Foreign Legion events: August 11 – 20

On this day. Discover the Legion’s interesting historical events which occurred between August 11 and August 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 a picture.

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

 

French Foreign Legion: August 11

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

1954, First Indochina War officially ended
– that day, a ceasefire in Southern Vietnam went into force
– a result of the 1954 Geneva Agreements
– the last of the five ceasefires that were negotiated
– they went into force between late July and mid-August
– they ended the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– over 10,000 members of the Legion were killed in the war

– 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, Units consisting of foreign war-period volunteers
– that day, an order to form new units
– consisting of foreign volunteers
– enlisted for the war period
– to participate in World War I
– the war started two weeks earlier
– within a few weeks, four units were formed
– regiment-sized task forces
– assigned to the Foreign Legion
– in 1915, they merged into a single unit
– Foreign Legion Regimental Combat Team (RMLE)
– one of the two most decorated unit of the French Army in 1919
– it was redesignated to 3e RE in 1920 (3e REI in 1922)

2016, Operation Willau 10 + Operation Foudre 4 ended
– week-long operations in French Guiana
– part of Operation Harpie, launched in 2008
– to eliminate illegal gold-diggers in the deep jungle of Guiana
– Operations Willau 10 + Foudre 4 were conducted simultaneously
– French Army rotating units took part
– the units were protected by legionnaires
– members of the 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
– a French outpost attacked in Morocco
– situated in the Meni Mellal region
– held by 4th Company, 1st Battalion, 1er RE
– legionnaires fought off the enemy
– nonetheless, Lieutenant Pascallaggi was killed

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

1956, in northeastern Algeria, a skirmish with rebels
– at Djebel Selkr, in the Khenchela region
– legionnaires from 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade) were involved
– 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, Decision-making for 6e REI men
– that day, decision-making for 6e REI men
– choosing the side to fight for
– following the end of the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign
– French troops facing a British invasion of June-July
– the invasion to seize Syria and Lebanon
– the countries 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, 6e REI men had to decide their future
– they were given two options
– to desert the Legion and the French Army to join British troops
– to continue in serving France with the Legion
– at a camp near Damascus in Syria, the officers and legionnaires had to pass one by one in front of Australian military officers
– who wanted to desert the Legion and join 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
– 6e REI men fought bravely during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign
– almost 250 men of the regiment were killed
– another 600 men were badly wounded
– later in August, they left Syria and Lebanon for France
– back in Algeria in December, the regiment was redesignated
– it became 1er REI (now 1er RE), based at Sidi Bel Abbes

1947, in then French Indochina, a battle with the Viet Minh
– during an operation near the outpost of Loc Giang
– in the Duc Hoa region of Southern Vietnam
– a group of 15 legionnaires was attacked
– they belonged to 3rd Battalion, 13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– led by a long-serving Adjudant-chef
– the outnumbered group was annihilated
– 15 legionnaires were killed
– only one legionnaire survived

1960, Operation Alexandrine
– an operation in northeastern Algeria
– aimed at local rebel groups
– at Ouled Ali, close to El Milia
2e REP (Parachute Regiment) took part
– 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, in Morocco, a skirmish with local rebels
– near the Bou Ladjeraf outpost
– located in the M’coun region
– held by 23rd Company, 6th Battalion, 1er RE
– Captain Félix Roquefort (company commander) was killed
– 2 legionnaires were also killed

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

– 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
– part of the Pacification of Algeria
Zaatcha is a fortified village with an oasis
– in the Biskra region, northeastern Algeria
– the then village was occupied by hundreds of local rebels
– a French composite task force was sent to attack it
– 2e RLE (Foreign Legion Regiment, now 2e REI) participated
– 600 legionnaires led by Major de Saint-Germain
– the French task force was led by Colonel Carbuccia
– the then 2e RLE commander
– a severe battle occurred
– however, the village wasn’t captured
– that day, 50 rebels were killed
– 14 legionnaires were also killed
– 4 officers + 67 legionnaires were wounded
– in November, Zaatcha would be finally seized
– the 2e RLE’s flag would be inscribed with the battle honor

1941, 6e REI left Syria and Lebanon for France
– that day, the 6e REI left Syria and Lebanon
– the regiment which was born there in late 1939
– it had to leave due to the end of the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign
– the successful British invasion to seize Syria and Lebanon
– the countries 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
– the legionnaires fought bravely during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign
– almost 250 men of the regiment were killed
– another 600 men were badly wounded
– that day, Australian soldiers visited the leaving 6e REI
– the Australian officer commanding his troops during the hardest battles personally borded the boat with legionnaires to shake hands with Major Brisset
– he congratulated him for the bravery of his legionnaires at Damour on July 6
– then, an Australian company rendered honor to the leaving 6e REI

