Foreign Legion events: February 11 – 20

Discover important data in French Foreign Legion’ history. Significant campaigns and battles, deployments and operations, the establishments or dissolutions of units… Explore the most interesting events of the Legion which occurred between February 11 and February 20.

 

French Foreign Legion: February 11

1855, in the Crimea, during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55) of the Crimean War, Russian troops launched an attack
– the attack was aimed at the trenches occupied by the 1st Battalion, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, 1er RE now), led by Major Bounetou
– legionnaires managed to defend their positions
– 4 legionnaires were wounded, however
Sevastopol was then capital of the Crimea, Russian Empire
– the Crimean War (1853-56) was a conflict between Russia and an alliance of France, Britain, Ottoman Empire and Sardinia

1954, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– the clashes occurred close to Isabelle, a strongpoint in the Dien Bien Phu valley of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 10th Company, 3rd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– during the clashes, 4 legionnaires were killed

– in the picture, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI in French Indochina in 1954

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - French Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: February 12

1885, in Northern Vietnam, the citadel of Tuyen Quang was attacked
– an action during the Siege of Tuyen Quang (Nov 1884 – Mar 1885)
– the citadel was attacked by Black Flag Army Chinese rebels (Pavillons noirs)
– it was occupied by two Foreign Legion companies (390 men), led by Captain Cattelin
– the legionnaires launched a successful counter-attack
– at least 30 rebels were killed

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

1957, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation for legionnaires from 1st Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the operation took place at Djebel Bou Gaffer, in the Tebessa region
– at least 40 rebels were killed
– nevertheless, Lieutenant Jean Mennesson was also killed

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

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

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

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

 

French Foreign Legion: February 13

1885, Lang Son Campaign ended
– a ten-day major French offensive in Northern Vietnam during the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE + 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) took part in
– the successful campaign was aimed at Chinese troops in the region
– it was launched to capture the important town of Lang Son (seized on February 13) and to throw the Chinese out of Northern Vietnam (then Tonkin)
– during the campaign, the Legion suffered 2 officers + 6 legionnaires killed
– an officer + some 65 legionnaires were wounded

1933, 1er REI Motorized Company establishment
– in Morocco, Motorized Company, 1er REI (1er RE now) was created
– a motorized infantry unit of the Foreign Legion
– stationed at Bou Denib, Morocco and (from 1934) at Tabelbala, Algeria
– it became CSPLE (Foreign Legion Saharan Motorized Company) in 1940
– in 1946, the company was redesignated the 1re CSPL
– the unit merged with the 2e REI 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
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– 4 legionnaires were killed (including Adjudant Edel)

1951, in then French Indochina, heavy fighting with the Viet Minh
– it happened close to An Lo, in the Quang Tri region, Central Vietnam
– legionnaires from 4th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in
– 21 rebels were killed

1958, in Western Sahara, a battle with Saharan rebels
– part of Operation Ouragan, during the Ifni War (also Forgotten War)
– near Seguiet El Hamra, Western Sahara
– in February, a Franco-Spanish combined force launched an offensive aimed at Saharan rebels of a Liberation Army supported by Morocco
– 2e GCP (Motorized Companies Group), 4e REI took part in
– ex-GPLEM (Moroccan Motorized Group, 1944-56)
– alongside legionnaires, Spanish Foreign Legion (three battalions)
– an important rebel group was annihilated
– dozens of rebels were killed
– two months later, the 2e GCP (then based in Mauritania) moved to Algeria and became the last Legion unit of North Africa joining the Algerian War

– in the rare photo, 2e GCP (ex-GPLEM), 4e REI at Fort Trinquet in Mauritania, 1958

4e REI - 2 GCP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Mauritania

 

French Foreign Legion: February 14

1834, 4th Battalion, Foreign Legion dissolution
– in Algeria, 4th Battalion, Foreign Legion was dissolved
– composed mostly of Spanish legionnaires
– stationed at Oran, Algeria since 1831
– some 440 Spaniards were repatriated to Spain to join the First Carlist War
– 7th Battalion (composed of Polish legionnaires and stationed at Bougie, Algeria) moved to Oran and became the new 4th Battalion

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
– legionnaires from 5th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in
– 292 rebels were killed
– 37 rebels were imprisoned
– for this action, the 5th Squadron was mentioned in the order of the Army

1958, in northeastern Algeria, a three-day military operation started for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– it took place near Fedj Zezoua, in the Guelma region
– 163 rebels were killed
– 12 legionnaires were also killed (including a long-serving Adjudant Herrera)

