1st Foreign Parachute Regiment

The 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (1er REP) was an airborne unit of the French Foreign Legion. Formed as a battalion in Algeria in 1948, the unit participated in the First Indochina War (1946-54), where it was two times annihilated in action. In 1955, the battalion returned to North Africa to become a regiment and to take part in the Algerian War (1954-62). In the late 1950’s, the 1er REP was called the most elite regiment of the French Army. The history of that prestigious unit of the Legion prematurely ended in April 1961, due to its active participation in the Generals’ putsch of Algiers.

1er Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes - 1 REP - 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment History

 

1948: First Legion Paratroopers in Algeria

– Algeria is a country situated in North Africa
– then Algeria wasn’t a colony
– it was an integral part of France (1848-1962)
– since 1832, the Foreign Legion had been stationed there
– Algeria was seen as homeland for the Legion
– its headquarters was also based there, at Sidi Bel Abbes

– in 1948, a decision to form an airborne unit within the Foreign Legion

March 27, 1948, a decree was issued
– it ordered to form an airborne unit in Algeria
– it should be formed within the Foreign Legion

– in April, a call to volunteers for joining a new para-unit
– a call made by the Foreign Legion’s HQ
– aimed at legionnaires serving in Algeria
– to be volunteers for a new airborne unit within the Legion
– tens of legionnaires heard the call

– May 13, a camp at Khamisis was established
– its main purpose was to group future paratroopers
– located south of Sidi Bel Abbes, close to a shooting range
Sidi Bel Abbes was then main garrison of the Legion
– Legion’s HQ & depot were based there
– also several instruction centers

Parachute Training Group
Groupement d’Instruction Parachutiste (GIP)
– first groups of volunteers joined the camp
Lieutenant Lepage became their very first officer
– he took command of the camp and the GIP
– in June, he would be replaced by Lieutenant Colin

– in June, a first company constituted
1st Company of a future battalion
Captain Pierre Darmuzai took command

  • a French officer
  • in 1943, he joined the 13e DBLE in Tunisia
  • then, the unit was part of the Free French Forces
  • Lieutenant Darmuzai participated in the Italian Campaign
  • he was involved in the Battle of Garigliano in May 1944
  • in 1944-45, as a captain, he took part in the Liberation of France
  • in 1946-47, Captain Darmuzai served with the 13e DBLE in Indochina

 
– Lieutenant Lepage took command of the 1st Platoon

 

1948: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Algeria

1st Foreign Parachute Battalion
1er Bataillon Etranger de Parachutistes (1er BEP)

1er BEP was established on July 1, 1948
– the first airborne unit of the Legion in North Africa
– officially based at Camp of Khamisis
Captain Pierre Segrétain took command

  • a French officer born in 1909
  • in 1936, Lieutenant Segrétain joined the Legion in Algeria
  • 1936-38, he served with 1er REI (now 1er RE) in Algeria
  • in 1938, he was assigned to 2e REI in Morocco
  • in 1939-41, he moved to Syria and Lebanon
  • he served there with the 2e REI, then with 6e REI
  • in 1941, Captain Segrétain took part in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign
  • in 1942-43, he served with the 1er REI (ex-6e REI) in Algeria and Tunisia
  • in 1943, the Tunisa Campaign against German troops
  • 1943-45, Captain Segrétain served with the Legion’s HQ
  • in 1945, he left the Legion for a military academy
  • 1947-48, a French airborne regiment in Algeria
  • in June 1948, Captain Segrétain rejoined the Legion

 
1er BEP composition in Algeria in July 1948:

  • Command – Captain Segrétain
  • HQ Company – Captain Lucas
  • 1st Company – Captain Darmuzai
  • 2nd Company – Captain de Saint-Etienne
  • 3rd Company – Lieutenant Hochart

 
– in July, a parachute training in Philippeville
– a town (now called Skikda) in northeastern Algeria
– then main French paratrooper center in Algeria
– around 350 officers and legionnaires of the 1er BEP
– they were involved in a three week training
– July 27, they got their paratrooper badge

– in August, Captain Darmuzai left the battalion
– he was transferred to Fort Neuf de Vincennes
– a Foreign Legion recruitment center in Paris

– Lieutenant de Carvalho replaced him
– he took command of the 1st Company, 1er BEP

– also in August, Captain Pierre Jeanpierre joined the 1er BEP
– he became its deputy commander

  • Pierre Jeanpierre was born in 1912 in France
  • as a French officer, he joined the Legion in 1937
  • he served with 1er REI (future 1er RE) in Algeria
  • then, he was assigned to the 2e REI in Morocco
  • in 1939, he moved to Syria and Lebanon to help create the 6e REI
  • he moved there along with Captain Segrétain
  • with 6e REI, he took part in the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign
  • a member of the French resistence 1942-44
  • imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp 1944-45
  • after WWII, he served as a Legion recruiting officer in Germany
  • in July 1948, he returned to Algeria to help create the 1er BEP

 

1er BEP to leave Algeria for Indochina
– in October, 1er BEP to deploy to French Indochina
– October 24, 1er BEP left Algeria for Indochina
– it consisted of 27 officers and 770 legionnaires

– in November, 1er BEP would land in Indochina

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Insignia - Badge
The insignia of 1er BEP, ordered and created in 1948.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Pierre Segrétain
Pierre Segrétain. The very first commander of 1er BEP.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Algeria
Algeria. Then integral part of France and a homeland to the Legion since the 1830’s.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Algeria - Philippeville
In 1948, the 1er BEP was based at Camp Khamisis. The camp was located a few miles south of Sidi Bel Abbes, then garrison town of the Foreign Legion with its HQ and depot being based there. The 1er BEP’s legionnaires were sent to Philippeville (now Skikda) to a French airbase to pass their parachute training there.

 
 

1948-50: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

1945 – 1946:
First Indochina War started
– French Indochina refers to French colonial territories in Southeast Asia
– today’s Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
– under the French rule since the 1880’s
– in Indochina in the 1940’s, a new conflict started
– between France and the Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam)
– Viet Minh was an independence movement, led by Ho Chi Minh
– 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
– in December 1946, the Viet Minh attacked Hanoi, Vietnam
– First Indochina War officially started

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Indochina
French Indochina. Then French colonial territories in Southeast Asia.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - French Indochina
French Indochina. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam. Then Vietnam was devided into three parts: Tonkin (North), Annam (Central), Cochinchina (South). In Northern Vietnam (Tonkin) was situated the capital of French Indochina, Hanoi.

 
 

1948: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

November 1948:
1er BEP to land in Indochina
– November 12, 1er BEP landed in Indochina
– the unit landed in Hai Phong, Northern Vietnam
– almost 800 men
– the battalion would move to Hanoi, to be based there

First casualties for the 1er BEP
– November 15, 1er BEP suffered its first losses
– during its movement toward Hanoi
– a train with 1er BEP legionnaires was attacked
– by a Viet Minh improvised explosive device
– a passenger car carrying 2nd Company members was hit
– 3 legionnaires were killed

1er BEP to be stationed in Hanoi
– November 15, 1er BEP was placed in Hanoi
– then capitol of French Indochina (since 1887)
– 1er BEP was stationed at Gia Lam
– an outskirts located northwest of Hanoi, with an air base
– the battalion would establish its depot there

1er BEP composition in Indochina in November 1948:

  • Command – Captain Segrétain
  • HQ Company – Captain Lucas
  • 1st Company – Lieutenant de Carvalho
  • 2nd Company – Captain Bouyssou
  • 3rd Company – Captain de Saint-Etienne

 

– in late November, 2nd Company moved to Lang Son
– a town in far Northern Vietnam, northeast of Hanoi
– it is located close to the border with China
– the company will be guarding military convoys on Colonial Road 4 (RC4)
– it would also patrol the region

– the rest of the battalion was sent to Xuan Mai
– a village west of Hanoi
– 1er BEP will be guarding Colonial Road 6 (RC6)

First operation for 1er BEP legionnaires
– 2nd Company took part in guarding a military convoy
– it was moving between Lang Son and Cao Bang
Cao Bang and its region was guarded by the 3e REI

December 1948:
First operational casualties for the 1er BEP
– December 8, first men of the 1er BEP killed in action
– they were killed in a Viet Minh attack during Operation Pegase
– the attack took place close to Yen Trinh, west of Hanoi
– 2nd Lieutenant de Chabot + German legionnaire Neuhauser were killed
– the very first KIA casualties of the 1er BEP

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Vietnam - Tonkin
Tonkin. The 1er BEP landed in Hai Phong in mid-November 1948, to be stationed in Hanoi. Two weeks later, the 2nd Company moved to Lang Son. It would guard convoys going along RC4 (Colonial Road) between Lang Son and Cao Bang.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1948 - Vietnam - Gia Lam - Xuan Mai
Hanoi. The 1er BEP was stationed at Gia Lam, an air base located in Hanoi. It would build its rear base there. In late November 1948, the battalion moved to Xuan Mai to guard RC6. In early December 1948, first men of the 1er BEP killed in action. Second Lieutenant de Chabot and legionnaire Neuhaser were killed close to Yen Trinh, during Operation Pegase.

 
 

1949: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

January 1949:
– January 16, a skirmish for 2nd Company
– it took place on RC4 near Dong Khe, Northern Vietnam
– north of That Khe, in the Cao Bang region
– during a mission to guard a convoy
– 2 legionnaires were killed

February 1949:
– in February, Airbase Nord established
– Gia Lam air base was redesignated to BAPN (Airbase Nord)
– BAPN became one of the two main French air bases in North Vietnam

– also in February, 1er BEP left Xuan Mai
– it returned to Gia Lam
– 1st Company would be stationed at the citadel of Hanoi

– Lieutenant Laborde took command of the HQ Company

March 1949:
– in March, an operation to rescue 3e REI legionnaires
– 2nd Company, 1er BEP conducted this operation
– it took place along RC4 near That Khe, Northern Vietnam
– 3e REI outposts were heavily attacked by the Viet Minh
– para-legionnaires had to rescue their survived 3e REI comrades
– after having been fighting all day long, the outposts were reached

– in late March, an operation for the 1er BEP near Hanoi
– a two-day operation occurred in the Ban Xam region

– 2nd Company left Lang Son and moved to That Khe

April 1949:
First airborne operation for 1er BEP legionnaires
– April 16, the very first airborne operation
– an operational jump over Cha Vai, west of Hanoi
Cha Vai was an outpost previously attacked by the Viet Minh
– it was located close to Xuan Dai, in the Phu Tho region
– the jump was carried out by 1st Platoon, 3rd Company
– legionnaires led by Lieutenant Gilbert Roy

  • Gilbert Roy was an interesting figure
  • despite that fact, he still remains an almost unknown French officer
  • he served with the battalion from July 1948
  • Lieutenant Roy led the 1er BEP’s very first operational jump
  • later, he would survive two well-known bloody battles
  • RC4 in 1950 and DBP in 1954
  • Captain Roy left the Legion in 1954
  • he would join the Gendarmerie to serve there until his retirement
  • it is said that his fortune came from his very beautiful fiancée
  • he get engaged to her yet in Algeria
  • two weeks before his leaving for Indochina

 
Attack of Loung Phai
– April 25, a supply convoy on RC4 was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place near Loung Phai, north of That Khe
– the French had 11 men killed + 31 wounded or missed
– the majority of the casualties were 3e REI legionnaires
– 2nd Company, 1er BEP had also its men between the wounded
– thereafter, 2nd Company returned back to Lang Son

First large airborne operation for the 1er BEP
– April 29, the very first large airborne operation
– during Operation Pomone I, in the Phu Tho region
– 1er BEP’s three companies jumped over Colonial Road 2 (RC2)
– the jump took place near Phu Loc, northwest of Hanoi
– the legionnaires would clear the sector of any enemy
– Operation Pomone I ended on May 3
– about 50 Viet Minh rebels were captured

May-June 1949:
– in early May, 2nd Company left Lang Son
– it returned back to Hanoi, after 5 months

