2nd Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company

The 2nd Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company (2e CMMLE) was one of the three mortar companies of the Foreign Legion participating in the First Indochina War in southeastern Asia. Its history started in October 1952 and ended in May 1954. It was the first heavy mortar company of the Legion constituted in then French Indochina (today’s Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). The company was destroyed during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (1954).

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


CMLE: Foreign Legion Mortar Company 1952-1953

1945 – 1946:
First Indochina War started
– French Indochina reffers to French colonial territories in Southeast Asia
– in Indochina, a conflict started between the French and Ho Chi Minh
– Ho Chi Minh led the Viet-Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam)
– Viet Minh was a nationalist and (later) pro-Soviet Union movement
– in September 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared independence from France for Vietnam
– clashes between French forces and the Viet Minh started
– in early 1946, first Foreign Legion units landed in Indochina

October 1952:
– on October 23, a decision to create a heavy mortar company within the Legion
– it would participate in the war in French Indochina

November 01, 1952:
Foreign Legion Mortar Company (Compagnie de Mortiers de la Légion Etrangère, CMLE)
CMLE was officially created
– it was composed of elements from 5e REI, 3e REI and 13e DBLE
– local native volunteers were also assigned to the company
– CMLE comprised a 120 mm heavy mortar platoon + two 81 mm mortar platoons
– the company was administratively attached to 5e REI

November 1952:
– CMLE was stationed in the region of Na San
– its task was to defend the region against the Viet Minh

November 23 – December 02, 1952:
Battle of Na San
– CMLE took part in

November 23, 1952:
– CMLE was attacked by the Viet Minh
– after several hours of fighting, the enemy was fought off

November 30, 1952:
– the second attack of Viet-Minh
– CMLE managed to defend successfully its position

December 01, 1952:
– other heavy fights

December 02, 1952:
– the last fights of the Battle of Na San

December 1952 – June 1953:
– CMLE stayed at Na San because of the Viet Minh operating in the region


2nd Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company 1953-1954

June 01, 1953:
2nd Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company (2e Compagnie Mixte de Mortiers de la Légion Etrangère, 2e CMMLE)
– CMLE became the 2e CMMLE
– 2e CMMLE continued to be stationed at Na San

December 27, 1953:
– 2e CMMLE left Na San
– it was stationed in the valley of Dien Bien Phu
– the valley is located in northern Vietnam

– 2e CMMLE was eqipped with eight 120 mm mortars
– the company consisted of two platoons
– 2e CMMLE was commanded by Lieutenant Jean-Paul Fetter

January 1954:
– 2e CMMLE was based at two outposts within the Dien Bien Phu

– the platoon of Lieutenant Fetter was based at the Anne-Marie outpost
– the platoon of Lieutenant Clerget was based at the Gabrielle outpost

March 13 – May 7, 1954:
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
– 2e CMMLE participated in

March 13, 1954:
– 2e CMMLE supported the 13e DBLE being stationed at the Beatrice outpost
– the outpost was attacked by the Viet Minh
– next day, Beatrice was seized by the Viet Minh
– the platoon of Lieutenant Fetter had to withdraw

March 14 – 15, 1954:
– the outpost Gabrielle was attacked by the Viet Minh
– all of four mortars of Lieutenant Clerget were destroyed
– Lieutenant Clerget and many of his legionnaires were killed or wounded
– in the morning, the French launched a counter-attack to save the survivors
– only a few legionnaires of 2e CMMLE based at Gabrielle were rescued
– the rest of legionnaires were imprisoned, including Lieutenant Clerget

March 17, 1954:
– the platoon of Lieutenant Fetters had to left Anne-Marie
– it moved to the Claudine outpost
– 2e CMMLE was regrouped there

March – May 1954:
– 2e CMMLE was fighting permanently
– it supported several outposts by shelling the Viet Minh attackers
– the company lost the majority of its men
– they have also run out of ammunition

May 07, 1954:
– Battle of Dien Bien Phu was over
– the Claudine outpost was seized by the Viet Minh
– Lieutenant Fetter and the rest of his legionnaires were imprisoned
– they were sent to POW (prisoner-of-war) camps
– only a few of them will survive, including both Lieutenants

May 31, 1954:
– 2e CMMLE was officially disbanded


CMLE - Foreign Legion Mortar Company - Compagnie de Mortiers de la Légion Etrangère - Na San 1952
CMLE is building its outpost in the Na San region (November 1952); Photo credit: Ecpad.fr
CMLE - Foreign Legion Mortar Company - Compagnie de Mortiers de la Légion Etrangère - Képi blanc magazine 1953
CMLE is mentioned for the first time in the Képi blanc magazine (March 1953)



Information source:

See Legion’s other disbanded mortar companies:
1st Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company
1st Heavy Mortar Foreign Parachute Company

Foreign Legion’s disbanded regiments:
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment
2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment
3rd Foreign Parachute Regiment
4th Foreign Infantry Regiment
5th Foreign Regiment
6th Foreign Infantry Regiment


The page was updated on: July 04, 2016


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