Foreign Legion events: March 11 – 20

On this day. Explore the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between March 11 and March 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 an image.

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

 

French Foreign Legion: March 11

1834, in northeastern Algeria, a rebel attack
– the attack occurred close to Bougie, in the Kabylie region
– it was aimed at a French task force
– 7th Battalion (Poles), Foreign Legion made part of the force
– the legionnaires with fixed bayonets counter-attacked
– the enemy was successfully fought off

1898, Battle of Vohinghezo
– a battle in Madagascar (Indian Ocean)
– between French troops and local rebels
– the battle took place in the Toliara region
– 1st Company, Foreign Legion Task Force participated
– a Foreign Legion officer was killed
– Captain Louis Flayelle
– he commanded the French troops during the battle
– Lieutenant Francisque Montagnole + several legionnaires were also killed

1946, First action for 13e DBLE in Indochina
– in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– aimed at a patrol of the 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE
– Foreign Legion Half-Brigade
– the attack occurred in the Hoc Mon district of Saigon
– the capital of Southern Vietnam
– Major Louis Dumas + 2 legionnaires were killed
– Major Dumas was the commander of the 3rd Battalion
– 13e DBLE landed in Indochina only a day ago
– it was their very first action there

1951, Operation Pamplemousse ended
– an operation during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– it took place in the Vinh Long region of Southern Vietnam
– two Foreign Legion units were involved
– 4th Battalion, 13e DBLE
1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– during two days, about 100 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1957, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– they occurred in the Khenchela region
– legionnaires from 13e DBLE were involved
– 23 rebels were killed

– also in 1957, in northern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– legionnaires from 3rd Squadron, 1er REC were involved
– the skirmish took place in the Aumale region
– 10 rebels were killed

1961, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– at Oued Irdjana, in the Djidjelli region
1er REP (Parachute Regiment) participated
– 15 rebels were killed

– in the picture, Captain Flayelle + legionnaires in Madagascar in the late 1890s

Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1898 - Louis Flayelle - Madagascar

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 12

1884, Capture of Bac Ninh
– in Tonkin, a battle with the Chinese troops
– part of the Bac Ninh Campaign (March 1884)
– the campaign was part of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– a conflict during France’s Tonkin Campaign (1883-86)
– Tonkin was the then title for Northern Vietnam
– that day, a French assault on Bac Ninh
– an important city in Tonkin
– two Foreign Legion battalions participated
– 1st + 2nd Battalion, Foreign Legion
– part of the French column led by General De Négrier
– they faced some 20,000 Chinese troops
– the battle took all day
– in the evening, the Chinese retreated
– Bac Ninh was successfully captured
– 2 legionnaires were killed
– 12 legionnaires were wounded

1951, Battle of Than Huong
– in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the fierce battle occurred near Thanh Huong
– in the Quang Tri region of Central Vietnam
– 4th Battalion, 2e REI were involved

– in the image, the entrance to Bac Ninh, 1884

Bac Ninh - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1884 - Indochina

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 13

1833, in northeastern Algeria, an operation aimed at local rebels
– the operation occurred close to Bone, in the Constantine region
– 6th Battalion (Belgians and Dutchmen), Foreign Legion took part
– 47 rebels were killed

1917, in Morocco, a battle with local rebels
– the battle took place near Bab Timalou, in the Taza region
– 1st Mounted Company, 1er RE were involved
– 4 legionnaires were wounded

1954, Battle of Dien Bien Phu started
– that day, Battle of Dien Bien Phu started
– the best known battle of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– a 56-day action by the end of the war
– also seen as the decisive battle of the war
– it occurred in the valley of Dien Bien Phu (Muong Thanh valley)
– a large basin located in northwestern part of Vietnam, near Laos
– French troops against the Viet Minh
– a left-wing nationalist movement
– up to 14,000 French troops, led by Colonel De Castries
– up to 50,000 Viet Minh troops, led by General Giap
– the garrison of Dien Bien Phu had to serve as a military base for French operations in the remote, mountainous region
– in support of Laos (a country freshly attacked by the Viet Minh)
– however, the Viet Minh encircled the camp and attacked it
– the French suffered a defeat
– up to 2,300 French troops are known to be killed
– between them, many legionnaires
– more than 11,700 French troops were missed or imprisoned
– between them, 5,200 wounded men
– only 3,290 men survived the imprisonment (including legionnaires)

