Foreign Legion events: February 21 – 29

On this day. Explore the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between February 21 and February 29. 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 21

1864, Legion reinforcement to land in Mexico
– that day, a new reinforcement landed in Mexico
– 3rd Battalion, Foreign Regiment
– 674 men, led by Major Rolland
– also Regimental Depot, Foreign Regiment
– to take part in the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– in support of Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico
– they had to reinforce two Foreign Regiment battalions
– heavily affected by yellow fever/black vomit
– the two battalions landed in Mexico in early 1863
– some 1,400 men initially
– within a year, about 800 legionnaires died

1961, Battle of El Ardja
– a fierce battle with rebels
– at the Algeria-Morocco border
– during the Algerian War (1954-62)
– it took place in the palm grove of Teniet Ben Saied
– close to El Ardja
2e REI motorized companies were involved
– 96 rebels were killed
– 50 rebels were imprisoned

– in the image, 2e REI legionnaires during a ceremony in Algeria, in the early 1960s

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1962 - Algeria

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 22

1821, Hohenlohe Regiment
– that day, a royal decree was issued
– it prescribed the redesignation of Hohenlohe Legion
– it would be named Hohenlohe Regiment
– a French Army unit consisting of foreigners
– activated in 1815 as Royal Foreign Legion
– to be based at Bastia, Corsica
– since 1816, led by Colonel Louis Aloysius
– Prince of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Bartenstein
– a German prince fighting for France between 1792-1814
– the unit comprised mainly German-speaking volunteers
– forming three battalions
– Hohenlohe Regiment was dissolved in January 1831
– two months later, a new Foreign Legion was established
– many ex-Hohenlohe legionnaires joined the new unit
– the current Foreign Legion derived its origins from the Hohenlohe Regiment

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
– it was the fourth assault of Chinese forces
– the assault started by three huge explosions
– the Chinese made tunnels under the fortress
– then they mined them with explosives and set off
– nevertheless, the legionnaires defended bravely the citadel
– after four hours, the attackers were fought off
– however, the Legion suffered casualties
– that day, Captain Moulinay was killed (by an explosion)
– 1st Company’s commander
– 4 legionnaires were also killed
– 1 officer + 40 legionnaires were wounded

– in the picture, an officer of the Hohenlohe Regiment by André Rosenberg

Foreign Legion Etrangere - Hohenlohe Regiment - André Rosenberg

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 23

1885, Battle of Dong Dang
– a successful battle in Tonkin
– then title for today’s Northern Vietnam
– to seize the town of Dong Dang
– an action of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– a conflict during France’s Tonkin Campaign (1883-86)
– the battle took place at Dong Dang, in the Lang Son region
– fought between French troops and Chinese troops
– two Foreign Legion battalions participated
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE
– 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now)
Dong Dang was successfully captured
– the Chinese were fought off
– however, the Legion suffered casualties
– 5 legionnaires were killed
– 1 officer + 23 legionnaires were wounded

1952, Retreat from Hoa Binh started
– an operation in then French Indochina
– in the Hoa Binh region, Northern Vietnam
– part of the Battle of Hoa Binh (Nov 1951 – Feb 1952)
– an ordered evacuation of French troops from Hoa Binh
– the town successfully captured by them in late 1951
– two Legion units participated in the retreat
– 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– 1st Battalion, 5e REI
– a two-day march to the Tonkin Delta followed
– the legionnaires were permanently attacked by the Viet Minh
– 5e REI losses:
– 2 legionnaires killed + 22 legionnaires wounded
– 13e DBLE losses:
– 17 legionnaires killed + 76 legionnaires wounded or missed

1955, 2e REI returned to North Africa
– that day, 2e REI landed in Tunisia, North Africa
– the longest-serving unit of the Foreign Legion
– established in North Africa in 1841
– the regiment returned to North Africa from Indochina
– it participated in the First Indochina War (1946-54) there
– 2e REI deployed to then French Indochina in early 1946
– as the very first regiment of the Legion
– in Tunisia, 2e REI stayed until late 1955
– thereafter, it moved to Morocco for a short period
– the unit was stationed in Algeria in mid-1956
– the regiment would take part in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– in early 1968, 2e REI left North Africa
– as the very last regiment of the Legion

– in the photo, Lt Colonel Jacquot holding the flag of his 2e REI in Tunisia, 1955
– the flag is awarded with the Overseas Operations War Cross

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Lt Colonel Jacquot - Tunisia

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 24

1953, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– during Operation Nice
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the battle occurred close to Doa Thon
– in the Bac Ninh region of Northern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 2e REI were involved
– 34 rebels were killed
– however, a Legion officer was fatally wounded
– Lieutenant Pierre Giorgi

