Foreign Legion: 2020 Camerone Day

On April 30, as every year since 1931, the French Foreign Legion celebrated their most important holiday, Camerone Day. That day, all officers and legionnaires of the Foreign Legion commemorate the Battle of Camerone, an action which occurred in Mexico 157 years ago, in 1863.

The eight-hour battle, in which a Foreign Legion company of 65 men faced almost 2,000 Mexican infantrymen and cavalrymen, is portrayed as a pure example of bravery and determination of fighting to the finish. It had become a crucial moment in history of the Legion and a successful device to integrate men of all around the world into the institution and to transform them mentally into legionnaires.

The Camerone Day is a two-day holiday for all members of the Legion but the ceremony is usually open even for public. Nevertheless, due to the current coronavirus pandemic, 2020 Camerone Day was celebrated intimately, within closed gates of the Quartier Vienot in Aubagne, the Motherhouse of the Foreign Legion. On 30 April 2020, there were only 65 men (3 officers + 5 NCOs + 57 legionnaires) at the Place d’Armes, accurately as the order of battle of the 3rd Company, Foreign Regiment at Camerone.

As an inseparable part of the ceremony in Aubagne, the wooden hand of Captain Jean Danjou, the company commander at Camerone in 1863, is presented to public. To be designated to carry the wooden hand is seen as the most deserved honor for any veteran of the French Foreign Legion. This year, the official bearer of Captain Danjou’s hand had to be Adjudant-chef Gérald Ende, a former Warrant Officer with the Foreign Legion. Born in Germany in 1934, he enlisted in the Legion in 1953, to see deployments in French Indochina, Algeria, Egypt, Madagascar or Mayotte. Member of the 1er REP (until 1961), 1er RE, 13e DBLE or 3e REI, he retired in December 1976 to live in southern France. However, to respect the anti-pandemic regulations, he was finally replaced by Major Luis Balanzat, a Warrant Officer with the 1er RE.

The Narration of Camerone (Recit de Camerone), telling of the legendary story, is another inseparable part of the ceremony, customarily reserved for the youngest (in service) officer. This year, the Narration was given by Lieutenant Zdenek Vagner, a freshly appointed officer of the 1er RE. Coming from Czech Republic, he started his career as a simple legionnaire 24 years ago, in 1996, and has spent most of this time with the 2e REP.

See 2020 Camerone Day photos and videos:

Adjudant-chef Gérald Ende

Major Luis Balanzat presents the hand of Captain Jean Dajnou:

Lieutenant Zdenek Vagner presents himself:

2020 Camerone Day in Aubagne. Click on the FB icon to see all photos:

2020 Camerone Day in Aubagne:

2020 Camerone Day in Mali (2e REI), in Corsica (2e REP), in Laudun (1er REG), at Camp Carpiagne (1er REC) and in the Central African Republic (13e DBLE). Click on the FB icon to see all photos:

2020 Camerone Day in French Guiana (3e REI):

2020 Camerone Day at Saint Christol (2e REG):


Related posts:
Foreign Legion: 2019 Camerone Day
VIDEO: 2019 Camerone Day in Aubagne
Foreign Legion: 2018 Camerone Day
3e REI: Cross Camerone 2019