11th Foreign Infantry Regiment

The 11th Foreign Infantry Regiment (11e REI) was the very first unit of the French Foreign Legion to appear in France during the early stage of the Second World War. This regiment was a provisional unit designated for defending mainland France against Nazi Germany.

The 11e REI was constituted in the South-East of the country in November 1939. In the vast majority, the new unit is composed of legionnaires coming from France’s North Africa, reservists having already served in the Legion and of foreign volunteers. In 1940, during the Battle of France, the regiment participated in heavy fighting with German troops. The unit would lose a lot of its men. The 11e REI was disbanded in late June 1940.

La version française de cet article: 11e Régiment Étranger d’Infanterie

11th Foreign Infantry Regiment - History - 11e REI


Introduction: France in late 1939

In early September 1939, German troops invaded Poland. Two days later, September 3, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany. The mobilization in France began. Regarding a long tradition of foreign volunteers asking to defend France, the first units are created to incorporate those volunteers. For administrative reasons, these unit are assigned to the Foreign Legion. The main war depot of the Legion in France was established at the camp of Sathonay, north of Lyon, the third largest French city. The depot is obliged to recruit, form, equip, train and administer the future soldiers being assigned to one of the provisional units of the Legion. These units would be formed 12 miles (20 km) east of Sathonay, at the large military camp of La Valbonne.


Creation of the regiment

The 11th Foreign Infantry Regiment (11e REI) is created on November 1, 1939, at the camp of La Valbonne, north-east of Lyon. Colonel Fernand Maire took command of the regiment. Colonel Maire is an old officer and a legendary figure. He served in the Legion for more than twenty years, between 1914-1936. He was a commanding officer of the 1er REI (1er RE now) in 1934-36, before his retirement. In 1939, Colonel Maire had published a book with his memories from the Legion. With the start of the war, he was mobilized as a reserve officer.

The 11e REI is composed of several elements. There are officers, NCOs and legionnaires on active duty, coming from foreign regiments stationed in North Africa. There are reservists having already served with the Legion between 1919-1939 and residing now in France, as well as the foreign volunteers for the war period (EVDG). There are also groups of elements (French officers, NCOs and corporals) coming from France’s North African regiments (Algerian or Moroccan Tirailleurs). Still, a number of officers have never served with the Legion, nor in Africa. However, Legion officers take charge of them to make them as good commanders as possible.


Installation and training

On November 6, the regiment left La Valbonne. It consists of a HQ + three battalions.

The battalions of the 11e REI would be stationed at the villages situated around the camp of La Valbonne: Dagneux (1st Battalion), Bressolles (2nd Battalion) and Béligneux (3rd Battalion). The men are charged with building their installations, as well as with carrying out their training and receiving their equipment. Nevertheless, the unit hasn’t received anything but a part of the anticipated material. For example, when the regiment is leaving for the front, it has received only 400 sets of bandages out of the 3,000 needed, nine 25 mm guns of twelve, or twelve hayboxes (fireless cookers) of a total of ninety.

On the other hand, the basic instruction moves ahead. The battalions carry out marches and shooting exercises. However, the regiment being spread out at different locations has never conducted a joint maneuver, to employ all of its men at one time. Moreover, the unit didn’t participate even in any of joint divisional maneuvers, alongside artillery or armored cavalry. The general staff of the 3rd Army Corps (the formation the 11e REI was assigned to) obviously saw the legionnaires as elite troops, adapting themselves quickly to real combat conditions…

Composition of the 11e REI in November 1939

  • Commander : Colonel Maire
  • Military staff/HQ : Major Robitaille
  • HQ Company : Captain Perret
  • Service Company : Captain Chiron
  • Engine Company : Captain Costa
  • 1st Battalion : Major Auffrey
  • 2nd Battalion : Major Brissard
  • 3rd Battalion : Major Guyot

11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1939 - Camp of la Valbonne

11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1939 - Camp of la Valbonne
The camp of La Valbonne in the 1930s.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1939 - Colonel Maire
Colonel Maire reviews his 11e REI during a ceremony in late 1939.
Foreign Legion - Colonel Maire
Colonel Maire, the very first commander of the 11e REI and a legendary figure. He served with the Legion in 1914-36.


