PHOTOS: 2nd Foreign Regiment’s Color Guard in the early 1900s

Another part of the PHOTOS series. Today, the article is dedicated to the color guard of the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment (2e REI) in Algeria, North Africa, in the early 1900s; back then, the unit was still known as the 2nd Foreign Regiment (2e Etranger, 2e RE).

The photos come from postcards of the time, when the regiment’s HQ was stationed in the town of Saida, in the deserted South Oran territory of Western Algeria, close to the Moroccan border. Since the late 1890s, the regiment had been participating in the South Oran campaign to pacify the territory, along with building and occupying new outposts there. That campaign was marked by the famous battle at El Moungar in early September 1903, which has been commemorated annually by the regiment since then.

At the same time, the 2e RE legionnaires were being deployed to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean (until 1905) and Tonkin (a former title for Northern Vietnam) in French Indochina.

In the early 1900s, several postcards presenting the 2e RE color guard with the regimental flag (drapeau) were issued. Unfortunately, all the postcards issued back then in North Africa are undated. The only way how to estimate their time of origin, apart from uniform identification, is to look after post stamps of those cards that were sent.

The first photo is the most interesting one. It was taken in Saida in 1903 or earlier (this exact postcard was sent in February 1906, but known are also those from 1903). The photo shows a robust lieutenant – serving as the standard-bearer – and five most decorated/senior legionnaires of the regiment’s HQ (including a sergeant, second from left) who usually made part of the color guard. The photo is interesting because we can clearly see the displayed 2e RE’s drapeau, obtained in Algeria in mid-July 1885, with embroidered campaigns fought between 1855 and 1900. What’s really most interesting is the motto Honneur et Patrie (the motto of the regular French Army units) used instead of Valeur et Discipline, the motto of the then Legion (to learn more about the mottos, see Traditions). The other photos don’t show the old drapeau in detail, unfolded.

As always in the PHOTO series, just click the image to enlarge it.

Related posts:
PHOTOS: 1er RE Adjudants around 1900
PHOTOS: 1963 2e REP training at Bou Sfer
PHOTOS: 2nd Motorized Company GPLEM in Taroudant, Morocco, in 1954
PHOTOS: 6e REI in Tunisia around 1950