Foreign Legion events: March 01 – 10

On this day. Discover the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between March 01 and March 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 a picture.

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

 

French Foreign Legion: March 01

1866, Battle of Santa Isabel
– a battle between French troops and Mexican rebels
– during the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– it took place at the Santa Isabel hacienda
– north of Parras, in the Monterrey region, northern Mexico
– 2nd Battalion, Foreign Regiment were involved
– 3rd + 4th Company of the battalion
– about 185 men led by Major De Brian
– they were attacked by about 1,900 Mexican rebels
– the fierce battle took several hours
– the Foreign Legion suffered heavy casualties
– several officers were killed
– Major Paul-Amable de Brian
– Captain J. Cazes + Captain Moulinier
– Lieutenant Jean Ravix
– Lieutenant Abraham Schmidt (a long-serving legionnaire)
– Second Lieutenant Antoine Royaux
– over 90 legionnaires were also killed
– some 40 legionnaires were seriously wounded

– Captain Cazes served with 1st Battalion in April 1863
– he was the little-known official commander of the famous 3rd Company, 1st Battalion
– the company distinguished during the Battle of Camerone
– however, wounded Captain Cazes commanded a Legion outpost at the time
– Captain Danjou deputized him during the mission at Camerone

1915, Foreign Legion Orient Battalion
– in Algeria, a Legion battalion was constituted
– Foreign Legion Orient Battalion
– led by Major Geay
– the battalion helped to form 1er RMA
– African Regimental Combat Team
– a French provisional combined infantry unit
– two Algerian zouave battalions + a Legion battalion
– they had to participate in the Balkans Campaign of WWI
– Legion Battalion would face Turks and Bulgarians
– Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria were part of Central Powers
– alongside Austria-Hungary and Germany
– the very little-known battalion suffered heavy casualties
– the battalion gained two mentions in the order of the Army
– that allowed the unit to obtain a Fourragere (in 1917)
– as the only second unit of the Legion
– reduced to a company, the unit was disbanded in 1919

1948, Lt Colonel Gabriel Brunet de Sairigné killed
– that day, Lieutenant Colonel De Sairigné was killed
– a famous young French officer
– the then commanding officer of 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– he was killed during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– during a Viet Minh attack on a French convoy
Brunet de Sairigné had served in the Legion since 1939
– as Lieutenant, he joined the 13e DBLE in early 1940
– he would remain with this unit until his death
– in 1946, he took the leadership of 13e DBLE
– aged 33, he became the youngest commanding officer within the French Army
– between 1942-54, three commanding officers of the 13e DBLE were killed

1955, 4th Foreign Infontry Regiment reactivated
– in Morocco, 4e REI was reactivated
– nicknamed “Regiment of Morocco”, created in 1920
– deactivated several times between 1940-1955
– it took part in operations against Moroccan rebels in 1955-56
– in 1957, as the last Legion unit, 4e REI left Morocco for Algeria
– it would participate in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– the regiment was disbanded in Algeria in 1964
4e RE in Castelnaudary adopted the regimental standard, history and traditions of the old 4e REI

1956, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– they occurred near Sidi Aich, in the Bougie region
2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– 16 rebels were killed

1957, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with rebels started
– the two-day clashes occurred near Guentis
– in the Tebessa region
– 2e REP were involved
– 75 rebels were killed or wounded

– in the photo, Lt Colonel Brunet de Sairigné in then French Indochina, 1948
– he was killed the same year

Lt Colonel Gabriel Brunet de Sairigné - 13 dble - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Indochina

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 02

1866, in northeastern Mexico, a battle with rebel
– during the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– the battle occurred near Santiago, in the Monterrey region
– a Foreign Regiment detachment was involved
– mounted on mules and led by Captain Achilli
– 30 rebels were killed

1885, Battle of Hoa Moc
– a battle during the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– called the most fiercely fought action of the war
– French forces against Chinese troops
– the two-day battle occurred at Hoa Moc
– northwest of Hanoi, Northern Vietnam (then Tonkin)
– it helped to end the Siege of Tuyen Quang (Nov 1884 – Mar 1885)
– two companies of the 1st Battalion, 1er RE were involved
– the Chinese were defeated
– a legionnaire was killed
– 14 legionnaires were wounded

1946, Battle of Tuan Giao
– a battle with the Viet Minh in then French Indochina
– it took place in Northern Vietnam, close to the border with China
– BM5 legionnaires were involved
– 18 Viet Minh rebels were killed