On the front

The 11e REI left for the front on 15 December 1939. The regiment is composed of 79 officers, 184 NCOs and 2,390 men (which means 2,653 men in total). In the majority, Poles and Spaniards (both representing around 55% of the strength). Two days later, the regiment arrives in Lorraine of the Grand Est region. It would be in charge of maintaining the outposts situated north-east of Metz, in the sector of Thionville, beyond the Maginot Line (a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles, and weapon installations in north-eastern France built in the 1930s). The men are put on the front line during the night of January 1-2, 1940, during the severe winter of 1939-40 (the temperature has dropped to -4 °F / -20 °C), in the sector of Sierck. It’s a region north-east of Thionville, situated close to the border with Luxembourg and Germany.

During the Phoney War (a calm eight-month period at the start of World War II on the Western Front, between 2 Sept 1939 – 10 May 1940), France’s strategy was strictly defensive, relying on the Maginot line. However, it is in this area where the first legionnaires of the 11e REI fell during patrols, being victims of clashes with the Germans from their very close lines. But lack of equipment, intense winter and life on the front line, all these cruel conditions allow to create the esprit de corps of the young regiment consisting of various elements. The 11e REI men distinguished themselves during several ambushes.

February 1, the regiment is stationed in the sector of Metzervisse, south-east of Thionville. Its mission is to dig anti-tank ditches in the frozen ground.

February 12, twelve officers and thirty NCOs are transferred back to the camp of La Valbonne, to become a staff of a new foreign regiment in formation, the 12e REI.

February 24, Colonel Georges Robert arrives in the regiment and on 1 March 1940, he takes over the command of the 11e REI. Colonel Robert served in the Legion as a lieutenant in 1913-17; in April 1939, he became the commander of the 1er REI in Sidi Bel Abbés. At the same time, because of his high age, Colonel Maire left the 11e REI to enjoy definitely his well-deserved retirement.

In mid-March 1940, the units of the 11e REI are redeployed beyond the Maginot Line, to support the French units stationed at the advanced positions. The legionnaires strengthen the line of defense and practice shooting exercises.

April 15, the 11e REI (until then a sector support unit) is attached to the 6th North African Infantry Division (6e DINA) of General de Verdilhac. The regiment replaced there the 24th Chasseurs Half-Brigade being sent to Norway. The battalions are stationed more to the south, in the region of Boulay (east of Metz), still in Lorraine.

At the same time, the groupes francs (commando-like units) are formed within the 11e REI, a group per battalion, composed of a lieutenant and 30 volunteers. These groups are assigned to other groupes francs of the 6e DINA and commanded by Captain de Dompierre of the 9e RTM (a Moroccan tirailleurs regiment of the Division). The groups’ mission is carrying out night patrols and reconnaissance operations forward of the Maginot Line, in the “no man’s land”. The groups are tasked with surveillance of German troops guarding the nearby Siegfried Line, and with harassing them to get prisoners.

On 30 April 1940, during the Camerone Day ceremony close to Boulay, the 11th Foreign Infantry Regiment received their regimental color, as the only unit of the Foreign Legion established in France in 1939-1940. At the time, the regiment comprises 3,015 men in total.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Thionville - Sierck - Boulay - Map

