Foreign Legion events: January 11 – 20

On this day. Explore the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between January 11 and January 20. 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: January 11

1943, Capture of Foum Es Gouafel
– during the Tunisian Campaign, 1st Battalion, 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team, composed of 3e REI legionnaires in the majority) + Autonomous Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) seized Foum Es Gouafel in the Sbikha region, northern Tunisia
– about 200 German soldiers were imprisoned

1952, Operation Speculum started
– the operation took place in the Hoa Binh region of Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, during the Battle of Hoa Binh (Nov 1951 – Feb 1952)
– legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) + 2e BEP (2e REP now) got involved in
– a Viet Minh regiment was successfully forced to leave the sector

1960, Operation Sylvestre ended for 3e REI legionnaires
– it took place in the Oued El Kebir region of northern Algeria
– during the operation, 11 rebels were killed

2013, Operation Serval started
– in Mali of West Africa, France dispatched troops to aid government forces in the Northern Mali conflict (or Mali War)
– among first troops being sent to Mali were legionnaires from 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– during next months, hundreds of legionnaires from several regiments took part in the operation
– in July 2014, Operation Serval ended and was replaced by Operation Barkhane

– in the photo, a column of 1er REC vehicles (AMX 10 RCs + VBLs) during Operation Serval in Mali, 2013

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2013 - Mali


French Foreign Legion: January 12

1846, in northwestern Algeria, a week-long military operation ended
– the operation took place in the Mascara region
– it was aimed at Djafra tribe rebels
– 1st Battalion, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, 1er RE now) was involved in

1918, on the Western Front of WWI, German troops launched a chemical attack (mustard gas/yperite) at the positions of RMLE (Foreign Legion Regimental Combat Team, future 3e REI) near Flirey, northeastern France

1953, in Northern Vietnam of then French Indochina, the Cau Xa outpost of the 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) was attacked by the Viet Minh
– legionnaires successfully managed to defend their outpost
– 12 rebels were killed

1954, during an operation in the Dien Bien Phu valley in Northern Vietnam, legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) got involved in severe clashes with the Viet Minh
– that day, 5 legionnaires were killed + another 33 wounded

– in the picture, at Dien Bien Phu on February 19, 1954, French Defense Minister René Pleven is decorating the fanion of the 1er BEP with the Fourragere in the colors of the Military Medal

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Dien Bien Phu - Indochina


French Foreign Legion: January 13

1943, Attack of Hill 658
– during the Tunisian Campaign, 3rd Battalion, 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team, composed of 3e REI legionnaires in the majority) received an order to attack Hill 658 near Djebel Chenanef, northern Tunisia
– the spot height was occupied by German troops
– during the attack, Captain Forde + 6 legionnaires were killed
– another 69 legionnaires were wounded or missed
– however, Germans managed to defend their position

1947, in the Saigon region of Southern Vietnam, then French Indochina, future NCOs from 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were attacked during their training by the Viet Minh
– 11 legionnaires were killed

1949, 2e BEP left Algeria for French Indochina
– 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, 2e REP now) was created in October 1948
– the battalion served in the First Indochina War until 1954
– it returned back to North Africa in late 1955 to form the 2e REP

1959, in northern Algeria, legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in a skirmish with local rebels
– the fighting occurred during a military operation near Charef, in the Djelfa region
– that day, 3 rebels were killed + 14 rebels were imprisoned

– in the image, 2e REC legionnaires being awarded the Military Valor Cross, Algeria, 1959

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


French Foreign Legion: January 14

1956, 1er REC + 5e REI to leave Indochina
– that day, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) + two battalions of 5e REI left South Vietnam for Algeria
– only the 2nd Battalion, 5e REI stayed in Indochina, as the last Foreign Legion unit
– it left Southeast Asia two months later
– all French troops had to withdraw from former French Indochina after the end of the First Indochina War (1946-54)

1978, Nuutania Rebellion
– that day, legionnaires from 5e RMP (Pacific Mixed Regiment, ex-5e REI) were sent to Nuutania (the biggest prison in French Polynesia, based in Tahiti) to calm down a local rebellion
– the rebellion in the prison was successfully suppressed

1988, First killed legionnaire of the 6e REG
– during Operation Epervier in Chad (Central Africa), a legionnaire was killed by an IED detonation
– Staff Sergeant Stevo Panic (born 1950 in then Yougoslavia)
– he belonged to the 6e REG (Engineer Regiment)
– 6e REG was the very first engineering regiment of the Legion
– it was constituted in 1984
– in 1999, the regiment was redesignated the 1er REG

– in the photo, Staff Sergeant Stevo Panic (with the Famas bearing the company fanion) and the 1st Company, 6e REG during a ceremony in Chad, late 1987

6e REG - 6 REG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1987 - Stevo Panic - Chad


