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, in northern Algeria, a successful military operation
– in the Tenes region
– aimed at local rebel tribes
– carried out by legionnaires from 2nd Battalion, 1er RLE were involved
– 1st Foreign Legion Regiment (now 1er RE)

1942, Battle of Bir Hakeim ended
– an action in Libya, North Africa
– 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, the “homemade” provisional flag of the Free French 13th Half-Brigade, icluding the 1942 Battle of Bir Hakeim’s battle honor

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1945 - Drapeau - Flag

 

French Foreign Legion: June 12

1843, in northeastern Algeria, Djidjelli was attacked again
– the capital of the Djidjelli region
– attacked by around 3,000 local rebels
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 2e RLE defended the town
– Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI
– they were stationed at Djidjelli at that time
– led by Major Petit de la Haye
– the attackers were fought off
– tens of rebels were killed
– 9 legionnaires were wounded
Djidjelli was already attacked once in early June

1918, in northeastern France, a German attack
– an action on the Western Front of WWI
– close to Villers-Cotterets, in the Aisne region
– the reduced RMLE was severely attacked
– Regimental Combat Team (future 3e REI)
– led by Lt Colonel Rollet (the future Father of the Legion)
– although heavily outnumbered, the legionnaires repulsed the attack
– they successfully defended their position
– their action was mentioned in the order of the Army

– also in 1918, in Morocco, a skirmish with local rebels
– part of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– it occurred close to Koudiat El Biad, in the Taza region
– 1st Mounted Company, 1er RE were involved
– 2 legionnaires (including Sergeant Spindler) were killed
– Captain Rostand + 2 legionnaires were wounded
– this action was also mentioned in the order of the Army

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

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

RMLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1917 - Paris

 

French Foreign Legion: June 13

1917, Battle of Souk El Had
– a battle with Moroccan rebels
– part of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– near Souk El Had, in the Taza region
– French composite Mobile Groups were attacked by local rebels
– 6th Battalion, 1er RE + 1st Mounted Company, 1er RE were involved
– 3 legionnaires were killed
– including a long-serving Adjudant-chef Panther
– almost 20 legionnaires were wounded
– an officer + a sergeant + 3 legionnaires were missed

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

2011, 13e DBLE to leave Africa officially
– that day, the 13e DBLE left Djibouti, Africa
– Foreign Legion Half-Brigade
– the last Foreign Legion unit being stationed in Africa
– based in Djibouti for 49 years, since 1962
– Djibouti is a country located in the Horn of Africa
– in August 2011, the 13e DBLE was placed in the United Arab Emirates
– in 2016, the unit returned to France
– since June 2016, the 13e DBLE has been stationed at Camp Larzac, France
– it returned to the camp after 76 years (based and trained there in 1940)

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

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

 

French Foreign Legion: June 14

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

1894, in then French Sudan, a military operation
– an acion during the Second Campaign of French Sudan (1894-95)
– in today’s Mali, a country of West Africa
– the operation was aimed at the native troops of Alikari of Bosse
– the rebelious local king
– Lieutenant Betbeder and his platoon of legionnaires participated

1957, in northern Algeria, a four-day military operation ended
– carried out by the 1er REP (Parachute Regiment)
– in the Ain Taya sector, east of Algiers, the capital
– 77 members of the FLN were imprisoned
– National Liberation Front, the then main rebel group in Algeria

– also in 1957, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– near Taher, in the Djidjelli region
2e REP legionnaires were involved
– 12 rebels were killed

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

– in the picture, 1er REP’s Color Guard at Zeralda, their camp near Algiers, 1957

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

 

French Foreign Legion: June 15

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

1945, March to the Death finished
– an exhausting march during WWII
– following the Japanese coup d’état in French Indochina (March 1945)
– the march of French soldiers, including legionnaires
– 800 miles (1,250 km) in 93 days
– through the jungle of Northern Vietnam and southern China
– they were poorly clothed, stocked and equipped
– nevertheless, they had to fight with the Japanese during the march
– the legionnaires were involved in several battles with the Japanese
– from 850 legionnaires, only 580 men survived the march

1951, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– close to Phat Diem, in the Ninh Binh region of Northern Vietnam
– aimed at the 2e BEP (Parachute Battalion, future 2e REP)
– Captain Jacques Bertoleaud was fatally wounded
– 6 legionnaires were killed
– Captain Raffalli (2e BEP’s commander) + several legionnaires were wounded

1954, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– near Qui Nhon, in the Binh Dinh region, Central Vietnam
– Alligators (LVT tracked vehicles) from 1st Amphibious Group, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– 20 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1957, Operation NK3 ended
– an action during the Algerian War (1954-62)
– a very important and successful five-week operation
– legionnaires from 1er REP (Parachute Regiment) participated
– near Palestro and Tablat, in the Tizi Ouzou region, northern Algeria
– at least 175 rebels were killed
– 102 rebels were imprisoned