– in May, Operation Pomone II
– it started in the Phu Tho region, northwest of Hanoi
– its purpose was to reach and seize Tuyen Quang
– then, the operation continued in the Tuyen Quang sector
– 1st + 3rd Company, 1er BEP participated in
– during two weeks, over 170 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 1er BEP legionnaires also seized almost 40 mortars

– in June, the entire 1er BEP was reunited at Gia Lam

July 1949:
Parachute Company of 3e REI integration
– since July 1, the company would consolidate with the 1er BEP
Parachute Company of 3e REI (CP, 3e REI)
– the very first airborne unit of the Foreign Legion
– led by Lieutenant Jacques Morin
– constituted in Indochina in April 1948
– disbanded on June 30, 1949

Major Segrétain
– July 1, Captain Segrétain was promoted to Major

Battle of Dinh Bang
– July 2, a battle at Dinh Bang, close to Gia Lam
– during the battle, 6 legionnaires were killed
– another 14 men of the 1er BEP were wounded

July-August 1949:
Operation Bastille
– July 13 – August 8, an operation aimed at the Viet Minh
– it took place in the Bac Ninh region, northeast of Hanoi
– during the operation, 2 legionnaires were killed
– between the killed, Sergeant Heinz Hammermeister

  • a former Fallschirmjäger (German paratrooper)
  • he participated in the well-known Operation Mercury
  • it took place in Crete in 1941, during WWII
  • the very first mainly airborne invasion in military history
  • in Indochina, he served with the Parachute Company, 3e REI
  • he and his group were the next-to-last elements to join the 1er BEP
  • he served only two weeks with the battalion before his death

 
August-September 1949:
Operation Canigou
– August 18, another operation started
– 1er BEP, 13e DBLE and 6e REI were involved in
– it took place northwest of Hanoi
– during the operation, a Viet Minh company was destroyed
– 1er BEP suffered 5 legionnaires killed
– Operation Canigou ended in mid-September

October 1949:
Operation Therese
– October 14, Operation Therese started
– a ten-day operation in the Lang Son region
– 300 legionnaires from 1er BEP jumped over Lung Vai
– 14 men were seriously wounded during landing
– between them, Lieutenant Stien and Lieutenant Vion

November 1949:
– in November, 1st Company left the citadel of Hanoi
– it rejoined the rest of the battalion at Gia Lam
– Captain Garrigues took command of the company

– in late November, 2nd Company was sent west of Hanoi
– to participate in an operation near Hoa Binh
– the Viet Minh launched an offensive there
5e REI legionnaires also participated in
– 2nd Company returned back to Hanoi in December

December 1949:
– in late December, Operation Diabolo
– an operation in the Hai Phong region
– 1st Company was involved in

 

3 REI - 3e REI - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1949 - Parachute Company - Insignia - Badge
The insignia of the Parachute Company of 3e REI. The company was the very first airborne unit of the Legion, formed in Indochina in April 1948. Its insignia was ordered and created in 1949, the same year the unit consolidated with the 1er BEP.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1949 - Vietnam - Cha Vai - Phu Loc
The 1er BEP’s very first operational jump was carried out by a platoon of Lieutenant Roy. It jumped over Cha Vai in mid-April 1949. The 1er BEP’s very first large operational jump took place near Phu Loc, in the Phu Tho region, during Operation Pomone.

 
 

1950: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

January-February 1950:
– in January, Operation Diabolo again

– also in January, 3rd Company was sent to far Northern Vietnam
– it had to escort Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists retreating from China

– in February, Lieutenant de Borde took command of the HQ Company

Operation Tonneau
– February 8, the operation started
– its purpose was to seize Thai Binh, a town east of Nam Dinh
– Nam Dinh is located south of Hanoi
– then operations in the Thai Binh region
– 1er BEP returned to Hanoi on February 25

March-April 1950:
– in March, disarmament of Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalists
– 1er BEP took part in

– in late March, Operation Archeveque
– it took place northeast of Hanoi, in the Bac Ninh region

First reinforcements from Algeria
– in April, first reinforcements from Algeria
– mainly young legionnaires having finished their basic training
– they were led by Lieutenant Roger Faulques

  • a famous Foreign Legion officer
  • he started his military career with the Legion in 1946
  • Lieutenant Faulques served with the 1st Battalion, 3e REI
  • in 1948, he was badly wounded near Phu Tong Hoa
  • in late 1950, he was badly wounded again
  • Faulques would suffer in the jungle for several days
  • after his prolonged recovering, he re-joined Legion paratroopers
  • Major Faulques became their intelligence officer in Algeria
  • in 1961, he left the French Army to lead mercenary groups
  • he served in Yemen and Congo, alongside well-known Bob Denard
  • in 2010, he was allowed to bear the wooden hand of Captain Danjou
  • an event of Camerone Day (to commemorate the Battle of Camerone)
  • it’s the most prestigious event in the career of any member of the Legion
  • Roger Faulques died in France in November 2011

– Lieutenant Faulques took command of PEG
– NCO-Candidate Platoon (Peloton d’Élèves Gradés)
– a platoon to train and form future NCOs of the battalion

 
Operation David
– April 20, Operation David started
– it took place south of Hanoi, in the Quang Nguyen region
– the following day, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– 139 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– 29 rebels were imprisoned
– the operation ended on April 26

May-June 1950:
– in May, Lieutenant Jacques Morin left the 1er BEP
– the ex-commander of the 3e REI’s Parachute Company

Operation Foudre
– May 13, Operation Foudre started
– it took place south of Hanoi, in the Phu Ly and Nam Dinh regions
– 3rd Battalion, 3e REI also participated in
– more than 100 Viet Minh rebels were killed
– over 160 rebels were imprisoned
– 1er BEP suffered 4 legionnaires killed, 18 men were wounded
– the operation ended on June 10

1er BEP to leave Gia Lam
– in June, 1er BEP left its base of Gia Lam
– it would be stationed at Bach Mai Airfield, Hanoi

– in July, 1er BEP was fully based at Bach Mai Airfield

1er BEP composition in July 1950:

  • Command – Major Segrétain
  • HQ Company – Lieutenant Pelletrat
  • 1st Company – Captain Garrigues
  • 2nd Company – Captain Bouyssou
  • 3rd Company – Captain de Saint-Etienne

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1950 - Hanoi - Gia Lam - Bach Mai
Bach Mai Airfield. In June 1950, the 1er BEP left Gia Lam to be fully stationed at Bach Mai Airfield in July.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1950 - Hanoi - Bach Mai
Bach Mai. The rear base of the 1er BEP from 1950 until the end of the First Indochina War.

 

September-October 1950:
Battle of Route Coloniale 4 (also Battle of RC4)
– a series of battles along Route Coloniale 4 (RC4)
– they took place in Northern Vietnam
– in the Cao Bang, Dong Khe and That Khe regions

– in mid-September, a Viet Minh offensive started
– known as the Battle of Dong Khe
– along RC4, 3e REI outposts were attacked by the Viet Minh
– up to six Viet-Minh regiments were along RC4
– the enemy heavily outnumbered the French troops
– 3e REI suffered many casualties

– September 17-18, 1er BEP was sent to the region
– a response to the Battle of Dong Khe (Sep 15-18)
– the battalion was placed at That Khe, south of Dong Khe
– the unit had to rescue 3e REI legionnaires
– also to rescue the rest of French troops

– in late September, 1er BEP had to seize Dong Khe
– heavy clashes with the Viet Minh
– October 2, Dong Khe was partially seized

– the same day, French units were regrouped at Cao Bang
– northwest of Dong Khe
– October 3, the units were ordered to withdraw
– that day, severe clashes with the Viet Minh at Dong Khe
– 1er BEP legionnaires killed around 300 rebels

– October 4-6, 1er BEP marched north to meet the 3e REI’s column
– at the same time, 3e REI’s column marched to Dong Khe

– October 7, 1er BEP got involved in a fierce battle
– the battalion suffered heavy losses
only 130 men left
– later that day, the two columns met together

– October 8-9, a French retreat to That Khe
– however, the French troops were besieged
– thousands of Viet Minh rebels were attacking them
– the columns were annihilated
– the French lost over 3,000 men in the battle

– Major Segrétain was badly wounded
– captured by the Viet Minh and sent to Dong Khe
Major Pierre Segrétain died a week later

1er BEP annihilated
– the battalion was annihilated
– only 23 (twenty-three) men survived
– Captain Jeanpierre + 3 NCOs + 17 legionnaires
– they joined French positions a few days later
– 21 officers + 466 legionnaires were lost

1er BEP became the first French airborne battalion ever lost in action

 
two rarely mentioned paradox occurred during the Battle of RC4:

– first, 1er BEP was annihilated between Cao Bang and Lang Son
– during the very last operation of the original 1er BEP
– ironically, the unit conducted its very first operation there
– in the same sector, in November 1948

– second, deployments to Indochina usually took two years
– 1er BEP landed in Indochina in November 1948
– so, the majority of its men were finishing their mission
– they had to leave Indochina in late 1950
– the operations along RC4 should be their last operations conducted in Indochina
– unfortunately, this would become true

 
Company Loth
– a reinforcement freshly arriving from Algeria
– 130 men led by Lieutenant Daniel Loth
– based at Bach Mai Airfield
– October 6, the company was put on alert

– October 8, the company jumped over That Khe
– as part of 3e GCCP (Parachute Colonial Commando Group)
– a French regular battalion-size unit (ex-3e BCCP)
– initially, to support the two attacked French columns
– also to support a withdrawal of French units from That Khe
– between them, 2nd Battalion, 3e REI (Captain Labaume)
– 3e GCCP + Company Loth stayed there until October 11
– they covered the withdrawal
– then, an order to reach Na Cham
– a town south-east of That Khe
– some 15 miles (25 km) distant

– October 11, a fierce battle with the Viet Minh
– the battle occurred at Deo Cat, near That Khe
– 3e GCCP + Company Loth got involved in
– the group suffered heavy casualties
– Lieutenant Loth was wounded and imprisoned

– October 11-12, clashes with the Viet Minh
– the 1er BEP company lost 50% of men

– October 13-14, the group was annihilated
– two companies + Company Loth
– some 260 paratroopers + 130 legionnaires
– pursued by three Viet Minh regiments in the jungle
– only 13 men of 3e GCCP reached French positions

 

November-December 1950:
Provisional Company, 1er BEP
– in November at Bach Mai, a company was established
– Provisional Company (Compagnie de Marche)
– it regrouped all remaining 1er BEP legionnaires
– those from the rear base + hospitalized men
Captain Francois Vieulès took command

Mention in dispatches (“in orders” in France)
– in early December, 1er BEP was mentioned in the order of the Army
– in France, it’s the highest level of mentions in dispatches
– the battalion was mentioned for its sacrifice in the Battle of RC4

1st Foreign Parachute Battalion inactivation
– December 31, 1er BEP was officially inactivated

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1950 - Tonkin - Dong Khe - Battle of Route Colonial 4
Dong Khe. The citadel of Dong Khe lies in ruins after the Battle of Dong Khe (Sep 15-18, 1950) and the Battle of RC4. The original 1er BEP fought fiercely to re-capture it in early October 1950. The battalion would be annihilated a few days later, west of Dong Khe… From left to right (from Cao Bang to That Khe), Colonial Road 4.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1950 - Tonkin - Cao Bang - Dong Khe - That Khe - Battle of Route Colonial 4
Colonial Road 4. In early October 1950, French troops based at Cao Bang (including 3rd Battalion, 3e REI) were ordered to withdraw to That Khe. At the same time, Dong Khe was seized by the Viet Minh. So, the troops had to take an unused, old road in the pass located west of Dong Khe. The 1er BEP partially seized Dong Khe, but was ordered to march to Cao Bang to meet the French troops and to return to That Khe. Both columns met together north-west of Dong Khe, but were annihilated by the Viet Minh in two days. Only 23 men from the original 1er BEP, led by Captain Jeanpierre, reached That Khe two days later. There, French troops were also ordered to witdraw. First to Na Cham, then to Dong Dang and finally to Lang Son. A parachute group (including Company Loth, freshly arriving to Indochina to reinforce 1er BEP), supporting the withdrawal from That Khe, was also annihilated.

