History of the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment

The 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC) is the only cavalry unit of the French Foreign Legion. The 1er REC, nicknamed Royal Étranger, was officially established in Tunisia in 1922, by merging together 4 squadrons having been stationed in this African country since 1921. The regiment participated in the Rif War, Great Syrian Revolt, World War II, First Indochina War, Algerian War, Gulf War and other military operations. The 1er REC remains the only active cavalry unit of the Foreign Legion (since the second one, 2e REC, was disbanded in 1962), and the only regiment (constituted before WWII) having never changed its title and insignia.

For current information about the regiment see 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment

1er Régiment Étranger de Cavalerie - 1er REC - 1 REC - 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment - History

 

1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment: 1920-1939

1920:
– a decision to create a cavalry regiment within the Foreign Legion was made

– it would be composed of former cavalry elements enlisted in the Legion after WWI
– they came from Russia, Hungary, Prussia, Austria, Germany enlisted
– the Legion sent them to Saida, Algeria to form cavalry squadrons
– in Saida, the HQ + depot of 2e RE was based

– in December 1920, the 1st Squadron (1er Escadron) was established in Saida
– 1st Squadron was commanded by captain Emmonet
– the squadron was based at Sousse, Tunisia

1921:
– in February, 2nd Squadron was established in Saida
– 2nd Squadron was commanded by captain Rapp
– the squadron was also based at Sousse, Tunisia

– these squadrons formed a Tunisian detachment of the Legion
– in March 1921, lt colonel Perret took its leadership

– in July, 3rd Squadron was established in Saida
– 3rd Squadron was commanded by captain Airaud
– the squadron was also based at Gafsa, Tunisia

– in November 1921, 4th Squadron was established in Saida
– 4th Squadron was commanded by captain Landriau
– the squadron was also based at Zarzis, Tunisia

1922:
– on June 20, a decree of the new cavalry regiment’s establishment was released
– it stated that the Foreign Legion’s Tunisian detachment will become a cavalry regiment

– on October 1, the new cavalry regiment was officially constituted
1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er Régiment Étranger de Cavalerie, 1er REC)
– its HQ remained based at Sousse

1er REC was nicknamed as the Royal Étranger, (Royal-Foreign)
Regiment Royal Étranger Cavalerie was France’s former foreign cavalry regiment, established in 1659
– the regiment (under the title 7e Régiment de Cuirassiers) was disbanded in 1815
– 1er REC’s traditions were adopted from
– not only officers, but also NCO cadres of 1er REC were non-legionnaires in the majority
– because of its cadres, 1er REC was very autonomous unit
– it did not participate in multiple traditions of the Legion for a long time

1925 – 1926:
Rif War (or Second Moroccan War) and Great Syrian Revolt
– between July 1925 – May 1926, 1er REC, participating in these conflicts
– first combat operations for the regiment
– 3rd Squadron fought in Morocco
– 4th Squadron fought in Syria (and today’s Lebanon)

Battle of Tesenfeldt
– part of the Rif War
– on July 3, 1925 the first battle for 1er REC
– it took place near Tesenfeldt, in the Guercif region, Morocco
– 3rd Squadron (Captain Bourgeois) was attacked by Moroccan rebels
– brigadier (a cavalry title for the corporal rank) Lubovitzscy was killed
– he became the first KIA (killed in action) legionnaire of 1er REC
– 25 rebels were killed

Battle of al-Musayfirah (Messifré in French)
– part of the Great Syrian Revolt
– the battle occurred in Syria on September 17, 1925
– 4th Squadron of 1er REC + 5th Battalion of 4e REI
– they fought against 3,000 Druze rebels
– legionnaires fought off the attackers

Battle of Rashaya
– part of the Great Syrian Revolt
– the battle occurred in today’s Lebanon between November 20-24, 1925
– a Camerone for 1er REC
– a defensive action for 4th Sqadron (Captain Landriaux)
– around 100 men of 1er REC defended the Rashaya citadel
– they were attacked by 3,000 Druze rebels
– legionnaires refused to surrender and fought till the last round
– after fighting with bayonets, 4th Sqadron received a reinforcement
– the Druze rebels were fought off

1929:
5th Squadron + 6th Squadron were established
– in August, new squadrons were formed within the 1er REC

– 5th Squadron was based at Colomb-Béchar, Algeria
– it became a motorized unit in December 1929
– 6th Squadron was based at Bou Denib, Morocco
– it consisted of non-legionnaires
– however, it became the first motorized unit within the Legion
– in October 1934, 6th Squadron/1er REC was disbanded