1997, Operation Pelican ended
– a French operation in the Republic of the Congo
– a country in Central Africa
– a week operation to rescue 6,000 foreigners
– including some 1,500 French people
– they were threatened by local militiamen
– 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) were involved
– at the beginning, several clashes with militiamen
– at least 15 rebels were killed
– however, Corporal Christophe Gobin was also killed
– a member of the 2e REP’s GCP Commandos
– an officer + 3 NCOs + 4 legionnaires were wounded

– in the image, 2e REP legionnaires during Operation Pelican in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, June 1997 + Corporal Christophe Gobin, killed during the operation

2e REP - 2 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1997 - Operation Pelican - Brazzaville - Republic of the Congo

 

French Foreign Legion: June 16

1916, Battle of Ain-Ageri
– a battle with Moroccan rebels
– part of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– near El Menzel, in the Fez region
– French composite Mobile Groups were attacked by local rebels
– Mounted Company, 2e RE were involved
– part of a French composite Mobile Group
– a legionnaire was killed
– 3 legionnaires were wounded

1957, in northwestern Algeria, a military operation
– at Djebel Mzi, in the Ain Sefra region
– the operation was aimed at local rebels
– 2e REI legionnaires were involved
– also Intervention Platoon, CDRE (Disciplinary Company)
– an operational unit of CDRE, the feared company based in the desert of western Algeria 1955-64
– legionnaires finishing their punishments and considered as well-behaved, they served in the Intervention Platoon for three months before returning to their native units
– that day, 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
– in the second rare photo, CDRE officers at the entrance to the dicipline company

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

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

 

French Foreign Legion: June 17

1843, in northern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– near Bou Arbi, in the Ouarensis region
– 2nd Battalion, 1er RLE were involved
– 1st Foreign Legion Regiment (now 1er RE)
– Second Lieutenant Samuel Berset was killed
– a long-serving Swiss legionnaire
– a hero of the “Old Legion” (1831-39) in the First Carlist War in Spain
– a former member of a Swiss regiment in service of France (before 1831)

1941, in French Syria and Lebanon, fighting with British troops
– part of the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign (June-July) of WWII
– French troops facing a British invasion
– the invasion to seize Syria and Lebanon
– ruled by the French since the early 1920s
– on the British side, mainly Australians and Indian troops
– on the French side, mainly the Foreign Legion’s 6e REI
– that day, fierce fighting close to Jezzine, Lebanon
– 6e REI legionnaires were defending their positions
– HQ Company + 2nd + 3rd Company, 1st Battalion, 6e REI
– being attacked by Australians
– the legionnaires were under heavy shelling
– several attacks and counter-attacks also took place
– two Legion platoons were annihilated by Australians
– in the afternoon, a five-hour battle occurred
– finally, the Australians were fought off
– the legionnaires kept their positions
– a number of legionnaires and Australians were killed
– many men were wounded
– between them, Captain Berthoux (1st Battalion commander) + Captain Gane + Captain Orsini (2nd + 3rd Company commanders)

– 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, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with local rebels
– in the Bougie region
– 1st Battalion, 2e RLE were involved
– 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment (now 2e REI)
– a legionnaire was killed
– 10 legionnaires were wounded

1940, Battle of Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse
– a violent action in northeastern France
– part of the Battle of France (May-June 1940) of WWII
– 11e REI participated
– the regiment faced attacking German troops
– the unit was defending the three bridges of the River Meuse
– located at Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse, in the Meuse region
– the outnumbered legionnaires suffered heavy causualties
– during the battle, 2nd Battalion, 11e REI was annihilated
– it lost the vast majority of its strength
– between the killed, Major Henryk Rzekiecki, the battalion commander
– born in Poland, he joined the Foreign Legion in 1913
– also other 11e REI officers were killed that day
– Captains Louis Lefebre + Daniel Lhuisset + Jean Magne
– Lieutenant Roger Viel + Lieutenant Jacques de Rousiers
– that day, the 11e REI ceased to exist as a regiment
– 11e REI was formed in France in November 1939
– constituted as a provisional unit
– composed of around 3,100 men
– including legionnaires, former legionnaires-reservists, foreign volunteers and mobilized foreigners living in France
– between the men, some 900 Poles and 650 Spaniards

1941, in French Syria and Lebanon, a battle with British troops
– part of the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign (June-July) of WWII
– French troops facing a British invasion
– the invasion to seize Syria and Lebanon
– ruled by the French since the early 1920s
– on the British side, mainly Australians and Indian troops
– on the French side, mainly the Foreign Legion’s 6e REI
– that day, a fierce battle with Australians
– at Jadra, south of Damour, Lebanon
– 7th Company, 2nd Battalion, 6e REI were involved
– 33 legionnaires were killed or wounded
– Captain Paté (company commander) was also wounded

