Foreign Legion events: December 21 – 31

On this day. Explore the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between December 21 and December 31. Learn about famous operations, campaigns, battles, activations or dissolutions of units and other important Foreign Legion historical events which happened from 1831 to these days. Every day is supplemented with an image.

To see all historical events, go back to: French Foreign Legion – Historical Events

 

French Foreign Legion: December 21

1946, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– near Vinh Long, south-west of then Saigon, Southern Vietnam
3e REI legionnaires were involved
– two different groups from 8th Company
– that day, at least 5 legionnaires were killed

1952, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– at the village of Phuong Ba, during an operation
– in the Tinkin Delta in Northern Vietnam
– 12th Company, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– many legionnaires would be badly wounded

1958, Zeralda Road Accident
– a road accident in northern Algeria
– it occurred on a wet road, during a heavy rain
– during a movement of the 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the convoy of the regiment was returning from an operation
– the accident took place close to Zeralda
– the garrison town of the regiment near Algiers, the capital
– a truck of the 1st Company slipped on a wet road
– it crashed into a ravine
– Lieutenant René Gastaud + 6 legionnaires died
– the killed officer was a brother of Jean Gastaud
– a lieutenant from the 2e REP
– killed in action only five months earlier, in July 1958

1970, Operation Limousin ended for the Legion
– a military operation in Chad (Central Africa)
– between April 1969 – December 1970
– the first military action for the Legion since 1962
– to calm down a local rebellion
– led by FROLINAT (a local liberation front)
– 2e REP participated
– also CMLE (Foreign Legion Motorized Company)
– that day, the last legionnaires left Chad
– during the operation, over 150 rebels were killed
– however, an officer + 6 legionnaires were also killed
– 28 legionnaires were wounded

– 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, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– aimed at legionnaires from 64e CRALE
– Foreign Legion Auto Repair Company (future 2e CMRLE)
– an independent Foreign Legion military logistics unit
– tasked with vehicle recovery missions in Indochina
– the attack took place near Ca Na
– in the Nha Trang region, Central Vietnam
– 2 legionnaires from 64e CRALE were killed

1956, Anglo-French withdrawing from Egypt ended
– that day, the last Anglo-French troops left Egypt
– they participated in the Suez Crisis (November 1956)
– Anglo-French invasion of Egypt
– code-named Operation Musketeer (ex-Operation Hamilcar)
– a response to Egypt’s Suez Canal nationalization
– seen as Britain’s last attempt to act as an independent great power
– Britain wanted to regain Western control of the Suez Canal
– France saw then Egypt as a national threat
– the country continuously supported Algerian rebels
– because of that, France joined the operation
– 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) successfully participated
– also 2nd Squadron, 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– Anglo-French successfully landed in Egypt
– the Egyptian troops quickly retreated
– however, the operation was stopped by the U.S.
– the U.S. punished Britain and it canceled the operation
– the French were very dissatisfied
– a number of legionnaires saw it as a betrayal
– they were well-prepared and determined to win
– legionnaires remained in Egypt until late December

– also in 1956, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation ended
– a two-day military operation aimed at local rebels
– it took place at Djebel Anoual, in the Tebessa region
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– 33 rebels were killed

– in the photo, 1er REP legionnaires controlling the Suez in Egypt, late 1956

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

 

French Foreign Legion: December 23

1947, in then French Indochina, a fierce Viet Minh attack
– aimed at a French supply convoy
– protected by legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– the attack took place in the Cao Bang region, Northern Vietnam
– the French suffered several losses
– 11 men were killed
– 26 men were wounded
– between the killed and wounded, 3e REI legionnaires

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

1961, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– in the Tebessa region
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– a number of rebels were killed

– in the image, 2e REP legionnaires during a military operation in Algeria in 1961

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: December 24

Noël (Christmas Day)

