1st Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company

The 1st Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company (1re CMRLE) was a military logistics unit serving in then French Indochina. Its history started in North Africa in early 1946. The company’s main purpose was to support French troops during the First Indochina War (1946-54). It provided materiel maintenance, repair, and evacuation services, mainly repairing of military vehicles. The 1re CMRLE was inactivated in 1955.

Foreign Legion Repair 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

 

723rd Foreign Legion Automobile Repair Company

723rd Foreign Legion Automobile Repair Company
723e Compagnie de Réparation Automobile de la Légion Étrangère (723e CRALE)

723e CRALE was established on January 1, 1946
– a vehicle repair company of the Foreign Legion
– the company was organized in Oran, Algeria (North Africa)
– it had to serve in then French Indochina during the First Indochina War
– 723e CRALE became an administratively autonomous unit
– Captain Cariou took temporarily command
Captain Azema became the company commander a few weeks later

– in early March 1946, 723e CRALE left North Africa
– it would join the military operations in Indochina

 

723e CRALE: Indochina 1946 – 1949

1946:
– in late March, 723e CRALE landed in French Indochina
– the company was stationed in then Saigon, Cochinchina
– Cochinchina was then title for southern Vietnam
– 723e CRALE detachments also moved to central and northern Vietnam

– 723e CRALE was tasked with vehicle maintenance, repair, and evacuation missions
– legionnaires evacuated and repaired damaged military vehicles
– they were damaged during military operations, by engine failure or enemy attacks
– also by explosive devices placed on roads
– the men were often forced to repair vehicles on the spot, under enemy fire

1947:
– in early 1947, 723e CRALE served along RC4 (Colonial Road)
– in the That Khe region of northern Vietnam

– in 1947, Captain Cotard served as the company commander

1st Materiel Service Worker Battalion
– in May 1947, 723e CRALE lost its independence
– the company was assigned to the 1st Materiel Service Worker Battalion
1er Bataillon d´Ouvriers du Service du Matériel (1er BOSM, est 1947)
1er BOSM was a French military logistics unit
– the unit was also stationed in Saigon
– it was ex-651st Materiel Repair Battalion (stationed in Germany)
651e Bataillon de Réparation du Matériel (651e BRM)
– in 1951, 1er BOSM became 1er Bataillon de Réparation du Matériel (1er BRM)
– the battalion was deactivated in 1955

– 1er BOSM became a composite unit
– comprising French regular and Legion elements
– 723e CRALE continued to carry out its missions

August 1947 – July 1949:
– between 1947 and 1949, 723e CRALE was commanded by these officers:
– Captain Rousselet
– Second Lieutenant Sotta
– Lieutenant Marchetti
– Captain Bonnaud

723e CRALE to leave 1er BOSM
– the company left 1er BOSM on December 31, 1948
– 723e CRALE gained its independence again

– 1948-49, Lieutenant Plantevin served with 723e CRALE
– he would command the 2e CSPL in Algeria in the 1950s

– in August 1949, 723e CRALE was redesignated

 

723e CRALE - 723 CRALE - Repair Company - 1947 - Insignia - Badge - Indochina
The first insignia of 723e CRALE, created in 1947. The insignia bears the gold seven-flame grenade of the Legion and a cogged wheel symbolizing matériel units (maintenance & repair) of the French Army. The background of the insignia is made in the Legion’s green & red colors.
723e CRALE - 723 CRALE - Repair Company - 1948 - Insignia - Badge - Indochina
The second insignia of 723e CRALE, created in 1948. The original design was placed on an Asian dragon representing French Indochina.
1er BOSM - 1 BOSM - Bataillon d'Ouvriers - 1948 - Insignia - Badge - Indochina
The insignia of 1er BOSM (Worker Battalion), designed by Lieutenant Michailesco and created in 1947. The 723e CRALE was assigned to the battalion between mid-1947 until late 1948. Note the Legion’s grenade on the top of the insignia.

