Foreign Legion events: August 11 – 20

Get to know important historical data in French Foreign Legion’s history. Significant campaigns and battles, deployments and operations, the establishments or dissolutions of units. Look at the most notable events of the Foreign Legion which occurred between August 11 and August 20.


French Foreign Legion: August 11

1923, Battle of Djebel Idlane
– a severe battle with local rebels in the High Atlas range of Morocco
2e REI got involved in
– Major Jenoudet (3rd Battalion commander) + Lieutenant Bernart were badly wounded
– Lieutenant Bernart died from his injuries four days later
– that day, 2e REI had around 100 legionnaires killed or wounded

1954, Ceasefire in Southern Vietnam
First Indochina War officially ended
– following the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam, part of the July 1954 Geneva Agreements, the ceasefire in Southern Vietnam went into force on August 11
– Ceasefire in Southern Vietnam was the last of the ceasefires in then French Indochina (following those in North Vietnam, Central Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) and ended officially the war between the French and Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh, which started in September 1946

– in the image, a legionnaire rendering homage to his comrades killed in Indochina, at the cemetery of Hanoi, late July 1954

Legionnaire - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Indochina


French Foreign Legion: August 12

1914, an order to form units composed of foreign war-period volunteers
– because of the start of World War I two weeks earlier, Legion’s command received an order to form units composed of the foreign volunteers enlisted for the war period
– within a few weeks, four RM (Regimental Combat Team) will be established in France to fight on the Western Front
– next year, the remaining elements of these RMs merged into a single RMLE (Foreign Legion Regimental Combat Team)
– RMLE became one of the two most decorated unit of the French Army by the end of WWI
– it was redesignated to 3e RE in 1920 (3e REI in 1922)

2016, Operation Willau 10 + Operation Foudre 4 ended
– the week-long operations were part of Operation Harpie, launched in 2008 to eliminate illegal gold-diggers in the deep jungle of French Guiana (South America)
– Operations Willau 10 + Foudre 4 were conducted simultaneously
– French Army rotating units took part in
– they were protected by legionnaires from 3rd Company, 3e REI

– in the picture, 3e REI legionnaires (green berets + hats) and their French Army colleagues during Operation Foudre 4 in French Guiana, August 2016

3e REI - 3 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 2016 - Operation Foudre 4 - French Guiana


French Foreign Legion: August 13

1918, Ghorm El Alem outpost attacked
– the French outpost was located in the Meni Mellal region of central Morocco
– it was occupied by 4th Company, 1st Battalion, 1er RE
– legionnaires fought off the enemy
– nonetheless, Lieutenant Pascallaggi was killed

1947, during an operation near Ho Da Manh, in the Phan Rang region of central Vietnam, then French Indochina, a group of legionnaires (some 50 men) from 2nd Battalion, 2e REI were several times attacked by the Viet Minh in the deep jungle
– that day, 5 rebels + 3 legionnaires were killed, 13 legionnaires were wounded

1956, an operation for 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) at Djebel Selkr, in the Khenchela region of northeastern Algeria
– during the operation, 17 rebels were killed

– in the image, a bearded legionnaire from 13e DBLE with a MAS 36 rifle, during an operation in Algeria, 1956

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Algeria


French Foreign Legion: August 14

1941, Choice Ceremony for 6e REI
– following the end of the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the June-July 1941 British invasion of French Syria and Lebanon during WWII, a choice ceremony took place
6e REI legionnaires were asked to choose the side they want to fight for
– at a camp near Damascus in Syria, the legionnaires had to pass one by one in front of Australian military officers
– who wanted to leave the Legion and joined the British forces, he had to go through the door marked with “General de Gaulle”
– who wanted to stay in the Legion and serve France, he had to go through the door marked with “Marshal Pétain”
– out of some 1,200 men, only 3 legionnaires chose General de Gaulle
– the Syria-Lebanon Campaign was a British operation during World War II to seize Syria and Lebanon, controlled by the French since the early 1920s
– 6e REI fought bravely during that short campaign
– almost 250 legionnaires of the regiment were killed
– another 600 legionnaires were badly wounded

