Foreign Legion events: May 11 – 20

Discover interesting data of the French Foreign Legion’s history. Important campaigns, battles, deployments, operations, the establishments or dissolutions of units… See the Legion’s significant events which occurred between May 11 and May 20.


French Foreign Legion: May 11

1851, when guarding a French column, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI) got involved in a five-hour battle with local rebels in the Constantine region of northeastern Algeria
– the enemy was fought off
– during the battle, several legionnaires were killed or wounded

1943, Battle of Djebel Zaghouan ended
– the final five-day battle against German troops in Tunisia, during the Tunisia Campaign (also Battle of Tunisia)
– legionnaires from 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team, formed by legionnaires from 3e REI) and 1er REIM (ex-4e DBLE, fighting under the flag of the disbanded 4e REI), successfully participated in
– for this action, the flag of 4e REI was awarded with a campaign streamer

1953, Operation Muguet started
– an operation in the Plaine des Jarres (Plain of Jars) region of northern Laos, then French Indochina
– 2e REI, 3e REI and 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, 2e REP now) took part in
– that day, near Dong Danh, a severe battle with the Viet Minh for 2e BEP legionnaires
– 36 Viet Minh rebels were killed, another 10 were imprisoned
– 2e BEP had Captain Georges Hamacek (4th Company commander) + 2 legionnaires killed
– 16 legionnaires were seriously wounded

1959, a military operation for legionnaires from 3e REI at Djebel Mechta Anneb in the Ain Djefla region of northern Algeria
– during the operation, 21 rebels were killed

– in the photo, Captain Georges Hamacek (right), the commander of 2e BEP’s 4th Company, with a captured rebel during an operation in northern Laos, 1953
– Captain Hamacek will be killed a few minutes later

2e BEP - 2 BEP - Georges Hamacek - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Laos - Indochina


French Foreign Legion: May 12

1839, in the Bougie region of northeastern Algeria, close to the Mount of Tizi, around 600 legionnaires led by Lt Col Bedeau got involved in a battle with local rebels
– 2 legionnaires were killed + 8 legionnaires were wounded

1859, 1er RE (Foreign Regiment) landed in Italy to take part in the Second Italian War of Independence

1957, a two-day military operation started for legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) between Constantine and Guelma, northeastern Algeria
– during the operation, at least 12 rebels were killed

– on the Kepi blanc magazine cover, a clairon of the 2e REP in Algeria, 1957

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria


French Foreign Legion: May 13

1839, Capture of Djidjelli
– a French column seized Djidjelli, a town in northeastern Algeria
– 1st Battalion, Foreign Legion took part in
– that day, 3 legionnaires were killed

1851, in the Constantine region of northeastern Algeria, a French military column got involved in a severe battle with the Ouled Malafi rebel tribe
– legionnaires from 1st + 2nd Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI) took part in
– during the battle, the French had 66 men killed + 144 men wounded

1908, Battle of Beni Ouzien
– a fierce battle during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– it took place at Beni Ouzien, an oasis near Bou Denib, eastern Morocco
– legionnaires from 24th Mounted Company, 1er RE were involved in
– Lieutenant Jaeglé + 14 legionnaires were killed

1940, Battle of Bjervik
– a battle during the Norwegian Campaign of WWII
– legionnaires from 13e DBMLE (Provisional Half Brigade, later 13e DBLE) successfully participated in
– in the morning, the legionnaires captured the Norwegian town after fighting with German troops during the night
– the name of the town was emblazoned on the regimental flag of 13e DBLE
– it was the first combat action for 13e DBMLE legionnaires

1943, Tunisia Campaign ended
– a series of battles between Axis (Germans + Italians) and Allied forces during the North African Campaign of WWII
– 1er REIM (Regimental Combat Team, ex-4e DBLE half-brigade serving in Senegal 1941-43) + 3e REIM actively participated in
– about 20,000 German soldiers of the Africa Corps surrendered to the legionnaires during the final battle at Djebel Zaghouan near Pont du Fahs
– 1er REIM, fighting under the flag of 4e REI (deactivated in Nov 1940), was awarded with a campaign streamer for its bravery during this action
– a number of Germans imprisoned in May 1943 joined the Foreign Legion
– they served in Algeria and Morocco during the campaign in Europe (1944-45)

– in the very rare image, a military Father administers Mess for 1er REIM legionnaires during the Tunisia Campaign, late April 1943
– the insignia of 4e DBLE (Aug 1941 – Apr 1943) remains the insignia for 1er REIM (ex-4e DBLE)

