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
– an action during the Tunisian Campaign (1943)
– a campaign in North Africa, part of WWII
– two Foreign Legion units were involved
– 1st Battalion, 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team)
– Autonomous Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– they both seized Foum Es Gouafel
– a place in the Sbikha region, northern Tunisia
– occupied by German soldiers
– about 200 Germans were imprisoned

1952, Operation Speculum started
– an operation in then French Indochina
– during the Battle of Hoa Binh (Nov 1951 – Feb 1952)
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the operation was aimed at the Viet Minh
– it took place in the Hoa Binh region, Northern Vietnam
– two Foreign Legion units participated
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP)
– 2e BEP (2e REP now)
– a Viet Minh regiment had to withdraw from the sector

1960, Operation Sylvestre ended
– an operation during the Algerian War (1954-62)
– aimed at local rebels
– it took place in the Oued El Kebir region, northern Algeria
– carried out by 3e REI legionnaires
– during the operation, 11 rebels were killed

2013, Operation Serval started
– a military operation in Mali, West Africa
– aimed at local Islamist militants
– fighting in the Northern Mali conflict (or Mali War)
– among first French 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
– it 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, an operation ended
– a week-long military operation in the Mascara region
– it was aimed at Djafra tribe rebels
– 1st Battalion, 1er RLE were involved
– 1st Foreign Legion Regiment (1er RE now)

1953, in then French Indochina, Viet Minh attacks
– aimed at Legion outposts Cau Xa and Bo Trang
– situated in the Nam Dinh region, Northern Vietnam
– two Legion units were involved in defending them
– 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– 2nd Battalion, 2e REI
– a number of Viet Minh attackers were killed
– many legionnaires were also killed

1954, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– in the Dien Bien Phu valley, Northern Vietnam
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) were involved
– 5 legionnaires were killed
– 33 legionnaires were 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 on Hill 658
– an action during the Tunisian Campaign (1943)
– a campaign in North Africa, part of WWII
– 3rd Battalion, 3e REIM were involved
– Regimental Combat Team
– an order to attack Hill 658
– located near Djebel Chenanef, northern Tunisia
– occupied by well-equipped German soldiers
– they repulsed the 3e REIM attack
– the legionnaires suffered heavy casulaties
– Captain Elie Forde + 6 legionnaires were killed
– another 69 legionnaires were wounded or missed

1947, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– it took place near then Saigon, Southern Vietnam
– aimed at legionnaires from 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– future NCOs from 3rd Battalion during their training
– 11 legionnaires were killed

1949, 2e BEP to leave North Africa for French Indochina
– that day, 2e BEP left North Africa
– 2nd Foreign Parachute Battalion (2e REP now)
– created in October 1948
– the battalion would join the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– it would become the most decorated French battalion
– 2e BEP returned back to North Africa in late 1955
– it would be disbanded to form the 2e REP

1959, in northern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– near Charef, in the Djelfa region
– legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– 3 rebels were killed
– 14 rebels were imprisoned

1993, Mission FORPRONU started for 2e REP
– a FORPRONU (UNPROFOR) humanitarian mission
– the mission occurred in Sarajevo
– the then besieged capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina
– a country in the Balkan Peninsula (Southeastern Europe)
– a former part of Yugoslavia
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) took part
– the city saw the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-96)
– part of the Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001)
– 2e REP men wore blue berets & helmets for the first time
– a symbol of the UN peacekeeping forces
– however, they were threatened by local militants
– a legionnaire would be killed
– the first 2e REP member killed in service since 1978
– several 2e REP men would be wounded
– the majority of 2e REP men were very disappointed

– in the image, a 2e REP legionnaire during Mission FORPRONU in Sarajevo, 1993
– note the blue beret of the UN peacekeeping forces

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1993 - Sarajevo - Bosnia


French Foreign Legion: January 14

1956, 1er REC + 5e REI to leave Indochina
– that day, three Foreign Legion units left Indochina
– 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– two battalions of 5e REI
– they participated in the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– then, only the 2nd Battalion, 5e REI would stay in Indochina
– as the very last Foreign Legion unit remaining there
– it would leave Southeast Asia two months later
– after 72 years of the Legion presence there (since 1883)
– all French troops had to withdraw the former French Indochina – as a result of the war

