Foreign Legion events: February 11 – 20

On this day. Discover the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between February 11 and February 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 a picture.

To see all historical events, go back to: French Foreign Legion – Historical Events

 

French Foreign Legion: February 11

1855, in Crimea, a Russian attack
– during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854-55)
– the then capital of the Crimea, Russian Empire
– the siege was part of the Crimean War (1853-56)
– a conflict between Russia and an alliance of France, Britain, Ottoman Empire and Sardinia
– then both Foreign Legion regiments participated
– the attack was aimed at French positions
– trenches held by legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 1er RLE
– 1st Foreign Legion Regiment (now 1er RE)
– led by Major Bounetou
– the attackers were successfully fought off
– 4 legionnaires were wounded, however

1954, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– in the Dien Bien Phu valley of Northern Vietnam
– the clashes occurred at Isabelle
– one of the French defensive positions in the valley
– 10th Company, 3rd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– during the clashes, 4 legionnaires were killed

1959, Battle of Djebel Metloug started
– that day, a two-day battle started
– with rebels in northeastern Algeria
– it occurred at Djebel Metloug
– between Meskiana and Tebessa
1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) participated
– 71 rebels were killed
– 23 rebels were imprisoned
– 2 legionnaires were also killed
– 10 legionnaires were wounded

– in the picture, 1er REC legionnaires with a Panhard EBR vehicle during an operation in Algeria, 1959
– note the cavalry legionnaires bearing light-khaki berets

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 12

1885, in Tonkin, a Chinese attack
– during the Siege of Tuyen Quang (Nov 1884 – Mar 1885)
– an important confrontation between the French and the Chinese
– part of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– a conflict during France’s Tonkin Campaign (1883-86)
– Tonkin was then title for today’s Northern Vietnam
Tuyen Quang was a French fortress
– an important square masonry citadel
– each of its walls was 300 yards (275 m) long
– defended by two Foreign Legion companies
– 1st + 2nd Company, 1er RE
– around 390 legionnaires led by Captain Cattelin
– they faced some 12,000 Chinese troops
– that day, the citadel was heavily attacked
– the legionnaires defended bravely the citadel
– eventually, they launched a successful counter-attack
– the attackers were fought off
– at least 30 rebels were killed

1953, Operation Vendee ended
– an operation in then French Indochina
– during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– in the Hoc Mon region of Southern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) participated
– 21 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1957, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– at Djebel Bou Gaffer, in the Tebessa region
– 1st Company, 2e REP were involved
– 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment
– at least 40 rebels were killed
– nevertheless, a 2e REP officer was also killed
– Lieutenant Jean Mennesson

1961, in northeastern Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– during a military operation
– near Bou Saada, in the M’Sila region
– legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– 25 rebels were killed

– in the image, Lieutenant Jean Mennesson, killed on February 12, 1957 + 2e REP legionnaires in the Tebessa region of Algeria, in February 1957

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Jean Mennesson - Algeria

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 13

1885, Lang Son Campaign ended
– a successful ten-day French major offensive in Tonkin
– then title for Northern Vietnam
– the offensive was 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 force the Chinese forces to retreat back to China
– to capture the important town of Lang Son
– during the campaign, the Legion suffered several losses
– 2 officers + 6 legionnaires killed
– 1 officer + about 65 legionnaires were wounded

1933, Automobile Company, 1er REI
– in Morocco, a Foreign Legion unit was constituted
– Automobile Company, 1er REI (1er RE now)
– a motorized infantry unit of the Foreign Legion
– stationed at Tabelbala in Algeria since 1934
– in 1940, the unit was redesignated
– it became CSPL
– Legion Saharan Motorized Company
– in 1946, the company was redesignated once again
– it became the 1re CSPL (ESPL, Squadron since 1961)
– the unit was disbanded in 1963

1947, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– it occurred near Gia Loc
– in the Hai Duong region of Northern Vietnam
– 1st Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 4 legionnaires were killed
– including a long-serving Adjudant Edel

