Foreign Legion events: April 11 – 20

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 notable events of the Foreign Legion which occurred between April 11 and April 20.

 

French Foreign Legion: April 11

1948, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– at Hill of Deo Giang, in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Company, 3e REI got involved in
– 3 legionnaires were killed

1954, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh near Huguette 6
– in Northern Vietnam, part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
Huguette 6 was a stronghold of the French camp of Dien Bien Phu
– then most outlying stronghold, located north of the French HQ
– held by legionnaires from 2e REI and 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– less than 250 men
– that day, heavy clashes with the Viet Minh
– 13e DBLE legionnaires got involved in
– Lieutenant Henri Legros was killed
– several legionnaires were also killed

1956, in northwestern Algeria, a battle with local rebels ended
– a fierce two-day battle
– near Fellaoucene, in the Tlemcen region
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 5e REI got involved in
– 71 rebels were killed

2011, in Ivory Coast, an operation to maintain order
– that day, 3rd Company, 2e REI was sent to Abidjan, the capital
– it would maintain order in the streets
– part of an ongoing operation to arrest Laurent Gbagbo (ex-president)

– in the image, 2e REI legionnaires parading at Abidjan, Ivory Coast in April 2011

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2011 - Ivory Coast

 

French Foreign Legion: April 12

1916, in Morocco, clashes with local rebels
– it took place in the Khenifra region
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RE got involved in
– 2 legionnaires were killed
– 3 legionnaires were wounded

1947, in then French Indochina, a Legion outpost was attacked by the Viet Minh
– occupied by legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– in the Quang Nam region of Central Vietnam
– the fierce attack took several hours
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– 67 Viet Minh attackers were killed
– 10 attackers were captured
– 5 legionnaires were also killed

1952, in then French Indochina, a week-long operation ended
– in the Tonkin-Delta of Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 5e REI participated in
– about 200 Viet Minh rebels were killed

– in the photo, 13e DBLE legionnaires with a wounded comrade in French Indochina, in the late 1940’s

13e DBLE - 13e DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - French Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: April 13

1948, in then French Indochina, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– in the Quang Ngai region of Central Vietnam
– 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in
– 80 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 20 attackers were captured

2015, in Niger, a week-long military operation ended
– a reconnaissance-in-force operation
– part of Operation Berkhane
– it took place in the Salvador Pass of northern Niger
– a deserted, remote Saharan region
– located on the Niger’s border with Libya and Algeria
– the operation was aimed at radical islamist groups
– also aimed at local rebel/criminal gangs
– carrying out drug and arms trafficking, to support terrorist groups
– legionnaires were involved in the operation
– 1st Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the operation started by a night combat jump over the Salvador Pass
– during the operation, several rebels were killed
– 1,5 tons of drugs was seized

– in the picture, one of the platoon leaders of the 1st Company, 2e REP is reviewed before the night combat jump over the Salvador Pass, April 7, 2015

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2015 - Niger

 

French Foreign Legion: April 14

1947, U.S. Distinguished Unit Citation for 3e REI
– in then French Indochina, 3e REI was awarded
– the regiment obtained the U.S. Distinguished Unit Citation (Presidential Unit Citation today) with a blue streamer embroidered Rhine-Bavarian Alps
– 3e REI obtained the Citation for its actions in 1944-45 in France, during WWII (under the title of RMLE, Foreign Legion Regimental Combat Team)

1954, CRPJ Aircraft Accident
– in then French Indochina, an aircraft accident
– it took place at the CRPJ airbase of Tran Ninh, Laos
– CRPJ – Plain of Jars Resistance Center (a French base)
– a military aircraft crashed during its takeoff
– on board, a platoon of the 7th Company, 2nd Battalion, 2e REI
– 11 legionnaires were killed
– 3 legionnaires were wounded
– 2nd Battalion, 2e REI would be transported to Muong Sai, Laos
– to take part in Operation Condor
– to support the French troops at Dien Bien Phu

1956, in northeastern Algeria, a fierce battle with a group of local rebels
– it took place near the Col de Tizougarine, in the Batna region
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 3e REI got involved in
– 22 rebels were killed

1959, in northern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– the clashes took place near Zenzach, in the Djelfa region
– legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in
– several rebels were killed
– 6 rebels were imprisoned

– in the photo, the color of 3e REI, one of the two most decorated flags within the French Army
– on the left, the blue streamer of the Distinguished Unit Citation embroidered Rhine-Bavarian Alps

