15th Engineer Maintenance Company

The 15th Engineer Maintenance Company (15e CEG) was a Foreign Legion engineering unit constituted in Indochina in late 1947. The company’s main purpose was to support French troops during the First Indochina War (1946-54). The unit carried out many military engineering-related tasks. It was providing maintenance and repairing of heavy equipment & military vehicles, storage and distribution of engineering equipment, road building or pontoon bridge construction. The 15e CEG was inactivated in 1952 to form an engineer battalion.

Foreign Legion Engineering Companies in French Indochina 1946-54

 

First Indochina War (1946-54)
– French Indochina reffers to French colonial territories in Southeast Asia
– today’s Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
– in Indochina in the 1940’s, a conflict started between France and Ho Chi Minh
– Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam)
– Viet Minh was an independence 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

 

42nd Engineer Depot Company

42nd Engineer Depot Company
42e Compagnie d’Entrepôt du Génie (42e CEG)

42e CEG was constituted in October 1945
– a Foreign Legion military engineering company
– one of the very first units designated to deploy to Indochina
– on paper since late August 1945
– part of the then 1st Combat Engineer Group

– 42e CEG was organized at Camp de Garrigues
– a military camp near Nimes, southern France
– organized there between August-November 1945
– consisting of legionnaires and French engineers
– between legionnaires, many German WWII prisoners
– the company’s theoretical strength was 197 men

– in early December 1945, 42e CEG left France for Indochina
– as the very first Legion unit after WWII
– these fact hasn’t ever been mentioned in Legion sources

– December 26, 1945, 42e CEG landed in Indochina
– it became the third French engineer unit having landed there
– the company was stationed in then Saigon
– today’s Ho Chi Minh City in Southern Vietnam (then Cochinchina)
– still not fully equipped

 

42e CEG: French Indochina in 1946

January 6, 42e CEG was considered as fully operational unit
– a military engineering company constituted to serve in Indochina
– the unit should serve as an engineer depot
– to provide handling/administration of engineer materiel
– to provide maintenance and repairing of engineer materiel
– to equip and supply French engineer workshops in Indochina

– in March, 42e CEG helped to equip 16e CEG
– another Foreign Legion engineer unit
– having freshly landed in Indochina

Operation Bentré
– March 6-8, French landings in Tonkin
– then title for Northern Vietnam
– left by the French since early 1945
– French troops landed at Hai Phong, Tonkin
– after a naval battle with Chinese artillery
– Tonkin was then occupied by Chinese troops
– they had to retreat
– since March 13, French units were fully stationed in Hai Phong
– including a detachment of the 42e CEG

– in Tonkin, 42e CEG men would support French engineers
– they carried out several tasks
– to provide storage of engineer materiel
– to provide distribution of engineer materiel
– to provide specialists to other engineer units
– locksmiths, carpenters, machinists, welders etc.

– March 18, French troops entered Hanoi
– the capital of French Indochina
– the French had to leave the city in March 1945

Battle of Hanoi
– December 20-21
– the battle which started the First Indochina War
– it occurred in the capital of Indochina
– between French troops and the Viet Minh
– 42e CEG took part in the battle
– alongside 1st Bridge Equipment Company (1er CEP)
– another (almost unknown) Foreign Legion engineer unit
– future 38e CCB

 

42e CEG: French Indochina in 1947

Liberation of Hanoi
– late December 1945 – March 1947
– 42e CEG + 1er CEP participated
– they repaired roads, bridges
– destroyed by the battle and Viet Minh attacks

Cat Bi Air Base
– an important French air base
– located north of Hai Phong
– built by 42e CEG between February and March 1947
– 5,000 m2 were covered with asphalt
– the legionnaires used bulldozers Brockway
– in following years, the air base would expand
– today is known as Cat Bi International Airport

– early May, 42e CEG was stationed in Tourane
– a town in Annam (then title for Central Vietnam)

– in December 1947, the 42e CEG would be reorganized and redesignated
– it was reinforced by a number of legionnaires from the 16e CEG