1951, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– close to An Lo, in the Quang Tri region, Central Vietnam
– 4th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– 21 rebels were killed

1958, in Spanish Sahara, a battle with Saharan rebels
– part of Operation Ouragan
– at Seguiet El Hamra, then Spanish Sahara
– Western Sahara now
– an operation during the Ifni War (also Forgotten War)
– a conflict between France + Spain and Saharan rebels
– from a Liberation Army supported by Morocco
– a Franco-Spanish combined force participated
– including legionnaires from both Legions
– French Foreign Legion
– Spanish Foreign Legion
– French Legion was represented by 2e GCP, 4e REI
– 2nd Motorized Companies Group (1956-58)
– ex-GPLEM (Moroccan Motorized Group, 1944-56)
– alongside them, three Spanish Foreign Legion battalions
– both Legions fought side by side after 30+ years
– that day, an important rebel group was annihilated
– dozens of rebels were killed
– two months later, the 2e GCP left the region
– the unit moved to Algeria to join the Algerian War (1954-62)
– as the very last operational unit of the Legion

1970, in Chad, a battle with local rebels
– during Operation Limousin (1969-71)
– the first military operation for the Legion since 1962
– the battle occurred near Mangalmé, in the Guéra Region
– between rebels and legionnaires
– from Mounted Platoon, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– a very little-known, unusual unit led by Lieutenant Pietri
– elite paratroopers-cavalrymen mounted on horses
– in Chad, they were used as a reconnaissance unit
– however, they were involved even in several battles
– that day, 11 rebels were killed by them

– in the rare photo, a legionnaire-cavalryman from Mounted Platoon, 2e REP in Chad, 1969
– probably the very last mounted unit of the French Army to take part in real combat

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1969 - Mounted Platoon - Chad

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 14

1834, 4th Battalion, Foreign Legion dissolution
– in Algeria, 4th Battalion, Foreign Legion was disbanded
– stationed at Oran, Algeria since 1831
– Spanish legionnaires in the vast majority
– non-Spanish legionnaires joined remaining battalions
– some 440 Spaniards were repatriated to Spain
– to join the First Carlist War (1833-40)
– 7th Battalion moved to Oran to become a new 4th Battalion
– the battalion was composed of Polish legionnaires

1952, Battle of Hoan Lao
– in then French Indochina, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– it occurred near Hoan Lao
– in the Quang Binh region, Central Vietnam
– 5th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– 292 rebels were killed
– 37 rebels were imprisoned
– for this action, 5th Squadron was mentioned in dispatches
– in the order of the Army (the highest mention)

1958, in northeastern Algeria, an operation started
– a three-day military operation
– near Fedj Zezoua, in the Guelma region
– the operation was aimed at local rebels
– carried out by 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– 163 rebels were killed
– 12 legionnaires were also killed
– including long-serving Adjudant Herrera

1959, Menouar Group annihilation
– in northern Algeria, a military operation occurred
– it took place in the Tenes region
– aimed at a group (katiba) of local rebels
– led by Menouar, a well-known rebel leader
– 1er REP were involved
– during the operation, the group was annihilated
– 30 rebels were killed, including Menouar

– in the picture, 1er REP legionnaires during an operation in northeastern Algeria, 1958

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

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 15

1843, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation
– aimed at the village of Erza in the Bougie region
– suspected of supplying the rebellious Kabylians
– the largest rebel tribe in Algeria
– 2nd Battalion, 2e RLE were involved
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (2e REI now)
– during the operation, a legionnaire was killed
– 15 legionnaires were wounded

1918, 1st Regimental Combat Teams dissolution
– in Morocco, two Foreign Legion units were disbanded
– 1st Regimental Combat Team, 1er RE
– 1st Regimental Combat Team, 2e RE (2e REI now)
– regiment-sized task forces
– five battalions + two mounted companies in total
– they operated in Morocco during WWI
– taking part in the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– consisting mostly of German and Austrian legionnaires
– since that day, these battalions and companies would become administratively independent units