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Regimental color

 

French Foreign Legion: April 15

1954, Operation Condor started
– a three-week operation in northern Laos, then French Indochina
– carried out by Mobile Group North (GM Nord)
– a French composite regiment-seized task force
– led by Colonel Crèvecoeur
– to support the encircled French troops in the valley of Dien Bien Phu in northwestern Vietnam
– the task force was composed of four battalions
– over 3,000 men (local auxiliaries in the majority), devided into two groups
– 2nd Battalion, 2e REI made part of
– the men had to march about 85 miles through the jungle
– before they can fulfil their task, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu ended
– the task force had to return back (another 85 miles)
– during the march, several legionnaires died from exhaustion

1957, in northeastern Algeria, a fierce battle with around 250 local rebels
– it took place at Djebel Tamaser in the El Milia region
– two platoons from 2nd Company, 3e REI got involved in
– led by Lieutenant Anzanel
– the fierce battle took six hours
– with coming reinforcement, the enemy was finally fought off
– Lt Colonel Maurice Brochet de Vaugrigneuse was killed
– a deputy commander of the 3e REI
– Lt Colonel Brochet de Vaugrigneuse served with the Legion since 1933
– he started as Lieutenant in the 3e REI in Morocco
– then, he took part in the 1940 Battle of France with 11e REI, in the 1943 Tunisia Campaign with 1er REIM, in the Liberation of France with RMLE (in 1944-45)
– Lt Colonel Brochet de Vaugrigneuse was fatally shot in a helicopter
– when he was providing a reconnaissance of rebel positions
– during the battle, 11 legionnaires were also killed
– between them, a long-serving Staff Sergeant Holzendorf

– in the image, 3e REI legionnaires during the funeral of Lt Colonel Brochet de Vaugrigneuse, April 1957

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Brochet de Vaugrigneuse - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: April 16

1856, Foreign Legions’ dissolution
– that day, an imperial decree was issued
– it prescribed the dissolution of the two Foreign Legions
– 1st Foreign Legion (formed 1836, the original one)
– 2nd Foreign Legion (nicknamed Swiss Legion, formed 1855)
– both Legions had to be dissolved
– their legionnaires would form new regiments
– 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE), formed by the Swiss from ex-2nd Foreign Legion (Swiss Legion)
– 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e RE, now 2e REI), formed by legionnaires from ex-1st Foreign Legion

1908, Battle of Menabha
– a severe battle during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– a French camp attacked by hundreds of local rebels
– the battle took place near El Menabha (today situated in Algeria)
– a village in the Bechar region, on the Algeria-Morocco border
– 24th Mounted Company, 1er RE participated in the battle
– led by Captain Maury
– the battle took several hours
– the enemy was successfully fought off
– over 100 rebels were killed
– Lieutenant Coste (2nd Platoon) was also killed
– Captain Maury + two officers were wounded
– 11 legionnaires were killed
– 26 legionnaires were wounded

1941, General Paul-Frédéric Rollet died
– the most famous figure of the Foreign Legion
– the very first Chief of the Foreign Legion
– he was called “Father of the Legion”
– as a French officer, he served 33 years with the Foreign Legion
– he served during the 1899-1914 and 1917-1935 periods
– in 1917, during WWI, he took command of the RMLE which became one of the two most decorated units within the French Army in 1919
– in 1931, General Rollet took the command of the Foreign Legion Inspection (today’s Foreign Legion Command, COMLE)
– he changed many things to the better within the Legion
– he launched several new traditions, e.g. Battle of Camerone or a cult of Sappers-Pioneers
– General Rollet also ordered to build the well-known Foreign Legion War Memorial (finished in 1931, now placed in Legion’s HQ of Aubagne) and to establish a home for Legion veterans
– General Paul Frédéric Rollet died in Paris on April 16, 1941
– his remains are buried at Puyloubier, the cemetery of the Foreign Legion
– it is located near Aubagne, southern France

1943, 1st Foreign Infantry Regimental Combat Team
– in Tunisia, 1er REIM was formed
– a regiment-seized Foreign Legion task force
– being composed of three battalions
– a battalion of 1er REI (1er RE now)
– two battalions of 4e DBLE (Half-Brigade, under the flag of 4e REI)
– 4e DBLE was created in 1941 to serve in Senegal, West Africa
– 1er REIM (in fact, a reinforced 4e DBLE) would take part in the 1943 Tunisian Campaign, an Allied campaign of WWII in North Africa
– the unit would successfully fight against the German Africa Corps of Marshal Rommel
– for its actions, 1er REIM would be mentioned in dispatches
– today, the history and traditions of the 4e DBLE (and 1er REIM) are held by the 4e RE of Castelnaudary

