Foreign Legion events: May 01 – 10

See the most important historical events of the French Foreign Legion. Significant operations, battles, campaigns, deployments, the establishments or dissolutions of units… Explore the interesting data in the Legion’s history which occurred between May 01 and May 10.

 

French Foreign Legion: May 01

1927, CSP (Sappers-Pioneers Company), 3e REI was created
– CSP, 3e REI was based at Ksar Es Souk, Morocco
– apart of taking part in military operations aimed at local rebels, the company also conducted various construction missions
– the legendary Tunnel of Legionnaire (also Foum Zabel Tunnel, 1927-28) in Morocco became the most important and best-known construction realized by the company
– in 1931, one of its platoons was the first Sapper-Pioneer unit heading a Legion parade (during the 100th Anniversary of the Legion in Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria), the tradition held until nowadays
– the company was disbanded in 1940

1946, in the Phan Rang region of central Vietnam, then French Indochina, a patrol of legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI was attacked by the Viet Minh
– 15 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 2nd Lieutenant Ducaruge was also killed

1947, in the Nam Dinh region of northern Vietnam, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh for legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 3e REI
– the Viet Minh had at least 32 men killed
– 8 legionnaires were also killed

1954, in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954), legionnaires from 2e REI and BMEP (Provisional Foreign Parachute Battalion) were attacked by the Viet Minh at Huguette 5, a French point d’appui (point of support)
– BMEP was formed by amalgamating the remaining men from 1er BEP (future 1er REP) and 2e BEP (future 2e REP)
– in the evening, Huguette 5 was seized by the Viet Minh
– that day, over 120 legionnaires were killed, wounded or missed

1958, a three-day joint military operation ended for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) at Djebel Mouadjene in the Souk Ahras region of northeastern Algeria
– during the operation, at least 54 rebels were killed

– also in 1958, a battle with local rebels for legionnaires from 3e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company) during a military operation near Ksar El Hirane in the Laghouat region of northern Algeria
– during the battle, 29 rebels were killed

– in the photo, 2e REP legionnaires in northeastern Algeria in 1958

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: May 02

1855, Colonel Vienot killed
– during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55), Crimean War, elite companies of the 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, 1er RE now) and 2e RLE (2e REI now) launched a fierce attack aimed at the trenches occupied by Russian troops near Fort Schwartz, part of the fortification of Sevastopol, the capital of Crimea
– the successful attack was launched in the evening of the 1st May and continued until the next morning
– the Russian trenches were seized by legionnaires
– nonetheless, Colonel Raphaël Vienot, the commanding officer of the 1er RLE, was killed during the attack
– Captain Demailly + Captain Mokrewski + 44 legionnaires were also killed
– 10 officers (including Major Nayral) + 73 legionnaires were wounded
– Colonel Vienot became the second commanding officer of the Legion killed in action

1915, near Sedd-Ul-Bahr, a Turkish fortress located in the Gallipoli peninsula of today’s Turkey, Battalion Legion, 1er RMA (African Regimental Combat Team) had been involved in attacks and counter-attacks since the previous day
– the actions were part of the Gallipoli Campaign (or Dardanelles Campaign) of World War I, in which the French-British forces fought against Turkish (Ottoman) forces
– during the two days, Battalion Legion lost its last officers
– Sergeant Major (or Warrant Officer) Léon, the most senior legionnaire, took the command of the battalion

1954, in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954), legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI were attacked by the Viet Minh at Isabelle, a French point d’appui (point of support)
– several attacks and counter-attacks took place there
– that day, the Viet Minh had around 130 men killed
– 4 legionnaires were also killed, another 28 were wounded

– in the image, Colonel Vienot and Quartier Vienot, the Legion’s HQ at Aubagne, France, named after him

Colonel Vienot - 1er RE - 1 RE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Quartier Vienot - France

 

French Foreign Legion: May 03

1842, a military operation started for elite companies from 2e RLE (now 2e REI) in the Guelma region, northeastern Algeria
– the successful operation was aimed at the Ouled Ham rebel tribe

1949, a military operation for legionnaires from 2nd Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– 58 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1950, during an operation in the Saigon region of southern Vietnam, legionnaires from 11th Company, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) got involved in a severe battle with the Viet Minh
– 49 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1993, during the UN’s Apronuc mission, legionnaires from 2nd Company, 6e REG (Engineer Regiment, future 1er REG) got involved in a battle with Khmer rebels in the city of Siem Reap, northwestern Cambodia
– several rebels were killed