11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Metzervisse - Legionnaires
Legionnaires of the 11e REI in Metzervisse, March 1940.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Metzervisse - Fanion
A company fanion of the 11e REI in Metzervisse, March 1940.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Boulay - Flag - Regimental Color
The 3,000 men of the 11e REI during Camerone Day of 30 April, near Boulay. During the ceremony, the regiment officially received their regimental color (center, born by Lieutenant Pierre). Note the motorcycles and Renault UE Chenillettes (light tracked armored carriers) of the 11e REI.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Boulay - Music Band
The Music Band of the 11e REI near Boulay, 30 April 1940.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - 1940 - Colonel Robert - Georges Robert
Colonel Georges Robert. On March 1, 1940, he replaced Colonel Maire in the lead of the 11e REI.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - 1940 - Diplome - General Rollet
On 13 March 1940, General Rollet, the famous “Father of the Legion”, is named the honorary 1st Class Legionnaire of the HQ Company, 11e REI.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - 1940 - Insignia - Badge
The insignia of the 11e REI, designed in late 1939 and distributed in early 1940.


Battle of France

The Phoney War in France, which began with the declaration of war by France and the United Kingdom against Hitler’s Germany on 3 September 1939, ended definitively on 10 May 1940. That day, German armed forces launched Fall Gelb (Case Yellow). It was German large invasion of Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. Thereafter, since May 12, through the Ardennes (a large forest located primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching as well into Germany and north-eastern France), the Germans have finally attacked the French front line on the Meuse river, close to Sedan. The Battle of France started.

On May 14, German armored units managed to cross the Meuse river near Sedan. Since May 16, in the Ardennes, German violent attacks against the 3e DINA of General Chapouilly (another North African division) have taken place in the sector between Ferté and Inor, 15,5 miles (25 km) south of Sedan.

In the evening of 20 May, the legionnaires of the 11th Foreign Regiment set off. They walk towards the front, to the Inor Wood (Bois d’Inor), to replace the 3e DINA the following night. However, the sector of Inor has already been abandoned by the 3rd Division. The legionnaires found it full of dead corpses, wounded or lost men, dead horses, and abandoned material and equipment. Units of the 11e REI set up in the early morning of May 22 and wait. Their mission is to delay or stop German troops. And still, without any pause, enemy artillery of large caliber (150 and 210 mm) fires and hurts.

Composition of the 11e REI in May 1940

  • Commander : Colonel Robert
  • Military staff/HQ : Major Robitaille
  • HQ Company : Captain Lignez
  • Service Company : Captain Chiron
  • Engine Company : Captain Costa
  • 1st Battalion : Captain Rouillon
  • 2nd Battalion : Major Rzekiecki d’Alegron
  • 3rd Battalion : Captain Gaultier


11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Inor Wood - Ferté
On May 22, 1940, the 11e REI men hold positions in the Inor Wood and wait for German troops coming from Belgium, through the Ardennes.


Battle of the Inor Wood

On May 27 at three o’clock in the morning, an impressive preparation of German artillery began in the Inor Wood, along the whole front of the 6e DINA. Two hours later, the Germans launched a frontal attack. The 11e REI in the lead of the division, it receives direct assault from the three regiments of Germany’s 56th Infantry Division of General Kriebel. The shock is tough. However, after twelve hours of fighting, even with charged bayonets, the legionnaires have fulfilled their mission and stop the advancement of the enemy. Hundreds of German soldiers are killed or wounded in this heroic battle.

The following day, General de Verdilhac of the 6e DINA expresses his admiration and addresses to Colonel Robert of the 11e REI these three short words: “Bravo, la Légion !”

On May 29, Colonel Robert is named the commander of all the infantry units of the 6e DINA. Major Clément replaced him as a commanding officer of the 11th Foreign Regiment. He came from the 78th Infantry Regiment (78e RI). Formerly, this little-known officer served with the Legion in Marocco, where he commanded the 1st Battalion, 3e REI in the 1930s. It should be mentioned that Major Clément is sometimes confused with Captain Clément from the Combat Support Company Nr. 1 (CA1) of the 11e REI, a future major with the 4e DBLE in Senegal in 1941-42 and with RMLE (a Legion unit fighting in France by the end of WWII, future 3e REI) in 1943-45.

