DOCUMENTS: 1959 1er REP Honorable discharge certificate of SCH Rutecki

Besides the PHOTOS series, I would like to create more similar categories and share within them other interesting items related to the French Foreign Legion, often hidden in personal archives. Thus, the next category to appear will focus on historical documents of all kinds. Here is the first such document, the Honorable discharge certificate (Certificat de bonne conduite) of a member of the famous 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (1er REP), very rare to see.

The document(s) and related information were provided to our website and published with the kind permission of Krzysztof Schramm, historian of the Foreign Legion veteran association in Poland, A.A.A.L.E. de Pologne, and the author of the book called I regret nothing.

The following Honorable discharge certificate and related documents belonged to Gwidon Rutecki, a staff sergeant (sergent-chef, SCH) of the Foreign Legion. Rutecki was born in Poland, in the village of Bodzanów, on 18 January 1927. During WWII, he lived in Warsaw, the capital, where he joined the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, at the age of 17. With the rank of private, he fought against German occupiers of his country and was eventually imprisoned.

Rutecki survived the German POW camp. Some time later, he decided to join the Foreign Legion, like many of his then-compatriots who opposed the emerging hegemony of the communist USSR over Poland. According to the service records obtained from the Legion archive, Rutecki joined the Legion in Marseille, on 15 October 1946. “Blond hair with blue eyes, 179 cm tall, straight nose, distinguishing marks: a birthmark on his cheek and neck…” This is the description one can find in his personal records upon his enlistment. Rutecki signed the 5-year contract and was given the matricule number 42502.

After a certain period in Marseille, he was sent along with other volunteers to Sidi Bel Abbes in North Africa’s Algeria, the then HQ of the Legion. He went through a month-long accelerated training in the DCRE. In late December 1946, he was assigned to the 1er REC and shipped to French Indochina in Southeast Asia for two years, which the young man eventually prolonged – at his own request – up to long four and a half years. There, he participated in the war with the Viet Minh.

Back in Algeria in July 1951, then-Sergeant Rutecki signed another 3 years and was assigned to the 2e REC in Morocco. In 1952, he was promoted to staff sergeant and, in November, rejoined the 1er REC in Indochina. A month later, he was wounded by a shrapnel. In 1954, when the war in Indochina ended, he prolonged his contract by another 18 months.

Back in Morocco in April 1955, SCH Rutecki was member of the GPLEM.

However, this cavalryman decided to change his original classification and become a paratrooper. Thus, he signed another 3 years and in late September, he was assigned to the 1er REP in Algeria; he got the parachute badge on 26 October 1955, nine years after his enlistment. With the 1er REP, Rutecki took part in the Algerian War, as well as in the Suez Crisis (also known as Operation Musketeer), an Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in late 1956.

In mid-January 1959, Staff Sergeant Rutecki got his discharge certificate from the hands of Colonel Brothier, commander of the 1er REP. At the time, it was the legionnaire’s unit who issued the document; not the motherhouse, like nowadays. He returned to Sidi Bel Abbes to go through the administrative process for leaving the Legion. Unfortunately, we don’t know why he didn’t want to serve less than three more years to get his full pension (eligible for those who retired after 15 years of service). Taking into account three months of a designated vacation, he officially left the Legion on 15 April 1959, after 12.5 years of service.

A naturalized French since 1956, Gwidon Rutecki was twice mentioned in dispatches (1951 and 1958), and awarded the Military Medal, the Foreign Theater Operations War Cross, the Military Valor Cross, the Colonial Medal with Extreme Orient (Far East) clasp, the Commemorative Medal for Indochina, the Commemorative Medal for Operations in the Middle East (Suez), and the Commemorative Medal for North Africa… He passed away on 6 June 2011.

If any of you have additional information about Gwidon Rutecki, please feel free to contact me. Thank you.

Here are the documents and awards (click on to enlarge them):


Related posts:
PHOTOS: 1963 2e REP training at Bou Sfer
PHOTOS: Algerian War 1954-1962
PHOTOS: 1re CSPL Platoon Leader badge in the Saharan Desert in 1958
PHOTOS: 1er RE Adjudants around 1900