Foreign Legion events: June 11 – 20

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 Legion’s history which occurred between June 11 and June 20.

 

French Foreign Legion: June 11

1845, a military operation for 2nd Battalion, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 1er RE) in the Tenes region, northern Algeria
– the successful operation was aimed at local rebel tribes

1942, Battle of Bir Hakeim ended
– a part of the Western Desert Campaign of WWII
– Free French troops against German and Italian forces
– the battle took place around the old fortress of Bir Hakeim in the Libyan desert
– Bir Hakeim was defended by 1st Free French Brigade (a small French force of General De Gaulle within the British Army), including men from the future 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade, a unit integrated into the Legion in 1944-45)
– the French had defended the position since late May, against much larger German and Italian forces commanded by Marshal Erwin Rommel
– on June 11, the Free French successfully evacuated the besieged Bir Hakeim fortress while breaking through the lines of the attacking enemy

– in the picture, a wounded Free French legionnaire wearing a British helmet, during the 1942 Battle of Bir Hakeim

Bir Hakeim - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1942 - Libya

 

French Foreign Legion: June 12

1843, in northeastern Algeria, the town of Djidjelli was once angain attacked, by around 3,000 local rebels
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI), led by Major Petit de la Haye and stationed at Djidjelli at that time, managed to defend the town
– tens of rebels were killed
– 9 legionnaires were wounded

1918, during WWI, close to Villers-Cotterets of northeastern France, the reduced RMLE (Regimental Combat Team, future 3e REI), led by Lt Colonel Rollet (who later became the Father of the Legion), was severely attacked by German troops
– heavily outnumbered, the legionnaires successfully repulsed the attack and managed to defend their positions
– their action was mentioned in the order of the Army

– also in 1918, close to Koudiat El Biad in the Taza region of Morocco, 1st Mounted Company, 1er RE got involved in a fierce battle with local rebels
– 2 legionnaires (including Sergeant Spindler) were killed
– Captain Rostand + 2 legionnaire were wounded
– this action was also mentioned in the order of the Army

1949, during a patrol near their Ta Lung outpost in the Dong Khe region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 12th Company, 3e REI were attacked by the Viet Minh
– 8 legionnaires were killed, 5 legionnaires were wounded

– in the rare image, RMLE legionnaires parade in Paris, France in July 1917

RMLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1917 - Paris

 

French Foreign Legion: June 13

1871, Provisional Foreign Regiment (1st + 2nd + 5th Battalion, composed of French conscripts in the majority since mid-December) left France for Africa
– the regiment was formed in October 1870 to take part in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)
– between March and June, the unit successfully participated in suppression of the armed radical socialists and anarchists establishing a revolutionary government in Paris (the capital of France), known as the Paris Commune
– in Africa, the battalions were absorbed by Foreign Regiment (3rd + 4th Battalion, serving in Algeria, composed of Germans in the vast majority, not allowing to fight in France)

1917, Battle of Souk El Had
– the battle took place in the Taza region of northern Morocco
– French composite Mobile Groups were attacked by local tribe rebels
– 6th Battalion, 1er RE + 1st Mounted Company, 1er RE were involved in
– 3 legionnaires (including a long-serving NCO Panther) were killed
– an officer + a sergeant + 3 legionnaires were missed
– almost 20 legionnaires were wounded

1957, Battle of Sidi Mammar
– a severe battle with a large group of local rebels
– it took place near Sidi Mammar in the Tlemcen region of northwestern Algeria
– legionnaires from 1st + 3rd Battalion, 5e REI were involved in
– during the battle, 53 rebels were killed + 3 rebels were imprisoned

2011, 13e DBLE officially left Djibouti
– Djibouti is a country located in the Horn of Africa
– 13e DBLE (Half Brigade) had spent 49 years there (since 1962)
– it was the last Foreign Legion unit being stationed in Africa
– in August 2011, the unit was placed in the United Arab Emirates
– in June 2016, after 76 years, 13e DBLE was stationed back at Camp Larzac, France

– in the photo, 13e DBLE legionnaires during the leaving ceremony in Djibouti on June 13, 2011

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2011 - Djibouti

 

French Foreign Legion: June 14

1845, a military operation for elite companies from 2nd Battalion, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 1er RE) south of Sidi Bel Abbes, between Al Aricha and Chott El Gharbi, western Algeria
– the successful operation was aimed at the Djaffra rebel tribe
– around 100 rebels were imprisoned