– BM5 (Task Force 5 or Provisional Battalion)
– a provisional unit composed of legionnaires
– survivors of the original 5e REI (1930-45)
– a regiment disbanded in China in June 1945
– after fierce fighting with the Japanese in March-May 1945
– Battle of Tuan Giao was their first important action

1954, Battle of Trai Ngoai Khu
– a severe battle with the Viet Minh in then French Indochina
– during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– it occurred in the Ninh Binh region of Northern Vietnam
– 2nd + 3rd Battalion, 5e REI (reactivated in 1949) were involved
– that day, 5e REI lost 182 men
– they were killed, wounded or missed

1956, in Morocco, a rebel attack
– aimed at a convoy of 3rd Battalion, 2e REI
– the attack was carried out by a strong group of local rebels
– it happened at Sidi Mejbeur, in the Taza region
– Lieutenant Maurice Moninin + Lieutenant Jacques Pons were killed
– 6 legionnaires (including 4 NCOs) were also killed
– between them, Sergent-Major Vernhes or Sergent-Chef Schuster
– several legionnaires were wounded
– in fact, the 3rd Battalion was the remnant of the famous 6e REI (1939-55)
– during six months with the 2e REI in Morocco, it suffered heavy casualties

1959, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels ended
– the two-day heavy clashes occurred in the Souk Ahras region
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– 47 rebels were killed

– in the picture, 2e REI legionnaires in Morocco, 1956

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Morocco

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 03

1885, Siege of Tuyen Quang broken
– that day, Siege of Tuyen Quang (Nov 1884 – Mar 1885) was broken
– 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
– French reinforcements helped to broke the siege
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– during the siege, Captain Moulinay + 31 legionnaires were killed
– 6 officers + 120 legionnaires were wounded

1949, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred near Yen Lap
– in the Viet Tri region of Northern Vietnam
Parachute Company, 3e REI were involved
– the very first airborne unit of the Legion
– 30 Viet Minh rebels were killed

2004, Operation Carbet started
– an operation in Haiti, a country in the Caribbean
– to restore and maintain order in Haiti
– legionnaires from 2nd Company, 3e REI participated
– it was the very first deployment for 3e REI since their arrival in French Guiana in 1973
– Operation Carbet ended in late June 2004

– in the image, the 1885 Siege of Tuyen Quang

Siege of Tuyen Quang  - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1885

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 04

1885, in Formosa, a new French offensive started
– Formosa is today’s Taiwan in Southeast Asia
– the offensive was aimed at Chinese troops
– it was part of the Keelung Campaign (1884-85)
– a campaign during the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– the four-day offensive started near Keelung
– an important trading port city in northern Formosa
– 4th Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) were involved
– led by Major Vitalis
– part of a French task force led by Colonel Duchesne
– a former Foreign Legion officer
– during four days, an important Chinese fortress was sized

1948, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– it took place near Na Fac
– in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– a patrol from 3rd Company, 3e REI was involved
– Lieutenant Maurice Viard + a legionnaire were killed

1956, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– they occurred at Djebel Ahmar Kraddou of the Batna region
– 5th Company, 3e REI were involved

– in the photo, 3e REI legionnaires in Algeria, 1956

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Algeria

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 05

1885, in Formosa, a battle with the Chinese
– Formosa is today’s Taiwan in Southeast Asia
– the battle was part of the Keelung Campaign (1884-85)
– a campaign during the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– a French task force faced Chinese troops
– 4th Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) were involved
– led by Major Vitalis
– that day, a fierce battle occurred
– to capture La Table, a fortress close to Keelung
– an important port city
– the Chinese had to retreat and La Table was captured
– however, the legionnaires suffered several casualties
– Second Lieutenant Augustin Bacqué + 3 legionnaires were killed
– Captain Louis Bouyer was seriously wounded
– a deputy to the battalion commander, he died three months later
– Captain Cesari + 25 legionnaires were wounded

1915, 4th Provisional Regimental dissolution
– that day, 4er RM, 1er RE was dissolved
– a Legion provisional unit to defend France during WWI
– nicknamed as Garibaldi Legion
– after Giuseppe “Peppino” Garibaldi, its founder and commander
– consisting of Italian volunteers in the vast majority
– on the Western front since late 1914
– during fights, the unit lost over 560 men

1961, in northwestern Algeria, a fierce battle with local rebels
– it took place near Sidi Djillali, in the Tlemcen region
– close to the border with Morocco
– Leader Training Company, 1er RE were involved
– Adjudant Kamencei and his legionnaires NCO-candidates
– 24 rebels were killed