1959, Menouar Group annihilation
– in northern Algeria, a military operation aimed at a group (katiba) of local rebels, led by Menouar, a well-known rebel leader
– it took place in the Tenes region
– legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved in
– 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
– the village was suspected of supplying the rebellious Kabylians (the largest tribe in Algeria)
– located in the Bougie region
– legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, 2e REI now) carried out the operation
– during the operation, a legionnaire was killed
– 15 legionnaires were wounded

1918, 1st Regimental Combat Teams’ dissolution
– in Morocco, 1st Regimental Combat Teams were dissolved
– belonged to the 1er RE and 2e RE (2e REI now)
– the 1er RE’s Team was composed of three battalions + two mounted companies
– the 2e RE’s Team was composed of two battalions + a mounted company
– since that day, these battalions and companies would become administratively independent units
– both teams were established in 1913 to take part in the French Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– they fought in this country during WWI
– consisting mostly of German and Austrian legionnaires

1944, Autonomous Artillery Group dissolution
– in Morocco, GAA was dissolved
– a little-known unit
– established in Morocco in 1943 and stationed in Fez
– composed of three motorized artillery batteries (formed in the 1930’s within the 2e REI and 4e REI)
– GAA was administratively assigned to the 3e REI

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

1957, in northern Algeria, a military operation aimed at local rebels
– it took place at Djebel Nekrif, in the Khemis region
– 2nd + 3rd Battalion, 5e REI were involved in
– 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
– in Northern Vietnam, 1re CTQG + 2e CTQG were established
– little-known military logistics mixed units
– composed of legionnaires and French regular personnel
– the companies provided transportation and supplying of 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
– its original garrison town (1921-40)
– then 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, because of the independence of Tunisia (March 1956), the regiment would have to leave Sousse (and Tunisia) in December 1956
– it moved to Algeria to join the Algerian War (1954-62)

– 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
– better known as “Gestapo
– the unit provides verifying the candidates enlisted in the Legion
– in 1996, it was redesignated and became DSPLE

1952, in then French Indochina, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– it occurred during Operation Crachin, in the Hai Duong region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 2e REI + 8th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in
– during the battle, about 150 rebels were killed

1960, in central Algeria, a battle with a group of local rebels
– it took place in the Laghouat region
– Captain Le Berre and his 2e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company) got involved in
– 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 in Mexico, 1st Battalion, Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion) boarded a ship to return back to Algeria, North Africa
– since 1863, the legionnaires had participated in the the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67), in support of Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico
– over 1,900 officers, NCO and legionnaires died in Mexico between 1863-67
– the vast majority of them died of yellow fever/black vomit
– also in Mexico, the famous Battle of Camerone took place in 1863

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

1946, First action for 2e REI in French Indochina
– in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– it took place during a patrol in the Phan Rang region, Central Vietnam
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI got involved in
– 5 rebels were killed
– for the Legion, it was the first action in Indochina since 1930 not having been conducted by the 5e REI
– for the Legion, it was also the very first action of the future First Indochina War (1946-54)
– for 2e REI, it was its first action in Indochina since the early 1910’s

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

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

– in the image, Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian with 2e REP legionnaires (green berets) in Mali, March 2013

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

 

French Foreign Legion: February 19

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

1954, Fourragère of Military Medal for 1er BEP
– for its actions in French Indochina, the 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) was awarded the Fourragère of Military Medal in yellow-green colors
– the unit obtained it in the Dien Bien Phu valley of Northern Vietnam
– 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 for legionnaires from 13e DBLE
– the week-long operation took place in the Khenchela region
– over 40 rebels were killed

1959, in northern Algeria, heavy fighting with local rebels
– legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved in
– the fighting occurred at Djebel Faidja, in the Djelfa region
– 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 establishment
– in Algeria during WWII, a battalion was formed that day
– in Morocco a few days later, another battalion was formed
– both would be organized as mountain warfare units
– determined to fight in Finland against the USSR
– later, the mission was changed to Norway to face German troops
– the two battalions formed a new unit
– it would be designated as the demi-brigade (half-brigade, a unit smaller than regiment, composed of two battalions)
– because of the existence of another two freshly-created provisional units (11e REI, 12e REI), the new unit got the number 13
– currently, the 13e DBLE is the only French Army unit bearing the title Demi-Brigade

1959, Operation Sylvain
– in northeastern Algeria, Operation Sylvain for legionnaires from 5e REI
– the operation took place in the El Melah region
– 21 rebels were killed
– however, 5 legionnaires were also killed
– Lieutenant Georges Chambre was badly wounded
– he would die a week later

1961, in northern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved in
– 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: January 21 – 31
Foreign Legion events: January 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: January 01 – 10
French Foreign Legion history