1894, during the Second Campaign of French Sudan (1894-95, in today’s Mali of West Africa), a platoon of legionnaires led by Lt Betbeder took part in a military operation aimed at the native troops of Alikari of Bosse, the local king

1941, during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the British invasion of French Syria and Lebanon of WWII, a confrontation with British artillery close to Sidon, southern Lebanon
– 2nd + 3rd Battery, GALL (Foreign Legion Levant Artillery Group) took part in
– in the morning, the batteries (equipped with French 75 mm field guns) were shelled by British warships
– 2 legionnaires were killed, another 5 wounded
– at noon, the batteries attacked a British field battery
– 260 shells were fired
– the enemy battery had 5 of its 6 cannons destroyed
– GALL, created in January 1941, was formed by 6e REI legionnaires, but administratively assigned to 2e RAML (Artillery Regiment)
– the Syria-Lebanon Campaign was an operation of June-July 1941 during World War II to seize Syria and Lebanon, controlled by the French since the early 1920s

1957, during the Battle of Algiers (capital of Algeria), a military operation ended for 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) legionnaires
– it took place in the Ain Taya suburb of Algiers, between June 10-14
– 77 members of the FLN (National Liberation Front, the main rebel group in Algeria) were imprisoned

– also in 1957, near Taher, in the Djidjelli region of northeastern Algeria, 2e REP legionnaires clashed with Algerian rebels
– 12 rebels were killed

1960, in the Djelfa region of northern Algeria, legionnaires from 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in a battle with a group of local rebels
– 8 rebels were killed

– in the rare picture, GALL Artillery Battery legionnaires and their French 75 mm field gun in the Levant, 1941
– each of the three mobile batteries of GALL was equipped with four 75 mm guns
– during the 1941 campaign, GALL lost 33 of its 120 legionnaires

GALL - 6e REI - 6 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1941 - Syria

 

French Foreign Legion: June 15

1852, a successful battle for legionnaires from 1st + 2nd Battalion, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 1er RE) near Marnia, in the Tlemcen region, northwestern Algeria with the Beni Snassen, a local rebel tribe

1945, March to the Death finished
– an exhausting march through the jungle of northern Vietnam and southern China
– 800 miles (1,250 km) in 93 days
– poorly clothed, stocked and equipped French soldiers, including 850 legionnaires from 5e REI had to leave Vietnam, in then French Indochina occupied by Japanese troops
– during the march, the legionnaires got involved in several battles with the Japanese
– only 580 legionnaires survived the march

1951, close to Phat Diem in the Ninh Binh region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, future 2e REP) were attacked by the Viet Minh
– Captain Bertoleaud was deadly wounded + 6 legionnaires were killed
– Captain Raffalli (2e BEP’s commander) + several legionnaires were wounded

1954, during a patrol close to Qui Nhon in the Binh Dinh region of central Vietnam, then French Indochina, Alligators (LVT tracked vehicles) from 1st Amphibious Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) got involved in a battle with the Viet Minh
– Viet Minh had 20 men killed

1957, Operation NK3 ended for legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– the very important and successful five-week operation took place near Palestro and Tablat, in the Tizi Ouzou region of northern Algeria
– at least 175 rebels were killed, 102 rebels were imprisoned

– in the image, 1er REP legionnaires during an operation in northern Algeria, 1957

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: June 16

1916, Battle of Ain-Ageri
– a battle with Moroccan rebels near El Menzel in the Fez region of northern Morocco
– Mounted Company of 2e RE (2e REI now), as part of a composite Mobile Group, was involved in
– 1 legionnaire was killed, another 3 legionnaires were wounded

1956, four-day severe clashes with local rebels started for legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) at El Aamra, south of Taberdga, in the Khenchela region of northeastern Algeria
– 31 rebels were killed

1957, legionnaires from CDRE (Disciplinary Company, the feared unit based in the desert of western Algeria) and 2e REI took part in a military operation at Djebel Mzi in the Ain Sefra region of northwestern Algeria
– during the operation, 19 rebels were killed + 37 rebels were imprisoned