 
 

1951: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

January-February 1951:
Foreign Airdrop Company
Compagnie Etrangère de Ravitaillement par Air (CERA)
CERA was constituted on January 1, 1951
– the company consisted of around 250 men
– between them, 140 legionnaires
– from 1er BEP and the 2e BEP (2e REP now)
Captain Bernard Cazaumayou took command

– CERA was tasked with airdropping of supplies
– to support French units within a theatre of operations
– to resupply otherwise inaccessible troops and isolated outposts
– the company was stationed in Hanoi
– it would be dissolved in August 1951

Provisional Company, 1er BEP assigned to 2e BEP
– January 1, the Provisional Company was assigned to the 2e BEP

March 1951:
Parachute Battalion A
– March 1, 1er BEP’s Provisional Company was reinforced
– by some 80 men from 3rd Company, 2e BEP
– the company was redesignated to Parachute Battalion A

– in early March, an operation in the Dai Dung region
– Parachute Battalion A + 2e BEP were involved in

– March 15, 3e BEP landed in Indochina
– a training & depot unit based in Algeria
– future regiment, 3e REP
– almost 500 men arriving to reinforce their comrade
– led by Captain Darmuzai
– in 1948, then commander of the 1er BEP’s very first company
– 3e BEP was stationed at Hai Phong

 

CERA - Foreign Airdrop Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1951
Foreign Airdrop Company. The insignia of CERA, created in 1951. The company was composed of about 250 men, including 140 men from (ex-)1er BEP and 2e BEP.

 
 

1951-54: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

March 1951:
1st Foreign Parachute Battalion reactivation
– March 18, 3e BEP was redesignated
– it became the new 1er BEP
– consisting of HQ + three companies
Captain Pierre Darmuzai kept command

Foreign Legion Indochinese Parachute Company
– in March, CIPLE was constituted
– a company composed of local auxiliaries
– as non-legionnaires, they didn’t wear white kepis
– instead of that, they wore white berets during parades
– CIPLE was assigned to the new 1er BEP

– in late March, 1er BEP was stationed at Quy Khue
– Quy Khue is located north of Hai Phong

March-May 1951:
– March-April, 1er BEP conducted several operations
– in the sector between Hai Phong and Hai Duong

– in May, Operation Méduse and Operation Reptile
– operations in the Red River Delta, Northern Vietnam

1er BEP’s new fanion
– May 11, Captain Darmuzai received a new flag for his unit
– a day earlier, 1er BEP was stationed at Bach Mai Airfield again

Operation Caméléon
– May 29, a two-week operation started
– it took place in the Ngoc Lam sector, northeast of Hanoi

August-October 1951:
– August 11, clashes with the Viet Minh west of Hanoi
– they took place between Yen Vinh and Phu My

– in October, Operation Mandarine
– an operation southeast of Hanoi, north of Nam Dinh

November-December 1951:
Battle of Hoa Binh
– a battle in the Hoa Binh region, west of Hanoi
– it lasted from November 1951 until February 1952
– several Legion battalions were involved in
– between them, 1er BEP

Operation Bastille
– November 10, an airborne operation
– the first phase of the Battle of Hoa Binh
– its purpose was to to seize Cho Ben
– a town southwest of Hanoi
– during the operation, 1er BEP legionnaires jumped over Cho Ben
– it was a strategical point for following operations
Cho Ben was successfully captured

– November 24, a skirmish near Cho Ben
– 5 legionnaires were killed, another 10 were wounded

– in December, operations during the Battle of Hoa Binh
– 1er BEP legionnaires took part in, alongside the 2e BEP

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1951 - Fanion - Pierre Darmuzai - General de Lattre de Tassigny
Hanoi, July 14, 1951. General de Lattre de Tassigny decorates the 1er BEP’s new fanion, held by Captain Pierre Darmuzai, then commander of the battalion.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1951 - Hoa Binh - Cho Ben
In early November 1951, the 1er BEP was dropped over Cho Ben to seize the town and to conduct operations in the region, to clear it of any enemy. Then, in December, the battalion moved close to Hoa Binh to conduct operations in support of the Battle of Hoa Binh. The 1er BEP left the region in late January 1952.

 
 

1952: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

January-February 1952:
Operation Néuphar + Operation Violette + Operation Speculum
– in January, operations in support of the Battle of Hoa Binh
– they took place east and northeast of Hoa Binh
– 1er BEP + 2e BEP were involved in

– in late January, 1er BEP left the Hoa Binh region
– it returned back to Hanoi

– in late February, Operation Bastia
– in the Bac Ninh region, northeast of Hanoi

March 1952:
Operation Ouragan
– March 1, an operation started in the Red River Delta
– located southeast of Hanoi
– 1er BEP + 1er REC took part in
– the operation ended on March 7
– the Viet Minh suffered a severe defeat
– two Viet Minh regiments were annihilated
– 5 legionnaires of the 1er BEP were killed

Operation Amphibie
– March 10, Operation Amphibie started
– a two-week operation south of Hanoi
– in the Phu Ly, Nam Dinh and Thai Binh regions
– 15 French battalions took part in
– between them, legionnaires from 1er BEP

Battle of Noi Thon
– March 15, a battle with the Viet Minh
– part of Operation Amphibie
– it took place at Noi Thon, north of Nam Dinh
– 52 Viet Minh troops were killed by the 1er BEP

May-June 1952:
– May-September, operations in sectors southeast of Hanoi

Change of Command
– in June, Captain Darmuzai left 1er BEP

Major Albert Brothier took command

  • as a French officer, he joined the Legion in 1940
  • he took part in the Battle of France in June 1940
  • imprisoned by Germans 1940-45
  • in 1945, Captain Brothier joined the 13e DBLE in Algeria
  • with this unit, he moved to Indochina in 1946
  • in 1949, he returned to Algeria to join the 1er RE
  • Major Brothier took command of the 6e REI in Tunisia in 1950
  • in early 1951, he took command of the 3e BEP

 
October-December 1952:
– in October, Operation Gazelle + Operation Biche
– in the Nam Dinh and Phu Ly regions, south of Hanoi

Operation Lorraine
– a large four-week operation
– it started on October 29
– in the Phu Doan and Yen Bai regions, Northern Vietnam
– up to 30,000 French troops were involved in
– between them, legionnaires from 1er BEP and 2e BEP
– during the operation, the Viet Minh suffered important losses
– the operation ended on November 14

– late November, 1er BEP deployed to the Son La region, west of Hanoi
– the battalion would be placed at Na San

Battle of Na San
– a ten-day battle between the French and the Viet Minh
– it occurred in the Son La region of Northern Vietnam
– the battle resulted into an important French victory
– it started on November 23
Na San is a valley with an important airstrip
– the French rebuilt it as a French stronghold (hedgehog)
– it was composed of 30 strongpoints
– the French had 11 battalions + 6 artillery batteries placed there
– between them, 4 Legion battalions + a Legion mortar company
Na San would be attacked by 9 Viet Minh regiments
– the battle ended on December 2
– the Viet Minh was defeated
– it lost about about 3,500 men

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Hoa Binh
Battle of Hoa Binh. 1er BEP legionnaires during the battle, in January 1952.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Operation Lorraine
Operation Lorraine. A large operation in the Nam Dinh and Phu Ly regions. Up to 30,000 French troops, including 1er BEP legionnaires, were involved in.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Na San
Na San. A valley located close to Son La, with an important airfield. In late 1952, a French camp was established there.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Na San - Salan
Camp of Na San. General Salan (center), then commander-in-chief of French forces in Indochina, and other French military and civil officials during a visit to the camp of Na San, established in late 1952. The camp was composed of about 30 fortified strongpoints, held by 11 battalions and 6 artillery batteries. The French wanted to lure the Viet Minh to arrive to attack them. The strategy was successful. The Viet Minh attacked the camp in late November 1952. The attackers suffered heavy losses and were defeated. The 1er BEP was one of the four Legion battalions defending the valley.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Na San - Salan - Brothier
Major Albert Brothier, then commanding officer of the 1er BEP, speaking with General Salan at the camp of Na San, late 1952.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1952 - Na San - Officers
1er BEP officers at Na San, late 1952. Left, wearing sunglasses, Captain Jacques Morin. He formed and commanded the Parachute Company, 3e REI in 1948, the very first airborne unit of the Legion. He and his unit consolidated with the 1er BEP in 1949. Leaving the unit and Indochina in 1950, he returned back to Asia in March 1951, to re-form the 1er BEP. He eventually left Indochina in 1953, to serve with the unit once again in Algeria in 1956-59. Right, with the beret, Captain Colin. One of the first 1er BEP men. He commanded Camp of Khamisis in Algeria in June 1948, yet before the creation of the battalion. Extreme right, Lieutenant André Lecocq. At Na San, he served with the HQ Company. Sixteen months later, while commanding par interim the 2nd Company, he would be killed.

 
 

1953: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

January-March 1953:
– in mid-January, 1er BEP left Na San
– it returned back to Hanoi

– at that time, 1er BEP was composed of some 760 men

– late January, 1er BEP deployed to Cetral Vietnam
– until mid-March, it participated in operations there

April 1953:
Major Brothier wounded
– in April, an operation southwest of Hanoi
– Major Brothier was wounded
– he had to leave the battalion and Indochina

Captain Maurice Guiraud took command
– he replaced the wounded Major Brothier

  • Maurice Guiraud was born in France in 1915
  • as a French officer, he joined the Legion in 1939
  • 1939-40, he served with the Legion in Algeria and Morocco
  • in 1940, he was transferred to a regular French unit
  • in 1944-45, he took part in campaigns of WWII
  • in 1945-53, he served with regular French airborne units
  • in July 1953, Captain Guiraud would be promoted to Major

 
– in late April, operations in the Ninh Hoa region, Central Vietnam

July-August 1953:
– in July, an airborne exercise in Laos

– in August, Operation Concarneau

September 1953:
1st Heavy Mortar Foreign Parachute Company
1re Compagnie Etrangère Parachutiste de Mortiers Lourds (1re CEPML)
1re CEPML was constituted on September 1, 1953
– it was equipped with eight 120 mm heavy mortars
– the company would be composed of around 100 men
– the majority of them belonged to the 1er BEP or 2e BEP
Lieutenant Jacques Molinier took command
– 1re CEPML was based close to Bach Mai Airfield, south of Hanoi
– the unit was assigned to the 1er BEP

Operation Brochet
– in September, a three-week operation south-east of Hanoi
– aimed at Regiment 42 of the Viet Minh
– along the Red River in the Hung Yen region, Northern Vietnam
– the operation started on September 22
– at least 10,000 French troops were involved in
– between them, legionnaires from 1er BEP
– 1er BEP had 23 men being killed
– 73 officers and legionnaires were wounded
– the operation ended on October 12

November-December 1953:
Operation Castor
– November 20-22, an important airborne operation
– then largest airborne operation since World War II
– its purpose was to seize the Dien Bien Phu valley
– in the western part of Northern Vietnam, close to Laos
– over 4,000 French troops jumped over Dien Bien Phu
– between them, the 1er BEP and 1re CEPML
– the Dien Bien Phu valley was successfully seized

Operation Pollux
– December 11, an operation inside the Dien Bien Phu valley
– aimed at local Viet Minh groups
– 1er BEP legionnaires took part in
– during the operation, severe clashes
– 1er BEP had 52 men being killed, wounded or missed

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Fanion - Guiraud
Captain Maurice Guiraud (right), then commanding officer of the 1er BEP, receiving the fanion of the battalion, 1953.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Brochet
Operation Brochet, a three-week operation in September-October 1953. Both parachute battalions of the Foreign Legion took part in.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Dien Bien Phu
Dien Bien Phu. In late 1953, the French command launched an operation in northwestern Vietnam, to repeat the success of the Battle of Na San from late 1952. Another camp located in the valley with an airstrip and composed of many fortified strongpoints would be established, to attract the Viet Minh.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Castor - Dien Bien Phu
Operation Castor. In late November 1953, French paratroopers, including the 1er BEP and 1re CEPML, jumped over the valley of Dien Bien Phu to establish a French camp there.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Dien Bien Phu - Chaffee
Dien Bien Phu. 1er BEP legionnaires are launching an attack aimed at the Viet Minh. The men are supported by a M24 Chaffee tank. Ten tanks were present at Dien Bien Phu.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Dien Bien Phu - Guiraud
1er BEP officers at Dien Bien Phu. Left, bottom, Captain Domingo. He would become the commander of the 4th Company, 1er BEP in late March 1954. In the center, Major Guiraud, then commanding officer of the 1er BEP. Next to him, right, Captain Vieulès, then deputy commander. He commanded the 1er BEP’s rear base in Hanoi in late 1950, when the unit was annihilated during the Battle of RC4. Thereafter, he formed and commanded Provisional Company, 1er BEP, assembling all the remnants of the lost battalion. In 1951, he was also the second and last commander of the Foreign Airdrop Company (CERA). Major Francois Vieulès would be killed in Algeria in 1958, when he served with the 13e DBLE.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1953 - Dien Bien Phu - Pollux - Cabiro
Operation Pollux, Dien Bien Phu, December 1953. Captain Bernard Cabiro, nicknamed Cab, then commander of the 4th Company, 1er BEP. A few weeks later, he would be badly wounded and evacuated to Hanoi. As a young Lieutenant, he was among first legionnaires landing in Indochina, in February 1946. Back in Algeria in the late 1950’s, he would become a deputy commander of the 2e REP.