1er REIM - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1943 - Tunisia


French Foreign Legion: May 14

1842, a severe battle for legionnaires from 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI) near Ain Souda in the Guelma region, northeastern Algeria
– some 1,500 local rebels attacked an isolated group of 200 French soldiers and legionnaires
– after four hours of fighting, the rebels were fought off

1908, Capture of Bou Denib
– French troops, including legionnaires from 3rd Mounted Company, 1er RE participated in the capture of Bou Denib, an important town in eastern Morocco, in the early stage of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– during the capture, the French had 10 men killed + 22 men wounded
– later at Bou Denib, the legionnaires built a large French military base

1918, near Koudiat El Biad in the Taza region of Morocco, 1st Mounted Company, 1er RE got involved in a battle with local tribe rebels
– 1 legionnaire was killed, 3 legionnaires were wounded
– the company and the battle were mentioned in the order of the Army later that year

1944, Operation Diadem (also the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino)
– an offensive operation of the Italian Campaign of World War II
– it was launched three days earlier by the Allies and aimed at the German positions on the Gustav Line, near the Garigliano river in central Italy
– on May 14, the operation started for the French Expeditionary Corps (part of the Allies), including the men from 13e DBLE (Half-brigade)
– they successfully attacked German positions
– the operation ended ten days later

2015, during Operation Kounama 3 in the Salvador Pass of northern Niger (a country of Western Africa), bordered by Libya to the northeast, deep in the Sahara Desert, legionnaires from 1st Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) attacked a group of local rebels supporting the extremist and terrorist elements in North Africa and the Middle East
– 3 rebels were killed + 3 rebels were imprisoned
– around 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg) of drugs were seized

– in the photo, 2e REP legionnaires with captured rebels and drugs in the Salvador Pass of northern Niger, during Operation Kounama 3, on May 14, 2015

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2015 - Niger - Salvador Pass - Operation Kounama 3


French Foreign Legion: May 15

1911, Battle of Alouana
– a fierce six-hour battle with Moroccan rebels
– it took place at Alouana, a village in the Guercif region, northeastern Morocco
– Captain Labordette and his 22nd Company, 1er RE participated in
– the company (60-80 men) was devided by Moroccan attacks into 3 isolated groups
– Cpt Labordette + 28 legionnaires were killed
– Lieutenant Fradet + 6 legionnaires were wounded
– after more than six hours of the fighting, a reinforcement arrived and helped the legionnaires to fight off the enemy

1955, Foreign Legion Disabled Veterans Institution (IILE) built at Puyloubier, France in 1953-55, was officially inaugurated
– the IILE serves as a home for 120 older, lonely, unmarried Foreign Legion veterans and invalids

– also in 1955, 4e CMRLE (Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company) was disbanded
– an independent company created in August 1949 to serve during the war in then French Indochina
– stationed at Hanoi, Vietnam and composed of more than 230 legionnaires
– its task was to ensure and repair military vehicles damaged by mines or Viet Minh attacks in northern Vietnam

1959, during Operation Pacome in the Ouarsenis mountains in northwestern Algeria, a battle with local rebels for legionnaires from 5e REI
– 12 rebels were killed

– in the old postacard, the six legionnaires wounded during the Battle of Alouana, May 1911

1er RE - 1 RE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Battle of Alouana - 1911 - Morocco


French Foreign Legion: May 16

1916, at El Menzel in the Fez region of northern Morocco, Mounted Company, 2e RE (2e REI now) got involved again in a battle with local tribe rebels
– 3 legionnaires were killed
– Lieutenant Nabera + a long-serving legionnaire were severely wounded

1957, Foreign Legion Madagascar Battalion (BLEM) was established
– a Foreign Legion unit based in Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean
– the only combat unit of the Legion to not be involved in the Algerian War
– composed of legionnaires rotating every two years
– the unit maintained order in Madagascar and the nearest area
– in 1962, the battalion was redesignated
– it became the new 3e REI (ex-3e REI left Algeria for France as 3e BMLE)

1958, a military operation for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) at Oued Meddouda close to Algiers, the capital of Algeria
– at least 12 rebels were killed

– in the rare picture, the BLEM parades at Tananarive, the capital of Madagascar, 1957

BLEM - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Tananarive - Madagascar


French Foreign Legion: May 17

1839, Major Horain killed
– near Djidjelli, a town in northeastern Algeria, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, Foreign Legion got involved in a battle with local rebels
– Major Thadée Horain, a popular officer of Polish origin, was killed
– in 1832, he joined the original Legion (now called as “Old Legion”, est. 1831) as a former Polish officer with the rank of major
– in 1835, the Legion was handed over to Spain, where Major Horain became Lt Colonel and the Chief of the Legion’s General Staff in 1836
– in early 1839, he left Spain and joined the “New” Legion (est. 1836) in Algeria