1947, near the outpost Loc Giang in the Duc Hoa region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina, a group of 15 legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE were attacked by the Viet Minh
– during the following fierce battle, the outnumbered group was annihilated
– a Sergeant Major and his 14 legionnaires were killed
– only one legionnaire survived

1960, Operation Alexandrine
– at Ouled Ali, close to El Milia in northeastern Algeria, legionnaires from 2e REP (Parachute Regiment) took part in an operation aimed against local rebel groups
– that day, 10 rebels were killed, 27 rebels were captured

– in the very rare photo, most likely never published online, 6e REI legionnaires with the French national flag bearing the text “The only France – Pétain”, after they had to leave Syria and Lebanon for France, August 1941

6e REI - 6 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1941 - Petain - France


French Foreign Legion: August 15

1915, Bou Ladjeraf outpost attacked
– the outpost attacked by Morrocan rebels was located in the M’coun region, Morocco
– then occupied by 23rd Company, 6th Battalion, 1er RE
– Captain Roquefort (company commander) + 2 legionnaires were killed

1954, during Operation Kepi Blanc (White Kepi), the legionnaires seized the Medina of Fez, the former capital of Morocco (until 1925)
– the Medina of Fez is an important ancient quarter comprising numerous monumental buildings, including the royal palace
– over 1,000 legionnaires from 1st + 4th Battalion, 4e REI took part in
– the successful operation was launched to restore order in the city and the nearest area, affected by anti-French rebellions

– in the picture, 1st Battalion, 4e REI trucks alongside the Medina of Fez, mid-August 1954

4e REI - 4 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Medina of Fez - Morocco


French Foreign Legion: August 16

1849, Second Attack on Zaatcha
Zaatcha is a fortified village with an oasis in the Biskra region of northeastern Algeria
– a French composite task force launched several attacks aimed at the village occupied by hundreds of local rebels
– 600 legionnaires from 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI), headed by Major De Saint-Germain, took part in
– the composite task force was led by Colonel Carbuccia, then 2e RLE commander
– that day, 50 rebels were killed
– 2e RLE had 14 legionnaires killed, 4 officers + 67 legionnaires were wounded
– in November, Zaatcha was finally seized and the 2e RLE’s flag was inscribed with the battle honor

1941, 6e REI left Syria and Lebanon for France
– following the end of the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the June-July 1941 British invasion of French Syria and Lebanon during WWII, 6e REI legionnaires had to leave these countries
– 6e REI fought bravely during that short campaign
– almost 250 legionnaires of the regiment were killed
– another 600 legionnaires were badly wounded
– the Legion had served in Syria and Lebanon since the mid-1920s

1951, during an operation in the Bac Ninh region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 3e REI got involved in a successful battle with the Viet Minh
– 10 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1953, Anti-French rebellions started in Morocco
– clashes with rebels for 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) in northeastern Morocco
– 4 legionnaires, including an NCO, were killed

1959, clashes with local rebels for 1st + 4th Squadron, 2e REC in the Bou Saada region of northern Algeria
– 10 rebels were killed

– in the image, 2e REC legionnaires parading at Oujda, their garrison town in Morocco, mid-1950s

2e REC - 2e REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Oujda - Morocco


French Foreign Legion: August 17

1835, the original Foreign Legion (created March 1831, now called as “Old Legion”) landed at Tarragona, northeastern Spain
– over 4,000 legionnaires headed by General Bernelle were handed over to Spain to join the First Carlist War in support of Maria Christina, Regent of Spain
– “Old Legion” served in Spain until December 1838 and was dissolved in January 1839
– meanwhile in France, another Legion (“New Legion”, the current one) was established in December 1835

1892, close to Ban So, in the Lang Son region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina, clashes with local rebels for legionnaires from 2e RM (Regimental Combat Team), 1er RE
– Captain Octave Watrin was killed

1925, clashes with local rebels for legionnaires from 6th Battalion, 1er REI (now 1er RE) near Camp Amelil, in the Taza region of Morocco
– 3 legionnaires were killed (including Sergeant Ordioni)
– 4 legionnaires were wounded