– the second most important holiday within the Foreign Legion
– celebrated by officers, NCOs and legionnaires as a family
– every 24th December, all officer, non-commisioned officers and legionnaires stay together at their military bases or their outposts to celebrate Christmas Eve as a family
– including gift-giving and sharing a traditional dinner at a mess hall
– as a long-living tradition, the “crèche” (Nativity scene) with a Legion theme is made by every platoon of legionnaires to present it on Christmas Eve
– at the mess hall, legionnaires also play traditional “sketches” to amuse their comrades

– in the photo, 2017 Christmas Eve in the Foreign Legion
– a traditional dinner in the 2e REG (Engineer Regiment) + an example of the traditional Christmas “Creche” made by legionnaires of the 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)

Christmas - Noel - Creche - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2017

 

French Foreign Legion: December 25

1870, in central France, a deadly cold night
– during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)
– that morning, many soldiers were found frozen to death
– legionnaires, foreign volunteers and French-Breton conscripts
– all of them members of the Provisional Foreign Regiment
– an operational unit of the Legion fighting in France
– found frozen to death at their field camp of Puits Berteau
– north of Vierzon, a commune in the Cher department
– at the time, the majority of its men were non-legionnaires
– because of the important losses from early December
– the regiment (three battalions) was formed in October

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 then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– aimed at a small Foreign Legion outpost
– located in the That Khe region, Northern Vietnam
– held by legionnaires from 6th Company, 3e REI
– led by Sergeant Grimault
– after heavy fighting, the attackers were successfully fought off

– in the picture, a Provisional Foreign Regiment legionnaire during the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71

Foreign Legion Etrangere - France - 1870-71

 

French Foreign Legion: December 26

1914, in northeastern France, a Legion attack
– aimed at German positions
– an action on the Western Front of WWI
– at the plateau of Bolante, in the Argonne region
– 4th Regimental Combat Team, 1er RE were involved
– 4e RM, nicknamed as Garibaldi Legion
– consisting of more than 2,100 men
– Italian volunteers in the vast majority
– one of the four provisional Foreign Legion units
– formed to fight in France during WWI
– during the attack, Garibaldi Legion suffered losses
– in 10 minutes, the unit lost 161 men
– including 30 men being killed
– between the killed, 2nd Lieutenant Bruno Garibaldi
– a brother of Lt Colonel Giuseppe Garibaldi
– the founder and commander of the Garibaldi Legion
– 4e RM, 1er RE would be dissolved in March 1915

1946, in then French Indochina, a fierce skirmish with the Viet Minh
– near Vinh Long, in the Tra Vinh region, Southern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Company, 3rd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– Second Lieutenant Jacques Richard was killed
– two sergeants + several legionnaires were also killed

1949, Battle of Hieu Tu
– a severe four-hour battle with a Viet Minh battalion
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– it took place in the Tra Vinh region of Southern Vietnam
– 1st Company, 2e BEP were involved
– 2nd Foreign Parachute Battalion (future 2e REP)
– after having jumped over the Hieu Tu village
– the four-hour battle followed
– 3 legionnaires were killed + many legionnaires were wounded
– the following day, the Viet Minh battalion would be annihilated
– by a French task force
– including a squadron of the 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)

1952, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– an action during Operation Bretagne
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the battle took place near Tam Thum Phuong
– in the Nam Dinh region, Northern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 2e REI got involved
– that day, 148 Viet Minh members were killed

1958, in northern Algeria, a military operation
– carried out by legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– it took place at Djebel Groun, in the Djelfa region
– 15 rebels were killed

– in the picture, Italian volunteers from 4e RM (Garibaldi Legion) evacuating fatally wounded Lieutenant Bruno Garibaldi (a brother of Giuseppe Garibaldi) on December 26, 1914

Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1914 - Bruno Garibaldi - Garibaldi Legion

 

French Foreign Legion: December 27

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

1957, in northern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– at Djebel Necissa, in the Oran region
– 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– two officers were seriously wounded
– Captain de Laffon + Lieutenant Daeuble