– besides Panhard trucks, the squadrons were equipped with armored cars:

  • AM White – Laffly AMD 50
  • Panhard X46
  • Berliet VUDB (since 1931)

1932:
Battle of Tadighoust
– 3rd, 4th, 5th Squadron participated in
– the battle was part of the Pacification of Morocco
– the French had been involved in pacification of Morocco since the early 1900s
– Legion units had actively participated in pacification of Morocco since 1907
– in 1912, the French Protectorate in Morocco was established
– the Legion had 3 of its 4 infantry regiments of Africa based there in 1920-1940
– in 1934, the Pacification successfully ended

1933:
– between January – February, military operations at Djebel Sagho
– part of the Pacification of Morocco
– 6th Squadron participated in

1939:
2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment
– on July 1, a new cavalry regiment was established
– it was formed with former squadrons (3rd, 4th, 5th) of 1er REC stationed in Morocco

 

1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - insigne - insignia
Insignia of 1er REC. Designed in 1936 by MdL Allnikine and colonel Berger. The green and red colors represent the Legion. The blue color with the sun refers to the flag of Régiment Royal Étranger Cavalerie (est 1659). The date 1635 refers to the creation of the French first foreign cavalry unit: Saint Simon’s Foreign Carabiniers (Carabins étrangers)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - 3 escadron - 3rd Squadron - Morocco 1926
Legionnaires from the 3rd Squadron of 1er REC in Morocco (1926)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - 3 escadron - 3rd Squadron - Morocco 1926
3rd Squadron of 1er REC patrolling in Morocco (1926)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - 6 escadron - 6th Squadron - Morocco 1934
6th Squadron of 1er REC in Morocco, equipped with Berliet VUDB armored cars (1934)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Tunisia - Sousse - 1937
The legionnaires of 1er REC at Sousse, Tunisia. The city of Sousse was the garisson of 1er REC at that time (1937)

 

1er REC: World War II 1939-1945

1939:
World War II (Second World War) started on September 1
– France, including the Foreign Legion, participated in

Division Reconnaissance Group No. 180 (Groupe de Reconnaissance Divisionnaire n. 180, GRD 180)
– in December at Sousse, Tunisia, the group was established
GRD 180 consisted of 1er REC and a French regular cavalry elements
– colonel Lacombe de la Tour took the command

1940:
Division Reconnaissance Group No. 97 (Groupe de Reconnaissance Divisionnaire n. 97, GRD 97)
– in February 1940, GRD 180 became the GRD 97 (also GRDI 97)
– GRD 97 was reinforced by legionnaires from 2e REC and DCRE (Legion’s depot)
– GRD 97 consisted of around 650 men
– in March, GRD 97 landed in France
– in May-June, it participated in fights against German armed forces
– GRD 97 conducted operations in the Somme, Indre and Vienne departments
– colonel Lacombe de la Tour was killed during the operations
– GRD 97 lost two thirds of its men
– in September, its remaining legionnaires returned to Tunisia
– they rejoined the 1er REC and 2e REC
– on September 30, GRD 97 was disbanded

Battle of France (May 10 – June 22)
– France was defeated
– Armistice signed by Nazi Germany and France on June 22
– for France, WWII temporarily ended

– in October, 1er REC left Tunisia and was stationed in Morocco

– in November, 2e REC was deactivated
– legionnaires from deactivated 2e REC consolidated with 1er REC

– in December, 1er REC was composed of 3 groups:

  • a horse cavalry group (GEC) based in Fez
  • a mechanized infantry group (GM) based at Oujda
  • a motorized infantry group (GP) based at Guercif

1940 – 1942:
– 1er REC conducted military training and exercises
– it also maintained order in the region

1942:
British-American invasion of French North Africa (Operation Torch)
– November 8-10, landings in Morocco and Algeria
– all French forces in North Africa received an order to cease resistance
– on November 10, the French in North Africa joined the Allies

Autonomous Group (Groupe Autonome, GA) of 1er REC
– on December 5, the group was constituted at Guercif, Morocco
– GA/1er REC was composed of two combat squadrons (1st + 2nd) + HQ squadron (EHR)
– its task had been to fight against the Africa Corps of Marshal Rommel
– however, GA/1er REC was poorly equipped
– it has a few side-cars, trucks and some White-Laffly AMDs
– GA/1er REC moved to Tunisia on December 21

1943:
Tunisian Campaign (January-March)
– GA/1er REC took part in

Capture of Foum Es Gouafel
– on January 11, GA/1er REC seized control of Foum El Gouafel, Tunisia

