Foreign Legion events: May 11 – 20

On this day. Explore the Legion’s most interesting historical events which occurred between May 11 and May 20. 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 an image.

To see all historical events, go back to: French Foreign Legion – Historical Events


French Foreign Legion: May 11

1851, in northeastern Algeria, a battle with local rebels
– the five-hour battle occurred in the Constantine region
– 1st Battalion, 2e RLE was involved
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (now 2e REI)
– they were protecting a French convoy
– several legionnaires were killed or wounded

1943, Battle of Djebel Zaghouan ended
– the final five-day battle against German troops
– an action during the Tunisian Campaign (1943)
– an Allied campaign in North Africa, part of WWII
– two Foreign Legion units successfully participated
– 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team)
– 1er REIM (ex-4e DBLE, under the flag of the disbanded 4e REI)
– for this action, the flag of 4e REI was awarded with a campaign streamer

1953, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– part of Operation Muguet in northern Laos
– it took place near Dong Danh
– in the Plaine des Jarres (Plain of Jars) region
– 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, 2e REP now) were involved
– 36 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 10 rebels were imprisoned
– however, Captain Georges Hamacek was killed
– 4th Company’s commander (2e BEP)
– 2 legionnaires were also killed
– 16 legionnaires were seriously wounded

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

– in the photo, Captain Georges Hamacek (right), the commander of 2e BEP’s 4th Company, with a captured rebel during Operation Muguet in northern Laos, May 11, 1953
– Captain Hamacek would 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 northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– close to the Mount of Tizi, in the Bougie region
– around 600 legionnaires led by Lt Colonel Bedeau participated
– 2 legionnaires were killed
– 8 legionnaires were wounded

1859, 1st Foreign Regiment to land in Italia
– that day, 1er RE legionnaires landed in Italia
– to take part in the Second Italian War of Independence
– a war against the Austrian Empire fought in May-July 1859
– by the French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia

1957, in northeastern Algeria, a two-day military operation started
– conducted by legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment)
– between Constantine and Guelma
– 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
– an action during the pacification of Algeria
Djidjelli is a town in the northeastern part of the country
– a composite French column seized the town
– 1st Battalion, Foreign Legion made part of the column
– that day, 3 legionnaires were killed

1851, in northeastern Algeria, a severe battle with local rebels
– members of the Ouled Malafi rebel tribe
– the battle happened in the Constantine region
– a composite French column was involved
– including 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI)
– 1st + 2nd Battalion, 2e RLE
– the French (including the Legion) suffered many casualties
– 66 men were killed
– 144 men were wounded

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

1940, Battle of Bjerkvik
– a naval + land battle in Norway
– part of the Battles of Narvik, Norwegian Campaign of WWII
– Allied forces (Britain + France + Polish troops) against German troops
– it occurred in Herjangsfjord + around the Norwegian village of Bjerkvik
– close to the city of Narvik
– legionnaires from 13e DBMLE successfully participated
– Provisional Half Brigade (later 13e DBLE)
– the legionnaires fought with Germans during the night
– in the morning, they captured Bjerkvik
– the name of Bjerkvik would be emblazoned on the regimental flag of 13e DBLE
– the unit was formed in February-March 1940
– it was the first combat action for 13e DBMLE legionnaires
– that day, Lieutenant René Maurin was killed
– he became the very first killed officer of the 13e DBLE
– at least 10 legionnaires were also killed

1943, Tunisia Campaign ended
– a series of battles during the North African Campaign of WWII
– between Axis (Germans + Italians) and Allied forces
– two Foreign Legion units were successfully involved
– 3e REIM (Regimental Combat Team, formed by legionnaires from 3e REI)
– 1er REIM (ex-4e DBLE, fighting under the flag of the disbanded 4e REI)
– about 20,000 German soldiers of the Africa Corps were captured
– they surrendered to the legionnaires
– during the final battle at Djebel Zaghouan, near Pont du Fahs
– 1er REIM was awarded with a campaign streamer for their bravery
– a number of Germans imprisoned in May 1943 later 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 (Half-Brigade, Aug 1941 – Apr 1943) became the insignia of 1er REIM (ex-4e DBLE)

1er REIM - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1943 - Tunisia


French Foreign Legion: May 14

1842, in northeastern Algeria, a severe battle with local rebels
– near Ain Souda, in the Guelma region
– some 1,500 local rebels attacked an isolated French group
– composed of around 200 French soldiers and legionnaires
– legionnaires from 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI)
– the battle took several hours
– the enemy was eventually fought off