1949, First airborne operation for 1er BEP
– that day, the very first airborne operation for legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, future 1er REP)
– it occurred in then French Indochina, during the First Indochina War
– a combat jump over Cha Vai
– an outpost previously attacked by the Viet Minh
– the outpost was located close to Xuan Dai
– in the Phu Tho region, west of Hanoi, Northern Vietnam
– the jump was carried out by 1st Platoon, 3rd Company, 1er BEP
– led by Lieutenant Gilbert Roy
– in October 1950, Lieutenant Roy would be between the 23 (twenty-three) men of the entire 1er BEP who survived the Battle of RC4
– in 1954, he would survive the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and the following captivity

1954, in then French Indochina, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– in the Nam Dinh region of Northern Vietnam
– 2nd + 3rd Battalion, 5e REI got involved in
– over 150 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 18 legionnaires were also killed
– over 70 men of 5e REI were wounded

– also in 1954, in then French Indochina, another fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– in the Pleiku region of Central Vietnam
– 4th Battalion, 2e REI got involved in
– consisting of local auxiliaries in the majority, led by Legion leaders
– the unit was attacked by four Viet Minh battalions
– the battle took several hours
– tens of Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 14 men of 2e REI were killed
– 58 men were wounded or missed

– in the photo, General Paul-Frédéric Rollet, the Father of the Legion

General Paul-Frédéric Rollet - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Father of the Legion

 

French Foreign Legion: April 17

1871, in northwestern Algeria, a fierce rebel attack
– it occurred near Madourah in the Mascara region
– conducted by a large group of local rebels
– aimed at a French mobile task force
– a Legion unit successfully fought off the attackers
– 6th Company, 4th Battalion, Foreign Regiment
– a basic instruction unit
– consisting of over 210 enlisted volunteers
– led by Captain Kaufmann (a long-serving legionnaire)

1917, Battle of the Hills of Champagne started
– a severe battle on the Western Front of WWI
– the major part of the battle started near Auberive, eastern France
– the French attacked German positions
– legionnaires from RMLE took part in
– Regimental Combat Team, future 3e REI
– led by Lieutenant Colonel Jean Duriez
– the severe battle took four days
– by the end of the battle, the village of Auberive was successfully seized
– for this action, RMLE gained its fifth mention in the order of the Army
– however, the regiment lost his commanding officer
– Lt Colonel Duriez was fatally wounded the first day of the battle, on April 17
– a mortar shell exploded in front of him

1958, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation aimed at local rebels
– it took place at Beni Malleille, near Boudaroua, in the Guelma region
– legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved in
– 14 rebels were killed

– in the picture, Lt Colonel Duriez, the commander of RMLE, killed on April 17, 1917

RMLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1917 - Lt Colonel Duriez

 

French Foreign Legion: April 18

1916, Bou Denib Mixed Battalion
– in Algeria, Bou Denib Mixed Battalion was constituted
– to take part in the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– a little-known independent unit
– probably a semi-penal unit
– composed of four companies
– two companies of legionnaires
– two companies of “Bat’ d’Af” soldiers
– “Bat’ d’Af” were members of African Battalions, French semi-penal units
– the mixed battalion would serve in Morocco
– in the Bou Denib region
– the unit was dissolved in 1919

1952, in then French Indochina, a severe battle with the Viet Minh
– during Operation Polo in Northern Vietnam
– the battle occurred at Dai Vi Thuong, close to Hanoi
– to seize the fortified village
– 1st Battalion, 5e REI got involved in
– the battle took several hours
– the village was successfully seized
– that day and during the following two days in the same sector, hundreds of Viet Minh rebels were killed or wounded
– however, during the battle, 5e REI suffered casualties
– that day, three officers were killed
– Lieutenant Jacques Bouley + Lieutenant Pierre Rudloff + Lieutenant Louis Mie
– 36 legionnaires were also killed
– 105 legionnaires were wounded