– in Tunisia, GA/1er REC suffered heavy losses
– on March 31, GA/1er REC was officially disbanded

1er REC reorganization
– July 1943 – September 1944
– 1er REC was based in Fez, Morocco
– it was assigned to the 5th Armored Division (5e DB)
– 1er REC received U.S. equipment and was reorganized
– it became a reconnaissance regiment of 5e DB
– between October 1943 – August 1944, familiarization with new US equipment
– 1er REC participated in several military exercises in Morocco and Algeria
– its main purpose had been to participate in Liberation of France

1944:
Allied invasion of southern France
– in September, Allied forces landed in southern France
– 1er REC landed in France on September 20
– it was placed in the Provence region
– 1er REC will participate in Liberation of France
– in France and Germany, 1er REC fought along the RMLE (future 3e REI)
13e DBLE was also involved in the Liberation

Liberation of France and fights against German forces
– French offensive started on November 15, 1945
– in late January, fights in the Colmar Pocket
– in February-April 1945, 1er REC saw action in Germany
– in February 1945, 1er REC helped to seize Stuttgart (together with RMLE)
– in March 1945, 1er REC helped to seize Karlsruhe
– in April 1945, 1er REC fought in the Rhein-Neckar region of south-western Germany

1945:
– in Europe, World War II ended on May 8
– in the Pacific, WWII ended on September 2

– in June, 1er REC returned to Morocco

 

1er REC - 1 REC - GRDI - 97e GRD - GRD 97 - side-car - 1940
Side-cars of GRD 97 during the Battle of France (1940)
1er REC - 1 REC - GRD 97 - Groupement mecanisé - Groupe autonome - insigne - insignia
The badge of Autonomous Group of 1er REC. Created by lieutenant Gautier in December 1940 for the Mechanized Group (Groupement mecanisé) of 1er REC, in the majority composed of GRD 97 veterans. This Group (one of the three groups comprising the 1er REC in 1940-42) became the GA/1er REC in December 1942, keeping still the badge.
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - AM M8 Greyhound - 1943
AMM8 (M8 Greyhound) armored cars of 1er REC during a parade in Morocco
(October 1943)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - colonel Miquel - Colmar - 1945
Colonel Miquel, the commanding officer of 1er REC, with his men before attacking the Colmar Pocket (February 1945)

 

1er REC: First Indochina War 1946-1954

1945 – 1946:
First Indochina War started
– French Indochina reffers to French colonial territories in Southeast Asia
– in Indochina, a conflict started between the French and Ho Chi Minh
– Ho Chi Minh led the Viet-Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam)
– Viet Minh was a nationalist and (later) pro-Soviet Union movement
– in September 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared independence from France for Vietnam
– clashes between French forces and the Viet Minh started
– in 1946, first Foreign Legion units landed in Indochina

1947:
– in January, 1er REC landed in Indochina
– it consisted of 6 combat squadrons
– 1er REC was based at Tourane (today’s Da Nang)
– a city located in Annam (the former title for today’s central Vietnam)
– 1er REC had no cavalry equipment
– during first weeks, 1er REC carried out its tasks as an infantry regiment

1947:
– in January-March, first operations for 1er REC
– two provisional infantry battalions (Bataillon de Marche, BM) of 1er REC were formed
– they helped to liberate the city of Hue (Annam)
– the battalions also participated in operations in the Annam region

– in April, 1er REC received first British cavalry equipment
– Coventry Armoured Cars, Humber Armoured Cars, Bren Carriers
– both BM were deactivated

– in May, 4th Squadron moved to Hue

– in June, 1st + 2nd Squadron moved to Saigon, Cochinchina (today’s southern Vietnam)
– 5th Squadron moved to Dong Hoi, Annam

– in October, 6th Squadron moved to Phan Thiet, southern Annam

1er REC reorganization
– it occurred in December
– two squadron group were established:

  • 1st Squadron Group (1er Groupe d’Escadrons, 1er GE) of 1er REC
    – 1st + 2nd Squadron based in Saigon, Cochinchina
  • HQ Squadron (Escadron Hors Rang, EHR) based at Tourane
  • 2nd Squadron Group (2e Groupe d’Escadrons) of 1er REC
    – 3rd + 4th + 5th Squadron based at Tourane, Hue and Dong Hoi, Annam
  • 6th Squadron based at Phan Thiet, Annam

1948:
– 1er REC received its first U.S. equipment
– 1er GE was equipped with U.S. M29 Weasel (called Crab by French troops)

