Foreign Legion events: March 01 – 10

Explore important historical events in French Foreign Legion’s history. Significant campaigns and battles, deployments and operations, the establishments or dissolutions of units. See the most interesting events of the Foreign Legion which occurred between March 1 and March 10.

 

French Foreign Legion: March 01

1866, Battle of Santa Isabel
– a battle during the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– it took place at the Santa Isabel hacienda near Parras, northern Mexico
– 3rd + 4th Company of the 2nd Battalion, Foreign Regiment (then title of the Foreign Legion) were involved in
– the two companies (185 men led by Major De Brian) were attacked by about 1,900 Mexican rebels
– Major Paul-Amable de Brian + Captain Cazes + Captain Moulinier + Lieutenant Jean Ravix + Lieutenant Abraham Schmidt (a long-serving legionnaire) + 2nd Lieutenant Antoine Royaux were killed
– over 90 legionnaires were also killed
– around 40 legionnaires were seriously wounded
– Captain Cazes was the official commander of the famous 3rd Company, 1st Battalion in April 1863
– because of his absence, he was replaced temporarily by Captain Danjou for a one-day patrol taking place near Camerone on April 30 (which resulted in the well-known Battle of Camerone)

1915, Battalion Legion, 1er RMA
– in Algeria, Battalion Legion was constituted
– led by Major Geay
– it helped to form 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team)
– 1er RMA was a French composite task force
– it consisted of two colonial native battalions + a Legion battalion
– the units had to participate in the Balkans Campaign of WWI
– Battalion Legion 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
– 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 North Africa in April 1919

1948, Lt Colonel Gabriel Brunet de Sairigné killed
– in then French Indochina, Lieutenant Colonel De Sairigné was killed
– then commanding officer of the 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– he was killed during the First Indochina War (1946-54), in a Viet Minh attack on a French convoy
– as a French officer, Brunet de Sairigné had served in the Legion since 1939
– as Lieutenant, he joined the 13e DBLE in early 1940 and remained with this unit until his death
– when he took the leadership of 13e DBLE, he became the youngest commanding officer within the French Army (in 1946, aged 33)
– 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 unit was disbanded in Algeria in 1964
– the 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
– legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) got involved in
– 16 rebels were killed

– 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, during the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67), a battle with Mexican rebels
– the battle occurred near Santiago, in the Parras region
– Captain Achilli and his detachment of the Foreign Regiment (then title of the Legion) got involved in
– 30 rebels were killed

1885, Battle of Hoa Moc
– the most fiercely fought action of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– French forces against Chinese troops and allied Black Flag Army (Chinese rebels)
– the two-day battle occurred northwest of Hanoi, Northern Vietnam (Tonkin)
– it helped to end the Siege of Tuyen Quang (Nov 1884 – Mar 1885)
– two companies of the 1st Battalion, 1er RE were involved in
– 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 got involved in
– 18 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– it was the first battle for BM5 (Task Force 5)
– a provisional unit composed of survivors from the original 5e REI
– 5e REI (est. 1930) was disbanded in China in June 1945, after fierce fighting with the Japanese in March-May 1945

1954, Battle of Trai Ngoai Khu
– a severe battle with the Viet Minh in then French Indochina
– it occurred in the Ninh Binh region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 2nd + 3rd Battalion, 5e REI (reactivated in 1949) got involved in
– that day, 5e REI suffered 182 men killed, wounded or missed

1956, in Morocco, a convoy of 3rd Battalion, 2e REI was attacked
– 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, Master Sergeant (Sergent-major, an already-cancelled rank) Vernhes or Staff Sergeant Schuster
– several legionnaires were wounded
– in reality, 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, two-day heavy clashes with local rebels ended
– they occurred in the Souk Ahras region
– legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) got involved in
– 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
Tuyen Quang is a town in Northern Vietnam (then Tonkin)
– the town has an important citadel
– during the siege, the citadel was occupied by two Foreign Legion companies
– around 390 men led by Captain Cattelin
– they were attacked by over 10,000 Black Flag Army (Pavillons noirs) Chinese rebels
– French reinforcements helped to broke the siege and fight off the enemy
– during the siege, an officer + 31 legionnaires were killed
– 6 officers + 120 legionnaires were wounded

1949, in then French Indochina, legionnaires from Parachute Company, 3e REI (the very first airborne unit of the Legion) got involved in fighting with the Viet Minh
– the fighting happened near Yen Lap, in the Viet Tri region of Northern Vietnam
– 30 Viet Minh rebels were killed

2004, Operation Carbet started
– an operation in Haiti, a country in the Caribbean
– its task was to restore and maintain order in Haiti
– legionnaires from 2nd Company, 3e REI were involved in
– it has remained the first deployment for 3e REI since its 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