1954, Evacuation of Huguette 6
– in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
Huguette 6 was a stronghold of the French camp of Dien Bien Phu
– then most outlying strongpoint north of the French HQ
– held by legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI
– led by Lieutenant Francois
– reinforced by a pro-French Vietnamese airborne company
– the Viet Minh isolated the strongpoint from support
– besieged since early April
– to supply the strogpoint, it’s necessary to fight fiercely
– over 100 men were killed at Huguette 6 since early April
– an order to evacuate the strongpoint
– during the evacuation, Lieutenant Jean Francois was killed

1956, in northwestern Algeria, clashes with local rebels
– they took place near Tient, in the Nedroma region
– legionnaires from 2nd + 4th Company, 5e REI got involved in
– 43 rebels were killed or imprisoned

1960, in western Algeria, heavy fighting with local rebels
– it occurred at Djebel Chemarikh, in the Ain Sefra region
– legionnaires from 2e REI got involved in
– the fighting took six hours
– 29 rebels were killed or imprisoned
– 6 legionnaires were also killed

– in the picture, 2e REI legionnaires with some of the rebels and their weapons captured on April 18, 1960, at Djebel Chemarikh, western Algeria
– note their Lieutenant (scarf + grenade) and a French non-Legion senior NCO (cap + sunglasses)

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

 

French Foreign Legion: April 19

1871, in France, during the Paris Commune, four-day clashes ended
– French troops against armed radical socialists and anarchists occupying the capital
– Provisional Foreign Regiment was involved in
– the clashes took place near the Neuilly brige (Pont du Neuilly)
– part of the Siege of Neuilly
– 3 officers were killed (including Captain Girard)
– 4 officers were wounded
– 140 NCOs and legionnaires were killed or wounded
– between November-March, the regiment had participated in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) in France
– composed of non-legionnaires in the majority since mid-December 1870, because of heavy losses during the war
– at the same time, 3rd + 4th Battalion, Foreign Regiment (composed of German legionnaires in the vast majority, not allowed to fight in France) served in Algeria

1913, in Morocco, fighting with local rebels
– it took place near Nekhila, in the Taza region
– 1st Battalion, 1er RE got involved in
– 4 legionnaires were killed or wounded

1927, in Morocco, a rebel attack
– it took place at Douar Beni Kaoulech, in the Ouazzane region
– aimed at a company of the 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– Captain Jean Fontanel (company commander) was killed
– several legionnaires were also killed

1954, Battle of Huguette 1 started
– a four-day battle between legionnaires and a Viet Minh battalion
– in Northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– part of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954)
Huguette 1 was a stronghold of the French camp of Dien Bien Phu
– located north of the HQ, near the main airstrip
– held by a 13e DBLE company
– some 80 men, led by Captain Chevallier
– 40 men had already been lost during the night and the morning
– to hold the strogpoint, it’s necessary to fight fiercely
– the strongpoint was surrounded by a web of Viet Minh trenches
– Captain Chevallier and his men decided to “make Camerone
– they would fight to the last man, to the finish
– two days later, only 50 legionnaires remained to defend Huguette 1
– the Viet Minh was everywhere
– the next day, Captain Chevallier‘s radio went silent
– none of the defenders would be captured
Huguette 1 would be overrun by the Viet Minh

1957, in northern Algeria, a week-long operation started
– carried out by legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the operation took place in the Medea region
– 29 rebels were killed

– in the photo, the 1er REP parade at the Champs-Elysées in Paris in 1957, led by Lt Col Jeanpierre, its famous commander (killed the next year)

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Champs-Elysées - Paris

 

French Foreign Legion: April 20

1863, in Mexico, a rebel group annihilated
– an action during the French intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
– it took place near the village of Jamapa
– legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion) got involved in
– led by Major Munier, the battalion commander
– they faced a rebel group led by Antonio Diaz
– the group had been attacking the legionnaires during railroad works
– during the following battle, Antonio Diaz was killed
– his group was annihilated

1957, in northwestern Algeria, a fierce battle with local rebels
– it occurred near Fellaoucene, in the Tlemcen region
– legionnaires from 5e REI got involved in
– the fighting took several hours
– 73 rebels were killed

1960, in western Algeria, a military operation aimed at local rebels
– it took place in the Djidjelli region
– legionnaires from 3e REI got involved in
– that day, 17 rebels were killed

– in the image, 5e REI legionnaires led by their platoon leader during an operation in Algeria, 1957

5e REI - 5 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: April 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: March 21 – 31
Foreign Legion events: March 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: March 01 – 10
French Foreign Legion history