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 severe snowstorm surprised a Foreign Legion company during their march to a remote military post
– 20th Company, 1er RE, led by Captain Capillery
– the long-forgotten event occurred near Forthassa Gharbia, in the Ain Sefra region, close to the Moroccan 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 two colonial native battalions + a Legion battalion
– its mission was to participate in the Balkans Campaign of WWI, to fight against Turks and Bulgarians
– the very little-known Legion Battalion suffered heavy casualties
– for its two mentions in the order of the Army, the battalion received a Fourragere in 1917, as the only second unit of the Legion
– reduced to a company, the Legion unit was dissolved 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 Legion unit
– in late 1956, it moved to Algeria to take part in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– in 1963, the company was dissolved
– its platoons consolidated with 4e REI

– in the rare image, 3e CSPL legionnaires in front of Fort Leclerc, their HQ in Libya, in the early 1950’s

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

 

French Foreign Legion: February 02

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

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

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

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

1958, in the Guelma region of northeastern Algeria, a two-day military operation started for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– during the operation, 81 rebels were killed

2005, during the War in Afghanistan, Operation Pamir 10 started
– the operation took place in the region of Kabul
– legionnaires from 2e REI and 1er REG (Engineer Regiment) participated in
– 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
– in northern Vietnam, the Lang Son Campaign started
– a ten-day French offensive during the Sino-French War (Aug 1884 – Apr 1885)
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE + 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) took part in
– the successful campaign was aimed at the Chinese troops and to capture the important town of Lang Son

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

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

1982, Mont Garbi accident
– in Djibouti (Horn of Africa), a French aircraft crashed into Mont Garbi
– on board, all passengers died, including 29 men from the French Foreign Legion
– 2nd Platoon, 4th Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– Captain Philipponnat + 26 legionnaires
– another two belonged to the 13e DBLE, Captain Chanson + Corporal Lauriol
– for the Foreign Legion, it has remained the most tragic day since the end of the First Indochina War (1954)

– in the image, the ceremony at Camp Raffalli, Calvi, held for the killed 2e REP legionnaires of the Mont Garbi accident, late February 1982

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

 

French Foreign Legion: February 04

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

1885, Battle of Tay Hoa
– a successful battle in northern Vietnam
– fought between French troops and Chinese troops
– part of the Sino-French War (Aug 1884 – Apr 1885)
– two French brigades fought against Chinese troops
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE + 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) were involved in
– that day, the Legion suffered 2 officers + 5 legionnaires killed
– an officer + 57 legionnaires were wounded

1917, in the Khenifra region of Morocco, clashes with the Ait Affis
– Ait Affis was a local rebel tribe
– 1st Battalion, 1er RE got involved in
– the enemy was fought off
– Sergeant Aurada was killed + 11 legionnaires were wounded

1943, in Tunisia during WWII, fierce fighting with German troops
– part of Tunisian Campaign between Axis and Allied forces
– it occurred at Djebel Mansour, northern Tunisia
– 10th Company, 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team) got involved in
– only a long-serving Adjudant-chef (First Sergeant) + 26 legionnaires (16 of them wounded) survived the fighting

1954, in Laos, then French Indochina, heavy fighting with the Viet Minh ended
– ten days of heavy fighting occurred in the Muong Khoua region
– 2nd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– 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
– legionnaires from 2e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company) + 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in
– 10 rebels were killed

1976, Loyada Hostage Rescue Mission
– the successful mission took place in Loayada, a village on the border between today’s Djibouti and Somalia
– its aim was to rescue 31 French children
– the children were kidnapped a day earlier by rebels from the Somali Coast Liberation Front
– legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) and 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade), alongside a French GIGN group, carried out the mission

– 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
– during the French intervention in Mexico, an important fortified city was captured
Oaxaca (Oajacca in several French books), located in south-western Mexico
– besieged since December 1864
– three battalions of the Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion) took part in the siege and in the successful attack
– during the siege, 55 legionnaires were killed or wounded

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

1976, GOLE left Corsica for Djibouti
– in Djibouti (Horn of Africa), the unit would reinforce French troops (mostly legionnaires)
– GOLE (Foreign Legion Task Force) was an operational unit of the Legion
– a composite unit (infantry + cavalry), assigned to the 2e REI
– established in 1971 to carry out urgent missions around the world
– however, this was its first (and last) such operational deployment
– the deployment was a response to the kidnapping of 31 French children in Djibouti two days earlier
– three months later, six GOLE legionnaires would be killed in the 1976 Djibouti helicopter crash

– in the photo, GOLE legionnaires (most likely the 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, the town of Djidjelli was attacked by the Kabylians
– the largest Berber tribe of Algeria
– the town served as then garrison for the 3rd Battalion, Foreign Legion
– legionnaires led by Lt Col Picouleau launched a counter-attack with fixed bayonets
– the Kabylians suffered heavy casualties and were fought off

1946, 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment landed in Indochina
– that day, 2e REI landed in Saigon, then French Indochina
– the very first Foreign Legion regiment to take part in military operations aimed at the Viet Minh
– later that year, the operations would turn into the First Indochina War (1946-54)