French Foreign Legion: January 15

1871, in eastern France during the Franco-Prussian War, a skirmish with German troops
– it occurred near Sainte-Marie, a village located close to Clerval
– 1st + 2nd Battalion of the Provisional Foreign Regiment (composed of non-legionnaires in the majority since mid-December) got involved in

1954, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– the clashes occurred during an operation in the Peksane region of Laos
– 4th Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– Captain Moneuse + two legionnaires were killed

– also in 1954, in then French Indochina, a severe battle with the Viet Minh for legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 2e REI
– the battle took place near My Loc in the Quang Binh region of Central Vietnam
– during the battle, many rebels were killed
– however, 3 legionnaires were also killed

1956, First killed-in-action legionnaire of the 2e REP
– in northern Algeria, the first legionnaire of the 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) was killed in action
– Sergeant Kuntz
– he belonged to the 1st Company, 2e REP (constituted six weeks ago, in Dec 1955)
– Sergeant Kuntz was killed during a battle with local rebels near Saint-Antoine, in the Philippeville region
– in the battle, 22 rebels were also killed

– in the picture, 2e REP legionnaires being transported by a helicopter in Algeria, 1956

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Algeria


French Foreign Legion: January 16

1941, Battle of Phum Preav
– a battle of the Franco-Thai War
– the little-known conflict took place in western Cambodia, on the border with Thailand
– that day, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 5e REI got involved in a severe battle with the Thai Army at Phum Preav
– the legionnaires faced Thailand’s aircrafts, modern tanks and armored cars
– nevertheless, the Thai forces were stopped
– Captain Marcel Chalvidan + Lieutenant Guy de Cros Peronard (of Dannish origin, a French officer since 1926) were killed
– 3rd Battalion lost also 33 legionnaires (the majority of them were killed)
– for this action, the battalion was mentioned in dispatches in the order of the Army

1949, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– it occurred near Dong Khe, in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 2nd Company, 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) got involved in, when protecting a French convoy
– 2 legionnaires were killed

1956, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation in the Batna region for legionnaires from 1st Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– during the operation, 6 rebels were killed

1959, Operation Sud Benelle
– it took place in the Guelma region of northeastern Algeria
– legionnaires from 2e REP participated in
– at least 4 rebels were killed

– in the image, 5e REI legionnaires in French Indochina around 1940

5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1940 - Indochina


French Foreign Legion: January 17

1839, Old Foreign Legion dissolution
– in France, the original Foreign Legion was dissolved
– established in March 1831, now called as the “Old Legion”
– this original “Old Legion” (around 4,100 legionnaires) was handed over to Spain in June 1835 to fight in the First Carlist War for Maria Christina, Regent of Spain
– in Spain in December 1838, “Old Legion” was disbanded
– its 223 survivors (63 officers + 159 legionnaires) returned to France in January
– in France, “Old Legion” officially ceased to exist on January 17
– 64 legionnaires joined the “New Legion” (today’s Legion), established in 1836

1855, 2nd Foreign Legion establishment
– that day, an imperial decree was issued
– it prescribed that the 2nd Foreign Legion have to be established
– 2nd Foreign Legion was open for Swiss legionnaires only and was nicknamed the Swiss Legion
– it was commanded by General Ochsenbein, a Swiss officer and a close friend of Napoleon, then French Emperor
– the new Legion consisted of two foreign regiments, just as the original Legion (1st Foreign Legion since that day)
– its purpose was to take part in the Crimean War (1854-56), however, it didn’t
– 2nd Foreign Legion (or Swiss Legion) was dissolved in June 1856 and became the 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE), Foreign Legion
– 1st Foreign Regiment consisted exclusively of the Swiss until 1859

1956, in northeastern Algeria, the military outpost of Ferkane was attacked by dozens of local rebels
– the outpost was occupied by 21e CPLE (Foreign Legion Motorized Company)
– the legionnaires managed to defend the outpost and fought off the attackers
– later that year, 21e CPLE became part of GPLEA (Algerian Motorized Group) and finally, it consolidated with the 2e REI

– in the picture, a legionnaire of the 2nd Foreign Legion (Swiss Legion) in France in 1855, by André Marcy
– note his green veste, which distinguished the 2nd Legion (and afterwards the 1st Foreign Regiment, until 1859) from the original Foreign Legion

Swiss Legion - 2nd Foreign Legion - 2e Legion - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1855


French Foreign Legion: January 18

1871, during the Franco-Prussian War, 2nd + 5th Battalion of the Provisional Foreign Regiment (composed of non-legionnaires in the majority since mid-December) got involved in a battle with German troops near Montbéliard, eastern France

1916, in Morocco, 2nd Battalion, 1er RE was attacked by the Ait Affis, a local rebel tribe
– the attack occurred close to Sidi Lamine, in the Khenifra region
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– 2 legionnaires were wounded, however