 
 

1954: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

January-March 1954:
– January 12, clashes inside the Dien Bien Phu valley
– 1er BEP had 5 men being killed + another 33 wounded

Fourragère in Military Medal colors
– February 29, 1er BEP obtained a Fourragère
– the yellow-green Fourragère
– obtained for its 4 mentions in the order of the Army

– early March, a skirmish in the Dien Bien Phu valley
– 2nd + 3rd Company, 1er BEP took part in
– Captain Cabiro was badly wounded

1er BEP composition in March 1954:

  • Command – Major Guiraud
  • HQ Company – Lieutenant No Mura
  • 1st Company – Lieutenant Luciani
  • 2nd Company – Lieutenant Brandon
  • 3rd Company – Lieutenant Martin
  • 4th Company – Lieutenant Domingo

 
March-May 1954:
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– the most important and most tragic battle of the First Indochina War
– seen as the decisive battle between the French and the Viet Minh
– it took place in the valley of Dien Bien Phu
– in March, France had roughly 11,000 troops at Dien Bien Phu
– between them, some 3,100 legionnaires
– the Viet Minh had at least 45,000 troops
– stationed on the hills around the valley
– in the evening of March 13, French positions were attacked
– during the next two months, the valley would be overrun
– the battle ended on May 7, 1954
– eventually, around 14,000 French troops took part in the battle
– those captured would be sent to Viet Minh POW camps
– only about 3,300 French troops would survive
– the Legion lost 6 battalions + 3 mortar companies in the battle
– between the annihilated units, 1er BEP + 1re CEPML
– 1er BEP had 573 men being killed, wounded or missed
– 1re CEPML had 67 men being killed or wounded
– Major Guiraud was imprisoned

 

1954-55: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

1er BEP’s third activation
– May 19, 1er BEP was officially activated again

Captain Francois Chalony took command
– he would command par interim the new 1er BEP

  • Francois Chalony was born in 1912 in France
  • a little-known officer of the Legion
  • as a rare exception, he raised through the ranks
  • he joined the French Army in 1930
  • in 1944, he was promoted to an officer rank
  • Lieutenant Chalony was assigned to the Legion in 1950
  • in 1951-53, he served with the 3e BEP in Algeria
  • in 1953, he moved to Indochina to join the 1er BEP
  • to lead its Rear HQ at Bach Mai, in 1953-54
  • in 1955-57, Captain Chalony served with the 3e REI in Algeria
  • in 1960, he rejoined the Legion to serve with the 1er RE
  • Major Chalony left the Army in 1963

 
May-August 1954:
– May-August, 1er BEP under construction
– re-formed with reinforcements from Algeria
– also with volunteers from other Legion regiments in Vietnam
– between them, many volunteers from the 1er REC

June-July 1954:
– in mid-June, 1er BEP left Hanoi
– it moved to Hai Phong

– in late July, Captain Jacques Germain took command par interim

  • as a French officer, Jacques Germain joined the Legion in 1951
  • Captain Germain served with the 2e REC in Morocco
  • as a volunteer, he was sent to Indochina a few weeks later
  • in Indochina, Captain Germain would serve with the 1er REC
  • 1953-54, he returned to Morocco to serve with the 2e REC
  • in June 1954, Captain Germain was sent to Indochina once again
  • with the 1er BEP, he returned to Algeria in 1955
  • in October 1955, Captain Germain died in a car accident

 
August 1954:
First Indochina War ended
– August 11, the First Indochina War ended
– the ceasefire in Southern Vietnam went into force
– the last of the 5 ceasefires in Indochina (since late July)
– the French had to leave Northern Vietnam

– August 26, 1er BEP moved to Central Vietnam
– the unit was placed at Hue

September 1954:
– in September, Major Guiraud was freed
– even if a prisoner, he was still keeping command officially

– in late September, 1er BEP left Hue
– the battalion was placed at Tourane, Central Vietnam

Captain Hélie de Saint Marc took command
– in late September, another 1er BEP’s commander par interim

  • Hélie Denoix de Saint Marc was a French officer
  • born in 1922 in France
  • during WWII, a member of the French resistance
  • imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp 1943-45
  • assigned to the Legion in late 1947
  • Lieutenant de Saint Marc was sent to Indochina in early 1948
  • 1948-50, he served with the 3e REI in Indochina
  • back in Algeria, he joined the 3e BEP in late 1950
  • in early 1951, he returned to Indochina and joined the 2e BEP
  • Captain de Saint Marc served with the 2e BEP in 1951-53
  • 1953-54, he served with a French regular airborne unit in France
  • in 1954, once again volunteering for Indochina
  • he landed there and joined the 1er BEP in July

 
November 1954:
– November 1, Major Pierre Jeanpierre took command

  • in July 1948, he joined the 1er BEP
  • Captain Jeanpierre became its deputy commander in August
  • he served as the 1er BEP’s deputy commander until late 1950
  • he participated in the Battle of RC4 in October 1950
  • Captain Jeanpierre was between those 23 survivors of the 1er BEP
  • during several days, he led his men through the jungle full of the Viet Minh
  • in late 1950, he returned to Algeria to re-join the 1er REI
  • promoted, Major Jeanpierre took command of the 2nd Battalion, 1er REI
  • he commanded this instruction battalion 1951-54
  • in October 1954, he returned to Indochina to re-join the 1er BEP

 

1er CEPML - 1 CEPML - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Insignia - Insigne
1st Heavy Mortar Foreign Parachute Company. The insignia of 1re CEPML, ordered and created in 1954. The company was established in September 1953, assigned to the 1er BEP and annihilated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1954 - Dien Bien Phu - Fourragere - Rene Pleven
Fourragère in Military Medal colors for 1er BEP. French Minister of Defence René Pleven is awarding the fanion of 1er BEP with the Fourragère at Dien Bien Phu, February 1954.

 
 

1955: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Indochina

January-February 1955:
– January 30, 1er BEP left Tourane
– the battalion was placed in then Saigon, Southern Vietnam

1er BEP to leave Indochina
– February 8, 1er BEP left Indochina
– the unit spent more than 6 years in Southeast Asia
– the battalion was sent back to Algeria, North Africa

– in Indochina, 1er BEP suffered heavy losses
– the unit was two times annihilated
– its 52 officers, 110 NCOs and 877 legionnaires have been killed

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Jeanpierre - Masselot
1er BEP & 2e BEP. A very rare photo of the commanding officers and fanions of both Foreign Legion parachute battalions, during a joint ceremony in Indochina, February 1955. Left, next to the fanion of his unit, Major Pierre Jeanpierre, then commander of the 1er BEP. As Captain, he joined the unit in August 1948 and served as a deputy commander until the annihilation of the battalion in the Battle of RC4 in late 1950. It’s him who led the group of 23 survivors through the hostile jungle. Right, Major Georges Masselot, then commander of the newly re-created 2e BEP (ex-3e BEP).

 
 

1955: 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion in Algeria

1954 – 1955:
Algerian War started
– in North Africa, local rebels intensified military actions
– these actions took part in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria
– countries under French control for decades
– the attacks were aimed at French forces presented there
– in Algeria, the main rebel force was the FLN
– FLN stands for National Liberation Front
– besides, there were several less powerful groups
– later in 1955, rebel operations escalated into the Algerian War

 
February 1955:
1er BEP returned to North Africa
– February 25, 1er BEP landed in Algeria, North Africa
– the battalion returned to Algeria after more than 6 years
– 1er BEP moved to Zeralda, to be stationed there
Zeralda is now a western suburb of Algiers, the capital
– then small town, located some 12 miles (20 km) west of Algiers
– the battalion built its Rear HQ there

– at the time, 1er BEP was composed of over 580 men

April 1955:
5th Mention in Dispatches
– April 13, 1er BEP was decorated again
– it gained its 5th Mention in the order of the Army
– it was mentioned for its action at Dien Bien Phu

May-June 1955:
First military operations
– May 3-4, 1er BEP deployed to northeastern Algeria
– placed in the Aures mountains
– between Bou Hamama and Khenchela
– it conducted several military operations there
– first military operations in Algeria for the unit

– in June, 1er BEP deployed to Tebessa
– in northeastern Algeria, close to the border with Tunisia
– near the Nementchas range
– the battalion conducted patrols in the region
– its companies stayed in the region until February 1956

– at the time, a decision to redesignate the unit
– the parachute battalion would become regiment

 

1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Mers El Kebir - Algeria
1er BEP landed in Algeria. The 1er BEP’s fanion guard in Mers El Kebir, an important port town in Algeria, on February 25, 1955. The battalion returned to North Africa after more than six years.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Tebessa - Zeralda - Algeria
1er BEP in Algeria. The 1er BEP was stationed at Zeralda, east of Algiers, the capital. In June 1955, the battalion deployed to Tebessa, to be based there until April 1956.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Lambaesis - Algeria
Lambaesis. The 1er BEP parading at Lambaesis, Algeria. Lambaesis was a military camp of Roman legionnaires from the Legio III Augusta, built in the 2nd century. Note the very rare case of modern airborne legionnaires wearing boonie hats during a parade.
1er BEP - 1 BEP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1955 - Tebessa - Algeria
1er BEP in the Tebessa region. The unit was stationed in Tebessa from June 1955 until early 1956. Its legionnaires conducted patrols in the region and along the border with Tunisia. Around 70 rebels would be killed by them in Algeria in 1955.