– in the rare photo, the military post of Djenien Bou Rezg, the home to the CDRE Disciplinary Company located in the desert of western Algeria, 1957
– CDRE formed a penal unit called Intervention Platoon, consisting of the punished legionnaires being already considered as well-behaved, to take part in military operations
– the legionnaires served three months in the Intervention Platoon before returning to their native units

CDRE - Disciplinary Company - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algeria

 

French Foreign Legion: June 17

1843, a battle with local rebels for 2nd Battalion, 1er RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 1er RE) near Bou Arbi in the Ouarensis region of northern Algeria
– Second Lieutenant Berset was killed
– he became a hero of the war in Spain with the “Old Legion” (1831-39)

1941, during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the British invasion of French Syria and Lebanon of WWII, fighting with Australian troops at Jezzine, southern Lebanon
– legionnaires from HQ Company + 1st Battalion, 6e REI took part in
– being under heavy shelling, HQ Company and 2nd + 3rd Company, 6e REI defended their positions close to Jezzine
– several attacks and counter-attacks took place that day
– two Legion platoons (Siri + Brajon) were annihilated by Australians
– in the afternoon, the legionnaires and Australians got involved in a five-hour battle
– finally, Australians were fought off and the legionnaires managed to defend their positions
– several legionnaires and Australians were killed
– Captain Berthoux (1st Battalion commander) + Captain Gane + Captain Orsini + many legionnaires were wounded
– the Syria-Lebanon Campaign was an operation of June-July 1941 during World War II to seize Syria and Lebanon, controlled by the French since the early 1920s

– in the image, a military outpost of 6e REI in the Levant in the early 1940s
– the legionnaires are equipped with the Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun

6e REI - 6 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1940 - Syria - Levant

 

French Foreign Legion: June 18

1851, legionnaires from 1st Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI) were attacked by local rebels in the Bougie region of northeastern Algeria
– during the battle, 1 legionnaire was killed + 10 legionnaires were wounded

1940, Battle of Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse
– a defensive battle against attacking German forces at Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse, a village on the River Meuse in northeastern France
– legionnaires from 11e REI (Infantry Regiment) got involved in
– while defending three bridges on the river, the outnumbered legionnaires suffered heavy causualties
– 2nd Battalion lost its Polish commander, Major Rzekiecki, and was annihilated
– 11e REI (Infantry Regiment) was a provisional unit composed of some 3,100 men (legionnaires and reservists, including some 900 Poles and 650 Spaniards), created in November 1939 to fight in France during the first stage of WWII
– the legionnaires were fighting all the day
– in the evening, 11e REI ceased to exist

1941, during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the British invasion of French Syria and Lebanon of WWII, legionnaires from 7th Company, 6e REI got involved in a fierce battle with Australian troops at Jadra, south of Damour, Lebanon
– 33 legionnaires were killed or wounded
– Captain Paté, their commander, was also wounded
– the Syria-Lebanon Campaign was an operation of June-July 1941 during World War II to seize Syria and Lebanon, controlled by the French since the early 1920s

1949, Attack on Fort Leclerc
– an old fortress at Sebha, an oasis city in southwestern Libya
– since February 1949, Fort Leclerc had served as the headquarters of 3e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company)
– that day, it was attacked by an armed crowd led by local rebels
– a legionnaire guarding the Fort’s gate was killed
– a French Army radio operator was also killed
– another 4 radio operators (non-legionnaires) were wounded
– legionnaires gathered below the fortress (at company’s garages and auto-service grounds) opened fire
– 22 attackers were killed, 2 attackers were imprisoned
– it was one of the first attacks aimed at the French forces in North Africa before the Algerian War started (1954-55)
– 3e CSPL left Fort Leclerc for Algeria in November 1956

– also in 1949, during a patrol between That Khe and Dong Khe in the Cao Bang region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 3e REI were attacked by the Viet Minh
– over 20 legionnaires were killed or missed

1959, a military operation for legionnaires from 3e REI near Beni Djerdine, Tenes region, northwestern Algeria
– during the operation, 10 rebels were killed

– in the rare picture, the freshly established 11e REI during a parade at Camp of La Valbonne, eastern France, November 1939

11e REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1939 - La Valbonne - France

 

French Foreign Legion: June 19

1846, legionnaires from 2nd + 3rd Battalion, 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI) got involved in a battle with local rebels in the Constantine region of northeastern Algeria
– around 100 rebels were killed