– the battle started by the Attack on Beatrice
– a stronghold in northeastern part of the camp
– held by legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE
– after many hours of heavy fighting, Beatrice was overrun
– less than 200 officers and legionnaires survived the attack
– over 300 men of the battalion were killed or missed
– between the killed, Major Pegot, the battalion’s commander

Lieutenant Colonel Jules Gaucher was also killed
– then the 13e DBLE’s commanding officer
– he was killed during initial enemy shelling
– having served with the Legion since 1931
– Lt Col Gaucher spent over 10 years in Indochina with the Legion
– in 1945-47, he led the survivors of the original 5e REI, attacked by the Japanese

– in the pictures, French garrison of Dien Bien Phu + Lt Colonel Jules Gaucher when being decorated at Dien Bien Phu in February 1954 + with some of his 13e DBLE officers at Beatrice in March 1954, a few days before he was killed
– bearing the khaki beret, Major Pegot, the 3rd Battalion’s commander killed the same night as Lt Col Gaucher

Dien Bien Phu - French Garrison - Camp - March 1954 - First Indochina War

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Dien Bien Phu - Lt Colonel Jules Gaucher

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 14

1954, Attack on Gabrielle
– an action in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
Gabrielle was a French defensive position
– the northernmost defensive position at Dien Bien Phu
– held by an Algerian battalion
– also by legionnaires from 2e CMMLE (Mixed Mortar Company)
– in the afternoon, Gabrielle was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the fighting took all night
– in the morning, Gabrielle was lost
– only a few Algerians and 2e CMMLE legionnaires survived
– the Viet Minh suffered heavy losses, however
– thousands of Viet Minh men are estimated to be killed or wounded

1959, in northeastern Algeria, a two-day operation started
– carried out by legionnaires from 3e REI
– it took place near Tircine, in the Saida region
– 30 rebels would be killed

1961, in western Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– the battle occurred at Djebel Goursifane
– west of Hadjeret El Meguil, at the border with Morocco
– 3rd + 5th + 6th Motorized Company, 2e REI were involved
– the fierce battle took six hours
– 31 rebels were killed
– 5 rebels were captured

– in the photo, 3e REI legionnaires during an operation in Algeria, 1959

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 15

1844, Battle of M’Chounech
– a battle in the Biskra region, northeastern Algeria
– between French troops and local rebels
– to seize a rebel village of M’Chounech (M’Chouneche now)
– the village was held by Emir Abd El Kader
– the well-known rebel leader
– with his light infantry troops and rebels (around 3,000 men)
– French troops launched an attack to seize the village
– the French were led by Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale
– the son of France’s King Louis-Philippe I
– the king who established the Foreign Legion in 1831
– 1st Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) participated
– the battalion was led by Major De Chabrières
– the future famous commander of the 2e RE
– as Colonel, he would be killed in Italy in 1859
– that day, the village was successfully seized

1952, Battle of Noi Thon
– a battle with the Viet Minh
– in Northern Vietnam of then French Indochina
– it took place in the Thai Binh region, south of Hanoi
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) were involved
– 52 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1955, 26th Engineering Battalion dissolution
– in Indochina, 26e BG was disbanded
– a French combined engineering unit
– comprising French sappers and legionnaires
– originally formed in France in late 1945 as 16e CEG
– Engineering Maintenance Company
– to support French troops in then French Indochina
– in 1952, the company was reinforced and became a mixed battalion
– at that time, several combined engineer battalions served in Indochina

