PHOTOS: Legionnaires in Syria around 1930

Another part of the PHOTOS series. Enjoy beautiful photographies which show legionnaires in Syria. The rare pictures were taken mostly in 1930. At the time, the men served there with the 8th Battalion, 1st Foreign Infantry Regiment (1er REI, now 1er RE).

In 1930, the situation in the French Levant (Syria and Lebanon) was already calm. The 1925 Great Syrian Revolt of the Druze rebels had been successfully suppressed by 1927, with the important help of the Foreign Legion units: the 5th Battalion of the 4e REI and the 4th Squadron of the 1er REC. These units distinguished themselves mainly during the battles in Syria’s Messifre and Lebanon’s Rachaya.

In 1927, only one Legion unit left to guard French presence in the Levant, the former 4e REI battalion, redesignated as the 8th Battalion, 1er REI in 1926. In 1930, probably still under Major Maitrot who took over the command in 1929, its four companies (including a mounted company) rotated between Lebanon and Syria, where the battalion HQ was based in Homs. The companies were tasked with maintaining order and French presence in the region, as well as constructing local infrastructure (military posts, roads, bridges, laying telephone cables, etc.). The battalion was awarded a fourragère, thanks to two mentions in dispatches described during the 1925 campaign. The fourragère can be seen in some of the pictures, as worn by legionnaires.

Nevertheless, although it was one of the well-paid two-year deployments of the time, along with French Indochina, the latter was much more preferred choice among legionnaires where to go. The reason was simple: French Indochina’s nature and charming women resembled a paradise while the rather rocky, deserted region of the Levant looked less friendly. Because of that, any picture of the Legion in Syria and Lebanon from between both world wars is very rare now.

Just as a matter of interest, the legionnaires still serve in Lebanon nowadays.

Back to the main story. As mentioned, the following set of beautiful and rare photographies show 1er REI legionnaires in Syria, mainly in 1930 (the first two pics are dated 1929). The men were stationed in Homs, within the battalion HQ. As is often the case, the photos 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 awesome book called I regret nothing.



Related posts:
PHOTOS: 2nd Foreign Regiment’s Color Guard in the early 1900s
PHOTOS: 1963 2e REP training at Bou Sfer
PHOTOS: 6e REI in Tunisia around 1950
DOCUMENTS: 1856 1er RLE 1st Foreign Legion Military service certificate