– in the picture, legionnaires from 2nd Company, 6e REG in Cambodia, 1993
– the badge was created to commemorate the mission

6e REG - 6 REG - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1993 - Cambodia

 

French Foreign Legion: May 04

1954, in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954), 80 French troops, in the majority the legionnaires from BMEP (Provisional Foreign Parachute Battalion), were attacked by around 2,500 men of the Viet Minh at Huguette 4, a French point d’appui (point of support)
– after several hours of fighting, Huguette 4 was seized by the Viet Minh
– BMEP was formed by amalgamating the remaining men from 1er BEP (future 1er REP) and 2e BEP (future 2e REP)

1955, several military operations started for legionnaires from 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, later that year changed to 1er REP) in the Aures mountains of northeastern Algeria

1959, legionnaires from 3rd Squadron, 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved in an operation at Djebel Taouzara, in the Djelfa region, northern Algeria
– several rebels were imprisoned

– in the photo, 1er BEP legionnaires parade in the site of the ancient Roman military city of Lambaesis, northeastern Algeria, 1955
– note the rare curiosity: para-legionnaires parading with boonie hats (instead of berets or kepis)

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Lambaesis - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: May 05

1915, in the Taza region of Morocco, 2nd Battalion, 1er RE got involved in fighting with local Branes rebels
– 1 legionnaire was killed, another one was wounded

1954, in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954), legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI were attacked by the Viet Minh at Claudine 5, a French point d’appui
– 8 legionnaires were killed, another 13 were wounded

1958, a military operation for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) at Djebel Debar, in the Guelma region of northeastern Algeria
– at least 42 rebels were killed

– in the image, a wounded Foreign Legion lieutenant (most probably from 1st Battalion, 2e REI, considering the number 2 inside the grenade) during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, 1954

2e REI - 2 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - lieutenant - Dien Bien Phu

 

French Foreign Legion: May 06

1922, Battle of Tizi Adni
– one of the most violent military actions of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– the battle included fighting with fixed bayonets and hand-to-hand combats
– it took place at the Tizi Adni plateau near Taddout, close to Skoura, northern Morocco
– 3rd Battalion, 3e REI (some 300 legionnaires led by Major Nicolas) got involved in a fierce battle with some 1,300-1,500 well-armed Moroccan Berbers (from the Seghrouchen tribe)
– the battle lasted 12 hours
– that day, 3e REI had 17 legionnaires killed, another 68 were wounded

1960, legionnaires from 2e REI took part in Operation Col Vert at Djebel Mzi in the Ain Sefra region of western Algeria, which was aimed at a rebel battalion
– during two days, 159 rebels were killed

– in the picture, 2e REI legionnaires during an operation in the Ain Sefra region, Algeria, 1960

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

 

French Foreign Legion: May 07

1833, in the night, a French column conducted an operation in the Oran region of northwestern Algeria
– legionnaires from 4th Battalion (Spaniards), Foreign Legion took part in
– during the operation, three villages of the Gharabah (a local rebel tribe) were destroyed and several rebels killed

1954, Battle of Dien Bien Phu ended
– in the Dien Bien Phu valley of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March-May 1954) ended
– in the early morning, Claudine 5, a French point d’appui (point of support) held by legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI was overrun by the Viet Minh
Eliane 2 + 4 + 10 points d’appui were seized by the Viet Minh before noon
Eliane 11 + 12 were lost a few hours later
– only Eliane 3, held by last 150 legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade), was managed to defend
Huguette 2 + 3 were successfully held by around 100 legionnaires from BMEP (Provisional Foreign Parachute Battalion)
– Claudine stronghold was ocuppied by 150 legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e REI
– at 5:30 PM (17.30), a ceasefire at Dien Bien Phu was declared
Isabelle, the French stronghold located in the south of the valley and held by legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI, was defended until the early morning of May 8
– Isabelle was the last French position overrun by the Viet Minh during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– around 14,000 French troops, including 4-5,000 legionnaires, participated in the battle
– only about 3,300 French troops, including legionnaires, survived the battle and the following imprisonment
– Foreign Legion lost these units in the battle: 1er BEP + 2e BEP (Parachute Battalions), 1st + 3rd Battalion of 13e DBLE, 1st Battalion of 2e REI, 3rd Battalion of 3e REI, 1re CEPML (Heavy Mortar Parachute Company) and 1re CMMLE + 2e CMMLE (Mortar Mixed Companies)