 
 

1955-61: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in Algeria

August-September 1955:
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment
1er Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes (1er REP)

1er REP was established on September 1, 1955

– earlier, also the date of August 1, 1955 was used
– this date was mentioned in Legion sources until the 1960’s

– 1er REP was officially stationed at Zeralda
Major Pierre Jeanpierre kept command

 
1er REP composition in Algeria in August-September 1955:

  • Command – Major Jeanpierre
  • HQ Company – Captain Faulques
  • 1st Company – Captain Abraham
  • 2nd Company – Captain Giese
  • 3rd Company – Captain de Saint Marc
  • 4th Company – Captain Le Bras
  • Combat Support Company (CA) – Lieutenant Dupoux

 
September-December 1955:
– September-December, military operations
– they took place in northeastern Algeria
– in the regions of Tebessa, Negrine, Ferkane, Bir El Ater
– legionnaires had to patrol the regions
– they often cooperated with Legion’s motorized companies
– 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE (future GPLEA)

Operation Timgad
– in late September, a large military operation
– aimed at groups of local FLN rebels
– in northeastern Algeria, along the border with Tunisia
– mainly in the Tebessa region
– the operation started on September 21
– thousands of French troops were involved in
– between them, legionnaires from 1er REP
– also 1re CSPL, 2e CSPL and 2e REI
– also 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE
– dozens of rebels were killed
– the operation ended in October

– in 1955, around 70 rebels were killed by the 1er BEP/1er REP

 

1956: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in Algeria

January-February 1956:
– early January, operations in the Ferkane region

– February 6, 1er REP left Tebessa
– the regiment returned to Zeralda
– only the 2nd Company stayed in Tebessa

Lt Colonel Albert Brothier took command
– also February 6, change of command
Albert Brothier led the unit in 1952-53

  • wounded in April 1953 while leading the 1er BEP
  • sent to the hospital in France
  • after being recovered, Major Brothier rejoined the Legion
  • he took command of GPLEM in Morocco in January 1954
  • in October 1954, he was promoted to Lt Colonel
  • he commanded the GPLEM until January 1956

 
Major Jeanpierre became a deputy commander

– in mid-February, 1er REP returned to Tebessa
– it patrolled the Nementchas range
– the operation in the region continued until April

April 1956:
– in early April, operations in northwestern Algeria
– 1st + 2nd Company participated in
– they were sent to Marnia, on the border with Morocco

Reconnaissance Squadron (ER)
– a new unit within the regiment
– based at Souina (Mitidja region), west of Zeralda
– equipped with Jeeps and Dodges 4×4
– ER squadron was sent to the Orleansville region
– to participate in operations there
– some 130 miles (200 km) west of Algiers
– the squadron returned to Zeralda in mid-April

– HQ + 3rd + 4th Company were still in Tebessa

Operation 256
– April 25-26, a military operation
– aimed at groups of local rebels
– in the Ouarsenis range, northern Algeria
– in then region of Vialar (Tissemsilt now)
– the whole 1er REP took part in

May 1956:
– in early May, operations in the Ouarsenis
– thereafter, 1er REP moved to the Oran region
– west of the Ouarsenis range

– in May, operations in the Oran region
– aimed at groups of local rebels

– in mid-May, ER sent to the Algiers region
– it operated at Rivet, Bou Zegza and Rovigo

– in late May, 1er REP returned to Algiers
– it operated at Bou Zegza, south-east of the capital

Operation Casbah
– May 26-27, a large military operation in the capital
– aimed at the FLN + ALN + another rebel groups
Casbah is the old center of Algiers
– over 5,000 French troops took part in
– between them, 1er REP legionnaires
– the troops searched houses + flats
– some 400 individuals were arrested

June 1956:
1er REP’s regimental flag
– June 4, 1er REP received its regimental standard

– June 8, 1er REP deployed to Tindouf
– a region in the Sahara of western Algeria
– close to the border with Mauritania
– a two-week operation aimed at local rebel groups
– HQ + 1st + 3rd Company + ER
– 1er REP operated alongside 4e CSPL

– also June 8, 2nd + 4th Company moved to Guentis
– a sector in the Tebessa region
– a week operation

– in late June, HQ + 1st + 3rd Company back in Zeralda
– ER squadron continued to operate around Tindouf
– it also operated in Mauritania in desert raids on rebels

July-August 1956:
10th Parachute Division
– July 1, a new airborne division was born
– 10th Parachute Division (10e DP)
– based in Algeria, North Africa
– led by General Massu
1er REP was assigned to the 10e DP

– in July, operations in the Médéa region, northern Algeria

– early August, ER squadron returned from Tindouf

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Insignia - Insigne
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment. The 1er REP’s insignia created in late 1955.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Jeanpierre - Brothier
Major Jeanpierre and Lt Colonel Brothier. Albert Brothier (right) replaced Major Jeanpierre as the commanding officer of the 1er REP in February 1956. Both officers also led the 1er BEP in Indochina.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Tebessa - Algeria
Tebessa region. 1er REP legionnaires continued in conducting operations in the Tebessa region until April 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Tebessa - Algeria
Tebessa. Having returned from an operation, 1er REP legionnaires are washing clothes at their camp of Tebessa, in early March 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Algeria
1er REP legionnaires during an operation in northwestern Algeria, May 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Drapeau - Zeralda
1er REP’ regimental flag. At the camp of Zeralda on June 4, 1956, General Lennuyeux (right), then Chief of the Foreign Legion, handed over the new regimental flag to Lt Colonel Brothier (left), then 1er REP’s commanding officer.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Algeria
1er REP legionnaires during a parade in Algeria, in mid-1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Tindouf - Map
Tindouf. In early June 1956, the 1er REP deployed to Tindouf, situated in the Sahara of western Algeria. The para-legionnaires would take part in desert raids on rebels, sometimes crossing the border with Mauritania and Western Sahara. Last men of the regiment left the region in early August 1956.

 

August 1956:
Operation Hamilcar (Amilcar in France)
– August 2, a Suez landing preparation started
– originally code-named Operation Hamilcar
– later, Operation Musketeer (Mousquetaire in France)
– an Anglo-French invasion of Egypt, alongside Israel
– planned for early September
– then delayed until November
– 1er REP chosen as a French main landing force
– equipped with LVT (landing vehicles)

2nd Squadron, 2e REC
– in August, 2nd Squadron, 2e REC arrived
– the squadron was transferred to the 1er REP
– equipped with 17 tanks (AMX-13, a French light tank)
– 2nd Squadron would participate in the invasion
– commanded by Captain Maurice Hautechaud
– a French officer, he had already commanded the squadron since 1954

 
Landing exercises
– also in August, intensive landing exercises started
– 1er REP + 2nd Squadron, 2e REC took part in
– thousands of troops trained the invasion’s landings
– the exercises took place on the beach near Algiers

– between the exercises, operations in the region

September-October 1956:
– September-October, landing exercises continued

– in October, several military operations
– in the regions of Algiers, Blida or Orleansville

– in mid-October, an operation to maintain order
– it took place in the Sahel sector, west of Algiers
– the whole 1er REP participated in

– October 22-31, embarkation for Egypt
– loading military equipment and vehicles into ships

November 1956:
1er REP left Algeria for Egypt
– November 1, 1er REP left Algeria
– it moved to Cyprus
– in Cyprus, the regiment was reinforced
– French Army + Navy elements were assigned to
– 1er REP left Cyprus for Egypt on November 5

November-December 1956:
Suez Crisis
– November 6, a large operation started
– Anglo-French invasion of Egypt
– code-named Operation Musketeer (ex-Operation Hamilcar)
– a response to Egypt’s Suez Canal nationalization
– in co-operation with Israel’s own invasion of Egypt
– Britain wanted to regain Western control of the Suez Canal
– also, France saw then Egypt as a national threat
– the country continuously supported FLN rebels in Algeria
– because of that, France joined the operation
– Anglo-French landings at Port Said and Port Fouad
– at Port Fouad, landing assault were led by Lt Col Brothier
– the Egyptian troops quickly retreated
– 1er REP successfully seized the town

– however, the United States stopped the invasion
– they also immediatelly punishied British financial system
– these sanctions broke the British effort
– although successfull, the operation would be canceled
– Anglo-French troops were forced to withdraw
– the operation lasted only two days
– in late December, Anglo-French troops left Egypt
– they were replaced by U.N. peacekeeping forces

– the invasion of Egypt is seen by historians as Great Britain’s last attempt to act as the world’s independent major power
– also the French were very dissatisfied
– a number of legionnaires saw it as a betrayal
– they were well-prepared and determined to win

– December 29, 1er REP returned to Algeria

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Saint Michel - Blida - Algeria
1956 Saint Michael Day. 1er REP legionnaires parade on Saint Michael Day (their holiday) in Blida, Algeria, September 29, 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Combat Support Company - Algeria
Combat Support Company, 1er REP, late September 1956. The company was equipped with Jeeps, some of them furnished with 106 SR cannons (M40 recoilless rifles). The regiment’s Reconnaissance Squadron was also equipped with Jeeps.
2e REC - 2 REC - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Blida - Algeria - 2nd Squadron
2nd Squadron, 2e REC. The AMX-13 light tanks of the 2e REC transferred to the 1er REP, late September 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Egypt - Suez Crisis - Map
Suez Crisis – Operation Musketeer. The operation took place in Port Said and Port Fouad, twin cities in Egypt, north of the Suez Canal. Britain and France launched the operation to cancel the nationalization of the Suez Canal by then Egyptian President Nasser. While the British troops seized Port Said, the French troops, including the 1er REP, seized Port Fouad.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Egypt - Jeanpierre - Massu - Brothier
Operation Musketeer (ex-Operation Hamilcar). Lt Colonel Jeanpierre, then deputy commander of the 1er REP, General Jacques Massu, then head of the 10th Parachute Division (to which the 1er REP was assigned to) and Lt Colonel Brothier, then commanding officer of the 1er REP. He also commanded French forces during the landing operation in Port Fouad, Egypt on November 6, 1956, part of Operation Musketeer. The French forces quickly seized the town.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Egypt - Jeanpierre - Massu - Brothier
Port Fouad. Lt Colonel Jeanpierre (left, speaking to the radio) and Lt Colonel Brothier (center), with members of the HQ Company, 1er REP in Port Fouad, November 7, 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Egypt - Suez Crisis - AMX 13 Tanks
Captain Maurice Hautechaud reviewing the tanks of his 2nd Squadron, 2e REC in Egypt, during the Suez Crisis, November 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Egypt - Suez Crisis - Observing
A 1er REP observation post in Egypt during the Suez Crisis, December 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1956 - Egypt - Suez Crisis - Withdrawal
Withdrawal from Egypt. 1er REP legionnaires are leaving Egypt, late December 1956.

 
 

1957: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in Algeria

January 1957:
Tank Squadron
Escadron de Chars (EC)
– January 1, EC was constituted
– ex-2nd Squadron, 2e REC
– it consolidated with the 1er REP
– composed of three pelotons + LVT landing vehicle detachment
– officers Blesch, Berthier, Rogez, de La Forest Divonne
– the unit became an airborne cavalry squadron
– its cavalry legionnaires obtained para-badges
– they distinguished themselves as cavalrymen
– bearing silver rank insignias + cavalry ranks
the only airborne cavalrymen of the Legion
– unlike the title, EC would be equipped with Jeeps
– after Egypt, its tanks became needless
Captain Maurice Hautechaud kept command
– Lieutenant Chevallereau became his deputy

Battle of Algiers
– in January, Battle of Algiers started
– military operations to restore order in the capital
– January 7, first 1er REP elements in the capital
– a response to growing activities of the FLN rebels
– a growing number of terrorist attacks in Algiers
– these attacks with explosives were aimed at civilians
– January 15, the whole 1er REP joined the battle
– the unit was accommodated in the city
– legionnaires were placed at flats and villas
– conducting daily patrols to maintain order
– in the nights, searching the rebel firearms’ hideouts
– also raids aimed at rebel suspects and leaders
– both squadrons (ER + EC) conducted roadside checks
– Battle of Algiers would continue until October

March 1957:
– March 25, Lt Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre took command

  • 1954-56, he had served as the commander
  • since February 1956, 1er REP’s deputy commander
  • in October 1956, he was promoted to Lt Colonel

 
1er REP composition in Algeria in March 1957:

  • Command – Lt Colonel Jeanpierre
  • HQ Company – Captain Faulques
  • 1st Company – Captain Martin
  • 2nd Company – Captain Estoup
  • 3rd Company – Captain Allaire
  • 4th Company – Captain Gamas
  • Combat Support Company (CA) – Captain Glasser
  • Reconnaissance Squadron (ER) – Captain Abraham
  • Tank Squadron (EC) – Captain Hautechaud

 

2e REC - 2 REC - 1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria - Maurice Hautechaud
Captain Maurice Hautechaud. The commander of the 2nd Squadron, 2e REC. The squadron was transferred to the 1er REP in 1956. In January 1957, it merged with the regiment and became its Tank Squadron. It remained the only airborne cavalry unit of the Foreign Legion. Its cavalrymen kept their silver rank patches and were addressed in cavalry ranks, while bearing parachute badges.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jean-Marie Le Pen. The future well-known French politician captured by an army reporter in early 1957, while speaking with local residents during the Battle of Algiers. Lieutenant Le Pen served as a platoon leader with the 1st Platoon, 1st Company, 1st REP. With his unit, he took part in the Suez Crisis in Egypt in late 1956.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Jeanpierre - Massu
Lt Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre. In March 1957, Lt Colonel Jeanpierre again took command of “his” regiment, 1er REP. A deputy commander of the original 1er BEP already in August 1948, who led its few survivors through the jungle full of the Viet Minh in late 1950. A commanding officer in 1954-56 and a deputy commander in 1956-57, very popular among his men, Lt Colonel Jeanpierre saw the unit as his own private matter. Here, decorated by General Massu, the head of the 10e DP.