1951, LST Adour shipboard fire accident
– the accident occurred at the harbor of Nha Trang, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam, then French Indochina
– more than 80 French troops burned to death, over 100 were badly wounded
– many legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 2e REI were between the killed and wounded

1953, Battle of Ma Chau Dong
– in the Tourane region of central Vietnam, then French Indochina, the Ma Chau Dong and Tra Kieu military outposts were besieged and attacked by a Viet Minh regiment
– two companies from 4th Battalion, 2e REI + HQ Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) + Commando Le Lai went to support the outposts
– during the following severe battle near Ma Chau Dong, 2 platoons from 2e REI + Commando Le Lai + a 1er REC platoon (led by Lieutenant Thery) were completely annihilated

1954, near Qui Nhon in the Binh Dinh region of central Vietnam, legionnaires from 1er REC equipped with Alligators (Landing Vehicle Tracked, LVT) attacked a Viet Minh group
– Viet Minh had 15 men killed, another 25 men were imprisoned

1957, legionnaires from 5e REI took part in a military operation close to Merchiche in the Tlemcen region of northwestern Algeria
– during the operation, 15 rebels were killed + 5 rebels were imprisoned

– also in 1957, during Operation NK3, Captain Martin and his legionnaires from 1st Company, 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) got involved in a fierce battle with local rebels
– the operation took place near Palestro and Tablat, in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria
– that day, at least 92 rebels were killed, 45 rebels were imprisoned

1978, Battle of Kolwezi started
– also Operation Bonite in France
– a part of the Second War of Shaba between then Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo now) and Tigers (local Katangese rebels from the FNCL liberation front)
– a few days earlier, the FNCL invaded the city of Kolwezi, an important mining center
– the rebels took more than 2,000 Europeans (mostly of French and Belgian origin) as hostages
– on May 17, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) in Corsica was put on alert
– on May 19, the legionnaires jumped over Kolwezi
– the same day in the evening, after several clashes with the rebels, the 2e REP seized the town and liberated the Europeans
– in the following week, 2e REP legionnaires were clearing the area around the town of any rebels
– during the battle, 247 rebels were killed + 163 rebels were imprisoned
– 5 legionnaires were killed
– over 2,000 Europeans were rescued
– giving publicity to the successful operation, the 2e REP became popular around the world

– in the rare photo, 2e REP legionnaires from 3rd Company are preparing for jumping over Kolwezi on May 19, 1978

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1978 - Kolwezi


French Foreign Legion: May 18

1952, during Operation Dromedaire, near the village of Tho Lao in the Tonkin Delta of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, a successful battle with the Viet Minh for legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 5e REI
– Viet Minh had 90 men killed + 78 men imprisoned
– 9 legionnaires were also killed

– also in 1952, Operation Eole ended
– a week operation in the Plaine des Joncs region of southern Vietnam
– 1st Autonomous Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) took part in
– Viet Minh had 51 men imprisoned

– in the image, 1er REC legionnaires with their “Crabs” (M29 Weasel vehicles) in French Indochina, in the early 1950s

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1950s - Indochina


French Foreign Legion: May 19

1940, during the Battle of France of WWII, a motorized recon platoon led by 2Lt Sokolow got involved in clashes with German armored units near Peronne, northern France
– the recon platoon belonged to GRDI 97 (Division’s Recon Group, est. Feb 1940)
– the unit comprised 1er REC + 2e REC cavalry elements
– during the next 5 days, GRDI 97 participated in severe clashes with German armored units between Rozières-sur-Crise and Nesles-la-Montagne in northern France
– for these actions, GRDI 97 was mentioned in the order of the Army

1961, a severe battle with local rebels for legionnaires from 3rd Squadron, 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) at Djebel Bou Kahil in the Djelfa region, northern Algeria
– at least 20 rebels were killed
– 4 legionnaire was also killed, 7 legionnaires were wounded

– in the photo, a GRDI 97 legionnaire during the Battle of France, May 1940

GRDI 97 - GRD97 - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1940 - France


French Foreign Legion: May 20

1842, in northeastern Algeria, the town of Djidjelli was attacked by around 1,000 local rebels
– legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI), stationed at Djidjelli at that time, managed to defend the town and fought off the rebels
– Sergeant First Class (Sergent-major, an already cancelled rank in France) Seitz was killed during the attack

1959, Operations Pacome and Yves ended for legionnaires from 5e REI
– they took place in the Tiaret region of northwestern Algeria
– during six days, over 20 rebels were killed

– in the picture, an “ancien” legionnaire of the 5e REI in Algeria, 1959

5e REI - 5 REI - legionnaire - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria


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