– 3rd Squadron moved to Hue

1949:
– 1er GE participated in operations at Plaine des Joncs (Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam)
– 1st Squadron was based at My Tho
– 2nd Squadron was based at Tan An

– 2e GE received U.S. Dodges, GMC trucks and M3 Scout Cars

1950:
– heavy fights in the Tra Vinh region for 1er GE

– 2e GE received M2 Half Tracks, HMC M8 Howitzer vehicles and AMM8 (M8 Greyhound) armored cars
– its squadrons also received French armored patrol boats (Vedette FOM)

– in February, 6th Squadron was assigned to 1er GE
– it moved to Sadec, Cochinchina

– in November, 1er REC (2nd Squadron) received its first U.S. small amphibious landing crafts
LVT 4 (called Alligator)

1951:
– 2e GE received Light Tank M5 Stuart
– 4th Squadron was based at Quang Tri

– in March, 3rd Squadron participated in heavy fights in the Hue region

1er REC new reorganization
– it occurred in September

  • 1er GE became the 1st Autonomous Group (1er Groupement Autonome, 1er GA)
  • 2e GE was deactivated
  • 3rd + 4th + 5th Squadron (ex-2e GE) were assigned to the 1er REC’s HQ
  • 1st Squadron became the 1st Amphibious Subgroup (1er Sous-Groupement Amphibie, 1er SGA)
  • 2nd Squadron became the 2e SGA
  • 6th Squadron became the 3e SGA
  • 7th + 8th Squadron of 1er REC were established

– each of these SGA comprises also its own Motorized Company
– this Compagnie Portée (CP) consisted of local, native volunteers

– in October, 2nd Autonomous Group (2e GA) of 1er REC was established
– 2e GA consisted of 8th Squadron + squadron from a regular French Army regiment
Autonomous Subgroup (Sous-groupement Autonome, SGA) of 1er REC was established within the 2e GA
– SGA/1er REC was composed of 8th Squadron + its CP
– it was based at Haiphong, Tonkin (today’s norhern Vietnam)

7th Amphibious Subgroup (7e SGA) of 1er REC was established
– it was composed of 7th Squadron + its CP
– 7e SGA was based at Hue

1952:
Operation Crachin (February)
Operation Mercure (April)
– 2e GA participated in both operations

– in June, Autonomous Subgroup (SGA, comprising 8th Squadron) was renamed
– it became the Amphibious Subgroup (SGA) of 2e GA

Operation Sauterelles (August)
– the operation took place in the sand dunes between Hue and Quang Tri
– 1er GA + 7e SGA + 3rd Squadron/1er REC took part in
– two battalions from 5e REI and 13e DBLE also participated in

– in November, 1er GA moved to Tonkin

1953:
large reorganization of 1er REC
– it took place in April

    – 1er GA (Autonomous Group) changed its title
    – it became the 1st Amphibious Group (1er Groupement Amphibie, 1er GA)

    – 2e SGA of 1er GA changed its title
    – it became the 2nd Amphibious Squadrons Group (2e Groupe d’Escadrons Amphibies, 2e GEA)
    12th Squadron was established within 2e GEA, with elements transferred from 2nd Squadron

    – 3e SGA of 1er GA became the 3e GEA
    – 6th Squadron of 3e GEA was renamed the 3rd Squadron
    13th Squadron was established within 3e GEA
    – it was reinforced with elements from 3rd Squadron (ex-6th Squadron)

    1er GA with its 2e GEA + 3e GEA moved to Tourane

    – 2e GA (Autonomous Group) became the 2nd Amphibious Group (2e GA)

    – SGA of 2e GA became the 4e GEA (still based at Haiphong, Tonkin)
    18th Squadron was established within 4e GEA
    – it consisted of elements transferred from 8th Squadron

    – 1er SGA of 2e GA became the 1er GEA
    11th Squadron was established within 1er GEA
    – it consisted of elements transferred from 1st Squadron

    – 7e SGA of 2e GA became the 7e GEA
    17th Squadron was established within 7e GEA
    – it consisted of elements transferred from 7th Squadron

    – 3rd Squadron based at Hue became the new 6th Squadron

– the groups were autonomous units
– 4th + 5th + 6th + HQ Squadron remained under the direct command of 1er REC’s HQ

– 1er REC consisted of more than 3,000 men
– however, 50% of the troops were made up of local volunteers, non-legionnaires

– in June, 1er GEA was assigned to 2e GA/1er REC
– 7e GEA was assigned to 1er GA/1er REC

