22nd Foreign Legion Motorized Company

The 22nd Motorized Company (22e CP) of the 6th Battalion, 1er REI was constituted on December 16, 1954 in Nouvion, a town located in the Mascara region of northwestern Algeria. Composed of three platoons, the company was led by Captain Olivier Desjeux, and equipped with half-tracks and Scout Cars. Considered a “fictional” unit, since the 6th Battalion did not yet exist except on paper, the 22e CP was administratively assigned to the DCLE (Joint Depot), located in Sidi Bel Abbès, which was then the Legion’s headquarters.

In January 1955, the company left Nouvion for Laghouat, a town situated in the center of the country. At that time, Laghouat served as the garrison for the 2e CSPL, one of the Legion Saharan motorized companies. The military base of the 2e CSPL had already been a home for a sister unit of the 22e CP, the 21st Motorized Company. All three legionnaire motorized companies would live together for some time.

On January 25, 1955, Lieutenant Colonel Arnault handed over new fanions to the 21st and 22nd Companies. He was a commanding officer of the DCLE and a provisional commander of the 6th Battalion, 1er REI, which had still not been properly formed.

In May, the majority of Scout Cars of the 22e CP were exchanged for Dodge 6×6 trucks, vehicles that were more comfortable for missions in the desert regions south of Laghouat. In addition, each motorized platoon was issued three 81 mm mortars.

On June 1, 1955, the men of the company received the fourragère in the colors of the Foreign Theater Operations’ War Cross ribbon (Croix de Guerre des T.O.E.) of the former VI/1er REI, which had earned this distinction in Morocco, during the Rif War (1925-1926). But the fourragère was only worn for a few weeks.

The same day, Captain François Lafontaine took over the 22nd Company. He replaced Captain Desjeux, who moved to Libya to join the 3e CSPL based there.

On July 1, 1955, the headquarters of the Foreign Legion was reorganized. The DCLE along with the 1er REI were deactivated; a new 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE) was established to replace them. The three motorized companies of the 6th Battalion (which was never fully recreated) became autonomous. The 22e CP thus changed its designation and became the 22nd Foreign Legion Motorized Company (22e CPLE).


Laghouat - 22e CPLE - fanion - 1955
Laghouat, June 1, 1955. The fanion of the 22nd Motorized Company.

Laghouat - 22e CPLE - Dodges - 1955
Dodge 6×6 trucks of the 22e CP in Laghouat, June 1955.
Fanion - 6eme Bataillon - 22me Compagnie Portee - 22e CPLE
The fanion of the 22nd Motorized Company, 6th Battalion seen on an online marketplace.


Still based in Laghouat in the Ghardaia region, the company spent the summer with one platoon detached to Djelfa (northeast of Laghouat) and the other one to El Houaita, to the southwest. The men were occupied with patrols, maintaining order, training, shooting exercises or cutting down wood around El Houaita (in fact an important activity; in such a desert region, wood was a very rare fuel material). At the same time, the men of the 22e CPLE – true to the legionnaires’ old nickname of “soldiers and builders” – carried out the construction of a swimming pool in Djelfa.

In September, the company left Laghouat and moved to Djelfa. There, it was equipped with five U.S. M8 Light armored cars (called AM-M8 in France) to form an Armored Platoon (peloton).

On September 13, the 22e CPLE moved to Zeribet El Oued in the Biskra region of eastern Algeria, to replace the 1re CSPL there. The unit would be stationed at Bordj Jumenterie (a French military post; bordj is a local Arab name for a fortress).

Later in the same month, the company took part in Operation Timgad, a major joint operation taking place near the Tunisian border, not far from Djebel El Djorf. The 22e CPLE legionnaires operated alongside their comrades from the 21e CPLE and 23e CPLE, the 1re CSPL and 2e CSPL, and the 1er REP and 2e REI. An important gathering of rebel leaders from the Aurès and the Nementchas mountains was destroyed. This operation saw the CPLEs and the CSPLs united into a Foreign Legion Motorized Company Group under Lieutenant Colonel Brisbarre, an officer of the Colonial Army.

At the end of October, another military operation was undertaken. Legionnaire Olszewski was killed; a lieutenant and two legionnaires were wounded.

The new military missions for the 22e CPLE, as well as the construction of a more comfortable post, alternated with population control, convoy guarding, and patrols in the pre-Saharan plains. One platoon deployed to Ouled Djellal, a commune located some 75 miles (120 km) west of Zeribet El Oued, and lived there in complete autonomy.

In January 1956, the company made a trip of almost 400 miles (some 600 km) in the Sahara desert, to test the readiness of the company for such missions. Nevertheless, with its two large GMC trucks fully loaded with gasoline and its 8-ton armored cars, the progress through the sand dunes was sometimes only 100 yards (100 m) per hour.

Later in 1956, the company lost its independence and was integrated, along with its two sister companies, into the Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group (GPLEA), created in February of the same year. The 22e CPLE became the 22nd Motorized Company, GPLEA.

Nevertheless, in late October 1956, the GPLEA – a little-known and short-lived unit – was disbanded and its elements merged with the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment. Still stationed at Zeribet El Oued, the 22nd Motorized Company, GPLEA once again changed its designation and became the 5th Motorized Company, 2e REI.

A few days later, on November 5, 1956, Adjoul-Adjoul, rebel leader of the rural region of the Aurès and commander of Wilaya I (a rebel-assigned sector in Algeria), surrendered to the company’s legionnaires at the Zeribet El Oued post.

In March 1957, the 5e CP (ex-22e CPLE) joined the 2e REI HQ in Ain Sefra, western Algeria.


Insignia - Badge - 22e CPLE - 22 CPLE - 1955
The 22e CPLE badge, created in 1955. The dorcas gazelle refers to the (pre-)Saharan regions, the company’s area of operations.

Algeria- 22e CPLE - water reservoir - 1955
The company’s water supply is provided thanks to a small reservoir located several miles from the Zeribet El Oued post. Like many of the water sources in the Nementchas mountains, this one is magnesium-rich.
Zeribet El Oued - 22eme CPLE - post - legionnaires
Legionnaires of the 22e CPLE build their post at Zeribet El Oued, late 1955.
Sahara - 22e CPLE - 22 CPLE - trip - M8 armored car
An M8 armored car of the company during the 400-mile trip (some 600 km) in the Sahara desert, in January 1956.
Sahara - 22e CPLE - 22 CPLE - Dodge
A Dodge 6×6 of the 22nd Company during their Saharan trip.
Djelfa - Camerone - 22e CPLE - Cie Portee - 22eme CPLE - 1956
Djelfa, the rear base of the 22e CPLE at the time. A ceremony marking 1956 Camerone Day (30 April). Note the M8 light armored cars and half-tracks.
22e CPLE - 22me Cie Portee - 22eme CPLE - 1956 - Lieutenant
A lieutenant of the former 22e CPLE in late 1956, still wearing the company badge, along with the fourragère des T.O.E. of the 2e REI. As a matter of interest, the company wore the same fourragère for a few weeks in 1955, when belonging to the 6th Battalion, 1er REI.


La version française de cet article:
22eme CPLE : 22e Compagnie Portée de Légion Etrangère


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Main information sources:
Képi blanc magazines
Foreign Legion annual bulletins (1950s)
Tibor Szecsko: Le grand livre des insignes de la Légion étrangère (S.I.H.L.E., 1991)
Fanion Vert et Rouge


Related articles:
Foreign Legion Moroccan Motorized Group
1st Legion Saharan Motorized Company
2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
3rd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
4th Legion Saharan Motorized Company



The page was updated on: December 04, 2021


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