1943, Battle of Oued El Kebir
– a battle of the Tunisian Campaign of WWII
– a part of the North African Campaign between Axis and Allied forces
– the battle took place near the Oued El Kebir dam, at Djebel Mansour, northern Tunisia
– that day, 2nd Battalion, 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team, composed of 3e REI legionnaires in the majority) faced tanks of the German Africa Corps of Marshal Rommel
– during the battle, the battalion was annihilated
– hundreds of poorly-equipped legionnaires were killed, wounded or missed

1947, in then French Indochina, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 2e REI were heavily attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack occurred in the Binh Thuan region of Central Vietnam
– Captain Delin + Lieutenant Audibert + 14 legionnaires were killed

2016, Petit Argentier Accident
– that day, 14 legionnaires from 2e REG (Engineer Regiment) were caught by an avalanche during a mountain warfare basic training, while crossing a saddle of the Petit Argentier in the French Alps
– 5 legionnaires were killed immediately
– the sixth legionnaire died from his injuries a week later
– together with the 1976 Djibouti helicopter crash (also six killed legionnaires), both accidents have remained on the second place of the deadliest events the Foreign Legion has seen since the end of the Algerian War (1962)

– in the photo, 2e REG pays tribute to the six legionnaires killed by the avalanche, late January 2016

2e REG - 2 REG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2016 - Petit Argentier - Saint Christol - Homage


French Foreign Legion: January 19

1855, in the Crimea, during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55) of the Crimean War, Russian troops launched an attack near Fort Quarantaine
– the attack was aimed at the trenches occupied by the 2nd Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, 2e REI now), led by Major L’Hériller
– legionnaires launched a successful counter-attack with fixed bayonets to keep their positions and fought off the enemy
– 4 legionnaires were killed, however
– Sevastopol was then capital of the Crimea, Russian Empire
– the Crimean War (1853-56) was a conflict between Russia and an alliance of France, Britain, Ottoman Empire and Sardinia

1863, Foreign Legion designated for the campaign in Mexico
– that day in Sidi Bel Abbes in Algeria, Colonel Jeanningros, the commander of the Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion), received an order to prepare two battalions for the Campaign in Mexico (1862-67)

1947, 5e REI survivors returned to Algeria
– that day, 5e REI survivors landed in Algiers, the capital of Algeria
– members of the original 5e REI (1930-45), the regiment established and stationed in then French Indochina, Sousteast Asia
– the vast majority of these men had been serving there since 1938
– usually, the legionnaires were sent to Indochina for two years
– because of WWII and the situation in the Pacific in 1941-45, the legionnaires couldn’t leave Asia after their prescribed two-year stay
– they too had to serve extra years with the regiment even if their five-year military contract was already terminated
– in May 1945, the Japanese attacked French Indochina
– 5e REI suffered heavy casualties
– afterwards, the legionnaires and other French troops had to march hundreds of miles through the jungle to China
– during the march, hundreds of legionnaires died because of fighting, illness and exhaustion
– because of that, in China, the 5e REI was dissolved
– in 1946, 5e REI survivors returned back to Indochina
– they conducted military operations in Northern Vietnam
– in December 1946, they were finally repatriated to Africa
– a new 5e REI was constituted in Indochina in 1949

1950, in then French Indochina, during a patrol in the Haiphong region of Northern Vietnam, a group of legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 5e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– 5 legionnaires were killed

– in the rare image, the repatriated 5e REI survivors, led by Major Jules Gaucher, marching through Algiers on January 19, 1947
– most of them spent at least 8 years in French Indochina
– Jules Gaucher will return to Indochina and will be killed there in 1954

5e REI - 5 REI - BM 5 - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1947 - Algeria


French Foreign Legion: January 20

1943, Battle of Bit El Arbi
– a battle of the Tunisian Campaign of WWII
– a part of the North African Campaign between Axis and Allied forces
– the battle took place near Bit El Arbi, northern Tunisia
– that day, 3rd Company (led by Captain Lemeunier), 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team, composed of 3e REI legionnaires in the majority) got involved in a fierce battle with the German Africa Corps of Marshal Rommel
– 17 legionnaires were killed, another 55 men were wounded or missed

1949, in then French Indochina, legionnaires from 11th Company, 3e REI got involved in a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– the skirmish occurred near Dong Khe, in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– Captain Puiroux (company commander) + 5 legionnaires were killed

2012, inside the military base of Kapisa, Afghanistan, an Afghan soldier started shooting with his machine gun aimed at French troops
– 4 French soldiers were killed
– 15 French soldiers were wounded, 8 of them seriously
– betwen the killed men, Staff Sergeant Silven Simeonov
– a legionnaire of Ukrainian origin with 10 years of service, from 2e REG (Engineer Regiment)

– in the photo, Staff Sergeant Silven Simeonov, the legionnaire killed in Afghanistan on January 20, 2012

Silven Simeonov - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2012 - Afghanistan


Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: January 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: January 21 – 31
French Foreign Legion history