1951, in then French Indochina, a skirmish with the Viet Minh
– during an operation in the Bac Ninh region, Northern Vietnam
– 3rd Battalion, 3e REI were involved
– 10 Viet Minh rebels were killed

1953, in Morocco, first clashes with rebels
2e REC (Cavalry Regiment) participated
– 4 legionnaires were killed

1959, in northern Algeria, clashes with rebels
– in the Bou Saada region
– 1st + 4th Squadron, 2e REC were involved
– 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, Foreign Legion to land in Spain
– that day, the original Foreign Legion landed in Spain
– at Tarragona, in the northeastern part of the country
– over 4,000 legionnaires led by General Bernelle
– they were handed over to Spain by the French government
– to participate in the First Carlist War (1833-40)
– in support of Maria Christina, Regent of Spain
– the original Legion was created in March 1831
– now called as the “Old Legion”, it was serving in Algeria
– the legionnaires would fight in Spain until December 1838
– the significantly reduced Legion was dissolved in January 1839
– tens of its survivors joined the “New Legion” in Algeria
– the current Legion, formed in 1836

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

1925, in Morocco, clashes with local rebels
– part of the Pacification of Morocco (1907-34)
– also part of the Rif War (1921-26)
– the clashes occurred near Camp Amelil, in the Taza region
– legionnaires from 6th Battalion, 1er REI (now 1er RE) took part
– 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 to leave Nimes
– that day, 2e RE (now 2e REI) left Nimes
– an old Roman city in southern France
– the regiment had been stationed there for four months
– its large depot + a reserve battalion
– during the war in nearby Italy
– Second Italian War of Independence (May-June 1859)
– 2e RE’s three battalions successfully participated
– however, Colonel De Chabrières was killed
– their commanding officer
– the regiment returned to Nimes 124 years later
– in November 1983, when having left Corsica
– the current barracks of the 2e REI are named after the killed colonel

1947, Battle of Ambara
– in Madagascar, a battle with local rebels
– a large island in the Indian Ocean, close to Africa
– the then part of the French colonial empire
– that day, legionnaires attacked a rebel camp of Ambara
– 5th Company, 2nd Battalion, 4e DBLE
– Foreign Legion Half-Brigade (future 4e REI)
– during the battle, 170 rebels were killed
– 4e DBLE was sent to Madagascar to help restore order
– during the little-known mission, the legionaires successfully suppressed the local rebellion and restored order there
– the battalion left Madagascar in late 1951

1949, Operation Canigou started
– a three-week operation in then French Indochina
– north-west of Hanoi, Northern Vietnam
– the operation aimed at the Viet Minh groups in the region
– several Foreign Legion regiments took part
– 3rd Battalion, 6e REI
13e DBLE (Half-Brigade)
– 1er BEP (Parachute Battalion, future 1er REP)
– during the operation, 6 legionnaires would be killed

– 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, 2e RE’s new regimental flag
– that day in Algeria, 2e RE obtained its new flag
– 2nd Foreign Regiment (future 2e REI)
– the unit was created in mid-1856
– ex-1st Foreign Legion (1835-56)
– formed by consolidating the two regiments of the dissolved Legion
– based at Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria
– at the time, also 1er RE had existed since 1856
– ex-2nd Foreign Legion (“Swiss Legion”, 1855-56)

1949, in then French Indochina, clashes with the Viet Minh
– during Operation Canigou
– at Tien Qui, a village in the Phuc Yen region, Northern Vietnam
– legionnaires from 3rd Battalion, 6e REI were involved
– a legionnaire was killed
– several legionnaires were wounded
– for 6e REI, it was the only operation in Indochina
– 3rd Battalion, 6e REI served there for a few weeks only
– in November, it would be redesignated
– it became 1st Battalion, 5e REI

1955, Rebellions in Khenifra
– that day, rebellions in Khenifra, Morocco
– anti-French rebellions and pogroms carried out by local rebels
– tens of French residents were massacred
– legionnaires were sent to restore order in the city
– 1st Battalion, 4e REI led by Major de Hautecloque
– the legionnaires successfully restored order
– a number of rebels were killed

1960, in northeastern Algeria, a military operation
– conducted by 4e REI legionnaires
– at Djebel Frina, in the Souk Ahras region, on the border with Tunisia
– 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, in then French Indochina, a successful battle with the Viet Minh
– in the Sadec region of Southern Vietnam
– 2nd Squadron, 1er REC (Cavalry Regiment) were involved
– a large group of the Viet Minh was annihilated

1955, Oued Zem Massacre
– a massacre at Oued Zem, a city of central Morocco
– carried out by local rebels
– aimed at local French people
– about 70 French residents were massacred
– 6 + 7th Company, 4e REI had to intervene to restore order
– also to prevent further violences aimed at French civilians

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

– 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: August 21 – 31
French Foreign Legion history