PHOTOS: Lieutenant Mafteiu and Algerian Mounted Company in the early 1930s

PHOTOS series. See a set of rare pictures showing a peloton of the Algerian Mounted Company, the last mule-mounted company that served in France’s Algeria. The rare pictures belonged to Lieutenant Georges Mafteiu, the peloton leader, and were taken in the Algeria-Morocco borderlands in the early 1930s.

The set comes again from our friend Andrew J. Mitchell, an Irish amateur historian, a Foreign Legion insignia collector, and an author of several books dedicated to the French Foreign Legion, including his last one: Insignia of the Parachute Units 1948-61. Apart from badges, Andi also owns a large and interesting collection of rare Foreign Legion photos.

The Algerian Mounted Company (CMA) was one of the mounted companies of the Foreign Legion, the famous units equipped with mules. In 1913, the CMA became the custodian of the traditions of all the mounted companies that had been serving in Algeria since 1881. Part of the 1st Foreign Infantry Regiment (1er REI, now 1er RE), the company patrolled the Algeria-Morocco borderlands, mainly in the deserted territory between Algeria’s Béchar and Morocco’s Bou Denib. The men were also tasked with protecting military convoys, as well as with building roads and posts. In the early 1930s, the unit’s HQ was stationed in Algeria’s Meridja.

At the time, the CMA was composed of two pelotons (larger platoons), each consisting of three mule-mounted sections (platoons). In early 1933, first armored vehicles arrived in the company which would be transformed to a fully motorized unit in 1934. In February 1933, the CMA took part in the Battle of Bou Gafer, alongside other mounted companies.

As for Lieutenant Mafteiu, he was a little-known Foreign Legion officer, of a Romanian origin (born in Sibiu in 1898 and died in Paris in 1975). He served in the Legion between 1920 and 1941, and then from 1945 to 1946, when he also left the French Army. Lieutenant Mafteiu was assigned to the CMA in November 1930 and stayed three years with the company, until November 1933.

Algerian Mounted Company - 1st REI - 1er REI - Foreign Legion - Fanion
The fanion of the little-known Algerian Mounted Company, 1er REI (CMA/1).

UPDATE: In mid-November 2023, Andrew published a book dedicated to Georges Mafteiu and his CMA men, including 50+ photos from the same set: Mafteiu and the Compagnie Montée d’Algérie.

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PHOTOS: Legionnaires in Syria around 1930
PHOTOS: 1re CSPL Platoon Leader badge in the Saharan Desert in 1958
PHOTOS: 1er RE Adjudants around 1900
PHOTOS: Algerian War 1954-1962