 

April-May 1957:
– in mid-April, 1er REP left Algiers
– it returned to Zeralda

Operations in Mauritania
– in April-May, operations in Mauritania again
– ER squadron returned to the Tindouf region
– it took part in operations in the western Sahara
– taking place around Tindouf and Fort Trinquet
– alongside two motorized companies of the 4e REI
– in mid-June, ER returned back to Zeralda

– in late April, a week operation in northern Algeria
– in the Medea region, south-west of Algiers
– 29 rebels were killed

May 1957:
Operation NK3
– May 5, an operation started south-east of Algiers
– a six-week operation in the Kabylie region
– in the Palestro and Tablat sectors
– legionnaires from 1er REP took part in
– the operation ended on June 15
– during the operation, 175 rebels were killed
– 102 rebels were imprisoned

Battle of Djebel Bou Zegza
– May 17, a fierce battle in the Kabylie region
– it took six hours
– part of Operation NK3
– 1st Company, 1er REP got involved in
– led by Captain Martin
– at least 83 rebels were killed

June-July 1957:
– June-July, maintaining order in Algiers
– part of the Battle of Algiers
– 4th Company + CA took part in

– July 12, an operation in the Tablat region
– Lieutenant Thouron was killed

Bastille Day Military Parade in Paris
– July 14, Bastille Day Military Parade in Paris
– 1er REP participated in
– Lt Col Jeanpierre + color guard + a honorable company
– the company was led by Captain Louis Martin

  • nicknamed Loulou, he was born in France in 1924
  • one of the most famous officers of the 1er REP
  • as a young French officer, he joined the Legion in 1947
  • with the Legion, he served in Tunisia in 1947-48
  • assigned to the 13e DBLE in Indochina in 1948
  • 1950, back in Algeria to join the 3e BEP
  • in early 1953, he returned to Indochina
  • Lieutenant Martin joined 3rd Company, 1er BEP
  • several times wounded at Dien Bien Phu in 1954
  • promoted to Captain, badly wounded, imprisoned
  • liberated in late 1954 to be sent to a hospital
  • Captain Martin rejoined the battalion in mid-1955
  • in 1956-58, he led 1st Company, 1er REP
  • in May 1957, Battle of Djebel Bou Zegza
  • in 1958-59, an aide to the Chief of the French Army in Paris
  • in 1958, he became the youngest Commander of the Légion d’Honneur
  • in 1959, back in Algeria to rejoin the 1er REP
  • promoted to Major in December 1960
  • in January 1961, transferred to Germany
  • leaving the French Army in 1963
  • in 1970-88, the security chief of Gabonese President Bongo
  • on Camerone Day 1999, he bore the wooden hand of Captain Danjou
  • 5 times wounded, 14 mentions in dispatches
  • High Officer of the Légion d’Honneur
  • Major Louis “Loulou” Martin died in France in 2005

 
July 1957:
Operation NC15
– July 25, an operation started
– a three-week operation in the Tablat and Medea regions
– legionnaires from 1er REP took part in
– the operation ended in mid-August
– at least 92 rebels were killed

September 1957:
– in early September, 1er REP sent back to Algiers
– the regiment had to finish the battle in the capital
– intensive raids were conducted

Capture of Saadi Yacef
– September 24, Saadi Yacef captured
– a well-known rebel leader
– the FLN rebels’ military chief of Algiers
– captured by 1er REP legionnaires
– Lt Col Jeanpierre + Adjudant Tasnady wounded
– they were wounded by grenades’ shrapnels
– the capture helped to end the Battle of Algiers

October 1957:
Ali La Pointe killed
Ali Ammar, nicknamed Ali La Pointe
– the second most important FLN rebel leader in Algiers
– responsible for many terrorist attacks
– killed by 1er REP legionnaires on October 8

– October 12, Lt Col Jeanpierre left the hospital
– he rejoined his regiment

Capture of Abderrahmane Benhamida
– October 15, Abderrahmane Benhamida captured
– nicknamed Salim El Kaiam
– chief of the FLN’s political bureau of Algiers
his detention ended the Battle of Algiers

– mid-October, 1er REP returned to Zeralda
– the Battle of Algiers was a great success
– the regiment suffered minor losses
– during the battle, Lieutenant Pierre Bourgoin was killed

November-December 1957:
Hassi Messaoud in the Sahara
– November 24, 1er REP deployed to the Sahara
– it was stationed in the Ourgla region, eastern Algeria
– its mission was to guard freshly producing oil fields
– located between Hassi Messaoud and Ourgla
– also to secure a future oil road Hassi Messaoud-Biskra
– engineering works were threatened by rebels
– the legionnaires had to clear the region
– the units placed at Hassi Messaoud, Ourgla and M’Raier
– during the mission, 39 rebels were killed
– 186 rebels were imprisoned
– 1er REP stayed in the Sahara until January 1958

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria - Louis Martin
Captain Louis Martin. One of the most famous officers of the 1er REP. With the unit since 1953, he participated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, several times wounded, imprisoned. In 1957, he led a honorable company during the Bastille Day Parade in Paris. Five times wounded, fourteen mentions in dispatches, Major Martin died in France in 2005.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Jeanpierre - Paris - Champs Elysées
Paris – Champs Elysées, 1957. Lt Colonel Jeanpierre, the color guard of the 1er REP and a honorable company led by Captain Martin taking part in the 1957 Bastille Day Parade.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algiers - Jeep
Algiers. A Jeep of the 1er REP patrolling in the capital of Algeria, during the Battle of Algiers, 1957. The legionnaires helped to restore order in the capital.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algiers - Patrol
Algiers, 1957. 1er REP legionnaires conducting patrols during the Battle of Algiers, to restore order in the city. In the nights, they were searching rebel firearms’ hideouts and looking for rebel suspects and leaders.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algiers - Control - Checking
Algiers. A Sergeant of the 1er REP is checking ID documents during the Battle of Algiers, 1957. These operations were a response to a growing number of terrorist attacks with explosives, conducted by FLN rebels, aimed at civilians of both, French and Arab origins.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Algiers - Freetime
Algiers, 1957. 1er REP legionnaires during their free time, while accommodated in the capital.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Operations - Hassi Messaoud - Map
In 1957, besides the Battle of Algiers or a new deployment to Tindouf, the 1er REP conducted also operations in the regions of Medea, Tablat and Palestro (now Lakhdaria), close to the capital. In late November, the regiment was sent to Hassi Messaoud in the Sahara, to guard freshly discovered oil fields.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1957 - Hassi Messaoud
Hassi Messaoud. In late 1957, 1er REP legionnaires deployed to the Sahara to guard freshly producing oil fields. The regiment would leave the Sahara in January 1958.

 
 

1958: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in Algeria

January 1958:
Battle of the Borders
– it started on January 21
– composed of many military operations
– under the command of General Vanuxem
– in northeastern Algeria, in the Guelma region
– close to the border with Tunisia
– in Tunisia, alongside the border, many FLN military camps
– the rebels were crossing the border regularly
– also their supplies and reinforcements
– the French started to build electric fence barriers in 1957
– five French airborne regiments took part in the battle
– in the first place, 1er REP
– they were chasing the rebels alongside the border
– the battle ended on May 31

February 1958:
– until late February, several important battles
– conducted by the 1er REP
– during five weeks, over 600 rebels were killed
– for these results, the unit gained a high compliment
– expressed by General Vanuxem
– he called the 1er REP as the most elite regiment of the French Army

Battle of Fedj Zezoua
– February 12, a fierce battle
– a part of the Battle of the Borders
– north of Beni Mezline, Guelma region
– 1er REP was involved in
– 47 rebels were killed

Tank Squadron dissolution
– February 14, EC squadron was officially dissolved
– considerably reduced unit
– led by an NCO, a Maréchal des logis-chef (MDC)
– a cavalry rank for Staff Sergeant
– even that day, the unit actively took part in an operation
– its reduced personnel would consolidate with ex-ER
– called Motorized Company (CP) at the time

Battle of Koudiat Megroum
– February 26, another fierce battle
– in the Guelma region
– a part of the Battle of the Borders
– 1er REP was involved in
– 149 rebels were killed
– Lieutenant Georges Maroni was killed

March 1958:
Battle of Djebel Marioun
– March 18-19, a severe battle
– a part of the Battle of the Borders
– in the Guelma region
– 1er REP was involved in
– 118 rebels were killed
– 12 legionnaires were also killed

Battle of Chaba Ben Said
– March 29, another severe battle
– also part of the Battle of the Borders
– in the Guelma region
– 1st Company, 1er REP got involved in
– led by Captain Martin
– 70 rebels were killed

May 1958:
Putsch of 13 May 1958
– a putsch in support of General de Gaulle
– the leader of Free France 1940-44
– the provisional leader of France 1944-46
– French Army generals organized the putsch
– they seized Algiers and took over the local power
– putschists were led by General Salan + General Massu
– a demand to approve de Gaulle as leader of France
– May 24, Corsica was seized by French paratroopers
– also a plan to seize Paris
– May 29, then French President left the office
– General de Gaulle returned to power
– he promised that Algeria would remain French

Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre killed
– May 29, a military operation in the Guelma region
– Operation Taureau III, part of the Battle of the Borders
– at Djebel Mermera, west of Guelma
– 1er REP was chasing an important rebel group
– Lt Col Jeanpierre led his men from a helicopter
– the helicopter was hit by a missile and crashed
– Lt Col Pierre Jeanpierre was killed

  • 46 years old when killed
  • 21 years of service in the Foreign Legion
  • one of the 23 survivors of the 1er BEP in 1950
  • he led the unit in 1954-56 and 1957-58
  • a deputy commander in 1948-50 and 1956-57
  • he saw the 1er BEP/1er REP as his own unit
  • very popular officer among his men
  • he became a legend

 
Battle of the Borders ended
– May 31, the successful battle ended
– 1,193 rebels were killed by the 1er REP
– 82 rebels were imprisoned
– 111 men of the 1er REP were killed
– 278 officers + legionnaires were wounded

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria - Pierre Jeanpierre
Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre, killed during an operation in Algeria on May 29, 1958. The legendary officer whose name became synonymous with the 1er REP. A veteran who started his officer career yet in the 1930’s, with the Vieille (“old school”) Legion. With Pierre Segrétain, the very first commander of the 1er BEP, both officers were defending French Syria and Lebanon against the British invasion in 1941. Imprisoned as a member of the French resistance in the Mauthausen concentration camp in 1944-45. He became a deputy commander of the 1er BEP in August 1948. In late 1950, he led the group of 23 survivors of the annihilated original battalion through the hostile jungle. Rejoining the battalion in 1954, after it was once again annihilated (at Dien Bien Phu), he didn’t leave the unit ever since. Lt Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre was an excellent strategist, a great soldier and an officer being very popular among his men, who saw him as their father.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria - 1958 - Jeanpierre - Lennuyeux
The very last photo of Lt Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre (center), taken five days before his death, while being visited by then Chief of the Legion, General Lennuyeux (left).
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Guelma - Pierre Jeanpierre - Homage
Paying homage to Lt Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre. Guelma, May 31, 1958. For the last time, the 1er REP parade in front of his commanding officer. Lt Colonel Jeanpierre was killed during an operation in the Guelma region. When navigating his men to attack an important rebel group, his helicopter was hit by a missile and crashed into the ground.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algiers - Pierre Jeanpierre - Funeral
Funeral of Lt Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre. Algiers, May 31, 1958. Six senior NCOs of the 1er REP are carrying the coffin with Lt Colonel Jeanpierre during his official funeral in Algiers. The unexpected death of their cherished commander affected the whole regiment. In fact, the 1er REP had just finished one of the best military campaigns any other French unit have ever done in the history of North Africa, when almost 1,200 rebels were killed in four months by its men. For this action, the unit gained the title The most elite regiment of the French Army. And the 1er REP legionnaires wished other victorious campaigns led by their great Lieutenant Colonel, nicknamed The Sun (Le Soleil).
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Algeria - Zeralda - Camp Jeanpierre
Camp Jeanpierre. In Zeralda, a new name was given to the home base of the 1er REP – Camp of Lt Colonel Jeanpierre. The rest of the large military camp (occupied by French regular units) would keep its original name, Camp Gosselin.

