Foreign Legion events: March 21 – 31

On this day. Discover the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between March 21 and March 31. 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 21

1921, Battle of Oued Oughziat
– in Morocco, a fierce battle with local rebels
– it took place in the Oughziat valley
– legionnaires from 9th Company, 4e REI got involved in
– led by Lieutenant Lamargue
– after two hours of the fighting, only 13 combat-ready legionnaires
– with fixed bayonets, they fought off the enemy
– 13 legionnaires were killed
– 12 legionnaires were wounded

1954, near Isabelle, clashes ended for 3e REI
– clashes with the Viet Minh in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– near the southernmost stronghold of the French camp of Dien Bien Phu
– held by 3rd Battalion, 3e REI
– the clashes took two days
– legionnaires from 12th Company, 3e REI got involved in
– 7 legionnaires were killed
– 13 legionnaires were wounded or missed

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

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

 

French Foreign Legion: March 22

1954, Battle of Ba Sa-Ang
– a severe battle with the Viet Minh in then French Indochina
– at Ba Sa-Ang, south of Ban Sen Phan, in the Khammouane region of Laos
– Major De Buretel de Chassey and his 1st Battalion, 5e REI got involved in
– the battle took many hours
– heavily outnumbered, the 5e REI suffered many casualties
– 48 men were killed + 125 men wounded
– Major Louis de Buretel de Chassey was deadly wounded (he died a week later)
– between the killed, Lieutenant Guy Guerin de Vaugrente (3rd Company commander)
– he and his legionnaires were cut off by the Viet Minh
– isolated and surrounded, they made their Camerone
– they resisted for many hours, until the finish, to the last man

– also in 1954, in then French Indochina, heavy clashes with the Viet Minh
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– in the northwestern part of Vietnam, then French Indochina
– they took place on the road to Isabelle
– the southernmost stronghold of the French camp of Dien Bien Phu
– legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) got involved in
– 1er BEP suffered many casualties
– Lieutenant Lecocq + Lieutenant Bertrand + Lieutenant Raynaud were killed
– 6 legionnaires were also killed
– 20 legionnaires were wounded
– since that time, Isabelle was cut off from the rest of the camp

– also in 1954, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– in the Qui Nhon region of Central Vietnam
– 12th + 13th + 17th Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) took part in
– 25 rebels were imprisoned

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

1960, in northern Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– at Djebel El Mahreg of the Djelfa region
– legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in
– 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, in then French Sudan, a long operation ended
– part of the Campaign of French Sudan (1892-93)
– it took place in then Wassoulou Empire, located in the region of the borders of three present-day countries – Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea (then West Africa)
– the empire was ruled by Samori Toure, the emperor
– the operation was conducted by Legion Sudan Company
– 123 men led by Captain Destenave
– during the operation, Legion Sudan Company made 600 miles (around 950 km) in 36 days and got involved in 14 battles with the troops of Samori Toure
– in May, the legionnaires left Sudan for Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria, then main garrison of the Legion
– in June, the company was dissolved

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

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

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

– in the photo, 2e REP legionnaires with their Colonel Lacaze in Chad, in late 1969

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

 

French Foreign Legion: March 24

1885, Battle of Bang Bo
– a fierce ten-hour battale between French troops and the Chinese
– part of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– it took place at Bang Bo, in the Lang Son region of Northern Vietnam, on the China-Vietnam border
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE + 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) were involved in
– Captain Patrick Cotter (an Irish officer) + Captain Jules Brunet were killed
– 16 legionnaires were also killed
– 2 officers + 86 legionnaires were wounded

1949, First combat jump for 2e BEP
– that day, the first combat jump for 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, today’s 2e REP)
– it took place in southern Cambodia, then French Indochina
– during Operation Prestige, two 2e BEP companies jumped over the region of Kompong Trach to search local rebel groups
– 2e BEP landed in French Indochina in early February 1949 to participate in the First Indochina War (1946-54)

1954, Operation Oculi
– an operation in then French Indochina
– it took place at Phu Cat, in the Dinh Binh region of Central Vietnam
– 1st Amphibious Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) was involved in
– 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 cavalry legionnaires wearing light-khaki berets

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

 

French Foreign Legion: March 25

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

1953, Foreign Legion Heavy Mortar Company
– in Laos, CMLLE was constituted
– an independent artillery unit, consisting of legionnaires and local auxiliaries
– it would participate in the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– in September 1953, it was redesignated
1re CMMLE (Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company) was formed
– the company was equipped with 120 mm mortars
– the unit took part in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954) and was annihilated