– in the very rare picture, Lt Colonel Giuseppe “Peppino” Garibaldi (center) and his officers from 4th Regimental Combat Team, 1er RE (Garibaldi Legion) in 1914

Garibaldi - Garibaldi Legion - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1914 - France - WWI

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 06

1871, Franco-Prussian War ended
– that day, Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) ended
– a war between France and Prussia (supported by Bavaria)
– it started in late 1870 in France
– 1st + 2nd + 5th Battalion of the Foreign Regiment took part
– they formed Provisional Foreign Regiment (est. Oct 1870)
– the regiment suffered heavy casualties
– since mid-December, it was composed of non-legionnaires in the majority
– 3rd + 4th Battalion, Foreign Regiment remained in North Africa
– consisting mainly of Germans and Belgians
– not allowed to fight in France, they maintained order in Algeria

1928, Foum Zabel Tunnel
– that day, Foum Zabel Tunnel was finished
– also known as Tunnel of Legionnaire
– a 62-meter-long (203 feet) tunnel in Morocco
– dug through a solid rock of granite by a platoon of legionnaires
– led by Adjudant Michez (a WWI veteran)
– they spent five months of hard working to dig the mountain
– the platoon belonged to the 3e REI
– to its Sappers-Pioneers Company (CSP)
– the famous tunnel still exists
– it is located in northeastern Morocco
– on the Ziz road between Midelt and Arfoud

1950, Operation Tonneau ended
– a two-week operation of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– it took place in the Hai Duong region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 5e REI participated
– about 250 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 37 rebels were imprisoned

1957, in northeastern Algeria, severe clashes with local rebels
– the clashes occurred at Djebel Es Sif, in the Tebessa region
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– 42 rebels were killed

1970, in northwestern Chad, a battle with local rebels
– it took place in the Tibesti region
– 1st Company, 2e REP were involved
– 78 rebels were killed
– Captain Michel de Larre de La Dorie was also killed
– an Army Doctor assigned to the 2e REP

– in the image, the 3e REI’s CSP legionnaires in front of the Foum Zabel Tunnel (Tunnel of Legionnaire), March 1928

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Foum Zabel Tunnel - Tunnel of Legionnaire - 1928

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 07

1885, Capture of Fort Bamboo
– in Formosa, a battle with the Chinese
– Formosa is today’s Taiwan in Southeast Asia
– the battle was part of the Keelung Campaign (1884-85)
– a campaign during the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– that day, a French task force stormed Fort Bamboo
– a Chinese fortress
– 4th Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) were involved
– led by Major Vitalis
– the Chinese had to retreat and Fort Bamboo was captured
– it was the second French victory within three days
– it ended a successful four-day French offensive
– however, a little-known in France today
– that day, 7 legionnaires were killed
– 30 legionnaires were wounded

1953, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– during Operation Sable
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– it happened near Dong Cuong
– in the Hanoi region of Northern Vietnam
– 3rd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 2 legionnaires were killed

1958, in northeastern Algeria, a two-day operation ended
– conducted by 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– it took place at Djebel Besbessa, in the Souk Ahras region
– 21 rebels were killed
– 14 rebels were imprisoned

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

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

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 08

1921, Foreign Legion Tunisian Detachment
– that day, a Foreign Legion detachment was constituted
– based at Sousse, Tunisia
– formed with two freshly established squadrons of the Legion
– Colonel Pierre Perret took command
– next year, the Detachment would be redesignated
– it became the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC)

2013, Attack on Camp of Rocks
– that day in Mali, a battle with rebels
– during the Battle of Adrar des Ifoghas
– part of France’s Operation Serval (2013-14)
– the attack took place in the Kidal region of northern Mali
– aimed at Camp of Rocks, a local rebel camp
– hidden in the rocked moonscape of the massif of Adrar des Ifoghas
– two French units participated
– Commandos + 3rd Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– French soldiers from 17e RGP (Parachute Engineers)
– several rebels were killed
– a rebel was imprisoned

– in the photo, a GCP (Parachute Commando) member from 2e REP (left) with a 17e RPG member before the Attack on Camp of Rocks, March 8, 2013

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2013 - Adrar des Ifoghas - Mali

