Foreign Legion events: February 01 – 10

On this day. Explore the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between February 01 and February 10. 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: February 01

1908, Forthassa Disaster
– in western Algeria, a sad disaster occurred
– a severe snowstorm surprised a Foreign Legion company
– 20th Company, 1er RE, led by Captain Capillery
– during their march to Forthassa Gharbia
– a remote military post at the Algeria-Morocco border
– 38 legionnaires were found frozen to death
– at least 20 men had to be amputated because of frostbite

1915, 1st African Regimental Combat Team
– in Algeria, 1er RMA was established
– a French combined task force
– composed of three battalions
– two battalions formed with local volunteers
– a battalion formed with legionnaires (Legion Battalion)
– its task was to participate in the Balkans Campaign of WWI
– the men would face Turks and Bulgarians
– the very little-known Legion Battalion suffered heavy casualties
– the battalion received a Fourragere in 1917
– as the only second unit of the Legion
– the battalion was reduced into a company in 1917
– it was disbanded back in Africa in April 1919

1949, 3rd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
– in Algeria, 3e CSPL was constituted
– one of the four Saharan motorized companies of the Legion
– the unit would serve in Libya (1949-55)
– as the only Foreign Legion unit
– in late 1956, it moved to Algeria
– to take part in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– in 1963, the company was disbanded
– the men merged with 4e REI

– in the first image, 3e CSPL legionnaires at the foothill of Fort Leclerc, their HQ in Libya, 1954
– in the second image, the fanion guard of 3e CSPL in Libya, 1955

3e CSPL - 3 CSPL - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Libya - Fort Leclerc

3e CSPL - 3 CSPL - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Libya - Fanion

 

French Foreign Legion: February 02

1846, in northern Algeria, a military operation started
– an operation in the Bou Saada region
– to pacify local rebel tribes
– 1st Battalion, 2e RLE participated
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (2e REI now)
– 450 men led by Lt Colonel d’Autemarre

1908, Battle of Berrechid
– a battle between French troops and Moroccan rebels
– part of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– it occurred between Berrechid and Zaouiet El Mekki
– a French column was involved
– 1,500 men led by Lt Colonel Bourtegourd
– 18th + 23rd Company, 1er RE made part
– the column was attacked by over 5,000 Moroccan rebels
– the fierce battle took many hours
– the French suffered at least 9 killed + 46 wounded men
– between the killed, Captain Fallex from the Legion
– 4 legionnaires were also killed
– between the wounded, 25 legionnaires

1945, Battle of Colmar ended
– a battle on the Western Front of WWII
– it took place in northeastern France
– around Colmar, a town in the Alsace region
– known also as the Colmar Pocket
– that day, Colmar was liberated by the Allied forces
– including 3rd Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)

1951, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred at Tan Phu Trung
– part of then Saigon, Southern Vietnam
– 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– 15 Viet Minh men were killed
– 20 rebels were imprisoned

1958, in northeastern Algeria, an operation started
– a two-day military operation in the Guelma region
1er REP (Parachute Regiment) took part
– 81 rebels were killed

2005, in Afghanistan, Operation Pamir 10 started
– part of the War in Afghanistan
– the operation took place in the region of Kabul
– two Foreign Legion units participated
– 2e REI and 1er REG (Engineer Regiment)
– the operation lasted until June

– in the photo, a 2e REI legionnaire in Afghanistan, 2011

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2011 - Afghanistan

 

French Foreign Legion: February 03

1885, Lang Son Campaign started
– a ten-day major French offensive in Tonkin
– then title for Northern Vietnam
– part of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– a conflict during France’s Tonkin Campaign (1883-86)
– two Foreign Legion battalions participated
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE
– 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now)
– the successful campaign had two goals to achieve
– to defeat the Chinese Guangxi Army
– to capture the important town of Lang Son

1895, Provisional Algerian Regiment
– in Algeria, Provisional Algerian Regiment was created
– a regiment-sized French combined task force
– composed of three battalions
– a Legion battalion
– two battalions of the French Army of Africa
– Colonel Oudri (a Legion senior officer) took command
– the regiment was formed to be deployed to Madagascar
– to join the Second Madagascar expedition (1894-95)
– Legion Battalion (Major Barre) comprised 818 men
– in December 1895, only 358 legionnaires returned to Algeria
– the rest of the legionnaires died in Madagascar
– in the vast majority of malaria and other diseases

1956, in northern Algeria, a military operation
– the operation took place in the Khenchela region
– 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) took part
– 4 legionnaires were wounded

