1st Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company

The 1st Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company (1re CMMLE) was a heavy mortar infantry unit, one of the three mortar companies of the French Foreign Legion participating in the First Indochina War in southeastern Asia, between 1953-54. The history of the 1re CMMLE started in March 1953 and ended in May 1954. It was the only heavy mortar company of the Legion conducting operations in Laos. This country was part of then French Indochina (today’s Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). The company was destroyed during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (1954).

Foreign Legion - Mortar companies - French Indochina - First Indochina War


1st Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company 1953 – 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 early 1946, first Foreign Legion units landed in Indochina

March 1953:
Foreign Legion Heavy Mortar Company (Compagnie de Mortiers Lourds de la Légion Étrangère, CMLLE)
– on March 25, CMLLE was established in Laos, southeastern Asia
– Lieutenant Poirier took command
– the company consisted of eight 120 mm mortars
– CMLLE was administratively attached to the 2nd Battalion, 3e REI
– the main task of CMLLE was to support the battalion during its operations in Laos
– these operations took place at Plaine des Jarres, northern Laos
– these operations were part of the First Indochina War (1946 – 1954)

June 1953:
1st Foreign Legion Heavy Mortar Mixed Company (1re Compagnie Mixte de Mortiers Lourds de la Légion Étrangère, 1re CMMLLE)
– on June 1, CMLLE changed its designation
– it became 1re CMMLLE

September 1953:
1st Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company (1re Compagnie Mixte de Mortiers de la Légion Étrangère, 1re CMMLE)
– September 1, the company was renamed again
– 1re CMMLLE became the 1re CMMLE
– 1re CMMLE was still based in Laos

March 1954:
– on March 9, two platoons of 1re CMMLE left Laos for northern Vietnam
– they would be stationed in the valley of Dien Bien Phu
– 1st Platoon, commanded by Lieutenant Poirier
– 2nd Platoon, commanded by Lieutenant Colcy

March 13 – May 7, 1954:
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– a battle between the French and the Viet Minh
– 1re CMMLE took part in

March 13-14, 1954:
– 1re CMMLE supported the units defending the Beatrice and Gabrielle outposts

March 15, 1954:
– the platoon of Lieutenant Colcy, 1re CMMLE was placed on the Dominique outpost
– it would defend it against the coming Viet Minh

March 30, 1954:
– a large Viet Minh attack on Dominique
– the platoon of Lieutenant Colcy was lost
– Lieutenant Colcy and his men were killed

April-May 1954:
– the remaining platoon of Lieutenant Poirier continued to defend several outposts

May 07, 1954:
Battle of Dien Bien Phu was over
– the majority of 1re CMMLE men were wounded or killed
– the surviving legionnaires, including Lieutenant Poirier, were imprisoned
they were sent to the POW (prisoners-of-war) camps

May 31, 1954:
– 1re CMMLE was officially disbanded

June 1954:
– Lieutenant Poirier died at a Viet-Minh camp

CMLLE celebrating Camerone Day in Laos in 1953
CMLLE celebrating Camerone Day at Plaine des Jarres of Laos (April 30, 1953)
Photo credit: Ecpad.fr



Information source:

See other disbanded mortar companies:
2nd Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company
1st Heavy Mortar Foreign Parachute Company

Foreign Legion’s disbanded 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: July 04, 2016


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