1954, in then French Indochina, a severe battle with the Viet Minh
– close to Hanoi, Northern Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in
– 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

1867, Return to North Africa from Mexico
– that day, first battalions of the Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion) landed back in Algeria
– since March 1863, the legionnaires had been involved in the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– over 1,500 officers and legionnaires died in Mexico
– mostly of yellow fever/black vomit

1917, Battle of Trana Stena
– part of the Monastir Offensive on the Macedonian Front
– a campaign during the Balkans Campaign of WWI
– it took place in then Serbia (today’s southern Macedonia)
– at Trana Stena, near Dihovo and Brusnik, west of Monastir (today’s Bitola)
– French troops, including Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team) got involved in
– legionnaires faced Bulgarian troops
– Bulgarians were part of Central Powers, alongside Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire
– the battalion consisted of only 200 legionnaires
– nevertheless, its men imprisoned over 160 Bulgarians
– the attacks and counter-attacks would continue for next two days
– for its actions at Trana Stena, the battalion was mentioned in the order of the Army

1954, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
– they occurred in the Dien Bien Phu valley of Northern Vietnam
– near Huguette 6, one of the French strongpoints of the Huguette stronghold
– legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) got involved in
– 20 Viet Minh men were killed

1991, Operation Merrain started
– a mine clearing operation during the Gulf War
– it took place in Kuwait City, Kuwait
– 6e REG (1er REG now) was involved in
– two companies + DINOPS (Engineer Combat Divers)
– an NCO of the 6e REG 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, Provisional Foreign Regiment to move to Paris
– that day in France, an order was placed
– Provisional Foreign Regiment had to move to Paris
– a provisional unit, composed of three Legion battalions
– its mission was to restore order in the capital of France
– it would be involved in operations against the Paris Commune
– a revolutionary government of armed radical socialists and anarchists
– between November-March, the regiment had participated in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) in France
– because of heavy losses during the war, the unit was composed of French conscripts in the majority since mid-December
– 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
– in Eritrea (East Africa), the city of Keren was seized
– 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 would be integrated into the Legion

1948, Foreign Parachute Battalion
– that day, 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
– a third one was formed in 1949

1960, Colonel Lotfi killed
– Colonel Lotfi was an important Algerian rebel leader
– he was killed by legionnaires from 4e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company)
– during a military operation aimed at his group
– the operation took place in the mountains near Colomb Bechar, western Algeria
– several rebels were also killed
– between them, Commandant Faradj, Lotfi’s deputy

– in the image, a column of 4e CSPL in Colomb Bechar, Algeria, in the early 1960’s
– in the smaller image, rebel leader Colonel Lotfi’s captured military ID card

4e CSPL - 4 CSPL - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1960 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: March 28

1863, Foreign Regiment landed in Mexico
– that day, Foreign Regiment landed in Vera Cruz, Mexico
– some 1,430 men led by Colonel Pierre Jeanningros
– Foreign Regiment was then title for the Legion
– the legionnaires would join the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– the same year, some 800 of these legionnaires would die

1885, Battle of Ky Lua
– a battle of the Sino-French War (1884-85)
– it took place at Lang Son, Northern Vietnam
– near the border with China
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE + 3rd Battalion, 2e RE (2e REI now) took part in
– Fort Ky Lua of Lang Son was attacked by Chinese troops
– legionnaires managed to defend the fortress
– the enemy was fought off
– an 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
– part of the Monastir Offensive on the Macedonian Front
– a campaign during the Balkans Campaign of WWI
– it took place in then Serbia (today’s southern Macedonia)
– at Trana Stena, near Dihovo and Brusnik, west of Monastir (today’s Bitola)
– French troops, including Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team) got involved in
– legionnaires faced Bulgarian troops
– Bulgarians were part of Central Powers, alongside Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire
– the attacks and counter-attacks took three days
– the battalion consisted of only 200 legionnaires
– nevertheless, its men imprisoned over 160 Bulgarians
– Captain Pignatelli + 24 legionnaires were killed, however
– 92 legionnaires were wounded
– for its actions at Trana Stena, the battalion was mentioned in the order of the Army
– it would obtain a Fourragere, as the only second unit of the Foreign Legion