1982, Mont Garbi accident
– that day, a sad accident in Djibouti
– a country in the Horn of Africa
– a French military aircraft crashed into Mont Garbi
– with 2nd Platoon, 4th Company, 2e REP on board
– 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment
– Captain Philipponnat + 26 legionnaires
– also two men from 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– all passengers were killed
– the most tragic day for the 2e REP in their history
– for the Foreign Legion, it has remained the most tragic day since the end of the First Indochina War (1954)

– in the image, paying homage to the killed 2e REP legionnaires of the Mont Garbi accident, Camp Raffalli, Calvi, mid-February 1982

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1982 - Calvi - Camp Raffalli - Mont Garbi accident

 

French Foreign Legion: February 04

1831, First Foreign Legion Depot
– that day, the first Foreign Legion depot established
– of the future Foreign Legion (created in March 1931)
– the depot was based at Langres, northeastern France
– to receive foreign military deserters
– mainly German-speaking soldiers
– Major Sicco took command
– an Italian officer
– in late March, the depot was moved
– to Bar Le Duc (north-east of Langres)

1849, in northern Algeria, a military operation
– aimed at the Beni-Hassen, a rebel tribe
– the operation took place near the town of Djidjelli
– 3rd Battalion, 2e RLE were involved
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (2e REI now)
– Major Boudville and around 300 legionnaires
– during the operation, the rebels’ leader was imprisoned

1885, Battle of Tay Hoa
– a successful battle in Tonkin
– then title for today’s Northern Vietnam
– fought between French troops and Chinese troops
– part of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– a conflict during France’s Tonkin Campaign (1883-86)
– two Foreign Legion battalions participated
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE
– 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now)
– the Chinese were successfully fought off
– however, the Legion suffered casualties
– that day, Captain Gravereau was killed
– Second Lieutenant Ruspoli was fatally wounded
– 5 legionnaires were killed
– 1 officer + 57 legionnaires were wounded

1917, in Morocco, clashes with local rebels
– in the Khenifra region
– 1st Battalion, 1er RE were involved
– also 5th Company, 2nd Battalion, 1er RE
– the legionnaires faced the Ait Affis rebel tribe
– the enemy was fought off
– however, Sergeant Aurada was killed
– 11 legionnaires were wounded
– a legionnaire died from his injuries

1943, in Tunisia, fierce fighting with Germans
– during the Tunisian Campaign (1943)
– a campaign in North Africa, part of WWII
– the fighting took place at Djebel Mansour, northern Tunisia
– 10th Company, 3e REIM (see 3e REI) were involved
– 3rd Regimental Combat Team
– facing German troops of Marshal Rommel
– the company suffered heavy losses
– only 26 legionnaires survived the fighting
– led by a long-serving Adjudant-chef (a senior NCO)
– 16 of these legionnaires were wounded

1954, in then French Indochina, heavy clashes ended
– between legionnaires and the Viet Minh
– ten days of the heavy clashes occurred in Laos
– in the Muong Khoua region
– 2nd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– outnumbered by the Viet Minh
– the battalion suffered heavy losses
– during ten days, it lost some 230 legionnaires
– two thirds of its strength

1957, in northern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– the clashes happened in the Messad region
– two Foreign Legion units were involved
2e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company)
– 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– 10 rebels were killed

1976, Loyada Hostage Rescue Mission
– a successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission
– the mission took place at Loyada
– a village on the border between today’s Djibouti and Somalia
– the mission’s task was to rescue 31 French children
– kidnapped a day earlier by Somali militants
– from the Somali Coast Liberation Front
– two Foreign Legion units participated
– 2nd Company, 2e REP (Captain Soubirou)
– Recon Squadron, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– alongside the French GIGN counter-terrorism unit

– in the picture, a legionnaire observing the site with the hijacked bus (extreme right) in Loyada, February 4, 1976

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1976 - Loyada Hostage Rescue Mission

 

French Foreign Legion: February 05

1865, Capture of Oaxaca
– in Mexico, an important fortified city was captured
– during the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
Oaxaca (Oajacca in many French books)
– situated in south-western Mexico
– besieged by French troops since December 1864
– Foreign Regiment participated
– then title for the Legion
– its three battalions took part in the siege
– also in the successful attack
– during the siege, 55 legionnaires were killed or wounded

1948, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– it occurred near Dong Khe
– in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 3e REI suffered heavy casualties
– 17 legionnaires were killed
– 15 legionnaires were wounded or missed

