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, during an operation 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 successfully fought off the enemy with fixed bayonets

1898, Battle of Vohinghezo
– in Madagascar (Indian Ocean), a battle between French troops and local rebels
– it took place in the Toliara region
– legionnaires from 1st Company, Foreign Legion Task Force participated in
– Captain Louis Flayelle was killed
– a Foreign Legion officer, he was commanding 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, the first military action for 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– a reconnaissance patrol of the 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack occurred in the Hoc Mon district of Saigon, 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

1951, Operation Pamplemousse ended
– an operation during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the operation took place in the Vinh Long region of Southern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 4th Battalion, 13e DBLE + 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) participated in
– 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 got involved in
– 23 rebels were killed

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

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

Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1898 - Louis Flayelle - Madagascar

 

French Foreign Legion: March 12

1884, Capture of Bac Ninh
Bac Ninh is a city in today’s Northern Vietnam
– in the 1880’s, it was an important town occupied by around 22,000 Chinese troops
– Capture of Bac Ninh was part of the Tonkin Campaign (Tonkin was then title for Northern Vietnam), which started the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– attacked by a French composite column, led by General De Négrier (the famous commander of the Legion in Algeria)
– some 10,000 men, including two Legion battalions
– a battle took place between the Chinese and French troops
– the Chinese left their positions
– in the evening, the town was captured
– during the Capture of Bac Ninh, 2 legionnaires were killed
– 12 legionnaires were wounded

1951, Battle of Than Huong
– in then French Indochina, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred near Thanh Huong, in the Quang Tri region of Central Vietnam
– 4th Battalion, 2e REI got involved in

– 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 in
– 47 rebels were killed

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

1954, Battle of Dien Bien Phu started
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– 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 (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 13e DBLE’s commanding officer
– he was killed during initial 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 he was decorated at Dien Bien Phu in February 1954 and 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 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
– the northernmost stronghold of the French camp of Dien Bien Phu
– held by an Algerian battalion
– also legionnaires from 2e CMMLE (Mixed Mortar Company)
– in the afternoon, Gabrielle was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the fighting took all the 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 for legionnaires from 3e REI
– it took place near Tircine, in the Saida region
– 30 rebels were killed

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

1855, in the Crimea, during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55) of the Crimean War, Russian troops attacked French positions near Fort Quarantaine
– aimed at the trenches held by 2nd Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, 2e REI now), led by Major L’Hériller
– legionnaires launched a successful counter-attack with fixed bayonets
– they managed to defend their positions
– the enemy was fought off
– 6 legionnaires were killed, however
– 2 officers (including Captain Chardin) + 8 legionnaires were wounded
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

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

1955, 26th Engineering Battalion dissolution
– in Indochina, 26e BG was dissolved
– a mixed engineering unit comprising French engineers and legionnaires
– originally formed in France in late 1945 as 16e CEG (Engineering Maintenance Company)
– to support French troops in then French Indochina
– in the majority, the company consisted of German POWs (prisoners of war) held in France
– in 1952, the company was reinforced and became a mixed battalion
– at that time, several mixed 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, severe clashes with local 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

1961, in western Algeria, clashes with rebels for 2e REI
– they took place near Djeniene Bou Rezg, in the Ain Sefra region
– 3rd + 6th Motorized Company, 2e REI got involved in
– some 30 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

1855, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Foreign Legion
– that day in France, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Foreign Legion was established
– stationed in Besancon
– Colonel De Chabrieres took command
– the future commanding officer of the 2e RE (2e REI now), killed in Italy in 1859
– 2nd Foreign Legion was formed in early 1855
– nicknamed Swiss Legion, open for Swiss legionnaires only
– commanded by General Ochsenbein, a Swiss officer and a close friend of Napoleon, then French Emperor
– 2nd Legion (composed of two regiments) was dissolved in June 1856
– its men formed the 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE)
– 1st Foreign Regiment consisted of the Swiss in the vast majority until 1859

1948, Battle of Ban Nam
– a fierce battle with the Viet Minh in then French Indochina
– it occurred near Ban Nam, in the That Khe region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 3e REI were involved in
– 33 men of the Viet Minh 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 legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– two outposts were overrun by the Viet Minh
– the third, Pont Bascou outpost, was managed to defend
– Lieutenant Hervé Le Gouaille was killed
– tens of legionnaires were killed, wounded or missed

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

– 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

1947, in then French Indochina, a military operation ended
– it took place in the Tourane region of Central Vietnam
– legionnaires from 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) and 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved in
– 166 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1956, in northern Morocco, an important military operation to clear the sector
– it took place near Ras El Dar in the Taounate region
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 4e REI participated in
– during the operation, a large group of local rebels was annihilated

– also in 1956, 3e REI awarded with Fourragère of Military Medal
– 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 a group of local rebels
– it occurred near Prevost-Paradol in the Tiaret region
– legionnaires from 3e REI got involved in
– 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, French infantry troops riding camels for the first time
– in Algeria, a French column passed 20 miles (32 kilometers) in the Sahara
– some 200 legionnaires, riding camels between Ouargla and Djioud
– the legionnaires served with elite companies of the 2e RLE (2e REI now)
– it was the very first time when French infantry troops were riding camels

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
– part of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– the first French parachute battalion lost in combat
– 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, two times annihilated in Indochina, would be dissolved because of its active participation in the Generals’ Putsch in Algiers (April 1961)

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
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– 2 legionnaires were killed
– 4 legionnaires were wounded
– it was the first military action for the 3e REI back in North Africa, after having left 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 the L’Historil Cafe
– 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 1950’s

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
– Second Lieutenant Barthe and his legionnaires from 2e REI got involved in
– many Viet Minh rebels were killed or wounded

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

1962, Algerian War ended
– the war between France and North African rebels
– since 1954
– that day, an official ceasefire came into force
– a result of the Évian Accords treaty (signed on March 18)
– however, military operations in Algeria would be conducted until September
– the end of the war resulted in Algerian independence and France’s withdrawal from North Africa
– also, the Foreign Legion had to leave its homeland, Algeria
– it moved to France, after 131 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
– a fierce battle in the village of Larraintzar, Navarre region, Spain
– the original “Old” Foreign Legion (led by Colonel Conrad) against Carlists
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– over 50 officers and legionnaires were killed, however
– including Lieutenant Sokaski
– the original “Old Legion” (around 4,100 legionnaires) was handed over to Spain in June 1835 to fight in the First Carlist War for Maria Christina, Regent of Spain
– in Spain in December 1838, “Old Legion” was disbanded
– tens of its survivors joined the “New Legion” (the current one), formed in 1836

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 got involved in
– 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 last phase of WWII in Europe, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) crossed the French border and entered Germany
– 1er REC (commanded by Lt Colonel Miquel) was the very first Legion unit to enter Germany
– the unit 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 first 5e REI officer killed in Africa
– for 5e REI, this battle was the very first action in North Africa
– between 1930-56, 5e REI had only served in then French Indochina
– its 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) got involved in
– 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