– in the picture, legionnaires operating the Hotchkiss machine gun in Morocco, between the two World Wars

Legionnaires - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1920s - Morocco


French Foreign Legion: August 18

1859, 2nd Foreign Regiment left Nimes, southern France
– 2e RE (now 2e REI) had been stationed at Nimes since late April
– its three battalions were participating successfully in the Second Italian War of Independence (May-June 1859)
– its commanding officer Colonel De Chabrières was killed during the campaign
– the regiment returned to Nimes 124 years later, in 1983, to be stationed there again

1947, Battle of Ambara
– a battle between legionnaires and local rebels in Madagascar, Indian Ocean
– 5th Company, 2nd Battalion, 4e DBLE (Half-Brigade, future 4e REI) was involved in
– that day, the 4e DBLE legionnaires attacked the rebel camp of Ambara in eastern Madagascar
– during the battle, 170 rebels were killed
– 4e DBLE was sent to Madagascar to help restore order in then part of the French colonial empire

1949, Operation Canigou started
– a three-week operation north-west of Hanoi, northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– the operation aimed at the Viet Minh groups in the region
– legionnaires from 6e REI, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) and 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, future 1er REP) participated in
– during the operation, 6e REI had one legionnaire killed, 1er BEP had 5 legionnaires killed

1954, in Morocco, an armored task force, led by Lieutenant Portet, was formed by AMM8 (M8 Greyhound) armored cars of 2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) to take part in an important four-week operation to restore order in the then French protectorate

– in the photo, 1er BEP legionnaires in French Indochina, 1950

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1950 - French Indochina


French Foreign Legion: August 19

1857, the new regimental flag of the 2e RE (formed in Aug 1856, currently 2e REI) arrived at Sidi Bel Abbes, its HQ in Algeria

1949, during Operation Canigou, legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 6e REI got involved in a battle with the Viet Minh at Tien Qui, a village in the Phuc Yen region of northern Vietnam, then French Indochina
– 1 legionnaire was killed + several legionnaires were wounded
– 3rd Battalion, 6e REI was the only unit of the regiment (reactivated in Tunisia in 1949) which took part in the First Indochina War
– a few weeks later, the battalion helped to re-establish the 5e REI in Indochina and became its 1st Battalion

1955, an intervention mission in Khenifra, Morocco for 1st Battalion, 4e REI
– legionnaires led by Major de Hautecloque had to calm down rebellions, and restore and maintain order in the city, to prevent pogroms aimed at French civilians
– the rebellions were conducted by Moroccan rebels
– many local French residents were killed

1960, a military operation for 4e REI at Djebel Frina, in the Souk Ahras region of northeastern Algeria, on the border with Tunisia
– during the operation, 12 rebels were killed

– in the rare image, armed local rebels during rebellions at Khenifra, Morocco on August 19, 1955
– five hours later, 4e REI legionnaires restored order in the city

4e REI - 4 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - rebellions - Khenifra - Morocco


French Foreign Legion: August 20

1951, during an operation in the Sadec region of southern Vietnam, then French Indochina, a successful battle for 2nd Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment)
– a large group of the Viet Minh was annihilated

1955, Oued Zem Massacre
– at Oued Zem, a city of central Morocco, about 70 French residents were massacred during a pogrom launched by local Berber tribe rebels
– 6 + 7th Company, 4e REI had to intervene to restore order and to prevent further violences aimed at French civilians

1958, Battle of Hassi Timeknes
– legionnaires from 4e CSPL (Saharan Motorized Company) got involved in a fierce battle with local rebels at Hassi Timeknes, in the Colomb-Bechar region of western Algeria

– in the photo, the 4e REI reviewed by General Franchi and its commanding officer, Colonel Borreil, at Oued Zem in late August 1955

4e REI - 4 REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Oued Zem - Morocco


Related posts:
Foreign Legion events: August 01 – 10
Foreign Legion events: July 21 – 31
Foreign Legion events: July 11 – 20
Foreign Legion events: July 01 – 10
French Foreign Legion history