1976, GOLE deployed to Djibouti
– that day, GOLE deployed to today’s Djibouti (then TFAI)
– Foreign Legion Task Force
– an operational unit of the Legion
– formed in Corsica in 1971
– designated as a rapid reaction & intervetion force
– consisting of three infantry combat companies
– a cavalry squadron was also assigned to the GOLE
– 4th Squadron, 1er REC
– however, this was their first (and last) such deployment
– in Djibouti, they would help to maintain order
– three months later, six GOLE legionnaires were killed
– in a helicopter crash during a military exercise
– in 1977, GOLE consolidated with 2e RE (2e REI now)
– three months later, six GOLE legionnaires would be killed in the 1976 Djibouti helicopter crash

– in the photo, GOLE legionnaires (from 4th Squadron, 1er REC, a cavalry part of GOLE) parading after their arrival in Djibouti, early February 1976

GOLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1976 - Djibouti

 

French Foreign Legion: February 06

1841, in northern Algeria, a rebel attack on Djidjelli
– carried out by the Kabylians
– the largest Berber tribe of Algeria
– the attack was aimed at Djidjelli (now Jijel)
– a town in the Kabylie region
Djidjelli was occupied by 3rd Battalion, Foreign Legion
– the legionnaires launched a counter-attack with fixed bayonets
– led by Lt Colonel Picouleau
– the Kabylians were successfully fought off
– they suffered heavy casualties

1946, 2e REI to land in Indochina
– that day, 2e REI landed in then French Indochina
– as the very first Foreign Legion regiment after WWII
– the unit would join military operations
– aimed at the Viet Minh
– later that year, the First Indochina War started

1949, in then French Indochina, fighting with the Viet Minh
– the heavy fighting occurred near Go Cong
– in Tien Giang region, Southern Vietnam
– 1st Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– that day, nearly 100 rebels were killed

1950, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– in the Tourane region of Central Vietnam
– aimed at a Legion convoy
– a convoy of the 1st Battalion, 2e REI
– led by Major Marcel Le Toullec
– during the attack, 2e REI suffered heavy losses
– Major Marcel Le Toullec was killed
– a number of legionnaires were also killed
– 2e REI would conduct a counter-attack
– around 100 Viet Minh rebels would be killed

– in the image, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI during an operation in French Indochina in the 1950s

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - French Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: February 07

1914, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Chinese
– that day, a fierce battle with Chinese rebels
– near the Gia Mue hill in Northern Vietnam
– close to the border with China
– a company of legionnaires were involved
– from 5th Battalion, 2e RE (currently 2e REI)
– 8 legionnaires were killed

1958, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with rebels
– during a patrol near El Rouijel, in the Biskra region
– a group of legionnaires were involved
– led by Lieutenant Bourgeois
– from 1st Motorized Company, 4e REI
– 7 rebels were killed
– Lieutenant Jean-Marie Bourgeois was also killed
– he joined the Legion in 1945
– in his 18, as a simple volunteer
– he spent 5 years (two deployments) in Indochina
– an excellent legionnaire, he became an officer in 1955

– in the picture, Lieutenant Jean-Marie Bourgeois, killed on February 7, 1958
– in the left picture, 4e REI legionnaires in Algeria in 1958, awarded by their commander, Colonel Lemeunier
– note the widened trousers, a traditional part of the 4e REI’s parade uniform

4e REI - 4 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria - Lieutenant Jean-Marie Bourgeois

 

French Foreign Legion: February 08

1947, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– at Cu Lao Giem, near My Luong
– in the Mekong Delta of Southern Vietnam
– the attack was aimed at a Legion patrol boat
– from 10th Company, 3rd Battalion, 3e REI
– the attack caused a huge explosion
– Lieutenant Raymond Dubouchet was killed
– 12 legionnaires were also killed
– between them, Adjudant-Chef Lino Gasperini
– a long-serving legionnaire from Italia

1952, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– during Operation Begonia
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the skirmish occurred close to Ke Sat
– in the Hai Duong region of Northern Vietnam
– 9th Company, 3e REI were involved
– Lieutenant Paul Le Roch was killed
– a number of legionnaires were also killed

1955, 2e REI + 1er BEP left Indochina
– that day, two Foreign Legion units left Indochina
– 2e REI (Infantry Regiment)
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP)
– both units took part in the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– they would be shipped back to North Africa

