Foreign Legion events: March 21 – 31

See important historical events of the French Foreign Legion. Significant operations, battles, campaigns, deployments, the establishments or dissolutions of units… Explore the most interesting data in Legion’s history which occurred between March 21 and March 31.

 

French Foreign Legion: March 21

1921, in the Oughziat valley of Morocco, a group of legionnaires from 4e REI got involved in a fierce battle with local rebels
– after two hours of the fighting, 13 legionnaires were killed + 12 were wounded
– the remaining 13 combat-ready legionnaires fought off the attackers with fixed bayonets

1940, during WWII, GRD 97 (Division’s Recon Group, composed of 1er REC and 2e REC elements, est. Dec 1939) landed at Marseille, France
– the unit will participate in the Battle of France (May-June)
– during the battle, GRD 97 lost two thirds of its men

1954, during two days of patrolling near Isabelle, a French stronghold in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 12th Company, 3e REI got involved in several battles with the Viet Minh, as part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– 7 legionnaires were killed, 13 legionnaires were wounded or missed

– in the photo, 4e REI legionnaires marching in Morocco (1930s)

4e REI - 4 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1938 - Morocco

 

French Foreign Legion: March 22

1836, in Paris, HQ + two companies of the 1st Battalion, New Foreign Legion were constituted
– “New Legion” (today’s Legion) had to replace the original Foreign Legion (created March 1831, now called as the “Old Legion”), which was handed over to Spain in June 1835 to fight in the First Carlist War for Queen Maria Christina, Regent of Spain
– the battalion (fully established in June 1836) was finally sent to Spain to reinforce the “Old Legion”
– in November 1836, a new 1st Battalion of the “New Legion” was fully established
– in January 1839, the “Old Legion” was disbanded

1954, at Ba Sa-Ang, south of Ban Sen Phan in the Khammouane region of central Laos, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 5e REI got involved in a severe battle with a large group of the Viet Minh
– 5e REI had 48 men killed + 125 men wounded
– between them, Major De Buretel de Chassey, the battalion commander, deadly wounded when launching a second counter-attack
– between the killed, Lieutenant De Vaugrente, the 3rd Company commander
– he and a small group of his legionnaires, isolated and encircled by the Viet Minh, they fought (for several hours) till the finish, doing their own Camerone (fighting till the last bullet)

– also in 1954, on the road to Isabelle, a French stronghold in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) got involved in a fierce battle with the Viet Minh, as part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– 1er BEP had 3 officers (Lieutenants Lecocq + Bertrand + Raynaud) and 6 legionnaires killed + 20 legionnaires wounded

– also in 1954, in the Qui Nhon region of central Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 12th + 13th + 17th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) attacked a Viet Minh group
– 25 rebels were imprisoned

1959, near Uzes le Duc, between Mascara and Tiarert, north-western Algeria, legionnaires from 3e REI got involved in a severe battle with a large group of local rebels
– 45 rebels were killed

1960, at Djebel El Mahreg of the Djelfa region in northern Algeria, a battle with local rebels for legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– 21 rebels were killed

– in the picture, Major Pierre de Buretel de Chassey and Lieutenant Guy de Vaugrente, the 5e REI’s officers killed in Laos on March 22, 1954

Pierre de Buretel de Chassey - Lieutenant Guy de Vaugrente - 5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Laos

 

French Foreign Legion: March 23

1893, during the Campaign of French Sudan (1892-93), a long operation ended for Legion Sudan Company, 2e RE (2e REI now)
– the operation took place in then Wassoulou Empire of Samori Toure (the emperor), located in the region of the borders of three present-day countries – Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea (then West Africa)
– the Legion Sudan Company (some 125 men), led by Captain Destenave, made 600 miles (around 950 km) in 36 days and got involved in 14 battles with local troops of Samori Toure
– in May, the legionnaires returned to Algeria

1954, a military operation started for legionnaires from 6e REI at Djebel Selloum in the Kasserine region of western Tunisia
– during the operation, two task companies cleared the sector of local rebels
– the operation ended three days later

1956, near M’Sail in the Khenchela region of north-eastern Algeria, legionnaires from 5th Company, 3e REI got involved in a fierce battle with a large group of local rebels
– Lieutenant Deguine was severely wounded

1970, in the Ennedi region of north-eastern Chad, legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) got involved in clashes with local rebels
– after severe fighting, the legionnaires re-captured the Ounianga Kebir outpost

– in the photo, 2e REP legionnaires with a captured rebel in Chad in 1969-70

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1969 - Chad

 

French Foreign Legion: March 24

1885, near Bang Bo in the Lang Son region, on the China-Tonkin border, a fierce ten-hour battle between Chinese and French troops (Tonkin was then title for northern Vietnam)
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE + 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) took part in
– Captain Cotter + Captain Brunot + 16 legionnaires were killed
– 2 officers + 86 legionnaires were wounded, 6 legionnaires were missed