1961, in northern Algeria, a military operation started
– a two-day military operation aimed at local rebels
– it took place near Kherrata, in the Bougie region
– carried out by 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– 38 rebels would be killed
– one of the last actions of the regiment
– the unit would be disbanded two months later

1991, Ground phase of Operation Daguet
– part of the Gulf War (1990-91)
– a codename for French operations during the war
– that day in Iraq, the French launched a ground assault
– the main objective was the Iraqi military base of As-Salman
– also an airfield located nearby
– several Foreign Legion units were involved
– 2e REI
1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– 6e REG (Engineer Regiment, now 1er REG)
– Commandos from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the operation was successful
– within two days, the military base + airfield were seized
– over 2,900 Iraqi troops were captured

– in the picture, Commandos from 2e REP at As-Salman, Iraq, late February 1991

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1991 - Operation Daguet - As-Salman - Iraq

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 25

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 350 legionnaires led by Captain Cattelin
– they faced some 12,000 Chinese troops
– that day, the citadel was heavily attacked again
– it was the sixth assault of Chinese forces
– nevertheless, the legionnaires defended bravely the citadel
– the attackers were fought off
– however, the Legion suffered casualties
– 4 legionnaires were killed
– 12 legionnaires were wounded

1940, 12th Foreign Infantry Regiment
– in France during WWII, 12e REI was established
– organized at Camp La Valbonne
– composed of three battalions (some 2,800 men)
– a provisional unit created for the war period
– it consisted of French reservists
– men having served with the Legion previously
– also Spanish republicans (30%)
– German-speaking Jews (30%)
– and foreigners living in France
– also Legion NCOs + 400 legionnaires-volunteers
– from regiments serving in North Africa
– 12e REI participated in the Battle of France (May-June 1940)
– the unit suffered heavy casualties
– in late June 1940, the regiment was disbanded
– no more than 180 combat-ready men left

1955, 1er BEP landed in North Africa
– that day, 1er BEP landed in Algeria, North Africa
– 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (later 1er REP)
– the unit returned from Indochina
– it participated in the First Indochina War (1946-54) there
– in Indochina, the unit was two times annihilated
– it became the first French airborne battalion lost in combat
– 1er BEP would be stationed in Algeria
– to take part in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– later that year, the battalion would become regiment
– the unit was disbanded in April 1961

1957, in northern Algeria, heavy clashes with rebels
– during a joint military operation
– at Djebel Amour, in the Bou Saada region
– HQ, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) participated
– 64 rebels were killed
– 10 rebels were imprisoned

1958, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation
– in the Draa Tameroun range, in the Djidjelli region
– carried out by 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– 29 rebels were killed

– in the image, 12e REI parades at Camp La Valbonne, France, 1940

12e REI - 12 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1940 - France

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 26

1958, Battle of Koudiat Megroum
– an action during the Algerian War (1954-62)
– a battle between legionnaires and local rebels
– in the Guelma region
– a part of the Battle of the Borders (Jan-May 1958)
– 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– 149 rebels were killed
– Lieutenant Georges Maroni was also killed

1991, Operation Daguet ended
– part of the Gulf War (1990-91)
– a codename for French operations during the war
– they took place in Iraq and Kuwait
– several Foreign Legion units participated
– 2e REI
– 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– 6e REG (Engineer Regiment, now 1er REG)
– Commandos from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the operation was successful
– the French captured over 2,900 Iraqi troops
– 10 French soldiers were killed
– 33 French soldiers were wounded
– between the killed, at least 3 legionnaires

– in the photo, 1er REC legionnaires from 3rd Squadron before leaving Iraq, March 1991
– they participated in the Gulf War (Operation Daguet in France) in 1990-91

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1991 - Gulf War - Daguet - Iraq

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 27

1862, 1st Foreign Regiment dissolution
– in Algeria, 1er RE was officially disbanded
– 1st Foreign Regiment, created in 1856
– ex-Second Foreign Legion (nicknamed Swiss Legion, 1855-56)
– a unit consisting of Swiss legionnaires in the vast majority
– wearing their green uniforms to distinguish themselves
– the regiment’s dissolution prescribed an imperial decree
– issued in December 1861
– the remaining men consolidated with the Foreign Regiment
– ex-2nd Foreign Regiment (2e RE, now 2e REI)
– previously known as 1st Foreign Legion (the original one)
– both Legions were designated as regiments in mid-1856
– Foreign Regiment would become Foreign Legion in 1875
– it would be devided into two regiments again in 1885