1956, Last legionnaires to leave Indochina
– that day, 2nd Battalion, 5e REI left Indochina for North Africa
– the very last Legion unit stationed in Southeast Asia
– legionnaires had served in Indochina since 1883

1958, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with rebels started
– for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– they occurred near El Rhedir, in the Philippeville region
– in three days, 48 rebels were killed

– in the image, a legionnaire of the 26th Engineering Battalion with his bulldozer in then French Indochina

26e BG - 26 BG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Indochina

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 16

1948, Battle of Ban Nam
– a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– in Northern Vietnam of then French Indochina
– it occurred near Ban Nam, in the That Khe region
– 2nd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 33 rebels were killed
– 11 legionnaires were also killed, however
– 29 legionnaires were wounded

1949, in then French Indochina, multiple Viet Minh attacks
– they occurred in the That Khe region of Northern Vietnam
– aimed at three outposts held by 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– two outposts were overrun by the Viet Minh
– the third, Pont Bascou outpost, was eventually saved
– the battalion suffered heavy casualties
– Lieutenant Hervé Le Gouaille was killed
– tens of legionnaires were killed, wounded or missed

1959, in northwestern Algeria, an operation ended
– conducted by 5e REI legionnaires
– the operation took place near Ain Beroua, in the Tlemcen region
– 5 rebels were killed

1961, Battle of Djebel Ahmar Khaddou
– a fierce battle with local rebels
– in the Batna region of northeastern Algeria
– between Biskra and Khenchela
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– 33 rebels were killed
– however, 7 legionnaires were also killed
– 15 legionnaires were wounded

– in the picture, 5e REI legionnaires during an operation in Algeria, 1959

5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 17

1919, in northern Russia, a battle with Bolsheviks
– part of the Archangel Campaign (1918-20)
– an international intervention against Bolsheviks
– the fierce battle occurred near Arkhangelsk
– Foreign Legion North Russia Battalion took part
– 2nd Company, led by Captain Boyet
– a number of enemy were killed

1947, in then French Indochina, Operation Henri ended
– a week operation aimed at the Viet Minh
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– it took place in the Quang Nam region of Central Vietnam
– two Foreign Legion units were involved
– 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– 166 rebels were killed

1956, in northern Morocco, an important military operation
– to clear the sector of rebels
– the operation occurred near Ras El Dar, in the Taounate region
– carried out by 1st Battalion, 4e REI
– a large group of local rebels was annihilated

– also in 1956, Fourragère of Military Medal for 3e REI
– that day, the 3e REI was awarded
– with the Fourragère of Military Medal in yellow-green colors
– for the mentions gained during the war in French Indochina
– 3e REI has remained one of the two most decorated regiments of the French Army

1959, in northwestern Algeria, a fierce battle with local rebels
– it occurred near Prevost-Paradol in the Tiaret region
– legionnaires from 3e REI were involved
– 17 rebels were killed

– in the photo, in French Guiana, a 3e REI sapper-pioneer bearing Fourrageres, including the Fourragère of Military Medal (yellow)

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2013 - Guiana

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 18

1853, First French infantry troops on camels
– that day, French soldiers mounted on camels for the very first time
– about 200 legionnaires of the 2e RLE
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (2e REI now)
– they were riding camels between Ouargla and Djioud
– some 20 miles (32 kilometers) in the Sahara

1951, 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion reactivation
– in then French Indochina, 1er BEP was reactivated
– annihilated in the Battle of Route Coloniale 4 in October 1950
– during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the first French parachute battalion ever lost in action
– 1er BEP was re-formed with 500 men of the 3e BEP
– 3e BEP was a unit based in Algeria, future 3e REP
– 1er BEP was redesignated to 1er REP in 1955
– in 1961, the 1er REP was early dissolved
– due to its active participation in the Generals’ Putsch in Algiers

1955, First action for 3e REI back in North Africa
– in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– it took place at Djebel Taourirt, in the Khenchela region
– 1st Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 2 legionnaires were killed
– 4 legionnaires were wounded
– the very first military action for the 3e REI back in North Africa
– after nine years spent in French Indochina