 
 

1st Foreign Legion Repair Company

1st Foreign Legion Repair Company
1re Compagnie de Réparation de la Légion Etrangère (1re CRLE)

1re CRLE was established on August 1, 1949
– ex-723e CRALE
– an administratively independent unit
– a materiel maintenance company of the Foreign Legion
– part of the Service du Matériel branch of the French Army
– the company would remain stationed in Saigon
Captain Bonnaud continued as its commander

– 1re CRLE conducted vehicle evacuation and repair missions throughout Cochinchina

– in March 1950, Captain Maunier took command

– in April 1951, the company would be redesignated again

 
 

1st Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company

1st Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company
1re Compagnie Moyenne de Réparation de la Légion Etrangère (1re CMRLE)

1re CMRLE was established on April 1, 1951
– ex-1re CRLE
– a materiel maintenance unit of the Foreign Legion
– an administratively independent unit
– still based in Saigon, Cochinchina
Captain Maunier continued as its company commander

 
– 1re CMRLE served as a logistics unit
– it continued to provide vehicle maintenance, repair, and evacuation
– in support of legionnaires and other French troops
– its men maintenaned and repaired vehicles in their ateliers (workshops)
– tens of vehicles were repaired every month

– the men provided their important services also during military operations
– the company was equipped with wreckers (mainly Mack trucks)
– to evacuate vehicles damaged in the field during the operations

 

1re CMRLE: 1951 – 1954

– there are only a few of official data regarding the company
– these small, independent Legion units were very autonomous
– they were far from North Africa, the HQ and archives of the Legion

1951 – 1953:
– in June 1952, Captain Caburet took command

– also in June 1952, 1re CMRLE left Saigon
– its HQ would be stationed at Bien Hoa
– about 20 mi (30 km) east of Saigon
– several company elements stayed in Saigon
– other detachments were placed at Kratie, Loc Ninh, Tuy Hoa (central Vietnam) and Laos

 
1954:
First Indochina War ended
– in August 1954, the war in Indochina ended
– all French units had to leave Tonkin (northern Vietnam)

 

1re CMRLE: 1954 – 1956

1954 – 1955:
– after the war, 1re CMRLE served as a repair company
– it continued to carry out its missions

– in October 1954, Captain Verrier took command

Captain Marteau replaced him a few weeks later

1956:
– as a result of the war, France had to leave Indochina
– all French units had to leave Asia until 1956

1re CMRLE to leave Vietnam
– in early 1956, the company left Vietnam
– it landed in Algeria in April 1956
– it moved to Sidi Bel Abbes (then HQ of the Foreign Legion)

1re CMRLE’s dissolution
– 1re CMRLE was dissolved in April 1956

 

1re CRLE - 1 CRLE - 1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1949 - Insignia - Badge - Indochina
The insignia of 1re CRLE, designed and manufactured in 1949-50. The insignia bears a Buddhist six-armed bodhisattva to symbolize French Indochina. The insignia also includes the Legion’s grenade and green & red colors. The leaf springs represent French vehicle repair units. In 1951, 1re CMRLE adopted the insignia without any changes and used it until 1956.
1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1953 - Prey Veng - Cambodia
The vehicles of 1re CMRLE during an operation in the Prey Vang region of southern Cambodia, near the border with Cochinchina (then title for southern Vietnam), August 1953.
1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1953 - GMC - workshop - Cambodia
A legionnaire of 1re CMRLE inside a GMC workshop truck during an operation in southern Cambodia, August 1953.
1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1953 - AM M8 - Cambodia
Legionnaires of Armored Mobile Platoon, 1re CMRLE with their AMM8 armored car (M8 Greyhound) during an operation in southern Cambodia, August 1953… To see all photos, click here: 1re CMRLE’s operation in 1953.
1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1954 - Gardy - Bien Hoa
Colonel Paul Gardy, the then Chief of the Foreign Legion, in front of the fanion guard of 1re CMRLE at Bien Hoa (close to Saigon), July 1954.
1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1954 - NCOs - Bien Hoa
NCOs of 1re CMRLE at Bien Hoa, the unit’s HQ, July 1954.
1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1954 - Gardy - Bien Hoa
The fanion guard of 1re CMRLE posing at Bien Hoa, July 1954.
1re CMRLE - 1 CMRLE - Repair Company - 1951 - Fanion - Indochina
The fanion of 1re CMRLE used in Indochina between 1951-56.

 
 

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Main information sources:

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 repair companies of Indochina:

2nd Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company
3rd Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company
4th Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company
5th Foreign Legion Medium Repair Company
2nd Foreign Legion Armored Vehicles Repair Company

 

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The page was updated on: August 30, 2018

 

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