1908, Capture of Bou Denib
– an action during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
Bou Denib was an important town in eastern Morocco
– a composite French column captured the town
– including legionnaires from 3rd Mounted Company, 1er RE
– led by Captain Charles Met
– that day, the French units suffered several casualties
– 10 men were killed + 22 men were wounded
– later at Bou Denib, the legionnaires built a large French military base
– in 1914, then Major Met would lose his leg in a battle with Moroccan rebels
– nicknamed as “The second Danjou”, he would retire from the Legion as Colonel
– in 1916, after 25 years of service

1918, in Morocco, a battle with local tribe rebels
– an action during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– near Koudiat El Biad, in the Taza region
– 1st Mounted Company, 1er RE were involved
– a legionnaire was killed
– 3 legionnaires were wounded
– the company would be 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 WWII
– launched by the Allies and aimed at the German positions
– on the Gustav Line, near the Garigliano river in central Italy
– on May 14, French Expeditionary Corps got involved
– part of the Allies, including the men from 13e DBLE (Half-brigade)
– they successfully attacked German positions
– the operation ended ten days later
– 13e DBLE would lose around 200 men (killed, wounded or missed)

2015, in Niger, a skirmish with local rebels
– during Operation Kounama 3
– in the Salvador Pass, northern Niger (a country of Western Africa)
– deep in the Sahara Desert, bordered by Libya to the northeast
– 1st Company, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– the legionnaires attacked a group of local rebels
– having supported 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
– an action during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– a fierce six-hour battle with Moroccan rebels
– it took place at Alouana
– a village in the Guercif region, northeastern Morocco
– 22nd Company, 6th Battalion, 1er RE were involved
– led by Captain Labordette
– Moroccan attacks devided the company (60-80 men)
– into 3 isolated groups
– Captain Charles Labordette was killed
– 28 legionnaires were also killed
– Lieutenant Fradet + 6 legionnaires were wounded
– after more than six hours of the fighting, a reinforcement arrived
– they helped the legionnaires to fight off the enemy

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

– also in 1955, 4e CMRLE dissolution
– Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company
– that day, 4e CMRLE was disbanded
– disbanded in Saigon, then Southern Vietnam
– an independent company created in August 1949
– to serve during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– one of the Legion’s five medium repair companies
– stationed in Hanoi, Vietnam
– composed of more than 230 legionnaires
– its task was to maintain military vehicles
– also to repair those damaged by mines or Viet Minh attacks in northern Vietnam
– the legionnaires often repaired vehicles in combat conditions

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

– in the old postacard, the 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, in northern Morocco, a skirmish with local rebels
– during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– at El Menzel, in the Fez region
– Mounted Company, 2e RE (2e REI now) were involved
– 3 legionnaires were killed
– Lieutenant Nabera + a long-serving legionnaire were severely wounded

1957, Foreign Legion Madagascar Battalion
– in Madagascar, BLEM was established
– a large island off the coast of East Africa, in the Indian Ocean
– BLEM remained the only combat unit of the Legion to not be involved in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– composed of legionnaires rotating every two to three years
– the unit maintained order in Madagascar and the nearest area
– in 1962, the battalion was redesignated
– it became a new 3e REI
– ex-3e REI left Algeria for France as 3e BMLE

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

– in the rare picture, the BLEM parade at Tananarive, the capital of Madagascar, in the late 1950s

BLEM - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Tananarive - Madagascar


French Foreign Legion: May 17

1839, in Algeria, a battle with local Kabylie rebels
– near Djidjelli, northeastern Algeria
– 1st Battalion, Foreign Legion were involved
– the legionnaires fought with fixed bayonets
– they successfully fought of the rebels
– their sheikh (leader) was killed
– however, the Legion also suffered a loss
Major Thadée Horain was fatally wounded
– a popular Foreign Legion officer of Polish origin
– in 1832, as a Polish officer, he joined the original Legion with the rank of Major
– in 1835, the Legion was handed over to Spain
– est. in 1831 and now called as “Old Legion”
– the unit (including Major Horain) would fight in Spain until 1838
– in early 1839, the “Old Legion” was dissolved
– Major Horain joined the “New Legion” (formed in 1836) in Algeria

1940, in Norway, French positions at Bjerkvik attacked
– part of the Battle of Narvik, Norwegian Campaign of WWII
– Allied forces (Britain + France + Polish troops) against German troops
Bjerkvik was seized by legionnaires four days earlier
– held by the 13e DBMLE (Provisional Half Brigade, later 13e DBLE)
– that day, their positions were attacked by German aircrafts
– Major Alain Gueninchault was killed
– a battalion commander with the 13e DBMLE
– Captain Francois Carre de Lusancay was killed too
– at least 12 legionnaires were also killed

