16th Engineer Maintenance Company

The 16th Engineer Maintenance Company (16e CEG) was a Foreign Legion engineering unit constituted in France in 1945. The company was ranked among the first engineering units of the Legion formed after the end of WWII. Its main task was to support French troops during the First Indochina War (1946-54). It was providing maintenance and repairing of engineering equipment and military vehicles. The company was also carrying out reception, storage and distribution of engineering equipment for French units. The 16e CEG was dissolved in 1952 to form an engineer mixed 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

 

16th Engineer Maintenance Company

16th Engineer Maintenance Company
16e Compagnie d’Entretien du Génie (16e CEG)

16e CEG was established on October 1, 1945
– a Foreign Legion military engineering company
– one of the very first units designated to deploy to Indochina
– on paper since early August 1945
– part of the then 1st Combat Engineer Group

– 16e CEG was organized at Camp de Garrigues
– a military camp near Nimes, southern France
– organized there between August-November 1945
– as a composite unit
– consisting of legionnaires and French engineers
– legionnaires joined the company in November
– between them, a number of German WWII prisoners
– the company’s theoretical strength was 197 men

Captain Rivieres became the company commander

– in December, 16e CEG moved to Marseille, southern France

 

16e CEG: 1946

– in January, 16e CEG left France for Asia
– February 8, the unit landed in Indochina

– 16e CEG was stationed in then Saigon
– today’s Ho Chi Minh City in Southern Vietnam (then Cochinchina)

– a detachment of the 16e CEG moved to Tonkin (then title for Northern Vietnam)
– it would provide drinking water supply systems for French troops
– the detachment returned back to Saigon in September 1946

– in March, Captain Wagon became the company commander

– in May, 16e CEG was stationed at Quartier Virgile, Saigon
– a French old military barracks

– 16e CEG was devided into three platoons:

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

– 16e CEG mostly served as a quartermaster/sustainment unit
– its main operational area in 1946 was the harbor of Saigon
– the company was carrying out several tasks
– reception, storage and distribution of engineering equipment
– this included unloading military ships arriving in Saigon
– operating, maintenance and repairing of engineering equipment
– operating, maintenance and repairing of military vehicles

 

16e CEG: 1947 – 1949

1947:
– in 1947, 16e CEG had its detachments located throughout Cochinchina
– they were providing maintenance support for French troops

Heavy Equipment Platoon
Peloton d’Engins Mécaniques (PEM)
– in April 1947, a new unit was assigned to the company
– it was transferred from the 1re CEMSG (Engineer HQ & Services Company)
– PEM was a heavy construction works unit
– mainly trained to (re-)build roads and military airfields
– equipped with bulldozers, graders and some excavators
– led by Second Lieutenant Debelle

 
1948 – 1949:
– in 1948, Captain Autran became the company commander

– the same year, demining works during military operations

– 1948-49, 16e CEG served in Cochinchina, Annam (Central Vietnam) or in Cambodia

 

16e CEG - 16 CEG - Engineer Maintenance Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina
The insignia of 16e CEG, undated. Most likely, created before 1950. It bears a Buddhist temple representing French Indochina, a breastplate & helmet (the traditional symbol of French engineer units) and the seven-flame grenade of the Legion. The insignia also includes the Legion’s green & red colors, and the black color of French engineers.

 

16e CEG: 1950 – 1952

1950 – 1951:
– in 1950, Lieutenant Tranier served as the company commander

– that year, 16e CEG was composed of 4 officers + 203 men
– 2 officers were from the Legion (Lieutenant Baudoin + Lieutenant Francois)
– between the men, 189 legionnaires (14 men were French sappers)

– 16e CEG was also operating its own vehicle fleet
– it consisted of different vehicles
– French, British or U.S. heavy equipment vehicles
– Jeeps
– Plymouth staff cars
– Chevrolet vans
– GMC CCKW trucks
– Dodge 4×4 & Dodge 6×6 trucks
– Austin trucks + Lorrain trucks
– Triumph & Harley Davidson motorcycles
– a Morris Light Reconnaissance Car (LRC, a British small armored car)
– a Japanese bicycle (from the occupation of Indochina 1940-45)

 
1952:
– in 1952, Captain Logel served as the company commander

– that year, 16e CEG was operating, as usually, several detachments
– placed mainly in the Saigon area
Bien Hoa, Dran, Hang Ton Tay, Ap Try or Thu Duc

16e CEG’s dissolution
– in September 1952, the company would be reorganized
– it would become a battalion
– 16e CEG was dissolved on September 30, 1952

– its men formed the 26th Engineer Battalion

 

16e CEG - 16 CEG - Engineer Maintenance Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1952
The second insignia of 16e CEG, most likely created by Captain Logel in 1952. Besides the symbols of the Legion and French engineers, it also bears the tools symbolizing the maintenance.

 
 
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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)

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

1st Engineer HQ & Services Company
15th Engineer Maintenance Company
38th Dump Truck Company
40th Dump Truck Company
39th Riverine Craft Engineer Company

 

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The page was updated on: October 29, 2018

 

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