1944, Legion Autonomous Artillery Group dissolution
– in Morocco, GAAL was dissolved
– an almost unknown unit of the Foreign Legion
– administratively assigned to the 3e REI
– established in Morocco in 1943 and stationed in Fez
– composed of three motorized artillery batteries
– having served in Morocco since the 1930s

1954, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– it occurred at Hill 674
– in the Dien Bien Phu valley of Northern Vietnam
– 1st + 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– Lieutenant Étienne Michel + 8 legionnaires were killed
– over 70 legionnaires were wounded
– a few weeks later, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu started
– during the battle, both battalions were annihilated

1957, in northern Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– it took place at Djebel Nekrif, in the Khemis region
– 2nd + 3rd Battalion, 5e REI were involved
– 28 rebels were killed

– in the image, 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE in French Indochina in 1954

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - French Indochina

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 16

1951, Transportation and Headquarters Companies
– that day, 1re CTQG + 2e CTQG were established
– in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– little-known military logistics units
– composed of legionnaires and French regular personnel
– the companies carried out transportation and supply tasks
– for operational units in Northern Vietnam
– during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the companies were disbanded in November 1954

1956, 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment returned to Sousse
– that day, 1er REC officially returned to Sousse, Tunisia
– 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment
– the very first Foreign Legion cavalry regiment
Sousse was the 1er REC’s original garrison town (1921-40)
– thereafter, the unit was stationed in Morocco (1940-46)
– in late 1946, the regiment deployed to French Indochina
– to take part in the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– in January 1956, 1er REC left Indochina for North Africa
– to be based in Tunisia again
– nevertheless, the regiment stayed in Sousse only a few months
– because of the independence of Tunisia (March 1956)
– 1er REC left Sousse (and Tunisia) in December 1956
– it moved to Algeria to join the Algerian War (1954-62)
– the regiment never returned back to Tunisia

– in the first picture, Quartier Montauzon, the barracks of the 1er REC located in Sousse, Tunisia, 1956

– in the second picture, the insignias of the 1re CTQG + 2e CTQG

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Tunisia

1re CTQG + 2e CTQG - 1 CTQG + 2 CTQG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1951 - French Indochina

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 17

1937, Foreign Legion Statistics Bureau
– in Algeria, BSLE was established
– to verify the candidates enlisted in the Legion
– later nicknamed as “Gestapo
– a feared obstacle for some candidates
– in 1996, it was redesignated and became DSPLE

1952, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– the fierce battle occurred in the Hai Duong region
– during Operation Crachin in Northern Vietnam
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– two Foreign Legion units were involved
– 3rd Battalion, 2e REI
– 8th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– during the battle, over 100 rebels were killed

1960, in central Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– it took place in the Laghouat region
2e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company) were involved
– 8 rebels were killed (including their leader Bougrine)
– 2 rebels were imprisoned

– in the photo, Captain Le Berre and his 2e CSPL legionnaires during the operation of February 17, 1960, central Algeria

2e CSPL - 2 CSPL - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1960 - Algeria

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 18

1867, First legionnaires to leave Mexico
– that day, first legionnaires took ship to leave Mexico
– 1st Battalion, Foreign Regiment
– to return back to North Africa
– they took part in the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– between March 1863 and February 1867
– in support of Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico
– over 1,900 officers, NCO and legionnaires died in Mexico
– the vast majority of them died of yellow fever/black vomit
– in Mexico, the famous 1863 Battle of Camerone occurred

1926, in northern Morocco, clashes with local rebels
– part of the so-called Rif War (1925-26)
– a joint operation of France and Spain
– during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– the heavy clashes occurred near Djebel Izkritene
– close to Tizi Ouasli, in the Taza region
– 1st + 3rd Battalion, 2e REI were involved
– 28 legionnaires were killed
– 51 legionnaires were wounded