– 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

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

1959, in northern Algeria, a military operation
– carried out by legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– it took place in the Djelfa region
– 10 rebels were imprisoned

2012, in the Central African Republic, a military operation
– to protect French diplomats and citizens
– 3rd Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– in November, a coalition of rebel groups took over towns in northern and central regions of this African 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 then French Indochina
– in the Tra Vinh region of Southern Vietnam
– aimed at the Viet Minh
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– 1st Autonomous Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) took part
– 21 Viet Minh members were imprisoned

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

2011, in Afghanistan, a Taliban attack
– in the Tagab Valley of the Kapisa region
– the attack was aimed at a French patrol
– 2 legionnaires were killed
– NCOs (19 years and 7 years of service)
– from Mountain Commando Group, 2e REG
– 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment
– killed by a sub-machine gun fire

– 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 the division of the “New” Foreign Legion
– a regiment-size unit formed in 1836
– composed of five battalions by late 1840
– the unit would be divided into two regiments
– the division would take place on the 1st April 1841

1951, Attack of Mount Bavi
– an action during the Battle of Hoa Binh (1951-52)
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the attack took place in then French Indochina
– near the Mount Bavi in Northern Vietnam
– a severe Viet Minh attack aimed at legionnaires
– from 12th Company, 2e REI
– the company was almost annihilated
– over 90 legionnaires were killed, wounded or missed

1958, in northern Algeria, a military operation
– carried out by legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– it took place at Djebel Senalba, in the Djelfa region
– 12 rebels were killed
– 16 rebels were imprisoned

1969, Battle of Tchalak
– a battle with rebels in Chad (Central Africa)
– during Operation Limousin (1969-71)
– the first military operation for the Legion since 1962
– to calm down a local rebellion
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) participated
– also CMLE (Foreign Legion Motorized Company)
– a less-known unit, nicknamed “The Bearded”
– that day, a fierce battle occurred
– near Tchalak, north of Am Timan, southern Chad
– HQ + 1st Platoon, CMLE were involved
– they faced a large group of local rebels
– during the battle, 30 rebels were killed
– 2 legionnaires were also killed

– in the image, CMLE legionnaires (nicknamed “The Bearded”) during an operation in Chad, 1969-70
– the little-known, but exceptional unit would become 1st Company, 2e REI in the 1980s

CMLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1969-70 - Chad

 

French Foreign Legion: December 31

1949, Last Mounted Company dissolved
– in Morocco, Mounted Company, 4e REI was dissolved
– ex-Mounted Company, 3e REI
– the last mounted company of the French Army (since 1944)
– keeping the traditions of all mounted companies
– the legendary companies composed of mules
– the history of mounted companies started in December 1881
– units equipped with mules for faster movement
– each mule was shared by two legionnaires
– they took turns riding the mule which carried their gear and food
– mounted companies equipped with mules were seen as elite units within the Foreign Legion in North Africa until the 1920s
– Mounted Company became Motorized Company, 4e REI
– the unit was designated to become fully motorized
– nevertheless, the unit kept a number of mules even in 1951

1955, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with rebels
– it took place near T’Kout, in the Batna region
– 2nd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 20 rebels were killed

1958, Operation Couronne II ended
– an operation during the Algerian War (1954-62)
– carried out by 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the three-day operation took place near Berrouaghia
– in the Medea region
– 129 rebels were killed
– 5 legionnaires were also killed

1961, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– in the Tebessa region
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– a number of rebels were killed
– the last important action for 2e REP in Algeria
– in two days (Dec 23 + Dec 31), 50 rebels were killed

– in the very rare photo, the future last Mounted Company of the French Army, while parading in Fez (Morocco) in late 1940
– today, 1st Enlisted Volunteer Company, 4e RE derives their origins from this unit

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Mounted Company - Montee - 1940 - Fez - Morocco

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: December 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: January 01 – 10
French Foreign Legion history