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 of legionnaires from 3rd Company, 3e REI got involved in
– Lieutenant Maurice Viard + a legionnaire were killed

1956, in northeastern Algeria, a fierce battle with a large group of local rebels
– it occurred in Djebel Ahmar Kraddou of the Batna region
– legionnaires from 5th Company, 3e REI got involved in

– 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 today’s Taiwan in Southeast Asia, a new offensive was launched
– the successful offensive was aimed at Chinese troops
– part of the Keelung Campaign of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– the operations occurred near Keelung, Formosa (then title for Taiwan)
– 4th Battalion, 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e REI now) got involved in
– the legionnaires made part of a French task force, led by Colonel Duchesne (a former officer of the Legion; 10 years later, he would lead French troops and legionnaires in Madagascar)
– Second Lieutenant Bacqué + 2 legionnaires were killed
– 2 officers + 25 legionnaires were wounded

1915, 4th Regimental Combat Team dissolution
– that day, 4er RM, 1er RE was dissolved
– nicknamed as Garibaldi Legion (after Giuseppe “Peppino” Garibaldi, its founder and commander)
– consisting of Italian volunteers in the vast majority
– since late 1914, it had participated in fighting on the Western Front of WWI
– during the fighting, 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
– First Sergeant Kamencei and his legionnaires (NCO-candidates) from Leader Training Company, 1er RE got involved in
– 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
– it started in late 1870 in France
– 1st + 2nd + 5th Battalion of the Legion took part in
– 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 of Germans in the vast majority, they maintained order in Algeria

1928, Foum Zabel Tunnel finished
– that day, Foum Zabel Tunnel (also Tunnel of Legionnaire) was finished
– a 62-meter-long (203 feet) tunnel in Morocco
– the famous tunnel has been dug through a solid rock of granite by a platoon of legionnaires
– the legionnaires, led by Adjudant (Sergeant First Class for US Army) Michez, spent five months of hard working to dig the mountain
– the platoon belonged to the Sappers-Pioneers Company (CSP), 3e REI
– the famous tunnel bears the title Tunnel of Legionnaire
– it is located on the Ziz road between Midelt and Arfoud, northeastern Morocco

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 in
– about 250 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 37 rebels were imprisoned

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

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

– 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, in today’s Taiwan in Southeast Asia, heavy clashes with Chinese troops
– part of the Keelung Campaign of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– the clashes occurred at Keelung, Formosa (then title for Taiwan)
– 4th Battalion, 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e REI now) took part in
– the legionnaires made part of a French task force, led by Colonel Duchesne (a former officer of the Legion; 10 years later, he would lead French troops and legionnaires in Madagascar)
– 7 legionnaires were killed
– 30 legionnaires were wounded

1953, during Operation Sable in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– it happened near Dong Cuong, in the Hanoi region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– 2 legionnaires were killed

1958, in northeastern Algeria, a two-day operation ended for legionnaires from 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, the 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
– part of the Battle of Adrar des Ifoghas (which was part of Operation Serval)
– the attack took place in the Kidal region of northern Mali
– Camp of Rocks was a local rebel camp hidden in the rocked moonscape of the massif of Adrar des Ifoghas
– the camp was attacked by 3rd Company, 2e REP + French soldiers from 17e RGP (Parachute Engineers) + GCPs (Commandos) from 2e REP and 17e RGP
– 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 and 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, any units composed of foreigners had been forbidden within the French Army

1945, Japanese coup d’état in French Indochina (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 5e REI, a Legion regiment) all over the colony
– 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 (including surviving 5e REI legionnaires) received from France an order to leave the country and to march to China to be regrouped there
– 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 of the Ben Tre region, Southern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– 6 legionnaires were killed

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

1950, during an operation 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 from 1st + 4th Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in
– 54 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 13e DBLE suffered 4 men killed
– between them, Lieutenant Georges Renaud
– 27 men were wounded

– also in 1950, Captain Frédéric Gheysens killed
– the founder of the Képi Blanc magazine (in 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

– 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
– in the decree, King Louis-Philippe I ordered the establishment of 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
– the Legion was handed over to Spain in 1835 and dissolved in 1839
– a new Legion would be constituted in 1836
– nevertheless, the current Legion adopted the history of the 1831 Legion and declares March 1831 as its original establishment

1946, 13th Foreign Legion Half-Brigade landed in Indochina
– that day, 13e DBLE landed in then French Indochina
– the second 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)

1947, in then French Indochina, a patrol of the 12th Company, 3e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– 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 got involved in
– 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 was involved in
– 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: February 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: February 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: January 21 – 31
French Foreign Legion history