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 09

1831, Foreign Legion establishment approval
– that day, a new law was issued
– adopted by France’s Chamber of Deputies
– signed by Louis Philippe I, King of the French
– in France, the new law gave permission to a potential establishment of a legion composed of foreigners
– in French colonies, the new law gave permission to a potential establishment of units composed of local natives or foreigners
– since January 1831, foreigners had been forbidden to serve within the French Army

1945, Japanese coup d’état in French Indochina
– also known as Operation Bright Moon
– a Japanese operation to take over French Indochina
– during the last year of WWII
– the Japanese were afraid of an Allied invasion of Indochina
– they decided to attack and overrun French garrisons
– including those of the Foreign Legion’s 5e REI
– the fights between the French and the Japanese occurred
– during that night and the next day, a lot of legionnaires were wounded, killed or massacred
– the Japanese replaced French officials and took over the colonies
– French Indochina temporarily ceased to exist
– thereafter, French units had to leave the country
– France ordered them to march to China to be regrouped there
– including surviving 5e REI legionnaires
– in next 93 days, legionnaires had to march almost 800 miles (1,250 km) through the jungle and fought against the Japanese
– from 850 legionnaires, only 580 men survived

1947, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– it occurred in the Binh Dai district
– in the Ben Tre region, Southern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 6 legionnaires were killed

1948, also in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– aimed at a convoy of the 3rd Battalion, 2e REI
– the attack happened near Dai Lanh
– in the Nha Trang region of Central Vietnam
– Captain Jean Marie Dumas + Lieutenant Guy Vie were killed
– 5 legionnaires were also killed

1950, also in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– it took place near Xom Moi
– in the Hoc Mon region of Southern Vietnam
– eight platoons of legionnaires were involved
– from 1st + 4th Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– 54 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– Lieutenant Georges Renaud + 3 legionnaires were also killed
– 27 men were wounded

– also in 1950, Captain Frédéric Gheysens killed
– a Foreign Legion officer
– the founder of the Képi Blanc magazine (1947)
– the official magazine of the Foreign Legion
– Captain Gheysens also served as its first chief
– he was killed in Indochina, by the Viet Minh
– he commanded the 3rd Company, 2e REI at the time

1961, First Legionnaires to deploy to today’s Djibouti
– that day, a Legion company left Madagascar
– 2nd Company, BLEM
– Foreign Legion Madagascar Battalion
– they moved to today’s Djibouti, then French colony
– to be stationed there for the first time in history
– as the very first Legion elements
– they would be called Foreign Legion Somali Company
– in 1962, the company became 1st Company, 13e DBLE

– in the image, a new state law signed by King Louis-Philippe I on March 9, 1831, giving permission to a potential establishment of a legion of foreigners in France

Foreign Legion establishment approval - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1831 - France

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 10

1831, Foreign Legion establishment
– that day in France, a royal decree was issued
– with an order of King Louis-Philippe I, King of the French
– to establishment the Foreign Legion
– the Legion had to be composed of seven battalions
– each battalion had to consist of eight companies
– each company had to comprise men of the same nationality, speaking the same language
– the candidate had to be between 18-40 years old
– with a minimal height of 155 cm
– this Legion is called Old Legion now
– Old Legion was handed over to Spain in 1835
– to fight in the First Carlist War (a civil war, 1833-40)
– in support of Maria Christina, Regent of Spain
– officially disbanded in Spain in early December 1838
– a new Foreign Legion would be constituted in France in 1836

1946, 13th Foreign Legion Half-Brigade landed in Indochina
– that day, 13e DBLE landed in then French Indochina
– as the only second Foreign Legion regiment
– to take part in military operations
– later that year, the operations turned into the First Indochina War (1946-54)

1947, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– aimed at a patrol of the 12th Company, 3e REI
– the attack occurred near Rach Tra Bung
– in the Sa Dec region of Southern Vietnam
– Second Lieutenant Jacques Lenoir + 11 legionnaires were killed

1956, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– they took place near El Kelaa, in the Khenchela region
– legionnaires from 13e DBLE were involved
– 34 rebels were killed

1960, in northeastern Algeria, a battle with a large group of rebels
– led by Afou Fou, a local rebel leader
– the battle took place near Medina, in the Aures mountains
– between Khenchela and Arris
– 3rd Squadron, 1er REC were involved
– 30 rebels were killed
– 21 rebels were wounded

– in the image, Louis-Philippe I, King of the French
– he ordered the establishment of the Foreign Legion on March 10, 1831

Louis-Philippe I, King of the French - Foreign Legion Etrangere - France

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: February 21 – 29
Foreign Legion events: March 11 – 20
French Foreign Legion history