 
 

June 1958:
– June 11, 1er REP returned to Zeralda

– June 17, Colonel Albert Brothier took command

  • the commander of the 1er REP until March 1957
  • in 1957-58, Lt Col Brothier served with a French regular unit
  • he commanded a divisional parachute training center

 
July-August 1958:
– early July, operations in Algiers

Bastille Day Military Parade in Paris
– July 14, Bastille Day Military Parade in Paris
– 1er REP was invited for its great results in 1958
– 1er REP’s Colonel Brothier + color guard participated in

– in mid-August, Operation Flavien
– near Palestro, south-east of Algiers
– 1st Company took part in

September 1958:
Operation Referendum
– September 28, French National Referendum
– a referendum about France’s new constitution
– also about the future of French colonies
– in Algeria, the majority voted for France
– muslims and the French voted for being part of France
– it was an important defeat for the FLN rebels
– that day, 1er REP patrolled in the streets of Algiers

October 1958:
– in mid-October, 1er REP moved to the Oran region
– in northwestern Algeria
– operations near Mascara and Saida

November-December 1958:
– November-December, operations in the Ain Sefra region
– western Algeria, close to the border with Morocco
– operations alongside 2e REI

December 1958:
– late December, 1er REP moved back to Zeralda

Zeralda Road Accident
– December 21, a fatal road accident
– during a heavy rain, close to Zeralda
– the 1er REP column returning from western Algeria
– a 1st Company truck slipped on a wet road
– it crashed into a ravine
– Lieutenant René Gastaud + 6 legionnaires died

Operation Couronne II
– December 28-31, a military operation
– near Berrouaghia, south-west of Algiers
– 129 rebels were killed
– 5 legionnaires were also killed

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Paris - Brothier
1er REP in Paris, 1958. Colonel Brothier, once again designated as a commanding officer of the 1er REP, and the color guard of the 1er REP take part in the 1958 Bastille Day Parade.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - Guelma - Pierre Jeanpierre - Homage
In 1958, besides the Battle of the Borders in the Guelma region, the 1er REP conducted also operations in the regions of Mascara and Saida (both towns served then as Foreign Legion instruction centers for enlisted volunteers). In late 1958, the regiment deployed to the Ain Sefra region, then occupied by the 2e REI, to participate in operations alongside it.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Guelma - Algeria
Guelma region. 1er REP legionnaires during an operation, part of the Battle of the Borders. Almost 1,200 rebels were killed by the regiment in four months.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Guelma - Algeria
Guelma region. 1er REP legionnaires during an operation.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Guelma - Algeria
Guelma region. 1er REP legionnaires boarding a helicopter during the Battle of the Borders.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1958 - Algeria - Lieutenant Gastaud
Lieutenant René Gastaud. He died in the Zeralda Road Accident, together with six legionnaires, on December 21, 1958. Their truck slipped on a wet road and crashed into a ravine, when returning from Ain Sefra. By the irony of fate, his brother Jean Gastaud, a Lieutenant with the 2e REP, was killed in action only five months earlier, in July 1958.

 
 

1959: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in Algeria

January 1959:
– early January, Operation Couronne II once again

– January 27, a military operation
– 3rd Company + CA took part in
– over 20 rebels were killed

February 1959:
Challe’s Plan
– a successful strategy of General Challe
– February 1959 – January 1961
– a series of large military operations
– Challe’s Plan had three goals to achieve
– to destroy the ALN (FLN’s military branch) in Algeria
– to occupy their current positions
– to destroy the FLN’s organization

February-March 1959:
– February-March, military operations
– regions of Tenes, Orleansville (now Chlef), Frenda

Chief Menouar’s katiba destroyed
– February 14, Menouar’s katiba destroyed
– an important rebel group (katiba in Algerian)
– led by Chief Menouar, a local leader
– destroyed during a military operation
– 3rd Company + CA, 1er REP were involved in
– it took place in the Tenes region
– Chief Menouar + 30 rebels were killed
– it was the same group as on January 27

– March 20, a military operation
– it took place in the Frenda region
– 4th Company, 1er REP participated in
– 29 rebels were killed

April-May 1959:
– early April, a week-long military operation
– in northern Algeria
– near Messena, in the Orleansville region
– 2nd Company + CP took part in

Operation Courroie
– April-May, a large military operation
– part of Challe’s Plan
– in the Cherchell region of the Ouarsenis mountains
– 1er REP + 3e REI + 5e REI took part in

May 1959:
– early May, Lt Colonel Henri Dufour took command

  • Henri Dufour was born in France in 1912
  • as a French officer, he joined the Legion in 1934
  • he served with the 1er REI in Algeria
  • in 1935, he was assigned to the 3e REI in Morocco
  • promoted to Captain in September 1942
  • he took part in the Tunisian Campaign in 1942-43
  • Captain Dufour was transferred to a French division in 1944
  • he participated in the Liberation of France in 1944-45
  • in 1950, he rejoined the Legion and was sent to Indochina in 1951
  • being promoted to Major, he served with the 5e REI 1951-53
  • in 1953, Major Dufour returned to Algeria
  • he led the Legion HQ’s general staff in 1953-55
  • 1955-58, he served outside the Legion, in Germany
  • promoted to Lt Colonel in 1957
  • assigned to the 1er REP in late 1958

 
1er REP composition in Algeria in May 1959:

  • Command – Lt Colonel Dufour
  • HQ Company – Captain Clementin
  • 1st Company – Captain Sergent
  • 2nd Company – Captain Ysquierdo
  • 3rd Company – Captain Chiron
  • 4th Company – Captain Cattelotte
  • Combat Support Company (CA) – Captain Roux
  • Motorized Company (CP) – Captain Bésineau

 
Adjudant Laszlo Tasnady killed
– May 14, Adjudant Laszlo Tasnady was killed
– a legendary NCO within the 1er REP
– born in 1926, he joined the Legion in 1946
– one of the Legion’s three Hungarian senior NCOs killed that May

July 1959:
Operation Etincelle
– between July 8-20
– a large military operation, part of Challe’s Plan
– in the Hodna range of the M’Sila region
– 1er REP + 3e REI + 5e REI + 2e REC took part in

Operation Jumelles
– late July 1959 – March 1960
– a large military operation, part of Challe’s Plan
– it took place in the Tizi Ouzou region, northern Algeria
– composed of several smaller operations
– 1er REP + 3e REI + 5e REI + 13e DBLE took part in
– 1er REP participated in until January 1960
– during the operation, over 510 rebels were killed
– over 220 rebels were imprisoned

Training Company, 1er REP
Compagnie d’Instruction (CI)
– August 1, Training Company was established
– to relieve the 1er RE of parachute training
– to train fresh legionnaires for both, 1er REP + 2 REP
Captain Louis Martin took command
– the popular officer, nicknamed Loulou

– during Operation Jumelles, Lieutenant Pasteau killed
– December 19, in the Tizi Ouzou region
Christian Pasteau was killed during his first battle

Second Lieutenant Marcel Lemahieu killed
– during Operation Jumelles, Marcel Lemahieu was killed
– December 26, in the Illoula Oumalou region

  • Marcel Lemahieu was born in France in 1926
  • he joined the French Army in 1944
  • having served in Indochina in 1945-47
  • then he joined the Legion in late 1947
  • in 1951, again in Indochina with the 3e REI
  • back in Algeria, a paratrooper in early 1952
  • assigned to the 1er BEP in Indochina in mid-1952
  • he fought at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, then imprisoned
  • back in Algeria in 1955, he served with the 1er REP
  • promoted to an officer rank in October 1959
  • two months later, he was killed by a machine-gun fire
  • one of those very popular members of the regiment
  • 15 years of service
  • 11 mentions in dispatches, 7 times wounded

 
– in 1959, 972 rebels were killed by the 1er REP
– the same year, the regiment lost 139 men
– 42 of them were killed

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Operations - Map
In 1959, besides the three large military operations, the 1er REP conducted also operations in the regions of Tenes, Orleansville (now Chlef) and Frenda, in northwestern Algeria.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Zeralda - Brothier - Gardy - Dufour
Change of Command, May 1959. Colonel Albert Brothier (left), leaving the 1er REP, is to be replaced as the commanding officer of the regiment by Lt Colonel Henri Dufour (right). In the center, General Paul Gardy, then Chief of the Foreign Legion.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria
1er REP legionnaires during an operation in Algeria in 1959, with captured rebel weapons.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algiers - Jacques Morin
Major Jacques Morin, Algiers, May 13, 1959. Major Morin, then deputy commander of the 1er REP, is heading the unit during a ceremony in the capital of Algeria, marking the first anniversary of the May 1958 Putsch. Two weeks later, he would definitively leave the regiment. In Indochina in April 1948, then Lieutenant Morin formed and commanded the Parachute Company of 3e REI, the very first airborne unit of the Legion. He served with the 1er BEP/1er REP between 1949-50, 1951-53, and 1956-59. In 1954, Captain Morin became the youngest Commander of the Légion d’Honneur in France. Having left the Army in the 1960’s, Major Jacques Morin died in 1995.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria - Tasnady
Laszlo Tasnady. Adjudant Laszlo Tasnady (First Sergeant for US Army), a legendary NCO within the 1er REP. Born in Hungary, he served with the Legion since 1946. The Knight of the Légion d’Honneur, he was killed on May 14, 1959. Adjudant Laszlo Tasnady was one of the Legion’s three Hungarian senior NCOs killed that May.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria - Jumelle - Bésineau
Operation Jumelle. Captain Michel Bésineau, then commander of the 1er REP’s Motorized Company (CP), is speaking with local pro-French leaders, in late 1959.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria - Zeralda - Instruction - Training Company
Training Company, 1er REP. Established in August 1959, the unit provided airborne training for young legionnaires assigned to both the 1er REP and 2e REP. Based in Zeralda and led by the well-known Captain Martin.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1959 - Algeria - Lemahieu
Marcel Lemahieu. Second Lieutenant Marcel Lemahieu served with the Legion since 1947, when he joined it as a young Sergeant. A member of the 1er BEP/1er REP since 1952, participating in the battle of Dien Bien Phu, he was promoted to the officer rank in October 1959. He would be killed two months later, on December 26, 1959.