9th Squadron was established
– it was based at Paksane and Vientiane, Laos
– 9th Squadron participated in operations in Laos till July 1954

Operation Camargue (July-August)
– a large operation in the sand dunes between Hue and Quang Tri
– 7e GEA participated in

Operation Brochet (September-October)
– 2e GA participated in, together with 1er BEP, 2e BEP and 13e DBLE

Operation Mouette (October)
– 2e GA participated in, together with 5e REI and 13e DBLE

– 1er GEA was based at Haiphong, Tonkin together with 2e GA
– 1er GA moved from Annam to Nam Dinh, Tonkin

1954:
– January-February, 2e GA participated in operations in the Song Day region

Operation Atlante (March)
– 1er GA participated in

– in April-May, 1er GA participated in operations in the Qui Nhon region
– 2e GA participated in operations in the Nam Dinh and Phu Ly regions

– in May, 14th Squadron was established
– it was assigned to 2e GA and based at Nam Dinh, Tonkin

– 7e GEA moved to Tourane
7th Squadron was disbanded

Operation Auvergne (June)
– 2e GA participated in

– in June, re-establishing the 1er BEP
– legionnaires-volunteers from 1er REC helped to re-form the unit
– 1er BEP was devastated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu

7e GEA was disbanded

– 17th Squadron was transferred to 1er GA

First Indochina War ended
– the war in Indochina ended on August 1
– France had to leave northern Vietnam
– in 1956, French troops had to leave the entire Indochina pensisula

– the majority of local inhabitants serving in 1er REC left the unit
– they will join the South Vietnam armed forces

– later in August, 1er GA moved to Tourane

– in December, 2e GA was regrouped at Do Son, Tonkin
– 1st + 14th Squadron moved to Saigon

1955:
– on January 31, 1er GA was disbanded
– its squadrons (2nd + 3rd + 12th + 13th + 17th) were also disbanded

– in March, 6th Squadron became the 3rd Squadron again
– as it was before April 1953

– 9th Squadron became the 6th Squadron
– 14th Squadron became the 2nd Squadron

– in May, 2e GA moved to Saigon, the capital of Cochinchina in May
– in late September, 2e GA and its squadrons (1st + 8th + 11th) left Indochina
– on October 25, they landed in Algeria

– in August, 18th Squadron was disbanded

– on October 1, 7th Squadron was re-created

– in November, 2nd Squadron was disbanded
– two sqadrons (5th + 7th) of 1er REC, together with 2e BEP, left Indochina

– in Indochina 1947-55, 1er REC lost some 400 officers, NCOs and legionnaires

 

1er REC - 1 REC - 1er Groupement Autonome - 1er Groupement Amphibie - 1st Autonomous Group - 1st Amphibious Group
Both variants of the 1er REC’s 1st Autonomous Group and (later) 1st Amphibious Group insignia, created between 1951 – 1952. The crab represents a tracked vehicle M29 Weasel (called Crab by the French), the popular military vehicle used in the marshy terrain of Indochina. Its body and head are formed by the seven-flame grenade of the Legion.
1er REC - 1 REC - 2e Groupement Autonome - 2e Groupement Amphibie - 2nd Autonomous Group - 2nd Amphibious Group
Both variants of the 1er REC’s 2nd Autonomous Group and (later) 2nd Amphibious Group insignia, created between 1951 – 1952.
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - 1st Squadrons Group
Crabs of 1er REC’s 1st Squadrons Group (1er GE) during Operation Python in Cochinchina (October 1950)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - M29 Weasel - Crab
Crab (M29 Weasel) of 1er REC
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - 2e Groupement Amphibie - 2nd Amphibious Group - M29 Weasel - Crab - Tonkin - 1954
Crab from the 2nd Amphibious Group (2e GA) of 1er REC, during Operation Auvergne in Tonkin. Notice the 2e GA insignia on the front of Crab. (June 1954)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Alligator - 1954
Landing crafts LVT 4 (called Alligator by the French) of 1er REC, returning from an operation. Notice the group in the foreground: an NCO wearing a black képi, two legionnaires with white kepis and an indigenous volunteer, serving in 1er REC as a non-legionnaire within the Legion ranks, wears its typical white beret (1954)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - 2e Groupement Amphibie - 2nd Amphibious Group - Alligator - LVT 4 - 1954
Alligator from 1er REC’s 2e GA in Tonkin (1954)

 