1949, Attack on Fort Leclerc
– an old fortress at Sebha, an oasis city in southwestern Libya
– the then HQ of 3e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company)
– the only unit of the Legion ever stationed in Libya
– that day, Fort Leclerc 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
– 3e CSPL legionnaires gathered below the fortress (at the 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, in then French Indochina, a Viet Minh attack
– between That Khe and Dong Khe
– in the Cao Bang region of Northern Vietnam
– aimed at a patrol of the 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– over 20 legionnaires were killed or missed

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

– in the rare picture, 3e CSPL’s Fort Leclerc in Libya in the mid-1950s
– in June 1949, the fortress saw one of the first rebel attacks aimed at the French in North Africa after WWII

3e CSPL - 3 CSPL - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1950s - Fort Leclerc - Libya

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

1929, Siege of Ait Yakoub ended
– an action during the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– 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 eventually fought off
– the valley remained defended

1941, Battle of Marjayoun
– an action of the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign (June-July) of WWII
– French troops facing a British invasion
– the invasion to seize Syria and Lebanon
– ruled by the French since the early 1920s
– on the British side, mainly Australians and Indian troops
– on the French side, mainly the Foreign Legion’s 6e REI
– that day, a fierce battle with Australians supported by British artillery
– they attacked Marjayoun, a town in southern Lebanon
– the town was defended by 3rd Battalion, 6e REI
– the following fierce battle took several hours
– during the battle, a platoon of 9th Company, 6e REI was annihilated
– led by Adjudant-chef Léontieff (a long-serving Russian legionnaire)
– he and his men were all killed
– heavily outnumbered, they held an important position
– defending it until the finish, making their “Camerone”

– HQ of the 3rd Battalion was being attacked for two hours
– defended by the rest of 9th Company, 6e REI
– the legionnaires fought bravely
– 54 Australians were killed during the attack
– around 80 Australians (including an officer) were imprisoned
– however, Second Lieutenant Joseph Schluter (a long-serving legionnaire of German origin) + several legionnaires were killed
– finally, the enemy was successfully fought off
Marjayoun remained defended

1946, Battle of Mat Cat
– an action of the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– a battle with the Viet Minh
– the very first action for 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) in then French Indochina
– the unit landed there in March 1946
– the action took place at Mat Cat
– in the Tay Ninh region, Southern Vietnam
– Anti-tank Company + Recon Platoon, 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE were involved
– they were outnumbered and severely attacked by the Viet Minh
– Captain Henri Faucon (company commander) was seriously wounded at the beginning of the action
– he refused his evacuation by saying “I am a legionnaire, I will make Camerone
– he and HQ platoon allowed his unit to withdraw
– however, Captain Faucon + 4 legionnaires were imprisoned
– they were executed by the Viet Minh three weeks later

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

1956, in northeastern Algeria, clashes with local rebels ended
– they lasted four days
– near El Aamra, south of Taberdga, in the Khenchela region
– 1st Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– 31 rebels were killed

1959, in northwestern Algeria, a military operation
– conducted by 6th Motorized Company, 2e REI
– aimed at local rebels
– near Mekalis, in the Ain Sefra region
– 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) would be created
– it also prescribed the redesignation of Legion infantry regiments
– 1er RE, 2e RE, 3e RE, 4e RE
– following the decree, these units would be redesignated
– they became 1er REI, 2e REI, 3e REI, 4e REI

1941, Battle of Mezzeh
– a short battle with British troops
– one of the most curious action in the Foreign Legion’s history
– part of the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign (June-July) of WWII
– French troops facing a British invasion
– the invasion to seize Syria and Lebanon
– ruled by the French since the early 1920s
– on the British side, mainly Australians and Indian troops
– on the French side, mainly the Foreign Legion’s 6e REI
– that day, a clearing mission at Mezzeh
– a municipality in Damascus, the capital of Syria
– 6e REI legionnaires were involved
– a platoon of the 4th Battalion, 6e REI
– Adjudant Scharpegge and his 26 legionnaires
– during the mission, the platoon was attacked
– from a local agricultural building
– 3 legionnaires were wounded
– Adjudant Scharpegge reacted
– he asked his battalion commander for a 75 mm cannon
– then he and his platoon fiercely counter-attacked the position
– occupied by the 5th Indian Brigade, British Army
– after a short battle, the Indian troops surrendered
– Adjudant Scharpegge and his 23 men took almost 300 prisoners
– including 15 British officers
– 63 French prisoners were also rescued
– held by Indians for several days
– both sides were surprised how many men in reality were involved in the action

1950, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– close to Quang Tri, Central Vietnam
– legionnaires and local auxiliaries from the mixed 4th Battalion, 2e REI were involved
– 204 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 10 men of the 2e REI were also killed

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