Foreign Legion events: January 21 – 31

Discover important historical events in French Foreign Legion’s history. Significant campaigns and battles, deployments and operations, the establishments or dissolutions of units. See the most interesting events of the Foreign Legion which occurred between January 21 and January 31.

 

French Foreign Legion: January 21

1945, Battle of Strasbourg ended
– the battle (Jan 5-21) between the Allies and German troops during WWII
– the battle took place in the important border town of Strasbourg, eastern France
– French troops, including legionnaires from RMLE (Regimental Combat Team, later 3e REI) and 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade), were involved in

1950, during a military operation in then French Indochina, Lieutenant Bulteaux and his legionnaires from 2nd Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred in the Tra Vinh region of Southern Vietnam
– during the battle, 40 rebels were killed + another 45 captured
– Lieutenant Pierre Bulteaux (still serving in an operational unit after his left arm was amputated in an earlier battle) had been deadly wounded and died the next day

1958, Battle of the Borders started
– a series of military operations during the Algerian War (1954-62)
– it started on January 21 and lasted until late May
– the operations took place in the Guelma region, northeastern Algeria
– close to the border with Tunisia, home to many rebel camps
– the rebels were crossing the border regularly to supply and reinforce rebel units in Algeria or to escape French troops to Tunisia
– the French started to build electric fence barriers on the border in 1957
– five French airborne regiments took part in the Battle of the Borders
– in the first place, 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the legionnaires were chasing the rebels alongside the border
– unitl late May, almost 1,200 rebels were killed by the 1er REP
– for that action, the 1er REP was called “the most elite regiment within the French Army”
– however, the 1er REP’s commander, Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre, was killed at the end of the battle

1960, during a military operation in northern Algeria, legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in a fierce battle with local rebels
– the battle took place at the Gadet Meglires, a mountain in the Djelfa region
– in the battle, 62 rebels were killed + 2 rebels imprisoned

– in the picture, 1er REC legionnaires with their Crab (M29 Weasel) during an operation in Indochina, in the early 1950’s
– while leading those 1er REC Crabs, one-armed Lieutenant Pierre Bulteaux was deadly wounded during a battle on January 21, 1950

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Pierre Bulteaux - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: January 22

1947, in then French Indochina, legionnaires from 11th Company, 3e REI got involved in heavy fighting with the Viet Minh
– the fighting occurred near Mytho, in the Sadec region of Southern Vietnam
– Second Lieutenant Christian Lajouanie + 13 legionnaires (including Staff Sergeant Jakubec) were killed

1958, in western Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels for legionnaires from 5th Motorized Company , 2e REI
– the skirmish happened at Djebel Tamedda, in the Ain Sefra region
– during the skirmish, Second Lieutenant Jean Ballot (10 mentions, 5 times wounded) was killed
– several rebels were also killed

1960, in northwestern Algeria, legionnaires from 5e REI were involved in a military operation
– the operation took place near Melaab in the Tissemsilt region
– during the operation, 9 rebels were killed

– in the image, Second Lieutenant Jean Ballot, killed on January 22, 1958
– he belonged to the 5th Motorized Company, 2e REI, which named its camp in Ain Sefra after him, later that year
– note that during operations in North Africa until late 1959, the Foreign Legion officers used a light-khaki cover for their black kepi, as did their legionnaires for the white kepi

2e REI - 2 REI - Jean Ballot - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: January 23

1866, during the French intervention in Mexico, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, Foreign Regiment (then title of the Legion), led by Major Saussier, conducted a successful operation aimed at a group of rebels near Saltillo, northern Mexico
– around 40 rebels were killed + 100 wounded

1916, in Morocco, 6th Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) got involved in severe clashes with local rebels
– the clashes occurred near M’Rirt, in the Khenifra region
– the enemy was fought off, but the Legion suffered casualties
– Lieutenant René Bruyant + 7 legionnaires were killed

1947, during an operation in then French Indochina, 7th Company, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack occurred in the Ben Tre region of Southern Vietnam
– the company lost 4 legionnaires

1953, in then French Indochina, a two-day operation for legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI
– at Lai Tri and Thuong Phu, in the Thai Binh region, Northern Vietnam
– during the operation, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– 170 rebels were killed

1959, during a patrol in western Algeria, a command car of the 2nd Motorized Company, 2e REI was attacked by a large group of rebels
– the attack happened at Djebel Megress, west of Géryville
– immediately, Lieutenant Gilbert Arnoux de Maison Rouge + 4 legionnaires were killed
– in a following counter-attack, another 2 legionnaires were killed
– Lieutenant Gilbert Arnoux de Maison Rouge was a son of General Marie Bernard Arnoux de Maison Rouge, the 5th baron of Arnoux de Maison Rouge

– in the photo, 2e REI legionnaires from a Motorized Company during an operation in Algeria in 1959 + Lieutenant Gilbert Arnoux de Maison Rouge, from 2e REI, killed on January 23, 1959

2e REI - 2 REI - Lieutenant Gilbert Arnoux de Maison Rouge - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: January 24