 
 

1960: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in Algeria

January 1960:
Week of Barricades
– January 24 – February 1, in Algiers
– demonstrations in support of French Algeria
– a response to General de Gaulle‘s proclamation
– a proclamation about Algeria’s self-determination
– also a response to a removal of General Massu
– then commander of French forces in Algiers
– he criticized de Gaulle and his policy in Algeria
– several military units sent to restore order
– between them, the 1er REP
– however, legionnaires sympathized with demonstrators
– the demonstrations were led by 1958 May Putschists (civilians)
– in 1958, they helped to General de Gaulle to gain power
– ironically, in 1960, de Gaulle imprisoned them to 10 years
– as a punishment for the Week of Barricades
– these issues would result in future problems

May-June 1960:
– May-June, several operations in the Hodna and Bou Saada regions
– between them, Operation Flammeche or Operation Pamphile

– in late June, 1er REP moved to the Collo region
– a guerrilla war with rebels

July-September 1960:
Operation Cigale
– a two-month military operation
– late July – late September
– in the Ouarsenis range, northern Algeria
– in then Vialar region (now Tissemsilt)
– 1er REP participated in
– at least 115 rebels were killed

1er REP composition in Algeria in September 1960:

  • Command – Lt Colonel Dufour
  • HQ Company – Lieutenant Bernard
  • 1st Company – Captain Sergent
  • 2nd Company – Captain Simonot
  • 3rd Company – Captain Estoup
  • 4th Company – Captain Cattelotte
  • Combat Support Company (CA) – Captain Ponsolle
  • Motorized Company (CP) – Captain de la Forest Divonne

– 1er REP was composed of 1,285 officers, NCOs and legionnaires

 
October-November 1960:
Operation Ariege
– October 5 – November 19
– the first phase of Operation Trident
– in the Setif and Batna regions, northeastern Algeria
– over 110 rebels were killed

– November 10, a fierce battle
– a battle during Operation Ariege
– between Corneille (now Merouana) and Batna
– 1st Company, 1er REP got involved in
– led by Lieutenant Godot par interim
– the fierce battle took several hours
– 9 rebels were killed
– however, 11 legionnaires were also killed
– 6 legionnaires were wounded

December 1960:
– December 5, Colonel Henri Dufour left regiment

  • its commanding officer since May 1959
  • promoted to Colonel in October 1960
  • during the Week of Barricades, he sympathized with protesters
  • in the Legion since 1934, he supported French Algeria
  • Colonel Dufour disagreed with Algerian independence
  • because of that, he opposed French President de Gaulle
  • as a result, Colonel Dufour was removed from command
  • he was tranferred to the French Forces in Germany
  • Colonel Dufour would secretly return to Algeria
  • he would fight for French Algeria illegally, as a partisan

 
– December 15, Lt Colonel Maurice Guiraud took command

  • 1953-54, then Major Guiraud commanded the 1er BEP
  • imprisoned at Dien Bien Phu, freed in September 1954
  • assigned to the French Forces in Germany in late 1954
  • a military course in Great Britain in 1955
  • in France in 1956, a French division’s general staff member
  • in 1957, he rejoined the 1er REP in Algeria
  • in 1958-59, a French airborne school at Pau, France
  • promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in October 1959
  • in 1959-60, EMI military academy at Saint-Maixent, France

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1960 - Operations - Map
In 1960, besides the two large military operations (Operation Cigale and Operation Ariege), the 1er REP also conducted operations in the Hodna Mountains (Operation Flammeche) or in the Collo region.

 

1961: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in Algeria

January 1961:
French referendum on Algerian self-determination
– January 8, the referendum was held
– ordered by French President de Gaulle
– in Algeria, 70% of voters voted for Yes
– the referendum was seen as a provocation
– many Legion officers didn’t agree with it

1er REP Officers’ Revolt
– Janvier 8, 1er REP officers revolted
– a unique, extraordinary issue
– while being stationed on the Tunisia border
– four company commanders
– 1st + 2nd Company + CA + CP
Sergent, Simonot, Ponsolle, de La Forest Divonne
– they refused to carry out a military operation
– they didn’t want to see their men being killed for nothing
– their revolt was a response to the referendum
– the captains were transferred outside of the Legion
– also other officers would leave the regiment

– January 14, 1er REP returned to Zeralda

1er REP composition in Algeria in late January 1961:

  • Command – Lt Colonel Guiraud
  • HQ Company – Captain Bésineau
  • 1st Company – Captain Rubin de Cervens
  • 2nd Company – Lieutenant Picot d’Alignies d’Assignies
  • 3rd Company – Captain Estoup
  • 4th Company – Lieutenant (later Captain) Bonelli
  • Combat Support Company (CA) – Captain Carreté
  • Motorized Company (CP) – Lieutenant Durand-Ruel

Major Helié de Saint Marc rejoined the 1er REP
– to reinforce moral of the regiment
– he became the deputy commander

 
January-April 1961:
– January 29 – April 15, military operations
– in the regions of Bougie, Djidjelli and El Milia
– almost 200 rebels would be killed, wounded or imprisoned

– January 31, clashes with rebels
– they took place at Douar Arres
– close to Mila, in the Djidjelli region
– the clashes continued until February 1
– 21 rebels were killed

– February 24-25, clashes with rebels
– close to Kherrata, in the Bougie region
– 38 rebels were killed

March 1961:
– March 2, a military operation
– at Douar El M’Cid, in the El Milia region
– many rebels were killed

– March 11, another military operation
– at Oued Irdjana, in the Djidjelli region
– 15 rebels killed

April 1961:
– April 15, military operations ended
– 1er REP returned back to Zeralda
– to take a break

Lt Colonel Guiraud went on leave
– he moved to France for several days
– Major Helié de Saint Marc replaced him
– he would command the 1er REP par interim

Generals’ Putsch in Algiers
– April 22-25, Generals’ putsch in Algiers
– led by four French Army generals
– aimed at then French President Charles de Gaulle
– seen by putschists as a betrayal of France, French settlers in Algeria, and the fallen French soldiers in the Algerian War (1954-62)
– because of de Gaulle’s acceptance of Algerian independence
– the putschists called for French Algeria
– they believed that the Algerian rebels could be defeated
– 1er REP took part in the Putsch
– led by Major Hélie de Saint Marc (par interim)
– the unit would move to Algiers
– to take control of several strategic points there
– later, other Legion units would join the Putsch too
– nevertheless, the action would be over three days later
– April 25, Generals’ Putsch in Algiers failed

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Algeria - Guiraud
Maurice Guiraud. In the rare image, Lt Colonel Maurice Guiraud (left) during an operation with the 1er REP in Algeria, 1961. The commander of the 1er BEP in Indochina in 1953-54, leading the unit during the battle at Dien Bien Phu. He had to replace Colonel Dufour in late 1960.
1961 Generals’ Putsch of Algiers - Hélie de Saint Marc
Major Hélie de Saint Marc. As a deputy commander of the 1er REP, he joined the Generals’ Putsch in Algiers.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Generals’ Putsch of Algiers - HQ
Putsch’s HQ – Algiers. In the rare image, 1er REP legionnaires are sleeping inside the Putsch’s HQ in Algiers.
1961 Generals’ Putsch of Algiers - Algiers - Forum - 1er REP - 1 REP
Algiers – Forum – 1er REP, April 24, 1961. Legionnaires of the 1er REP are watching the large crowd of enthusiastic local people, gathered behind their Jeeps during the Putsch, to support the putschists. Note the three cars in the center equipped with 106 SR (M40) cannons.

 

1961: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment after the Putsch

April 26, 1961:
1er REP returned to Zeralda
– in the early morning, the unit returned to its camp
– including three Generals-putschists
– General Challe + General Salan + General Jouhaud
– later, the three Generals would leave the camp

– later that day, the camp of Zeralda would be besieged
– by gendarmes and French regular units

April 27, 1961:
Lt Colonel Guiraud to return from France
– that day, Lt Colonel Guiraud returned from France
– he took over the command of his regiment
– later, he moved to Sidi Bel Abbes, the Legion’s HQ

Major Hélie de Saint Marc arrested
– also that day, the 1er REP’s deputy commander was arrested
– for his participation in the putsch
– in June, he would be sentenced to 10 years in prison
– freed in December 1966, after more than five years of imprisonment
– in 1982, Major Hélie de Saint Marc would be fully rehabilitated
– he died in 2013

1er REP’s officers arrested or detained
– also 1er REP’s captains were arrested
– they were sent to the High Military Tribunal
– to be condemned to 1-2 years in prison
– all of their sentences would be suspended
– 1er REP’s lieutenants were detained
– later, they would be released

1er REP to leave Zeralda
– 05.30 PM (17:30), 1er REP left its Camp Jeanpierre of Zeralda
– the regiment would move to Thiersville (today’s Ghriss)
– a small town in northwestern Algeria, with a former military air base
– located south of Mascara
– the 1er REP arrived in Thiersville the next day
– the regiment waited there for its dissolution
– during the movement, tens of legionnaires deserted
– many of them would fight for French Algeria as partisans

Liquidation Detachment
– at the camp of Zeralda, only a detachment remained
– about 100 men, led by Captain Caumont
– they were appointed as liquidators
– their mission was to execute the unit’s dissolution
– they had to collect all documents, weapons, munitions etc.
– a few days later, reinforced by a team from 1er RE
– the liquidators would remain at the camp until late May

 
April 29, 1961:
– another 60 legionnaires left Camp Jeanpierre of Zeralda
– they also moved to Thiersville
– only some 40 legionnaires remained at Zeralda
– Lt Colonel Guiraud returned from Sidi Bel Abbes
– in Zeralda, he would take part in the liquidation of his unit

 

1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Algeria - Camp Zeralda
Camp Jeanpierre in Zeralda, late April 1961.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Algeria - Camp Zeralda - leaving
Leaving. April 27, 1961, the 1er REP is leaving its camp in Zeralda for Thiersville.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Thiersville - Algeria - Map
Thiersville (now Ghriss) in Algeria. The 1er REP moved there to be dissolved.
1er REP - 1 REP - Foreign Legion Etrangere - 1961 - Officers - Putsch - Trial
Generals’ Putsch Trial in Paris, June 1961. Officers of the 1er REP (berets) arriving at the court, with their escort.

 

1961: 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment’s dissolution

April 30, 1961:
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment dissolution
– April 30, 1er REP was officially dissolved
– the same date as Camerone Day
– it was a punishment for the unit’s participation in the Putsch

The Last Camerone Day
– a small ceremony took place at Camp Jeanpierre of Zeralda
– carried out by Lieutenant Soum
– one of the very few undetained 1er REP officers
– he returned from his official leave in France on April 29

April 30 – May 3, 1961:
– at Thiersville, 1er REP men got their assignments
– they were assigned to other Legion units (mainly to the 1er RE)
– the mission was carried out by a special 1er RE detachment

1er REP’s results
– in Algeria in 1955-61, 1er BEP/1er REP men carried out their mission well
3,507 rebels were killed, wounded or imprisoned by them
– 1er REP was called the most elite regiment of the French Army
– it survived two annihilations during the First Indochina War
– eventually, the unit didn’t survive a political decision
– the 1er REP has never been re-established

 

The 1er REP leaving Zeralda, April 27, 1961 (from 1:24). Rare images captured by AP.
The camp of Zeralda in 1957. Very rare color images of the 1er REP, captured by German legionnaire Dieter Heller. From 10:55, 1er REP legionnaires burying their killed comrade, from 13:04, Foreign Legion's HQ in Sidi Bel Abbes, from 13:48 Marseille and its recruiting center with volunteers to join the Legion... From 00:50, the 1er REP's regimental song, Contre les Viets (see below).

 
 

———
 

1st Foreign Parachute Regiment’s hymn

The regimental song of the 1er REP: Contre les Viets

———
 

Main information & images sources:
Képi blanc magazines
Foreign Legion annual bulletins
More Majorum (German legionnaires in Indochina)
Fanion Vert et Rouge (Fr)
FSALE (Fr)
Google Maps
Wikipedia.org
Pierre Montagnon: Les parachutistes de la Légion (Pygmalion, 2005)
Alain Gandy: La Légion en Algerie (Presses de la Cité, 1989)
Henri Le Mire: L’épopée moderne de la Légion (SPL, 1977)

 
More from the history of the Foreign Legion’s paratroopers:
3rd Foreign Parachute Regiment
Parachute Company of 3e REI
1st Heavy Mortar Foreign Parachute Company
CERA – Foreign Airdrop Company
 

See other Foreign Legion’s disbanded regiments:
2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment
4th Foreign Infantry Regiment
5th Foreign Regiment
6th Foreign Infantry Regiment

 

 

The page was updated on: May 10, 2018

 

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