1957, in northeastern Algeria, heavy clashes with local rebels
– for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– they occurred at Djebel Mesloula
– between Souk Ahras and Tebessa
– 20 rebels were killed

1987, Attack on L’Historil
– that day in Djibouti, a bomb attack
– aimed at L’Historil, a restaurant
– located in the capital of Djibouti, Horn of Africa
– then garrison town of the 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– at least 11 people were killed
– including 5 Frenchmen + 3 Germans
– 50 people were wounded
– between the killed, Staff Sergeant Durek from 13e DBLE

– in the image, 1er BEP legionnaires during a skirmish in French Indochina, early 1950s

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Indochina

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 19

1946, in then French Indochina, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– near Khanh Hoa, in the Nha Trang region of Central Vietnam
– legionnaires from 2e REI were involved
– led by Second Lieutenant Barthe
– one of the first actions for legionnaires in Indochina after WWII
– that day, many Viet Minh rebels were killed or wounded

1958, Battle of Djebel Marioun
– in northern Algeria, two-day heavy clashes with local rebels ended
– they occurred at Djebel Marioun, in the Guelma region
– legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) participated
– 118 rebels were killed
– 12 legionnaires were also killed

1960, in northern Algeria, a three-day military operation started
– it took place in the El Milia region
– legionnaires from 3e REI were involved
– 20 rebels were killed

1962, Algerian War ended
– that day, the Algerian War (1954-62) was over
– the war between France and North African rebels
– an official ceasefire came into force
– a result of the Évian Accords treaty (signed on March 18)
– however, military operations in Algeria continued until September
– the end of the war resulted in the Algerian independence
– France eventually left North Africa
– also, the Foreign Legion had to leave its homeland, Algeria
– it moved to France, after 130 years spent there

– in the picture, 1er REP reviewed by General Massu at Camp of Zeralda, Algeria, 1958

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

 
 

French Foreign Legion: March 20

1837, Battle of Larraintzar
– that day in Spain, a fierce battle with Carlists occurred
– in the village of Larraintzar, Navarre region
– “Old” Foreign Legion (led by Colonel Conrad) took part
– the original Legion established in 1831
– during the battle, the enemy was successfully fought off
– over 50 officers and legionnaires were killed, however
– including Lieutenant Sokaski (of Polish origin)

– “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
– the war in Spain reduced significantly the Old Legion
– it was officially disbanded in Spain in early December 1838

1945, during WWII in Indochina, a battle with the Japanese
– the battle occurred in Northern Vietnam
– close to the border with China
– Captain Aspirot and his 3rd Company, 5e REI were involved
– the company lost 27 men, including 10 men killed
– the unit was attacked during their exhausting march to China
– because of the Japanese occupying then French Indochina

– also in 1945, 1er REC entered Germany
– during the final stage of WWII in Europe
– 1er REC crossed the French border and entered Germany
– 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment led by Lt Colonel Miquel
– the regiment was the very first Legion unit to enter Germany
– 1er REC would continue in operations against German forces

1956, First action for 5e REI in North Africa
– in northwestern Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– it took place at Djebel Mahassar, close to Marnia
– a convoy of 5e REI, including their commanding officer, was attacked by a group of local rebels
– the legionnaires launched a counter-attack
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– Captain René Cozette was killed, however
– he became the very first 5e REI officer killed in Africa
– for 5e REI, this battle was the very first action in Africa
– before 1956, 5e REI had only served in then French Indochina
– 5e REI legionnaires landed in Africa only a month ago

1959, in northwestern Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– near Frenda, in the Tiaret region
– 4th Company, 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– 29 rebels were killed

– in the photo, Captain Cozette, the first killed officer of the 5e REI in North Africa + 5e REI’s M3 Scout Car and Jeep during an operation in Algeria in 1956

5e REI - 5 REI - René Cozette - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Algeria

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: March 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: March 21 – 31
French Foreign Legion history