1958, Operation Revanche ended for legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) near Khirane in the Khenchela region of northeastern Algeria
– the three-day operation was aimed at a large group of rebels and its leader, wanted by 13e DBLE for two years
– that day, the rebel leader was killed and his group annihilated
– over 80 rebels were killed

– in the very rare photo captured by a Viet Minh member during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, French troops, including para-legionnaires, are attacking Viet Minh trenches close to the Eliane stronghold, early May 1954

Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Battle of Dien Bien Phu

 

French Foreign Legion: May 08

1845, legionnaires from 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI), led by Lt Colonel Mac Mahon, attacked rebels near Medina, in the Batna region of northeastern Algeria
– 45 rebels were imprisoned

1945, in Europe, World War II ended
– in 1944, legionnaires from RMLE (Regimental Combat Team, future 3e REI), 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) and 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) joined the major Allied offensive against German forces in Europe
– the legionnaires fought in Italy, France, Germany and Austria

1957, legionnaires from 8th Company, 5e REI took part in a military operation at Bouhlou in the Tlemcen region of northwestern Algeria
– during the operation, at least 6 rebels were killed

– in the image, RMLE half-tracks parade at Oberstdorf (Bavarian Alps), the southernmost point of Germany, reviewed by General De Gaulle, May 1945

RMLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1945 - Oberstdorf - Germany - Austria

 

French Foreign Legion: May 09

1871, during the Paris Commune, Provisional Foreign Regiment (est. Oct 1870) crossed the Seine river, Paris to help to restore order in the capital of France, controlled by armed radical socialists and anarchists and their revolutionary government
– during the next three days, the legionnaires, foreign enlisted volunteers and French conscripts of the regiment reached the Bois de Boulogne, a large public parc in Paris
– because of the clashes during the movement, the unit had 3 soldiers killed + 8 soldiers wounded
– between November-March, the regiment had participated in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) in France
– the unit consisted of 1st + 2nd + 5th Battalion, Foreign Regiment (then title for the Legion), comprising non-German legionnaires and foreign enlisted volunteers
– because of large losses during the war, the unit was composed of French conscripts in the majority since mid-December
– 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

1915, Second Battle of Artois in France
– the battle started on May 9
– it took place near Carency, northern France, on the Western Front of WWI
– 1er RE’s 2e RM (Regimental Combat Team, which became later RMLE and much later 3e REI) was involved in
– over 3,000 legionnaires and foreign volunteers (enlisted for the war period), led by Lt Colonel Got, launched a successful attack aimed at the fortified German positions
Francois Faber, a Belgian cyclist and the first foreigner to win the famous Tour de France bicycle race (1909), who fought as a volunteer within the Legion’s 2e RM/1er RE, was killed during that attack
– for that action, the unit was mentioned in the order of the Army

– in the rare picture, Francois Faber, the first foreigner to win the Tour de France poses as a member of the 2e RM, 1er RE on May 8, 1915, one day before his death in the Second Battle of Artois

Francois Faber - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1915 - Artois - France

 

French Foreign Legion: May 10

1854, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 1er RE) + 2e RLE (2e REI now), serving in Algeria, received an order to take part in the Crimean War (1854-56)

1914, Capture of Taza
– French troops, including legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 1er RE participated in the capture of Taza, an important town in eastern Morocco, during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)

1940, Battle of France started
– the German invasion of France in 1940 during the Second World War
– in six weeks, German forces defeated Allied forces and seized France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands
– several units of the Legion (including 11e REI, 12e REI or GRDI 97) took part in
– most of them were annihilated
– the battle ended in late June

1954, military operations to maintain order started for legionnaires from 3rd Company, 6e REI in the Kasserine and Maktar regions of western Tunisia
– the operations were aimed at local rebels and their anti-French activities
– they took several weeks
– 6e REI was the only Legion unit based in Tunisia during the ongoing First Indochina War

– in the old postcard, 1er RE legionnaires at Taza, Morocco, 1914

1er RE - 1 RE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1914 - Taza - Morocco

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: April 21 – 30
Foreign Legion events: April 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: April 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: March 21 – 31
French Foreign Legion history