1961, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with rebels started
– severe three-day clashes during Operation Dordogne
– they occurred in the Constantine region
– 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) participated
– about 100 rebels would be killed

– in the picture, having just landed in Algeria, 1er BEP’s fanion guard during an arrival ceremony in Mers El Kebir, February 1955

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: February 09

1863, Foreign Regiment to deploy to Mexico
– that day, Foreign Regiment left Algeria for Mexico
– Foreign Regiment was then title for the Legion
– led by Colonel Jeanningros
– HQ Company + two battalions (some 1,400 legionnaires)
– Marching Band of the Foreign Regiment
– the unit would reinforce French troops in Mexico
– during the French Intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– the same year in Mexico, about 800 legionnaires died
– mostly of yellow fever/black vomit

1953, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– at Gia Lam, close to Hanoi, Northern Vietnam
– 5th Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– the battalion comprised local auxiliaries
– led by 3e REI’s officers, NCOs and Corporals
– 17th Company, 5th Battalion suffered heavy casualties
– Lieutenant Joseph Benoistel was killed
– a company commander
– Sergeant Von Hanxleden was also killed
– 57 auxiliaries of the company were missed
– two months later, the battalion left the regiment
– they joined the pro-French Vietnam National Army

1956, 1er REC + 5e REI landed in North Africa
– that day, two Legion units landed in North Africa
5e REI (Infantry Regiment)
– 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– both units took part in the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– they would join the Algerian War (1954-62)
– 5e REI landed outside Indochina for the first time
– 1930-56, it served only in Indochina

1958, in northeastern Algeria, an operation started
– a two-day joint operation
– aimed at a large group of local rebels
– it took place at Djebel Tadelist, in the Khenchela region
– 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– HQ Company + 8th Company
– 65 rebels would be killed
– 22 rebels would be imprisoned

– in the first image, the color guards of 1er REC and 5e REI in French Indochina in late 1955, a few weeks before they left Asia for Africa
– in the second image, 5e REI legionnaires are leaving Indochina for Africa, January 1956

1er REC - 5e REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - French Indochina

5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: February 10

1930, Yen Bai mutiny
– a rebellion in then French Indochina
– the rebellion occurred in Yen Bai, Northern Vietnam
– within the 2nd Battalion, 4th Tonkinese Rifles
– about 50 Vietnamese auxiliaries turned on their French leaders
– 2 officers and 3 NCOs were massacred
– a Legion unit was immediately sent to Yen Bai
– 34th Company, 9th Battalion, 1er REI (currently 1er RE)
– the legionnaires helped to stop the rebellion and restore order
– a few days later, other sporadic rebellions occurred
– they affected the Phu Tho region in Northern Vietnam
– companies from 4th + 9th Battalion, 1er REI intervened
– to restore and maintain order there
– later in September, these 1er REI battalions formed the 5e REI

1948, in Madagascar, clashes with local rebels
– at Sahanimira, Madagascar (Indian Ocean)
– legionnaires from 4e DBLE were involved
– 4th Foreign Legion Half-Brigade (future 4e REI)
– that day, 21 rebels were killed

– a 4e DBLE battalion was sent to Madagascar in 1947
– to restore order on the island affected by rebellions
– the island was part of the then French colonial empire
– legionnaires successfully restored order on the island

1952, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– near Khanh My, in the Thai Binh region, Northern Vietnam
– aimed at 5th Battalion, 3e REI
– the battalion comprised local auxiliaries
– led by 3e REI’s officers, NCOs and Corporals
– during the attack, the battalion suffered several losses
– Lieutenant Antoine De Lattre was killed
– 4 legionnaires + several auxiliaries were also killed

1964, Parachute Training Center
– that day, CES was activated at Calvi, Corsica
– a new parachute training center for the 2e REP
– 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment
– the center was the first installation of the regiment in Corsica
– at the time, 2e REP was still stationed in Algeria, North Africa
– CES men would carry out two tasks
– to train fresh legionnaires assigned to the regiment
– to arrange a future camp for the 2e REP
– the center was led by Major De Bire
– a company commander at Dien Bien Phu (1954)
– with the center, the regiment became more self-sufficient
– in 1967, the rest of the regiment moved to Corsica
– the center would become Camp Raffalli
– nowadays, the 2e REP still trains its future paratroopers
– an exception within the rest of the French Army

– in the photo, a 2e REP legionnaire at Calvi, Corsica, 1965

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1965 - Algeria

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: January 21 – 31
Foreign Legion events: February 11 – 20
French Foreign Legion history