1er REC: Tunisia 1955-1956

1954 – 1955:
Algerian War started
– in North Africa, local rebels intensified military actions
– these actions took part in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria
– they were aimed at French forces presented in these regions
– the main rebel force fighting the French was the FLN
– FLN stands for National Liberation Front
– later in 1955, that operations escalated to the Algerian War

– in October, 2e GA/1er REC landed in Africa
– in Africa, 2e GA was assigned to 2e REC
– on November 1, it changed its title
– 2e GA became the Motorized Squadrons Group (Groupe d’Escadrons Portés, GEP)
GEP of 2e REC was based at Meknes, northern Morocco

– on November 18, 5th + 7th Squadron of 1er REC + 2e BEP landed in Africa

Autonomous Squadrons’ Group (Groupe d’Escadrons Autonomes, GEA)
– in November, the two 1er REC squadrons moved to Tunisia
– they were regrouped into a single unit, GEA
– GEA was stationed at Quartier Montauzon, Sousse
– it consisted of two combat squadrons (ex-5th + ex-7th)
– GEA was commanded by Captain Forqueray

– on December 15, 6th Squadron was disbanded in Indochina

1956:
– on February 9, last units of 1er REC landed in Africa
– 3rd + 4th Squadron + HQ Squadron
– they left Indochina in January

reorganization of 1er REC
– 1er REC’ HQ remained based at Sousse (as in 1920-1942)
– a forward operating base was based at Kebili, central Tunisia
– 1er REC consisted of four combat squadrons
– they formed two Squadrons Group (GE):

  • 1er GE (ex-GEA) comprising the 1st + 2nd Squadron (ex-5th + ex-7th)
  • 2e GE comprising the 3rd + 4th Squadron

– 1er REC was equipped with AMM8s, M3 Scout Cars and Dodges WC 6×6

– in early March, first fights in Tunisia
– 1st Squadron fought against Tunisian rebels near Matmata
first legionnaires of 1er REC killed after its return to Africa

– on March 20, Tunisia gained its independence
– French units had to leave the country

– until November, 1er REC conducted operations to maintain order in Tunisia

– in December, 1er REC left Tunisia
– 1er REC as the last Legion unit left Tunisia
– it moved to Algeria to join the Algerian war

 

1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - 2e Groupement Amphibie - 2nd Amphibious Group - 1956
The color guard of 2e GA just after landing in Alger, Algeria (October 25, 1955). The 2nd Amphibious Group was the first combat unit of 1er REC landing in Africa.
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Sousse - Tunisia - Quartier - Camp - Montauzon - 1956
Quartier Montauzon, Sousse. The headquarters of 1er REC in Tunisia (1956)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Sousse - Camerone - 1956
1er REC celebrating Camerone Day at Sousse (April 30, 1956)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - kebili - Tunisia - AM M8 - 1956
1er REC during an operation in the Kebili region, Tunisia (1956)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - kebili - Tunisia - AM M8 - 1956
An AMM8 of 1er REC‘s 1st Squadron going through Tozeur, western Tunisia (June 1956). Notice the legionnaires wearing a light-khaki beret. Within the 1er REC, this beret was part of a combat uniform till 1959.

 

1er REC: Algerian War 1956-1962

1956:
– in December, 1er REC was placed in Algeria
– it was based at Aumale, northern Algeria

1957:
– in February, first fights in Algeria for 1er REC
– 1st Squadron fought against rebels in the Djebel Touil

– in March, 1er REC was composed of:

  • HQ & Service Squadron (ECS) + 1st + 3rd Squadron – based at Bou Saada
  • 2nd Squadron + Depot – based at Aumale
  • 4th Squadron – based at Bir Rabalou

– in April, AMM8 armored cars were replaced by Panhard EBR
– EBR was an armored reconnaissance vehicle with 75 mm cannon

– in May, operations in the M’Sila region

– in June, operations in the Messaad region
– 1er REC, 2e REC, 1re CSPL, 2e CSPL, 3e CSPL took part in

1958:
– in February, 1er REC moved on the Tunisian border
– it conducted operations in the region between Tebessa and Bir-El-Ater

– in December, 1er REC was based at Khenchela, the Aures range, Algeria
– 1er REC conducted military operations alongside the Algerian-Tunisian border

1959:
Operation Etincelle (July)
– it occurred in the Hodna region

1960:
Operation Ariege (October)
– it occurred in the Khenchela region

1961:
Generals’ Putsch
– in April, 1er REC joined the putsch in Algiers
– the putsch was aimed against French president Charles de Gaulle
– 1er REC participated in, together with 1er REP (ex-1er BEP)
– the putsch failed
– then 1er REC’s commander, Lieutenant colonel de La Chapelle, was arrested