1929, Siege of Ait Yakoub ended
– in the Ait Yacoub valley of Taza region, northern Morocco, between June 8-19, a French composite group (including legionnaires from 6th Company, 3e REI) was besieged by well-armed Moroccan rebels
– the French were heavily outnumbered
– during the siege, tens of French troops died, including many legionnaires
– however, the rebels were finally fought off and the valley was managed to defend

1941, Battle of Marjayoun
– a battle during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the British invasion of French Syria and Lebanon of WWII
– Australian troops supported by British artillery attacked Marjayoun, a town in southern Lebanon
– the town was defended by 3rd Battalion, 6e REI
– the following severe battle took several hours
– during the battle, a platoon of 9th Company was annihilated
– Sergeant Major Léontieff (a long-serving legionnaire) and his men were all killed
– heavily outnumbered, they held an important position and defended it until the finish, making their Camerone
– HQ of the 3rd Battalion (defended by 9th Company) was being attacked for two hours
– 54 Australians were killed during the attack
– around 80 Australians (including an officer) were imprisoned
– Second Lieutenant Schluter (a long-serving legionnaire of German origin) + several legionnaires were also killed
– the enemy was successfully fought off, Marjayoun was managed to defend
– the Syria-Lebanon Campaign was an operation of June-July 1941 during World War II to seize Syria and Lebanon, controlled by the French since the early 1920s

1946, Battle of Mat Cat
– the very first action for 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) in then French Indochina (the unit landed in Indochina in March 1946)
– the action took place at Mat Cat, in the Tay Ninh region of southern Vietnam
– legionnaires from Anti-tank Company + Recon Platoon, 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE got involved in a battle with the Viet Minh
– Captain Faucon (company commander) + 4 legionnaires were imprisoned and executed three weeks later

1949, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE took part in clashes with the Viet Minh close to Duc Hoa in the Long An region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– 49 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1959, a military operation for legionnaires from 6th Motorized Company, 2e REI
– it took place at Mekalis in the Ain Sefra region of northwestern Algeria
– during the successful operation, at least 26 rebels were killed

– in the image, Lt Colonel Arnault and the color guard of 13e DBLE in Indochina, in the late 1940s

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Lt Colonel Arnault - 1948 - Indochina

 

French Foreign Legion: June 20

1922, 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment establishment
– that day, a decree was issued
– it prescribed the creation of a Foreign Legion cavalry regiment
– in Tunisia, 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC) was officially created
– it also prescribed that the names of Foreign Legion infantry regiments (1er RE, 2e RE, 3e RE, 4e RE) will bear the title “Infantry” since then
– following the decree, the units were redesignated to 1er REI, 2e REI, 3e REI, 4e REI

1941, one of the most curious action in Legion history
– the action occurred during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the British invasion of French Syria and Lebanon of WWII
– at Mezzeh, a municipality in Damascus, the capital of Syria, a mission to clear the sector out of any British troops for First Sergeant Scharpegge and his 26 men from 4th Battalion, 6e REI
– during the mission, the platoon was attacked near a local building and 3 legionnaires were wounded
– Scharpegge asked his commander for a 75 mm cannon and then he and his men counter-attacked the position occupied by the enemy (5th Indian Brigade)
– after a short battle, the Indian troops surrendered
– First Sergeant Scharpegge and his 23 men took almost 300 prisoners, including 15 British officers
– 63 French prisoners, held also in the building, were rescued
– both sides were surprised, how many men in reality were involved in the action
– the Syria-Lebanon Campaign was a British operation of June-July 1941 during World War II to seize Syria and Lebanon, controlled by the French since the early 1920s

1950, legionnaires and local auxiliaries from the mixed 4th Battalion, 2e REI got involved in a significant battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred close to Quang Tri in central Vietnam, then French Indochina
– that day, Viet Minh had 204 men killed
– 2e REI had 10 men killed

– also in 1950, Operation Normandie started
– a four-day operation aimed at the Viet Minh
– it took place in the Plaine des Joncs region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– legionnaires from 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) + 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) + two Legion engeneering units were involved in
– during the operation, around 150 Viet Minh rebels were killed

– in the very rare photo, 1er REC legionnaires at Sousse, their garrison town in Tunisia, around 1922

1er REC - 1 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1922 - Sousse - Tunisia

 

Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: June 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: May 21 – 31
Foreign Legion events: May 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: May 01 – 10
French Foreign Legion history