1945, during the Liberation of France of WWII, legionnaires from 2e BLE (Foreign Legion Battalion, future 13e DBLE) got involved in severe fighting with German troops near Illhaeusern, eastern France, on the border with Germany
– 2e BLE had 37 men killed + 142 men wounded

1952, in then French Indochina, during the Battle of Hoa Binh (Nov 51-Feb 52) taking place in Northern Vietnam, legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) got involved in a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– during the battle, a Viet Minh battalion was annihilated

– also in 1952, Operation Mars started
– the operation took place in Tunisia, North Africa
– its mission was to restore order in the country, affected by bloody riots
– 3e BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 3e REP) participated in

1958, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) near Mahouna, in the Guelma region
– that day, 67 rebels were killed

1960, Week of Barricades started
– a week of protests in Algiers, the capital of Algeria
– conducted by French students and French civilians
– aimed at then French President de Gaulle
– he was seen as a betrayer of the French population in Algeria
– the demonstrations were a response to General de Gaulle’s proclamation about Algeria’s future self-determination
– several military units were sent to restore order in the city
– between them, the 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– however, legionnaires sympathized with demonstrators
– the demonstrations were led by the organizers of the 1958 May Putsch
– in May 1958, they helped General de Gaulle to regain power by a putsch
– ironically, in late 1960, de Gaulle sent them to 10 years in prison for organizing the Week of Barricades
– this behavior of de Gaulle resulted in the eastablishment of the Secret Army (OAS) and the failed putsch in April 1961

– in the picture, 1er REP legionnaires during a military operation in northeastern Algeria, January 1958

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: January 25

1834, in Algeria, 7th Battalion (composed of Polish legionnaires) of the “old” Foreign Legion (1931-39) was sent to the town of Bougie to maintain order there

1885, in today’s Taiwan in Southeast Asia, new operations started
– the operations were aimed at Chinese troops
– part of the Keelung Campaign of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– the operations occurred near Keelung, Formosa (then name for Taiwan)
– 4th Battalion, 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e REI now) got involved in
– the legionnaires made part of a French task force, led by Colonel Duchesne (a former officer of the Legion; 10 years later, he would lead French troops and legionnaires in Madagascar)
– during two days, Lieutenant Weber (a long-serving German legionnaire) + 4 legionnaires were killed
– 17 legionnaires were wounded

1915, in northeastern France during WWI, the French positions near Craonnelle (Aisne department) were attacked by German troops
– 2nd Regimental Combat Team of the 2e RE (2e REI now) helped to defend the positions

1949, during a patrol in then French Indochina, a group of legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack occurred near Dong Khe, in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– Lieutenant Potet + a legionnaire were killed

– in the image, legionnaires on the Western Front of WWI, France, 1915

RMLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1915 - France

 

French Foreign Legion: January 26

1871, during the Franco-Prussian War in eastern France, a battle with German troops
– the battle occurred near Vorges-les-Pins
– 1st + 2nd Battalion of the Provisional Foreign Regiment (composed of non-legionnaires in the majority since mid-December) got involved in

1885, during the Siege of Tuyen Quang (Nov 1884 – Mar 1885) in Tonkin (then title for Northern Vietnam), the citadel of Tuyen Quang was attacked by Chinese rebels from the Black Flag Army (Pavillons noirs)
– two Foreign Legion companies (390 men, led by Captain Cattelin) were occupying and defending the citadel during the siege
– the attack continued until early March, when the Chinese were fought off

1954, during Operation Gerfaut II in then then French Indochina, a severe battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred in the Thai Binh region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 5e REI got involved in
– 68 Viet Minh attackers were killed
– 94 attackers were imprisoned

1957, during a military operation in northeastern Algeria, clashes with rebels for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the operation took place at Djebel Troubia, in the Tebessa region
– that day, 15 rebels were killed

– also in 1957, during a military operation in northwestern Algeria, a fierce battle with a large group of local rebels near Marnia, in the Tlemcen region
– legionnaires from 5e REI got involved in
– that day, 92 rebels were killed + 8 rebels imprisoned

– in the photo, 5e REI legionnaires parade in Algeria, early 1957

5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: January 27

1882, near the Chott Tigri on the Algeria-Morocco border, a French column (led by Colonel Négrier) got involved in a fierce battle with the Beni Guill rebel tribe
– a freshly established mounted company of the Legion participated in
– during the battle, 53 rebels were killed

1906, Cheikh Bouamama’s group annihilated
– in the Colomb Bechar region of western Algeria, a Moroccan Berber rebel group of Cheikh Bouamama was annihilated
– the group got involved in a battle with a French column led by Major Pein
– 3rd Company, 1er RE made part of the column
– the rebel group suffered heavy losses and was annihilated
– 700 camels of the rebels were also captured

1948, in then French Indochina, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack occurred near Cu Chi, in the Hoc Mon region of Southern Vietnam
– 4 legionnaires were killed

