Le Boudin

Le Boudin is the official march (and hymn) of the French Foreign Legion and the regimental march of the Foreign Legion Command (COMLE). The march has an unclear origin. Its first version was composed probably by Wilhem, the then head of the Music Band, around 1860. The actual parols refer to the Tonkin conflict in the 1880s and, also, to the famous Battle of Camerone.

Le Boudin is a type of blood sausage or black pudding. In Africa in the 19th century, the legionnaires also nicknamed as boudin their rolled/packed tent (resembling a sausage), attached on top of their backpack. The refrain relates that the boudin should be the bonus food for the Alsatians, the Swiss, and the Lorrains (main groups in the Legion in the 1870s-1880s). Nevertheless, the Belgians (according to the text) are not allowed to be rewarded with the boudin, because “they are not good shooters at all”.

The jocular rivalry between these nationalities in the text of the march has also an unknown origin. All of those nationalities are French-speaking. The official website of the Foreign Legion speaks about the year of 1870 and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). According to the website, the Belgians weren’t allowed to take part in the war on the French side, due to a request sent by Leopold II. (the then Belgian King) to the French government. Belgium remained neutral in that conflict and the King didn’t want to provoke Prussians.

Here is most likely meant the French long tradition for the recruitment of “war-period volunteers” (foreign volunteers joining the French Army for the duration of the war) from all over the world. In October 1870, a battalion consisting of these foreign volunteers (non-legionnaires) was formed in France and assigned to the Legion as the 5th Battalion, Provisional Foreign Regiment.

Another reason for this jocular rivalry in the text could be a decree issued in France in 1873, which confirmed that only Alsatians, Lorrains and the Swiss had been allowed to join the Legion at the time (since March 1871). However, the principal argument for that decision was to eliminate German-speaking elements in the Legion after the war of 1870-71. Not to punish Belgians…

Tiens, voilà du boudin, voilà du boudin, voilà du boudin
Pour les Alsaciens, les Suisses et les Lorrains.
Pour les Belges, y en a plus, pour les Belges, y en a plus,
Ce sont des tireurs au cul. (bis)

Au Tonkin, la Légion immortelle
A Tuyen-Quang illustra notre drapeau,
Héros de Camerone et frères modèles
Dormez en paix dans vos tombeaux.

Au cours de nos campagnes lointaines,
Affrontant la fièvre et le feu,
Oublions avec nos peines,
La mort qui nous oublie si peu.

Sonnerie A:
Nous sommes des dégourdis,
Nous sommes des lascars
Des types pas ordinaires.
Nous avons souvent notre cafard,
Nous sommes des légionnaires.

Sonnerie B:
Nos anciens ont su mourir.
Pour la gloire de la Légion.
Nous saurons bien tous périr
Suivant la tradition.


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