1951, LST Adour shipboard fire accident
– an accident during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– 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 French troops were wounded
– between the killed and wounded, many legionnaires
– members of the 3rd Battalion, 2e REI

1953, Battle of Ma Chau Dong
– a battle with the Viet Minh in then French Indochina
– in the Tourane region of Central Vietnam
– the Ma Chau Dong and Tra Kieu military outposts were besieged and attacked by a Viet Minh regiment
– Legion units went to support the outposts
– two companies from 4th Battalion, 2e REI
– two armored platoons from 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– Commando Le Lai (a partisan unit of the HQ Squadron, 1er REC)
– a severe battle followed
– the Legion suffered heavy casualties
– two platoons from 2e REI were annihilated
– Commando Le Lai + a 1er REC platoon were also annihilated
– between the killed, Lieutenant Jean Thery (1er REC)

1954, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– near Qui Nhon, in the Binh Dinh region, Central Vietnam
– legionnaires from 1er REC were involved
– equipped with Alligators (Landing Vehicle Tracked, LVT)
– 15 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– another 25 rebels were imprisoned

1957, Battle of Djebel Bou Zegza
– a fierce battle with a rebel group in northern Algeria
– south-east of Algiers, the capital
– in the Kabylie region, during Operation NK3
– 1st Company, 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) was involved
– led by Captain Louis Martin, a popular Legion officer
– the fierce battle took six hours
– at least 83 rebels were killed

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

1978, Battle of Kolwezi started
– that day, Battle of Kolwezi started
– also Operation Bonite in France
– an action in then Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo now)
– to liberate over 2,000 Europeans held by Tigers
– local Katangese rebels from the FNCL liberation front
– a few days earlier, the rebels invaded the city of Kolwezi
– an important mining center
– many French-speaking Europeans lived there
– the rebels took more than 2,000 of them as hostages
– on May 17, 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) in Corsica was put on alert
– a few days later, the unit jumped over Kolwezi
– the 2e REP would seize the town and liberate the Europeans
– until late May, 2e REP legionnaires would stay there
– to clear the area around the town of any rebels
– during the battle, 247 rebels were killed
– 163 rebels were imprisoned
– 5 legionnaires were also killed
– over 2,000 Europeans were rescued
– the battle got a large publicity in the media
– because of that, 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, in then French Indochina, a successful battle with the Viet Minh
– part of Operation Dromedaire
– it took place near the village of Tho Lao
– in the Tonkin Delta, Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 5e REI were involved
– 90 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– another 78 rebels were imprisoned
– however, 9 legionnaires were also killed

– also in 1952, Operation Eole ended
– a week operation in then French Indochina
– in the Plaine des Joncs region, Southern Vietnam
– aimed at the Viet Minh
– 1st Autonomous Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) participated
– 51 Viet Minh rebels were 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, in northern France, first clashes with German armored units
– part of the Battle of France of WWII
– they took place near Peronne
– motorized Recon Platoon, GRDI 97 was involved
– led by Second Lieutenant Sokolow
– 3 legionnaires were killed
– GRDI 97 (Division’s Recon Group, est. in February 1940)
– the unit comprised 1er REC + 2e REC cavalry elements
– during the next five days, severe clashes for GRDI 97
– with German armored units between Rozières-sur-Crise and Nesles-la-Montagne, northern France
– for these actions, GRDI 97 was mentioned in the order of the Army
– in May-June, the unit would lose the majority of its troops
– it would be disbanded in Tunisia in September 1940

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

– in the rare photo, GRDI 97 officers back in Tunisia, 1940

GRDI 97 - GRD97 - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1940 - Tunisia - Officers


French Foreign Legion: May 20

1842, in northeastern Algeria, a rebel attack
– aimed at the town of Djidjelli
– attacked by around 1,000 local rebels
– 1st Battalion, 2e RLE defended the town
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (now 2e REI)
– the legionnaires were stationed there at the time
– Sergent-major Seitz (an already cancelled rank in France) was killed

1959, Operations Pacome and Yves ended
– operations in northwestern Algeria
– aimed at local rebels
– conducted by legionnaires from 5e REI
– they took place in the Tiaret region
– during six days, over 20 rebels were killed

– in the picture, an “ancien” (long-serving) 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: May 21 – 31
French Foreign Legion history