1867, Last legionnaires to leave Mexico
– that day, last legionnaires took ship to leave Mexico
– 3rd + 4th Battalion, Foreign Regiment
– to return back to North Africa
– they took part in the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– in support of Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico
– first legionnaires landed in Mexico in early 1863
– over 1,900 officers, NCO and legionnaires died there
– the vast majority of them died of yellow fever/black vomit
– in Mexico, the famous 1863 Battle of Camerone occurred

1952, Operation Crachin ended
– a two-week operation in then French Indochina
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the operation was aimed at the Viet Minh
– in the Ninh Giang region
– deep in the Red River Delta, Northern Vietnam
– two Foreign Legion units participated
– 3rd Battalion, 2e REI
– 8th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– during the operation, over 100 rebels were killed

– in the picture, 1er REC legionnaires with their Alligator (LVT 4) during Operation Crachin in French Indochina, February 1952

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Operation Crachin - Indochina

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 28

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
– at the time, around 330 legionnaires led by Captain Cattelin
– they faced some 12,000 Chinese troops
– at midnight (Feb 27-28), the citadel was heavily attacked again
– it was the seventh and last assault of Chinese forces
– the legionnaires defended bravely the citadel once again
– the fighting continued until the late morning
– the attackers were successfully fought off
– however, the Legion suffered casualties
– 3 legionnaires were killed
– 1 officer + 8 legionnaires were wounded

1933, Battle of Bou Gafer
– a battle with the remainder of Moroccan rebels
– part of the last stage of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
Bou Gafer was the last rebel stronghold in Morocco
– a mountain occupied by hundreds of Moroccan rebels
– situated in the Djebel Sagho mountain range
– between Ouarzazate and Erfoud, central Morocco
– two French combined task forces participated
– between them, several Legion units
– 2nd Motorized Company, 1e REI (now 1er RE)
– Mounted Company, 2e REI
– Mounted Company, 3e REI
– Artillery Battery, 4e REI
– a two-week artillery shelling preceded the battle
– that day, the French launched a frontal assault
– they attacked the rocky mountain under rebel fire
– in the front lines, Moroccan auxiliaries and the legionnaires
– heavy fighting with rebels took several hours
– however, climbing the mountain under rebel fire was difficult
– the French suffered heavy casualties
– 4 French officers + 60 French soldiers were killed
– including Captain Henri de Bournazel
– nicknamed “Red Men” by rebels, he led the auxiliaries
– 115 French officers and soldiers were wounded
– between the killed and wounded, many legionnaires
– also two Foreign Legion officers
– Captain Paul Faucheux (Mounted Company, 3e REI)
– Lieutenant Emile Brencklé (Mounted Company, 2e REI)
– that day, assigned to the 2nd Motorized Company, 1e REI
– within a few months, all the rebels from Djebel Sagho would be killed or imprisoned

1954, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– the severe battle occurred in Northern Vietnam
– in the Dong Lieu region
– 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– Viet Minh suffered heavy losses
– 76 Viet Minh men were killed
– 57 Viet Minh men were imprisoned

– in the rare image, legionnaires carrying a fellow fighter after the Battle of Bou Gafer, Morocco, late February 1933

Bou Gafer - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1933 - Morocco

 
 

French Foreign Legion: February 29

1940, Lt Colonel Prince Aage, Count of Rosenborg died

  • Prince from the Danish royal family
  • he served in the Legion between 1922-25 and 1935-40
  • born 1887 in Denmark
  • in 1922, he joined the Foreign Legion
  • assigned to the Mounted Company, 2e REI in Morocco
  • it was his dream, because in this company served Lieutenant Selchauhansen
  • the Danish officer killed at El Moungar in 1903
  • Prince Aage served with 2e REI as an officer 1922-25, several times wounded
  • 1925-35, War school in France, French diplomacy and military career
  • in 1935, he rejoined the Legion and was assigned to the 3e REI in Morocco
  • he took the leadership of the 1st Battalion, 3e REI in 1937
  • on February 29, 1940, Prince Aage died in Taza, Morocco
  • he and his battalion were moved by train to take part in a military exercise
  • he was buried in Morocco and later (in 1947) at Sidi Bel Abbes (then HQ of the Legion), Algeria
  • in 1962, his remains were brought to the Legion’s new HQ in France (together with the remains of General Rollet, the “Father of the Legion” and legionnaire Zimmermann, the last killed man of 1er RE in the Algerian War)
  • during his French career, Lt Colonel Prince Aage received several military awards
  • for example, the Legion of Honour award, two War Crosses or the Colonial Medal

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Prince Aage - Morocco

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: February 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: March 01 – 10
French Foreign Legion history