1950, also in then French Indochina, legionnaires from 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 2e REP) and French colonial paratroopers got involved in a severe battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle took place near Pho Trach, in the Quang Tri region of Central Vietnam
– 2 legionnaires + 18 French paratroopers were killed

1959, in the Tenes region of northern Algeria, heavy fighting with a rebel group for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– over 20 rebels were killed
– the rest of the group + its well-known leader Menouar would be annihilated by 1er REP legionnaires two weeks later

– in the picture, a Belgian staff sergeant and a German sergeant, both from the 2e BEP, during an operation in Vietnam in the early 1950’s
– the German sergeant will be killed in a skirmish a few weeks later

2e BEP - 2 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1951 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: January 28

1918, in the Tadla region of central Morocco, 1st Battalion, 1er RE got involved in heavy fighting with local rebels
– the fighting occurred near the hill of Cazenave
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– however, 4 legionnaires were killed + another 5 wounded
– for this action, the battalion was mentioned in the order of the Army

1947, in then French Indochina, a landing craft with 10th Company, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack happened near Chau Doc, in the An Giang region of Southern Vietnam
– Lieutenant Troussard + several legionnaires were killed
– the same day, a skirmish for legionnaires from 11th Company, 3e REI near My Tho, also in Southern Vietnam
– Second Lieutenant La Journie was killed

1956, Attack of Taineste
– in Morocco, 3rd Battalion, 2e REI (ex-1st Bn, 6e REI) was severely attacked by hundreds of Moroccan rebels
– the attack happened at Taineste, in the Taza region
– Lieutenant Roger Schmidt (a long-serving legionnaire) + 17 legionnaires were killed
– at least 42 rebels were also killed
– for the Legion, it has remained the bloodiest attack conducted by rebels in Morocco since 1934, the end of the Pacification of Morocco
– though forgotten these days, the attack seems to be the second largest loss for the Legion within a single battle during the operations in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya) after 1945

1959, during a military operation in northern Algeria, legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in fighting with local rebels
– the fighting of at Djebel Sahari in the Djelfa region
– during the operation, 34 rebels were killed

2013, 2e REP jumped over Timbuktu
– that night in Mali (West Africa), about two hundred legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were dropped north of Timbuktu, the ancient trading city in Mali and an important point controlled by rebel groups
– within a few hours, the city was seized

– in the photo, 2e REP legionnaires in Timbuktu, Mali, late January 2013

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2013 - Mali

 

French Foreign Legion: January 29

1862, that day in Algeria, Foreign Regiment (ex-2nd Foreign Regiment, now 2e REI), based in Algeria, incorporated officers and legionnaires from 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE), dissolved by an imperial decree
– the Legion would split into two regiments again in 1885

1954, in then French Indochina, legionnaires from 2nd Amphibious Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred in the Nimh Dinh region of Northern Vietnam
– during the battle, several legionnaires were wounded

– in the image, legionnaires from 2nd Amphibious Group, 1er REC disembarking an LVT-4 (called Alligator) amphibious landing craft during an operation in French Indochina, 1954

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: January 30

1945, during the Liberation of France of WWII, legionnaires from 3e BLE (Foreign Legion Battalion, future 13e DBLE) got involved in fierce fighting with German troops
– the fighting occurred along the Rhone canal in eastern France, on the border with Germany
– 3e BLE suffered heavy casualties

1948, in then French Indochina, the Na Let outpost was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the outpost was located in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– it was occupied by a platoon of the 1st Battalion, 3e REI
– during the attack, 2 legionnaires were killed

– in the photo, during the Liberation of France of WWII, 13e DBLE parading in Dijon, 1944

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1944 - Dijon - France

 

French Foreign Legion: January 31

1920, Battle of Mahagibat
– in the Khenifra region of Morocco, a detachment of the 1st Battalion, 1er RE got involved in heavy fighting with hundreds of local rebels
– the detachment made part of a French column
– the rebels were fought off

1955, 1st Amphibious Group dissolution
– in French Indochina, 1st Amphibious Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) was officially dissolved
– a semi-autonomous unit operating during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– constituted in 1951, the group was composed of 2nd + 3rd + 12th + 13th + 17th Squadron, equipped with Landing crafts LVT 4 (called Alligator by the French) and M29 Weasel (called Crab) tracked vehicles
– the squadrons were also dissolved to this date

1961, in northeastern Algeria, two-day clashes with local rebels started for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the clashes occurred at Douar Arres, close to Mila, in the Djidjelli region
– during two days, 21 rebels were killed

1968, 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment deactivation
– in Aubagne, southern France, the 2e REI was deactivated
– the last regiment of the Legion to leave North Africa (Dec 1967), in which the Legion had been stationed since the 1830’s
– reduced to a small detachment, the 2e REI arrived in Aubagne in January 1968
– the regiment would be reactivated in Corsica in 1972

– in the picture, the 2e REI color guard during the regiment deactivation’s ceremony in Aubagne, January 1968

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1968 - Aubagne - France

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: January 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: January 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: December 21 – 31
Foreign Legion events: December 11 – 20
French Foreign Legion history