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

1988, First killed legionnaire of the 6e REG
– that day, 6e REG suffered their very first loss
– 6th Foreign Engineer Regiment (1er REG since 1999)
– the very first engineering regiment of the Legion (1984)
– that day, a legionnaire was killed by an IED detonation
– Staff Sergeant Stevo Panic (born 1950 in then Yougoslavia)
– he was killed during Operation Epervier
– an operation in Chad (Central Africa)

– 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, a skirmish with German troops
– during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)
– the skirmish occurred near Sainte-Marie
– a village located close to Clerval
– Provisional Foreign Regiment were involved
– 1st + 2nd Battalion of the regiment
– a Foreign Legion unit created to take part in the war
– since mid-December, non-legionnaires in the majority
– because of heavy losses

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

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

– in the picture, the regimental flag of 3e REI in French Indochina in the 1950s

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Indochina


French Foreign Legion: January 16

1941, Battle of Phum Preav
– a battle of the Franco-Thai War (1941)
– the little-known conflict taking place in western Cambodia
– part of then French Indochina
– on the border with Thailand
– that day, a severe battle with the Thai Army
– it occurred at Phum Preav
– 3rd Battalion, 5e REI were involved
– a Legion regiment stationed in French Indochina
– the legionnaires faced well-equipped forces
– Thailand’s aircrafts, modern tanks and armored cars
– nevertheless, the Thai forces were stopped
– however, the legionnaires suffered losses
– two officers were killed
– Captain Marcel Chalvidan
– Lieutenant Guy de Cros Peronard
– an officer of Dannish origin (a French officer since 1926)
– 33 legionnaires were killed (the majority) or wounded
– for this action, the battalion was mentioned in dispatches
– in the order of the Army (the higest mention)

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

1956, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation
– aimed at local rebels
– it occurred in the Philippeville region
– 1st Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– that day, 6 rebels were killed

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

– in the image, 5e REI legionnaires in French Indochina in the early 1940s + Captain Marcel Chalvidan, killed on January 16, 1941

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


French Foreign Legion: January 17

1839, Old Foreign Legion dissolution
– that day in France, the original Foreign Legion disappeared
– after a few days, its formal dissolution was finished
– this original Legion is called “Old Legion” today
– created in France in March 1831 to serve in Algeria
– handed over to Spain in 1835
– to fight in the First Carlist War (a civil war, 1833-40)
– in support of Maria Christina, Regent of Spain
– officially disbanded in Spain in early December 1838
– the war in Spain reduced significantly the Old Legion
– from original 4,100 men, only 222 survivors returned to France
– 63 officers + 159 legionnaires
– 64 of these original legionnaires would join the “New Legion”
– the current Legion, formed in 1836 to serve in Algeria

1855, Second Foreign Legion
– that day, an imperial decree was issued
– it prescribed the establishment of the 2nd Foreign Legion
– 2nd Foreign Legion was nicknamed as Swiss Legion
– open for Swiss legionnaires only
– it was commanded by General Ochsenbein
– a Swiss officer and a close friend of Napoleon III
– then the French Emperor
– the new Legion consisted of two foreign regiments
– its purpose was to take part in the Crimean War (1853-56)
– however, it didn’t eventually due to low engagement of volunteers
– 2nd Foreign Legion was disbanded in June 1856
– it became the 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE)
– 1er RE consisted of the Swiss until 1859

1956, in northeastern Algeria, a rebel attack
– aimed at the Legion outpost of Ferkane
– occupied by 21e CPLE (Foreign Legion Motorized Company)
– attacked by dozens of local rebels
– the legionnaires successfully fought off the attackers
– later that year, 21e CPLE became part of GPLEA
– Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group
– the same year, GPLEA would consolidate with 2e REI

– in the picture, a legionnaire of the 2nd Foreign Legion (Swiss Legion), by C. Brecht
– 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, in France, clashes with German troops
– near Montbéliard, eastern France
– during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)
– Provisional Foreign Regiment were involved
– 2nd + 5th Battalion of the regiment
– Provisional Foreign Regiment was created in October 1870
– to take part in the war in France
– non-legionnaires in the majority since mid-December
– at the time, the original Foreign Regiment served in Algeria
– German and Belgian legionnaires not allowed to fight in France

1916, in Morocco, a rebel attack
– during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– the attack occurred close to Sidi Lamine
– in the Khenifra region
– aimed at 2nd Battalion, 1er RE
– the men were attacked by the Ait Affis, a local rebel tribe
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– 2 legionnaires were wounded