– in June 1961, 1er REC left Khenchela
– it was based in the Sahara, in the Colomb-Béchar region
– part of the regiment was based at Hassi El Haouari

– in August, 1er REC was based at Quartier de Sairigné of Saida
– its squadrons were born there in 1920-21
– part of the regiment moved to Ain-El-Hadjar, a village nearby Saida

– in September, 1er REC deployed to guard the northwestern border of Algeria
– squadrons of the regiment were based at various places
Eugene-Etienne, Marnia or Sidi Zaher

1962:
– in March, Algerian War officially ended
– Évian Accords treaty, signed on March 18, ended the Algerian War
– on July 5, Independence of Algeria was declared
– however, military operations were conducted until September 1962
– on September 25, the Algerian republic was established

– in June, 1er REC left Saida, as the last Legion unit
– the Legion units were based in Saida since the 1860s

– in July, 1er REC was based at Mécheria, western Algeria
– its detachments were based at Ain El Hadjar, Kreider, Naama

– also in July, dissolution of 2e REC
– 2e REC squadrons consolidated with 1er REC
– they became its new 5th + 6th Squadron

– during the Algerian War, 1er REC lost 45 officers, NCOs and legionnaires

 

1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Panhard EBR
1er REC’s Panhard EBR (or just EBR), an armored reconnaissance vehicle with 75 mm cannon
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Panhard EBR
1er REC’s EBR during a parade
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Bou Saada - Algeria - 1957
1er REC during the Camerone Day ceremony at Bou Saada, Algeria (April 30, 1957)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Khenchela - 1959
Legionnaires from the 2nd Squadron of 1er REC, wearing light-khaki berets, and their EBR at Khenchela, Algeria (June 1959)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - M3 Scout Car - Half Truck
M3 Half-track armored car of 1er REC
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - ECS - Khenchela - 1959
HQ & Service Squadron (ECS) of 1er REC based at Khenchela (1960)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Aures - 1960
1er REC in the Aures range, eastern Algeria (March 1960)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Aures - 1960
EBRs of 1er REC in the Tebessa region (March 1961)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Sahara - 1961
A squadron of 1er REC based in the Sahara (July 1961)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Saida - 1962
1er REC during the last ceremony in Saida (June 16, 1962). The Legion had had an uninterrupted presence in this city since 1867.
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Mecheria - PC - HQ - 1962
Mechéria. The entrance of the 1er REC‘s new headquarters (1962)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Aures - 1962
An EBR of 1er REC in the Aures range (1962)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Mecheria - 1963
EBRs of 1er REC during a ceremony at the airbase of Mechéria (December 1963)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Bou Sfer - Camerone - 1964
Bou Sfer. 1er REC during the Camerone Day ceremony (April 30, 1964)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - ENTAC - 1956
ENTAC (anti-tank wire-guided missile) exercise. During the 1964-67 period, 1er REC became a modernized cavalry unit (1966)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - AMX 13 - 1966
An AMX 13 tank of 1er REC during an exercise (1966)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - AMX 13 - Camerone - 1966
AMX 13s of 1er REC during Camerone Day (April 30, 1966)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Bou Sfer - 1966
The entrance of the 1er REC‘s headquarters at Bou Sfer (1966)

 

1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment 1962-2014

1963:
– 5th + 6th Squadron (ex-2e REC) were disbanded

1964:
– in January, 1er REC was based together with 2e REP (ex-2e BEP) at Bou Sfer
– Bou Sfer was a military airbase near Mers El Kébir, northwestern Algeria
– Mers El Kébir was an important port town with a large French military naval base

– 1st + 2nd Squadron received AMX 13 tanks

1964 – 1967:
– reorganization and modernization of 1er REC

1967:
– in July, AMX 13 tanks left the regiment

– in October, 1er REC left Africa
– it was based at Orange, southern France at Quartier Labouche

1971:
– in February, EBR was replaced by Panhard AML
– it was a light armored reconnaissance vehicle with 60 (later 90) mm cannon

1976:
Loyada Hostage Rescue Mission
– on February 5, 4th Squadron deployed to TFAI (today’s Djibouti), in the horn of Africa
– the squadron made part of Foreign Legion Task Force (GOLE)
– its mission was an answer on the hijacking incident at Loyada
– 4th Squadron stayed in TFAI for 4 months