1954, Battle on the West
– an operation in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– aimed at Viet Minh anti-aircraft artillery
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
– it took place near Huguette 6, a French strongpoint
– one of the few French victories at Dien Bien Phu
– conducted by a French composite task force
– consisting of four battalions + artillery + M24 tank platoon
– between them, two battalions of the Legion
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP) + 1st Battalion, 2e REI
– during the battle, a Viet Minh battalion was annihilated
– about 350 Viet Minh men were killed
– the French suffered 20 men killed + 72 men wounded

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

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

– in the photo, 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 29

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

1957, in northeastern Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– it occurred at Aghour El Kifene, in the Tebessa region
– legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) got involved in
– 32 rebels were killed
– Lieutenant Claude Brehier was killed, however

1958, in northeastern Algeria, heavy fighting with rebels
– it took place in the Guelma region
– legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) got involved in
– 114 rebels were killed

2013, Operation Awara ended
– a ten-day operation in French Guiana
– part of Operation Harpie (2008-present)
– it took place in the jungle near the border with Brazil
– 3e REI legionnaires participated in
– the operation had 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 ended
– that day, Treaty of Paris was signed
– Crimean War (1853-56) officially ended
– a conflict between Russia and an alliance of France, Britain, Ottoman Empire and Sardinia
– it took place in the Crimea, Russian Empire
– both Foreign Regiments of the Legion were involved in
– the Legion sufferred many casualties
– 25 officers + around 420 legionnaires were killed

1954, Battle of Five Hills
– a battle in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
– French troops against the Viet Minh
– a severe assault aimed at five hills held by the French
– many hours of intense fighting
– two hills were overrun by the Viet Minh
– other three hills were managed to defend
– three Legion units took part in
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later 1er REP)
– a platoon of 1re CMMLE (Mortar Mixed Company)
– a platoon of 1re CEPML (Heavy Mortar Parachute Company)
– 16 men from the 1er BEP were killed or missed
– a platoon of 1re CMMLE was annihilated
– Lieutenant René Colcy was killed (its platoon leader)

1957, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– near Hill 88, in the El Milia region
– Adjudant Szuts and his platoon from 1st Company, 3e REI got involved in
– 2 rebels were killed, other rebels were captured
– Adjudant Szuts would be killed two years later
– he was one of the three Hungarian senior NCOs joining the Legion around 1946 and killed within two weeks of May 1959
– today in French Guiana, Camp Szuts, the 3e REI’s well-known CEFE jungle training center is named after him

– 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, 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment deactivation
– in Morocco, 2e REI was deactivated
– established in 1841
– the longest-serving unit of the Legion
– its legionnaires reinforced Legion units fighting in the Tunisia Campaign of WWII
– its batteries + motorized companies were attached to the 3e REI
– the regiment was re-activated in early 1946

1946, 3e REI to leave France for Indochina
– in Marseille in France, 3e REI took ship
– it would deploy to French Indochina
– HQ + two battalions
– the regiment had been stationed in France since January
– at Aubagne and Camp Carpiagne
– it trained new recruits there
– the unit had to complete its strength and expand into a full regiment again before leaving for Indochina
– a third battalion would join the unit in Indochina a few weeks later

1954, Isolation of Isabelle
– clashes in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
– French troops against the Viet Minh
– the clashes took place close to Isabelle, a French stronghold
– 4 miles (6 km) distant from the French camp’s HQ
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– supported by M24 tanks
– they wanted to maintain the connection with Dien Bien Phu
– however, the Viet Minh had already cut off the road
– also, large trenches were built by the Viet Minh
– a fierce battle between legionnaires and the Viet Minh took place
– in the battle, 3e REI suffered casualties
– 15 men were killed or missed
– about 50 men were wounded, including Captain Picard
– since that day, Isabelle became an independent, isolated stronghold

1963, Legion’s Saharan motorized units dissolved
– that day, Foreign Legion Saharan motorized squadron (1er ESPL, ex-1re CSPL company) and companies (2e CSPL, 3e CSPL, 4e CSPL) were dissolved
– organized in Algeria in 1940-55
– holding the traditions of Saharan units
– they took part in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– the units would consolidate with 2e REI and 4e REI
– they would form their new motorized companies
– they were guarding their Saharan uniforms and traditions until 1967
– then, the Legion had to leave North Africa

– 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: April 01 – 10
French Foreign Legion history