On June 3, a reinforcement consisting of 98 fresh legionnaires joined the regiment. At this moment, the 11e REI is officially composed of around 2,600 men. Nevertheless, until now, the unit has also lost 504 men being killed, wounded or missed.


Retreat to Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse

June 9, the 11th Foreign Regiment is in the sector of Baâlon, east of Stenay. June 11, the 6th North African Division, isolated from the rest of the French forces, is ordered to retreat to the south. June 13, the division is close to Verdun, 30 miles (40 km) south of Stenay. During this retreat, the Germans are still attacking the convoy. There are wounded and killed men of the regiment. Three days later, after a long and difficult march, the regiment appears 45 miles (70 km) to the south, in Void. In this region, the 11e REI is placed around Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse, a small village 4 miles (6 km) south-east of Void and west of Toul, the main objective of German troops.

A platoon of Adjudant Romanovitch stays in Void for guarding the local bridge across the Marne-Rhine Canal and blowing it up if necessary. The bridge is destroyed in the evening, after a retreat of the last French elements garrisoned there.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Stenay - Verdun - Void - Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse - Toul - Map


Battle of Void

On June 17 in the evening, Major Clément received an order from General of the division. A battalion of the 11e REI has to be sent once again to Void. Its mission is to slow down a little the advance of the enemy. Major Rzekiecki d’Alegron volunteered. On June 18, at two o’clock in the morning, without any illusions, he and his legionnaires of the 2nd Battalion set out for a last-ditch struggle.

Two hours later, contact with the enemy is made. Major Rzekiecki d’Alegron is fallen, with several bullets in his corpse. A simple legionnaire in 1917, he is killed alongside his vanguard. The whole platoons of the 2nd Battalion are destroyed by artillery and machine guns. At six o’clock in the morning, the battalion has already been decimated extensively. It remains a combat group (15 men) of the 5th Company and a platoon of the 6th Company. Only the 7th Company is still fighting, as well as the CA2 remaining in reserve. They still have half of their strength. In the morning of June 18, the survivors are ordered to return to Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse.

11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - Major d’Alegron - Henryk Rzekiecki d’Alegron
Henryk Rzekiecki d’Alegron. The commander of the 2nd Battalion, 11e REI in 1940. Born in Starkowo in 1893 into a family of Polish nobility, he joined the Legion in France in 1917, as a simple legionnaire. He is killed while heading his men to Void on June 18, 1940.


Battle of Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse

On June 18 in the morning, the 11e REI received a divisional order to hold its positions in Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse until the finish. It is necessary to fight until the last fall. The legionnaires are exhausted after the difficult retreat of the last days. Moreover, they have not eaten enough during the same period. Also, they have almost run out of ammunition. This will be a last-ditch struggle for the 11e REI, who is alone in front of the enemy.

The regiment’s mission is to guard two important bridges across the Meuse river. Those of Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse and of Ugny-sur-Meuse, south of the first village. The bridges are guarded by the 1st Battalion of Captain Rouillon and the survivors of the 2nd Battalion, commanded temporarily by Captain Le Moine. The HQ of the 3rd Battalion of Major Gaultier is stationed in Ugny. Its companies are in reserve behind the Meuse.

Major Clément and his regiment’s HQ are placed in a cellar under the village post office. The rear base of the 11e REI remains in a wood close to a hill east of Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse.

At ten o’clock in the morning, the German attack began with a machine gun fire and artillery. The shelling is accurate. It’s a continuous rain of shells. The wounded arrive in groups. The Germans want to finish it as soon as possible. Soon, the situation is totally untenable for the 11th Foreign Regiment. However, the very last order of the 6e DINA specifies that it is necessary to hold at all costs until ten o’clock in the evening, the time of the new withdrawal.

At two o’clock in the afternoon, the enemy is very close, on the edge of the river. Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse is under fire. Throughout the afternoon, the shelling continues. In the middle of the afternoon, the regiment exceeds the number of 250 wounded.