1949, the first combat jump for 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, today’s 2e REP) in its history
– during Operation Prestige, two 2e BEP companies jumped over the region of Kompong Trach in southern Cambodia, then French Indochina, to search local rebel groups

1954, Operation Oculi for legionnaires from 1st Amphibious Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) and 12th + 13th + 17th Squadron, 1er REC at Phu Cat in the Dinh Binh region of central Vietnam, then French Indochina
– during the operation, 21 rebels were killed + 6 rebels were imprisoned

– in the image, an Alligator of the 1st Amphibious Group, 1er REC in French Indochina, 1954
– note the REC legionnaires wearing light-khaki berets

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: March 25

1840, in Algiers (capital of Algeria), 4th Battalion, Foreign Legion was fully established
– Major Ferrari took command

1952, a week of military operations started for legionnaires from 1st Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) in the My Tho region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– during the operations, 34 Viet Minh rebels were imprisoned

1953, in Laos, CMLLE (Foreign Legion Heavy Mortar Company) was constituted
– an independent unit, consisting of legionnaires and local auxiliaries, to serve in the First Indochina War
– in September, it was redesignated to 1re CMMLE (Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company)
– the company, equipped with 120mm mortars, took part in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954) and was completely annihilated

1954, in the Hanoi region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in a severe battle with the Viet Minh
– during the battle, 61 Viet Minh rebels were killed

– in the picture, legionnaires of the 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE in French Indochina, 1954

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: March 26

1855, in Dijon in France, 1st Foreign Regiment, 2nd Foreign Legion was established
– Colonel Meyer took command
– 2nd Foreign Legion was open for Swiss legionnaires only and was nicknamed Swiss Legion
– it was commanded by General Ochsenbein, a Swiss officer and a close friend of Napoleon, then French Emperor
– the 2nd Legion (composed of two regiments) was dissolved in June 1856 and became 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE), Foreign Legion
– 1st Foreign Regiment consisted of the Swiss in the vast majority until 1859

1867, first battalions of the Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion) landed back in Algeria
– since March 1863, the legionnaires were involved in the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)

1917, Battle of Trana Stena started
– during the Balkans Campaign of WWI, the Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team) got involved in a successful battle with Bulgarian troops at Trana Stena, near Dihovo and Brusnik, west of Monastir (today’s Bitola) in then Serbia (today’s southern Macedonia)
– comprising 200 legionnaires, the battalion imprisoned over 160 Bulgarians
– the attacks and counter-attacks continued for next two days
– for its actions at Trana Stena, the battalion was mentioned in the order of the Army

1954, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) launched an attack on Viet Minh positions near Huguette 6, a French point d’appui (point of support)
– Viet Minh had 20 men killed
– 1er BEP had 2 legionnaires killed
– Lieutenant Desmaizières + 20 legionnaires were wounded

1991, Operation Merrain started
– a mine clearing operation was launched during the Gulf War in Kuwait City
– two companies + DINOPS (Engineer Combat Divers) of 6e REG (1er REG now) and airborne engineers from 17e RGP (a French non-Legion unit) took part in
– a 6e REG legionnaire was killed during the operation

– in the photo, 6e REG legionnaires in Kuwait City in 1991

6e REG - 6 REG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1991 - Kuwait

 

French Foreign Legion: March 27

1871, an order to send the Provisional Foreign Regiment (composed of three battalions) to Paris
– in Paris, the regiment will fight against Paris Commune, composed of radical socialists and anarchists occupying the capital of France (since March)
– until March, the regiment had participated in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)
– at the same time, Foreign Regiment (the original Legion, composed of Germans in the vast majority, not allowed to fight in France) served in Algeria

1941, Battle of Keren ended
– the city of Keren, Eritrea (East Africa) was seized
– this action was part of the East African Campaign of WWII
– British forces faced Italian troops
– during the Battle of Keren (Feb 2 – Mar 27), over 500 Allied troops and 3,000 Italians were killed
– 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) took part in the battle
– the unit was part of the Free French Forces of the British Army
– the majority of its troops were ex-legionnaires from 13e DBMLE (Feb-July 1940)
– in 1944-45, the 13e DBLE was integrated into the Legion

1948, a decree was issued
– it ordered to form a parachute battalion within the Foreign Legion
– later that year in North Africa, two Foreign Legion parachute battalions were established

1959, at Djebel Zemra of the M’Sila region in northern Algeria, a two-day operation aimed at local rebels started for legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– during two days, 67 rebels were killed, 43 rebels were imprisoned
– two very important colonels of the National Liberation Army (ALN), Amirouche and El Haouès, were among those killed

– in the image, 2e REC legionnaires discovering a rebel hideout during operations at Djebel Zemra, Algeria, March 1959

