel Groun in the Djelfa region of northern Algeria
– during the operation, 15 rebels were killed

– in the picture, 2e REI legionnaires parade down the street of Nha Trang, their garrison town in then French Indochina, 1952

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Nha Trang - French Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: December 27

1864, a reconnaissance operation around Oaxaca (Oajacca in several French books), a fortified city in southwestern Mexico
– battalions of the Foreign Regiment (then title of the Foreign Legion) took part in
– the operation was part of the French Intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– the French attacked the city in January 1865

1949, in the Tra Vinh region of Southern Vietnam in then French Indochina, a fierce battle with a Viet Minh battalion
– 1st Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) took part in
– that day, around 300 Viet Minh men were killed

1957, at Djebel Necissa, northern Algeria, clashes with rebels for legionnaires from 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– during the operation, Captain de Laffon + Lieutenant Daeuble were seriously wounded

– in the image, the 1er REC with its Panhard EBR armored cars in Algeria, 1957

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: December 28

1871, two-week military operations aimed at local rebels started in the Saida region, northwestern Algeria
– 4th Battalion, Foreign Regiment (then title of the Legion) took part in

1948, in then French Indochina, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI were two times attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attacks occurred during patrols in the Dong Khe region of Northern Vietnam
– Lieutenant le Pelletier De Woillemont was killed
– 5 legionnaires were wounded

1959, a military operation for legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) in the Djelfa region of northern Algeria
– during the operation, 10 rebels were imprisoned

2012, an operation to secure French diplomats and citizens in the Central African Republic
– 3rd Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) participated in
– in November, a coalition of rebel groups took over towns in northern and central regions of the country

– in the photo, 3rd Company, 2e REP having landed at Bangui, Central African Republic on December 28, 2012

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2012 - Central African Republic

 

French Foreign Legion: December 29

1951, Operation Noel ended
– an operation in the Tra Vinh region of Southern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– legionnaires from 1st Autonomous Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) took part in
– 2 Viet Minh soldiers were killed
– another 21 were imprisoned

1957, a military operation at Oued Souf en Nirouf in the Tlemcen region of northwestern Algeria
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 5e REI took part in
– during the operation, a group of rebels was annihilated

2011, during the War in Afghanistan in the Tagab Valley, a patrol was attacked by the Taliban’s sub-machine gun fire
– 2 legionnaires were killed
– both NCOs (19 years and 7 years of service) belonged to the Mountain Commando Group, 2e REG (Engineer Regiment)

– in the picture, 2e REG pays tribute to the two legionnaires killed in Afghanistan on December 29, 2011

2e REG - 2 REG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2011 - Paying Homage - Saint Christol

 

French Foreign Legion: December 30

1840, two Foreign Legion regiments
– that day, a royal decree was issued
– it prescribed that the Foreign Legion has to be devided into two parts
– in April 1841, two Foreign Legion regiments (1er RLE, 2e RLE) were formed

1951, Attack of Mount Bavi
– during the Battle of Hoa Binh (Nov 1951 – Feb 1952), 12th Company, 2e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the severe attack took place near the Mount Bavi, in Northern Vietnam of then French Indochina
– the company was almost annihilated
– over 90 legionnaires were killed, wounded or missed

1958, a military operation for legionnaires from 1st + 4th Squadron, 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) at Djebel Senalba, in the Djelfa region of northern Algeria
– during the operation, 12 rebels were killed
– 16 rebels were imprisoned

1969, Battle of Tchalak
– a fierce battle during an intervention in Chad, Central Africa
– it took place near Tchalak, north of Am Timan, southern Chad
– CMLE (Motorized Company), 1er RE got involved in
– it faced a large group of local rebels
– during the battle, 30 rebels were killed
– 2 legionnaires were also killed
– in following years, the CMLE would become the 1st Company, 2e REI

– in the image, a CMLE sergeant with an AA-52 machine gun in Chad, 1970

CMLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1970 - Chad

 

French Foreign Legion: December 31

1916, during the Balkans Campaign of WWI, the Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team) was attacked by Bulgarian troops at Orizari, Monastir (today’s Bitola), in then Serbia (today’s southern Macedonia)
– Lieutenant Barite was killed

1941, 6th Foreign Infantry Regiment inactivation
– at Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria, 6e REI was inactivated
– the most controversial unit of the Legion in France’s WWII history
– constituted in 1939 in Syria and Lebanon
– it fought bravely in the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign
– in that campaign, 6e REI legionnaires faced the invasion of the British Army (supported by a small number of De Gaulle’s Free French Forces, including 13e DBLE elements) into the French-controlled countries
– during this campaign, the 6e REI lost hundreds of legionnaires
– the regiment left the Middle East for France in August 1941
– it returned to Sidi Bel Abbes (then HQ of the Legion) in Algeria in December
– the next day, its legionnaires re-formed the 1er REI (1er RE now)
– in reality, the 6e REI was just redesignated to the 1er REI
– 6e REI was reactivated in Tunisia in 1949
– the regiment was finally disbanded in June 1955

1949, last Mounted Company dissolved
– that day in Morocco, Mounted Company, 4e REI was dissolved
– the last mounted company of the French Army
– it was designated to be a fully motorized unit
– the history of mounted companies started in the 19th century
– first mounted companies, equipped by mules (1 mule for 2 legionnaires), were established in Algeria in December 1881
– they became most prestigious, elite units of the Legion between 1890’s-1920’s
– since 1944, the 4e REI’s Mounted Company solely had served with the Legion
– nevertheless, the company kept a number of mules even in 1951

1955, 2e + 3e CMRLE (Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company, vehicle recovery units established in 1945 and 1946) + 2e CREBLE (Foreign Legion Armored Vehicle Repair Company, established in 1951) + 76e BGL (Engineers-Legion Battalion, a mixed unit established in 1951) were disbanded
– these units serving in French Indochina supported French forces during the First Indochina War (1946-54)

1958, Operation Couronne II ended for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the three-day operation took place near Berrouaghia, in the Medea region of northern Algeria
– 129 rebels were killed
– also 5 legionnaires were killed

– in the photo, a “clairon” of the 1st Battalion, 6e REI during Camerone Day at Homs, Syria, 1940

6e REI - 6 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1940 - Syria

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: December 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: December 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: November 21 – 30
Foreign Legion events: November 11 – 20
French Foreign Legion history