Around six o’clock in the evening, despite a violent reaction from the officers, Major Clément gives the order to burn the flag of the regiment to not be taken by the enemy. A very extraordinary event in the history of the Legion. Lieutenant Virenque, the intelligence officer, is obliged to execute the order. He kept the color’s cravat at least.

Two hours later, the number of wounded exceeds 370. Tens of men are killed.

11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse - Map
On 18 June 1940, the 11e REI guard the two bridges in Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse. The commander (C) is placed together with HQ in a cellar under the local post office. The rear base of the regiment (3) remains in a wood close to a hill east of the village. The reserve 3rd Battalion is stationed in Ugny-sur-Meuse.

11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse - Bridge
The bridge west of Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse guarded in june 1940 by the legionnaires of the 11e REI.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse - Post office
On 18 June 1940, Major Clément and his HQ are placed in a cellar under this post office of Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse.


Retreat to Blénod and the Armistice

By ten o’clock in the evening, the regiment’s HQ, including the commanding officer, is evacuated by a company of the 1st Battalion. Meanwhile, the enemy interrupts the deadly fire. June 19 after midnight, the 11e REI begins its retreat to Blénod-lès-Toul, located some 10 miles (15 km) south-east, to be placed there. On June 21 and 22, the regiment is near Crézilles, another 2,5 miles (4 km) to the south-east, in the sector of Ochey. The gold-fringed cravat of the burned flag and the fanion of the 1st Battalion are placed in a metal box and hidden under the floor of the porch of the Saint-Gengoult church of Crézilles (they will be collected by the end of 1941 to take them to Algeria).

The 6e DINA remains a unit distinguished by the desire for fighting. Its commander only asked his division to hold positions, without supplies, without renewal of ammunition, without an artillery support.

Nevertheless, on June 22, the Armistice is signed between Hitler’s Third Reich and the French government. The war is over. Mainland France is divided into two parts by a line of demarcation, the area occupied by the German Army and the so-called “free zone” (Zone libre).
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Stenay - Verdun - Void - Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse - Blénod - Crézilles - Ochey - Map


After the Armistice

On June 23, the wounded and exhausted survivors of the regiment are taken prisoner, together with the rest of the division, surrounded in sectors of Crézilles and Ochey. They are ordered to march to Verdun, to a prisoner camp established there: Frontstalag 240. The regiment ceased to exist. Four-fifths of the men of the 11e REI are lost during the Battle of France – they are killed, wounded, captured or missed.

Only 578 officers, NCOs and legionnaires of the 11th Foreign Infantry Regiment managed to escape and pass the line of demarcation to take refuge in the free zone. They joined the Depot of the Legion of Sathonay in Aix-en-Provence. Thereafter, the whole group moved to Fuveau, in South-East France.

On July 14, the French national day, they paraded in front of the public of Fuveau.

By the end of July, to employ the men usefully, the project of the Legion Road (Route de la Légion) was born. A road of a few hundred meters located near the Saint-Jean du Puy Hermitage, in the sector of Trets, 6 miles (10 km) north-east of Aubagne, the Motherhouse of the current Legion. In August 1940, the survivors of the 12e REI (another provisional regiment of the Legion, created in February 1940) arrived in Fuveau. The legionnaires on active duty are directed to Algeria, for joining Sidi Bel Abbés, the then Motherhouse of the Legion. To finish the Road, they remain only the war-period volunteers of the two provisional regiments and of the Depot. They will be divided among four units of workers (Foreign Worker Group, GTE). The Depot of the Légion in Fuveau is finally disbanded on August 22.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - France - 1940 - Aubagne - Fuveau - Trets - Saint Jean du Puy - Map

11th REI - 11 REI - 1940 - Legion Road - Milestone
The original milestone of the Legion Road, a forest road pierced not far from the Saint-Jean du Puy Hermitage in July-August 1940 by survivors of the 11e REI.