December 14, 1947, the 42e CEG was administratively dissolved
– its men would form a new unit

 

15th Engineer Maintenance Company

15th Engineer Maintenance Company
15e Compagnie d’Entretien du Génie (15e CEG)

15e CEG was established on December 15, 1947
– an engineer maintenance support mixed company
– an autonomous unit, ex-42e CEG
– the company was composed of 5 officers + 163 men
– legionnaires (a majority) + French sappers

– 15e CEG remained stationed in Tourane, Annam (Central Vietnam)
– it was commanded by a French engineer corps officer
– however, his deputy was a Legion officer

– 15e CEG was devided into three platoons:

  • HQ Platoon
  • Vehicle & Maintenance Platoon (Section de Parc et Ateliers)
  • Transportation Platoon (Section de Transit)

Heavy Equipment Platoon was assigned to the company
– a platoon of France’s FTNV (Northern Vietnam Ground Forces)

– December 30, 1947, 15e CEG moved to Tonkin
– Tonkin was then title for Northern Vietnam

– in January 1948, the 15e CEG was stationed in Hai Phong, Tonkin
– it would provide maintenance support for French troops

 

15e CEG: 1949 – 1952

1949:
– in 1949, Captain Wagon served as the company commander

– 15e CEG mostly served as a maintenance support unit
– the company was carrying out several tasks
– maintenance & operating of military vehicles
– maintenance & operating of heavy equipment vehicles
– repairing of military vehicles
– repairing of heavy equipment vehicles & machines
– storage and distribution of engineering equipment
– transportation of engineering equipment
– road & airfield building
– pontoon bridge construction
– drinking water system construction
– military patrols in Hai Phong and its nearest region

– 15e CEG was furnished with different equipment
– 16 heavy equipment vehicles (bulldozers, scrapers,…)
– 43 military vehicles (Jeeps, M3 Scout Cars, trucks,…)

– in 1949, 15e CEG participated in several military operations
– the operations took place in the Red River Delta of Tonkin
– the company captured about 100 Viet Minh prisoners

 
1950:
Riverine Platoon
– in 1950, a new platoon was established
– 15e CEG was furnished with additional equipment
– several heavy-ponton ferries (each consisting of 2-3 rafts)
– 3 x M2 Bailey Bridge
– later, at least one LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized)

 
1951:
– in September 1951, the LCM left the company
– it was transferred to the new 39e CEFG

– in November 1951, Captain Gilquin took command

 
1952:
15e CEG’s dissolution
– in late 1952, the company would be reorganized
– it would become a battalion
– 15e CEG was dissolved on October 31, 1952

– its men formed the 22nd Engineer Battalion

 

15e CEG - 15 CEG - Engineer Maintenance Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina
The insignia of 15e CEG, undated. It bears an Asian dragon representing French Indochina, who is holding a cogged wheel with a breastplate & helmet, the traditional symbols of French transportation & engineer units. The insignia also includes the seven-flame grenade of the Legion. The edges are bordered with the Legion’s green & red colors on the left; on the right, the green color is replaced with the black color of French engineers.
15e CEG - 15 CEG - Engineer Maintenance Company - 1950-52 - Indochina
The men identified as legionnaires of the 15e CEG during their works in Indochina, in the early 1950s.

 
 
———

Main information sources:

Pierre Dufour: Génie-Légion – de Sidi Bel Abbes au Kosovo (Lavauzelle, 2000)
More-majorum.de (Germans in French Indochina 1946-56)
Insignes Legion (Fr)
Fanion Vert et Rouge (Fr)

 
———

See Foreign Legion’s other disbanded engineering companies of Indochina:

1st Engineer HQ & Services Company
16th Engineer Maintenance Company
38th Dump Truck Company
40th Dump Truck Company
39th Riverine Craft Engineer Company

 

———

 

The page was updated on: October 29, 2018

 

← Back to French Foreign Legion Units

 

↑ Back to Top