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

1950, in then French Indochina, a convoy of the 1st Battalion, 2e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack happened in the Tourane region of Central Vietnam
– Major Marcel Le Toullec (battalion commander) + several legionnaires were killed
– in the following counter-attack, around 100 Viet Minh rebels will be killed

– in the image, the crabs (M29 Weasel tracked vehicle) of 1er REC in French Indochina, during an operation
– note the cavalry legionnaires wearing white berets

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

 

French Foreign Legion: February 07

1844, in northeastern Algeria, a large military operation started
– it took place near Constantine, in the Aures mountains
– the operation was aimed at 2-3,000 rebel Kabylians, a largest Berber tribe
– that day, elite companies of 2nd + 3rd Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, 2e REI now) left Bone, their garrison, to be involved in
– the Legion elite companies returned to Bone in late May
– during the operation, Captain Espinasse + 2 legionnaires were killed
– 24 legionnaires were wounded

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

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

– in the picture, 4e REI legionnaires in Algeria in 1958, awarded by their commander, Colonel Lemeunier + Lieutenant Jean-Marie Bourgeois, killed on February 7, 1958
– 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 boat occupied by legionnaires from 10th Company, 3rd Battalion, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack happened at Cu Lao Giem, near My Luong, in the Mekong Delta of Northern Vietnam
– the attack caused a huge explosion
– during the explosion, Lieutenant Raymond Dubouchet + 12 legionnaires were killed
– between them, a long-serving Adjudant-Chef (First Sergeant) Lino Gasperini

1952, in then French Indochina, during Operation Begonia, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– the skirmish occurred close to Ke Sat, in the Hai Duong region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 9th Company, 3rd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– Lieutenant Paul Le Roch + several legionnaires were killed

1955, 2e REI + 1er BEP left Indochina
– that day, 2e REI + 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) left Indochina for North Africa
– both units participated in the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– in North Africa, they would take part in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– after WWII, 2e REI was the first unit of the Legion to land in Indochina (1946)

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

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

 

French Foreign Legion: February 09

1863, Foreign Regiment left Algeria for Mexico
– that day, Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion) left Algeria for Mexico
– Colonel Jeanningros + HQ Company + two battalions (some 1,400 legionnaires) + Marching Band of the Foreign Regiment
– the regiment would take part in the French Intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– the same year, out of the 1,400 men, some 800 legionnaires died (mostly of yellow fever/black vomit)

1885, Attack of Deo Quao
– in Northern Vietnam, small French outposts on the Deo Quao mountain were attacked by Chinese troops
– the attack occurred during the Lang Son Campaign (Feb 3-13), part of the Sino-French War (Aug 1884 – Apr 1885)
– 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) managed to defend the outposts
– the Chinese were successfully fought off
– however, a legionnaire was killed + 5 legionnaires wounded

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

1956, 1er REC + 5e REI landed in North Africa
– that day, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) + 5e REI landed in North Africa
– they returned from Indochina
– both units participated in the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– in North Africa, they would take part in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– for the 5e REI (a unit created in Indochina in 1930), it was the first time to be deployed outside Asia

– 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 of Vietnamese soldiers in then French Indochina
– the mutiny occurred in Yen Bai, Northern Vietnam
– that night, about 50 Vietnamese soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Tonkinese Rifles (Tirailleurs Tonkinois) turned on their French leaders
– 2 officers and 3 NCOs were massacred
– the event was planned and supported by the Vietnamese Nationalist Party
– 34th Company, 9th Battalion, 1er REI (currently 1er RE) was sent immediately to Yen Bai
– the legionnaires helped to end successfully the rebellion
– a few days later, other sporadic rebellions affected also the Phu Tho region in Northern Vietnam
– companies from 4th + 9th Battalion, 1er REI deployed immediately to restore and maintain order there
– later in September, these 1er REI battalions formed the 5e REI

1948, in Madagascar (Indian Ocean), a military operation at Sahanimira
– legionnaires from 4e DBLE (Half-Brigade, ex- and also future 4e REI) were involved in
– that day at Sahanimira, 21 rebels were killed
– a battalion of 4e DBLE was sent to Madagascar in 1947, to restore order in then French colony, during the ongoing war in French Indochina
– within a year, legionnaires successfully restored order on the island

1952, in then French Indochina, 5th Battalion, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack occurred near Khanh My, in the Thai Binh region of Northern Vietnam
– 5th Battalion, 3e REI comprised local auxiliaries, led by Legion’s officers, NCOs and Corporals
– during the attack, Lieutenant Antoine De Lattre + 4 legionnaires (3 Sergeants + 1 Corporal) + several auxiliaries were killed

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

1961, in northeastern Algeria, three-day clashes with local rebels ended
– the severe clashes occurred in the Constantine region, during Operation Dordogne
– legionnaires from 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in
– during the three days, about 100 rebels were killed

– in the photo, a 13e DBLE legionnaire with his dog during an operation in northeastern Algeria, 1961

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Algeria

 

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