The legionnaires, reservists and foreign volunteers of the young and badly equipped 11th Foreign Infantry Regiment were finally fighting like old warriors, against the superiority of Germany’s modern army, which was supported in addition by heavy artillery and aircraft. The men of the 11e REI have never let themselves be frightened of the enemy. They always formed a coherent unit. One battalion commander and five company commanders of the regiment were killed in action.

In early September 1941, the 11e REI is mentioned in dispatches and would obtain a War Cross.

Several weeks later, in late September 1941, the cravat of the regimental color of the 11e REI and the fanion of the 1st Battalion are collected in Crézilles by a nurse, Miss Meiffredy, thanks to the details of Major Robitaille, the then commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6e REI (a unit having just arrived from the Levant) and the head of the HQ Staff of the 11e REI in 1939-40. The two emblems were taken to Algeria and placed in the Hall of Honor of the Legion in Sidi Bel Abbés.

By the way, Major Robitaille has already distinguished himself as a commander of the CA/1REI (Automobile Company, future 1re CSPL) in Tabelbala in the Sahara, where he and his legionnaires built a famous and modern outpost in 1934-36.

In France on 5 March 1946, a veteran association (Amicale) of the 11e REI is created. It is presided by Mr. Rouillon, a former commander of the 1st Battalion, 11e REI. In Sidi Bel Abbés in late April 1946, the fanions of the 3rd Battalion and that of the CA1 are handed over by a Belgian delegation of veterans of the 11e REI and placed in the Hall of Honor of the Legion.

In the 2000s, a war memorial dedicated to men of the 11e and 12e REI is built close to the Legion Road, south of Trets. Every year, in early November, a ceremony takes place there to pay homage to the men of both regiment fighting in France in 1940.

In 2018, the Foreign Legion Recruiting Group (GRLE) received a new regimental color of the 11e REI to guard it and to maintain the traditions of the former regiment.


Officers of the 11e REI being killed in 1940

Major Henryk (Henri) Rzekiecki d’Alegron
– commander of the 2nd Battalion, 11e REI
– killed on 18 June 1940

Captain Jules Emanuelli
– commander of the 3rd Company, 11e REI
– killed on 27 May 1940

Captain Louis Lanchon (né Lefebvre)
– commander of the 5th Company, 11e REI
– killed on 18 June 1940

Captain Jean Magne
– commander of the 6th Company, 11e REI
– killed on 18 June 1940

Captain Albéric Urvoy de Closmadeuc
– commander of the Support Company Nr. 2 (CA2), 11e REI
– killed on 27 May 1940

Lieutenant Jacques de Rousiers
– signals officer of the 11e REI
– killed on 18 June 1940

Lieutenant Jean Hafenscher
– platoon leader with the 6th Company, 11e REI
– seriously wounded on 13 May, he died on 20 May 1940

Lieutenant André Jabouille
– platoon leader with the CA2, 11e REI
– killed on 18 June 1940

Lieutenant Marc Jurion
– platoon leader with the 1st Company, 11e REI
– groupe franc leader
– killed on 13 May 1940

Lieutenant Benoît Seillon
– commander of the 2nd Company, 11e REI
– missing since 22 May 1940

Lieutenant Roger Viel
– platoon leader with the CA2, 11e REI
– killed on 18 June 1940

Chaplain-Captain Jean Wattel
– divisional chaplain with the 11e REI
– killed on 27 May 1940


11th REI - 11 REI - Saint-Gengoult Church of Crézilles
The Saint-Gengoult Church of Crézilles. On 21 or 22 June 1940, the cravat of the 11e REI’s burned flag and the fanion of the 1st Battalion, 11e REI were placed in a metal box and hidden under the floor of the church porch. The metal box is collected in late September 1941 and the two emblems are taken to Algeria.