1943, Battle of Oued El Kebir
– a sad battle during the Tunisian Campaign (1943)
– a campaign in North Africa, part of WWII
– the battle took place near the Oued El Kebir dam
– at Djebel Mansour, northern Tunisia
– 2nd Battalion, 3e REIM were involved
– Regimental Combat Team
– facing tanks of the German Africa Corps of Marshal Rommel
– during the battle, the battalion was annihilated
– hundreds of poorly-equipped 3e REIM legionnaires were killed, wounded or missed

1947, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– the fierce attack occurred close to Duong
– near Tuy Phong, in the Binh Thuan region, Central Vietnam
– aimed at 3rd Battalion, 2e REI
– Captain Robert Delin + Lieutenant Pierre Audibert were killed
– 14 legionnaires were also killed
– 8 legionnaires were wounded

2016, Petit Argentier Accident
– that day in France, a sad accident occurred
– 14 legionnaires were caught by an avalanche
– members of 2e REG (Engineer Regiment)
– caught during a winter warfare basic training
– while crossing a saddle of the Petit Argentier
– near Valfréjus, in the Massif des Cerces, 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 sufferred since the Algerian War ended (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

2e REG - 2 REG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2016 - Petit Argentier - Saint Christol - 6 killed legionnaires


French Foreign Legion: January 19

1855, in Crimea, a Russian attack
– an action during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854-55)
– the then capital of Crimea, Russian Empire
– the siege was part of the Crimean War (1853-56)
– the attack was aimed at French positions
– held by Major L’Hériller and his 2nd Battalion, 2e RLE
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (2e REI now)
– his legionnaires launched a successful counter-attack
– with fixed bayonets, they fought off the attackers
– 4 legionnaires were killed, however

– Crimea is a peninsula in the Black Sea
– then part of the Russian Empire
– Crimean War was a conflict between Russia and an alliance of France, Britain, Ottoman Empire and Sardinia
– both Foreign Legion regiments participated

1863, Foreign Legion designated for the campaign in Mexico
– that day, Colonel Jeanningros received an order
– then commander of the Foreign Regiment (the then Legion)
– he had to prepare two battalions to be operational ready
– for the Campaign in Mexico (1862-67)
– the legendary 1863 Battle of Camerone would occur there

1947, 5e REI survivors returned to Algeria
– that day, 5e REI survivors landed in Algeria
– survivors of the 1945 Japanese coup d’état in Indochina
– veterans of the 5e REI (the unit stationed in Indochina 1930-45)
– the majority of them had been serving there since the late 1930s
– they couldn’t leave Asia after their prescribed two-year stay
– because of WWII and the situation in the Pacific in 1941-45
– a number of them 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 units suffered heavy casualties
– afterwards, a punitive march through the jungle to China
– the legionnaires and other French troops marched hundreds of miles
– during the march, hundreds of legionnaires died
– because of fighting, illness and exhaustion
– in China in mid-1945, the 5e REI was dissolved
– in 1946, 5e REI survivors left China
– the men were allowed to return back to Indochina
– they would conduct military operations in Northern Vietnam
– in December 1946, they were finally repatriated to Africa
– a new 5e REI would be constituted in Indochina in 1949

1950, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– during a patrol in the Haiphong region, Northern Vietnam
– conducted by 1st Battalion, 5e REI
– 5 legionnaires were killed

– in the rare image, the repatriated 5e REI survivors marching through Algiers on January 19, 1947
– most of them spent at least 8 years in French Indochina

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


French Foreign Legion: January 20

1943, Battle of Bit El Arbi
– a fierce battle during the Tunisian Campaign (1943)
– a campaign in North Africa, part of WWII
– the battle took place near Bit El Arbi, northern Tunisia
– 3rd Company (Captain Lemeunier), 3e REIM were involved
– Regimental Combat Team
– facing the German Africa Corps of Marshal Rommel
– 17 legionnaires were killed
– 55 officers and legionnaires were wounded or missed

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

2012, in Afghanistan, an attack
– inside the military base of Kapisa
– an Afghan soldier started firing with his machine gun
– aimed at his French colleagues
– 4 French soldiers were killed
– 15 French soldiers were wounded
– betwen the killed men, Staff Sergeant Silven Simeonov
– a legionnaire of Bulgarian origin with 10 years of service
– assigned to 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