1946, First action for the Legion after WWII
– that day, first action for the Legion after WWII
– during a patrol in then French Indochina
– a skirmish with the Viet Minh occurred there
– in the Phan Rang region, Central Vietnam
– 1st Battalion, 2e REI men were involved
– 5 rebels were killed
– it was the 2e REI’s first action in Indochina after 30+ years
– for the Legion, it was also the very first action of the future First Indochina War (1946-54)

1947, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– the attack occurred close to the Cai Mon post
– in the Ben Tre region of Southern Vietnam
– aimed at a landing craft
– assigned to the HQ Company, 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– Captain Jean Picquart was killed
– 2 officers + 5 legionnaires were wounded

2013, Battle of Adrar des Ifoghas started
– a five-week battle with jihadist groups in Mali
– part of Operation Serval (2013-14)
– the battle occurred between Feb 18 – Mar 31
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) participated
– during the battle, over 200 rebels were killed
– 3 French soldiers were also killed
– about 120 French soldiers were wounded
– between the killed, Staff Sergeant Harold Vormezeele
– a legionnaire from GCP (Commandos) of 2e REP
– he was killed during the second day of the battle

– in the image, Staff Sergeant Harold Vormezeele from 2e REP, killed during the Battle of Adrar des Ifoghas in Mali, on February 19, 2013

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

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 19

1952, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– it took place close to Xom Hun
– in the Hoc Mon region of Southern Vietnam
– 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– 14 rebels were killed
– 11 rebels were imprisoned

1954, Fourragère of Military Medal for 1er BEP
– that day, 1er BEP was awarded
– 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (later 1er REP)
– awarded for their brave actions in French Indochina
– with the Fourragère of Military Medal in yellow-green colors
– the ceremony took place in Northern Vietnam
– in the Dien Bien Phu valley
– in three months, the battalion would be annihilated there
– in the well-known Battle of Dien Bien Phu

1956, Operation Oscar Alpha ended
– in northern Algeria, Operation Oscar Alpha ended
– a week-long operation in the Khenchela region
– carried out by 13e DBLE legionnaires
– over 40 rebels were killed

1959, in northern Algeria, heavy fighting with local rebels
– at Djebel Faidja, in the Djelfa region
2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– 90 rebels were killed
– 17 rebels imprisoned

– in the picture, a Lieutenant (left) and his 2e REC legionnaires during the operation at Djebel Faidja, northern Algeria, on February 19, 1959

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

 

French Foreign Legion: February 20

1940, 13th Demi-Brigade (Half-Brigade)
– that day in Algeria, a battalion was formed
– a few days later in Morocco, another battalion was formed
– the two battalions constituted a new unit
– 13th Foreign Legion Provisional Half-Brigade (13e DBMLE)
– in France, a half-brigade is composed of two battalions
– the new provisional unit comprised some 2,100 men
– it got the number 13
– because of the existence of 11e REI, 12e REI
– another two freshly-created provisional units
– the three units were established to fight in WWII
– 13e DBMLE was organized as a mountain warfare unit
– determined to fight in Finland against the USSR
– in the Winter War (1939-40)
– later, the mission was changed
– the unit would deploy to Norway to face German troops
– in the Norwegian Campaign (April-June 1940)
– part of WWII in Europe
– 13e DBMLE fought bravely in Norway
– in July 1940, it was disbanded back in Morocco
– at the same time, part of the men left the French Army
– they formed a new unit within the British Army
– in 1944-45, the unit was (re-)integrated into the Legion
– in 1945, it was named 13e DBLE
– currently, the 13e DBLE is the only French Army unit bearing the title Demi-Brigade

1959, Operation Sylvain
– an operation in northeastern Algeria
– aimed at local rebels
– the operation took place in the El Melah region
– carried out by legionnaires from 5e REI
– 21 rebels were killed
– however, 5 legionnaires were also killed
– Lieutenant Georges Chambre was badly wounded
– he died a week later

1961, in northern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– the skirmish occurred in the Bou Saada region
– 20 rebels were killed

– in the photo, the 13e DBLE color guard in France, 2016

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2016 - Drapeau

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: February 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: February 21 – 29
French Foreign Legion history