11th REI - 11 REI - Cravat of the Regimental color
The cravat of the regimental color of the 11e REI in 1942 and in the 1980s. The cravat is decorated with the War Cross.
11th REI - 11 REI - Fanion - 1st Battalion
The fanion of the 1st Battalion, 11e REI in 1942 and in the 1980s. Note that the fanion from 1942 is still wearing a blue cravat.
11th REI - 11 REI - Fanion - 3rd Battalion
The fanion of the 3rd Battalion, 11e REI.
11th REI - 11 REI - Fanion - Support Company - CA1
The fanion of the Support Company Nr. 1 (CA1), 11e REI of Captain Clément. This officer is sometimes confused with Major Clément, the last commanding officer of the regiment.
11th REI - 11 REI - 1946 - General Robert - Colonel Clement
A rare photo of the two last commanding officers of the 11e REI in Sidi Bel Abbés in 1946. General Robert (left) and Lt Col Clément (center). The latter is promoted to the rank of Commander of the Légion d’honneur.
11th REI - 11 REI - gravestone - Inor Wood - Foreign Legion
A gravestone in the Inor Wood to commemorate the heroic battle of the 11e REI of 27 May 1940. The gravestone was inaugurated in May 2000.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - monument aux morts - Trets
The War Memorial dedicated to the 11e REI and 12e REI south of Trets. Note the milestone of the Legion Road, modernized and placed here.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - Louis-Antoine Gaultier
Louis-Antoine Gaultier. A legendary officer of the Legion. The head of the 3rd Battalion, 11e REI in 1940. With the Legion in 1922-40 and 1941-50. He led the Automobile Company, 4e REI in Marocco, the RMLE in France in 1944-45 or the DCRE (later redesignated to 1er REI) in Algeria in 1946-50.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - Maurice Brochet de Vaugrigneuse
Maurice Brochet de Vaugrigneuse. The deputy commander with the 2nd Battalion, 11e REI. Wounded in the Inor Wood on 27 May. Before WWII, this lesser-known officer served with the Mounted Company, 3e REI. In Senegal in 4e DBLE in 1941-42, he took part in the Tunisia Campaign in 1943 and that one in France in 1944-45. He was killed in Algeria in 1957, while heading the 3e REI.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - Frédéric Gheysens
Frédéric Gheysens. A platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 11e REI. He was among the last elements to leave Saint-Germain-sur-Meuse. Imprisoned by Germans on June 23. In 1947, under the command of Lt Col Gaultier, another veteran of the 11e REI, then Captain Gheysens founded Képi blanc, an official and modern magazine of the Legion, and became his very first chief. Captain Gheysens was killed in Indochina in March 1950.
11th REI - 11 REI - Foreign Legion - Pierre Ortiz
Pierre Ortiz. An American who served with the Legion in Morocco in 1932-37. In November 1939, Pierre Ortiz rejoined the Legion. He was assigned to the 11e REI, to the Motorcycle Platoon. Imprisoned in June 1940, he returned from captivity in 1941. Demobilised, he returned to the U.S. to join the USMC and later, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Jumped over France in 1944, he was participating alongside the French resistance in the Liberation of France in 1944-45. He finally retired in 1955 as a colonel. Thereafter, Peter Ortiz he turned to the show business and appears in a number of films, particularly with John Wayne.
11th REI - 11 REI - 1940 - Colonel Clement - 11e REI officers
A very rare photo showing 11e REI officers surrounding their commander Clément (center, hands crossed). The photo was captured probably after the Armistice, in 1940. Below, with glasses, Lieutenant Gheysens.


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Main information & images sources:
Luce Coupin: Vainqueurs quand même (By the author, 1972)
Képi blanc magazines
Légion Etrangère magazines
11e et 12e REI,13e DBLE, 1939-1940 (Fr)
Fanion Vert et Rouge (Fr)
Mémorial Gen Web (Fr)
Google Maps



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



The page was updated on: November 7, 2019


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