2e REC - 2 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: March 28

1863, Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion, some 1,430 men) landed in Vera Cruz, Mexico
– the legionnaires will join the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– the same year, some 800 of these legionnaires will die

1885, Battle of Ky Lua
– a battle of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– it took place at Lang Son, northern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE + 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) took part in
– Fort Ky Lua of Lang Son was attacked by a large Chinese force
– legionnaires managed to defend the fortress and fought off the enemy
– 1 officer + 2 legionnaires were killed, 3 officers + 22 legionnaires were wounded
– hundreds of Chinese troops were killed or wounded

1917, Battle of Trana Stena ended
– during the Balkans Campaign of WWI, the Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team) got involved in a successful fierce battle with Bulgarian troops at Trana Stena, near Dihovo and Brusnik, west of Monastir (today’s Bitola) in then Serbia (southern Macedonia now)
– the attacks and counter-attacks lasted three days
– comprising 200 legionnaires, the battalion imprisoned over 160 Bulgarians
– Captain Pignatelli + 24 legionnaires were killed
– 92 legionnaires were wounded
– for its actions at Trana Stena, the battalion was mentioned in the order of the Army and received a Fourragere, as the only second unit of the Foreign Legion

1954, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) + 1st Battalion, 2e REI took part in a large counter-attack on Viet Minh positions near Huguette 6, a French point d’appui (point of support)
– Viet Minh had some 350 men killed
– the French had 20 men killed + 72 men wounded

1961, at Djebel El Djehaf of the Sfissifa region of western Algeria, clashes with rebels for 2nd + 4th Motorized Company, 2e REI
– about 20 rebels were killed

– in the photo, 2e REI legionnaires during an operation in Algeria in the early 1960s

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1960 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: March 29

1886, clashes with Chinese rebels near Lao Cai, a border town in north-western Tonkin (then title for northern Vietnam)
– 4th Battalion, 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e REI now) was involved in
– a corporal was killed + a sergeant was wounded

1951, near Tan My in the An Giang region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in fighting with the Viet Minh
– 11 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1957, at Aghour El Kifene in the Tebessa region of north-eastern Algeria, severe clashes with local rebels for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– 32 rebels were killed

1958, in the Guelma region of north-eastern Algeria, a fierce battle with rebels for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– 114 rebels were killed

2013, Operation Awara ended
– 3e REI legionnaires participated in a ten-day operation in the jungle of French Guiana
– the operation was part of Operation Harpie, which was launched in 2008 to eliminate activities of illegal gold diggers

– in the picture, 3e REI legionnaires during Operation Awara, French Guiana, March 2013

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

 

French Foreign Legion: March 30

1856, Crimean War (1853-56) officially ended
– that day, Treaty of Paris was signed
– both Foreign Regiments of the Legion took part in the conflict
– the Legion had 25 officers + around 420 legionnaires killed

1954, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, Eliane 1 + Dominique 1 + Dominique 2 (French points d’appui, fortified support bases) were attacked and seized by the Viet-Minh
– during the fighting, a platoon of 1re CMMLE (Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company) was annihilated

1957, near the spot hight 88 in the El Milia region, north-eastern Algeria, a platoon from 1st Company, 3e REI got involved in a fierce battle with local rebels
– the platoon was led by Master Sergeant Szuts (of Hungarian origin)
– 2 rebels were killed, 10 firearms captured
– Master Sergeant Szuts was killed two years later
– the well-known CEFE jungle training center in French Guiana has been placed at a camp named after him, Camp Szuts

– in the photo, M8 Half Tracks and M8 Scout Cars of the 3e REI during a ceremony in El Milia, Algeria, 1957

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: March 31

1943, 2e REI deactivation
– in Morocco, 2e REI was deactivated
– its legionnaires reinforced Legion units fighting in the Tunisia Campaign of WWII
– its batteries + motorized companies were attached to 3e REI
– the regiment was re-activated in early 1946

1946, in Marseille, 3e REI (HQ + two battalions) took ship for then French Indochina
– since January, 3e REI had been stationed at Aubagne and Camp Carpiagne, southern France to train new recruits, complete its strength and expand into a full regiment again

1954, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, a fierce battle between legionnaires and the Viet Minh took place near Isabelle, a stronghold held by 3rd Battalion, 3e REI
– in the battle, 3e REI had 15 men killed or missed + 50 men wounded

1963, Foreign Legion Saharan motorized squadron and companies (1er ESPL, 2e CSPL, 3e CSPL, 4e CSPL) were disbanded
– these units consolidated with 2e REI and 4e REI and formed new motorized companies within, guarding their Saharan uniforms and traditions

– in the image, a Motorized Saharan Company legionnaire wearing the traditional Saharan uniform, in the mid-1950s
– right, the insignias of the four Saharan companies

CSPL - Saharan legionnaire - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: March 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: March 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: February 21 – 29
Foreign Legion events: February 11 – 20
French Foreign Legion history