1978 – 1979:
Operation Tacaud in Chad

1982:
– in February, 1er REC received its first AMX 10-RC
– AMX 10-RC is a light armored reconnaissance vehicle with 105 mm cannon
– later that year, 1er REC received also its first VAB, an armored personnel carrier

1983:
Multinational Force in Lebanon
Operation Manta in Chad

1987:
– operation in Chad

1990 – 1991:
Operation Daguet (or Gulf War)
– the operation occurred in Iraq between September 1990 – April 1991
– 1er REC participated in as a complet regiment

1992 – 1993:
– Cambodia

1993 – 1996:
– Bosnia and Herzegovina (ex-Yugoslavia)

1994 – 1996:
– Chad

1996:
– Central African Republic

1997:
– Zaire (Congo) and the Central African Republic

1999:
– Kosovo and Macedonia (both ex-Yugoslavia)

2000 – 2001:
– Chad

2002:
– Bosnia and Herzegovina

2003 – 2006:
– Ivory Coast

2005 – 2009:
– Afghanistan

2007:
– Kosovo

2013:
– Mali

2014:
– Central African Republic

2014:
– in July, 1er REC left Orange after 47 years
– the regiment was stationed at Camp Carpiagne near Marseille, France

 

1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Orange - Quartier Labouche
Quartier Labouche at Orange, France. The HQ of 1er REC between 1967 and 2014
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - 1956
1er REC is welcomed at Orange (October 22, 1967)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Orange - Camerone - 1956
1er REC during Camerone Day near Orange (April 30, 1969)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Panhard AML - AML
Panhard AML (or just AML) armored car of 1er REC
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Mayotte - 1977
4th Squadron of 1er REC in Mayotte, Indian Ocean (August 1977)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Operation Tacaud - 1978
A patrol of the 1st Squadron during Operation Tacaud in Chad. (June 1978)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Saint Georges - 1979
1er REC during the Saint Georges Day ceremony at Quartier Labouche (April 23, 1979)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - FAMAS - Caylus - 1980
Camp de Caylus. 1er REC training with the new assault rifle, FAMAS (July 1980)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - AML - Chad - 1980
An AML of 1er REC in Chad (1980)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Operation Daguet - Gulf War - 1990
AMX 10 RC armored vehicles of 1er REC during the Gulf War (October 1990)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Operation Hermine - Bosnia - 1995
AMX 10 RC of 1er REC during Operation Hermine in Bosnia (November 1995)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Afghanistan - 2009
AMX 10 RC of 1er REC during the War in Afghanistan (2009)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - VBL
VBL reconnaissance vehicle of 1er REC during an exercise in Corsica (2012)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - ERC90 - Sagaie - Chad - 2012
ERC 90 Sagaie armored vehicle of 1er REC in Chad (December 2012)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Mali - 2013
1er REC in Mali (January 2013)
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC  - Camp Carpiagne
Camp Carpiagne near Marseille. The new base of 1er REC.

 

 

1er REC - 1 REC - Tee - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Foreign Cavalry Regiment - T-shirt

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———

Special thanks to:
Joe van Raamt, a former member of 1er REC between 1959 – 1964

1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment’s picture collections

1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC in Algeria: 1962 - 1967
1er REC in Algeria: 1962 – 1967
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC
1er REC in Algeria: 1959 – 1964
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC
1er REC in Indochina: Info & photos 1947 – 1955
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC
1er REC: List of info & photos 1931 – 1955
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC
1er REC in Indochina 1952 – 1954
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC
A Norwegian in 1er REC 1980s – 1990s
1er REC - 1 REC - 1st REC - Morocco 1943
1er REC parading in Morocco 1943

Images source:
Képi blanc magazines
Ecpad.fr
Voltigeur.net


 

Information source:
Képi blanc magazines
More Majorum (German legionnaires in Indochina) – great pictures and detailed info of the FFL units during the First Indochina War
Légion Cavalerie (FFL Cavalry) – great pictures and detailed info of the FFL cavalry units
Insignes Legion (FFL insignia & badges)
Nederlanders in het Franse Vreemdelingenlegioen (Dutchmen in the Legion)
GRC d’Alsace: France 1939-40

 
Foreign Legion’s disbanded motorized units:
1st Legion Saharan Motorized Company
2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
3rd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
4th Legion Saharan Motorized Company
Foreign Legion Moroccan Motorized Group
Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group

 
Foreign Legion’s disbanded regiments:
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment
3rd Foreign Parachute Regiment
2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment
4th Foreign Infantry Regiment
5th Foreign Regiment
6th Foreign Infantry Regiment

 

The page was updated on: November 13, 2016

 

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