2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment

The 2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment was one of the two cavalry regiments of the French Foreign Legion. Established in 1939, its legionnaires took part in the Battle of France (1940) of WWII. Deactivated the same year, the unit was reactivated in 1946 to train and provide legionnaires for 1er REC, the older cavalry regiment serving in French Indochina at that time. Thereafter the 2e REC participated in the Algerian War between 1956-62. It was definitively disbanded in late June of 1962. Today, its flag is guarded by DLEM, a Foreign Legion unit based in Madagascar.

2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment History - 2 REC - L'histoire du 2e Régiment Étranger de Cavalerie

 

2e REC: Morocco and WWII 1939-1940

1907 – 1934:
Pacification of Morocco
– the regiment took part in the Pacification of Morocco
– the French had been involved in pacification of Morocco since the early 1900s
– Legion units had actively participated in pacification of Morocco since 1907
– in 1912, the French Protectorate in Morocco was established
– the Legion had 3 of its 4 infantry regiments of Africa based there in 1920-1940
– in 1934, the Pacification successfully ended

1925 – 1939:
Moroccan Squadrons Group (Groupement des Escadrons du Maroc, GEM)
– GEM was part of the 1er REC
– it was formed with its three squadrons (3rd, 4th, 5th)
– they were stationed in the then French protectorate in Morocco
– until 1934, they took part in the Pacification

1939:
2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment (2e Régiment Étranger de Cavalerie, 2e REC)
– on July 01, GEM became the 2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment (2e REC)
– Lt Colonel Farine took the command

    2e REC’s organization:

  • HQ – based at Midelt
  • 3rd Squadron (Captain Renucci) – based at Bou Malue
  • 4th Squadron (Captain Lennuyeux) – based at Midelt
  • 5th Squadron (Captain Guibert) – based at Ouarzezat

2e REC was nicknamed as the Foreign Dauphin (Dauphin Étranger)
– Dauphin means a Heir apparent in French
– 1er REC is nicknamed as the Foreign Royal
– 2e REC traditions derived from the former French foreign cavalry regiment:
Dauphin Étranger (served 1666-1761)

World War II
– Second World War started on September 1
– France, including the Foreign Legion, participated in

1940:
97th Infantry Division Reconnaissance Group (97e Groupe de Reconnaissance de Division d’Infanterie, 97e GRDI)
– in February, elements from 2e REC and 1er REC formed 97e GRDI (or GRDI 97)
– 97e GRDI will take part in the Battle of France against Germany

Battle of France (May-June)
– GRDI 97 suffered heavy casualties
– on June 22, the Battle ended
– France was defeated
– Armistice signed by Nazi Germany and France on June 22
– for France, WWII temporarily ended

– GRDI legionnaires rejoined 2e REC + 1er REC

2e REC deactivation
– on November 15, 2e REC was deactivated
– its legionnaires consolidated with 1er REC

1945:
– World War II ended

 

2e REC: Morocco 1946-1956

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 1946, first Foreign Legion units landed in Indochina

1946:
2e REC reactivation
– on June 01, 2e REC was reactivated at Sidi Bel Abbes (then HQ of the Legion), Algeria
– it was composed of three squadrons
– 2e REC was formed with 1er REC elements and freshly trained legionnaires
– its task was to maintain order in the region
– 2e REC also provided cavalry training for fresh legionnaires

– two weeks later, 2e REC moved to Saida, Algeria
– in July-August, 2e REC was based at Ain El Hadjar, south of Saida
– in early September, 2e REC was based at Orleansville, Blida and Tenes, Algeria
– on September 9, 2e REC was temporarily deactivated

2e REC new reactivation
– 1er REC was sent to French Indochina
– it will join the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– on November 01, 2e REC was reactivated again
– it had to replace the 1er REC in Morocco
– 2e REC moved to Oujda (1er REC’s garrison town), Morocco
– the regiment was based at Camp Clark and Camp Roze

– 2e REC was equipped with:
– AMM8 Greyhound armored cars + M3A3 Stuart tanks + M3 Half-tracks

– 2e REC continued to fulfill its main tasks:
– to maintain order in the region
– to train young legionnaires to be able to reinforce 1er REC in Indochina

1948:
– in June, operations in the Oujda, Martimprey, Berkane and Berguent regions

1949:
4th Armored Jeeps Squadron (Escadron de Jeeps Blinées, EJB)
– on June 01, 4th Armored Jeeps Squadron was activated
– it was formed within the Legion’s HQ of Sidi Bel Abes, Algeria
– the squadron was attached to the 2e REC

– on July 23, 4th Squadron (EJB) was sent to Madagascar, Indian Ocean
– its task was to maintain order there, together with a Legion engineering company + a 4e REI battalion

– 4th Squadron returned in February 1952
– it was disbanded and its legionnaires consolidated with 2e REC

1953:
– in August, first serious clashes with rebels in Morocco
– four legionnaires of 2e REC were killed

1954 – 1955:
Algerian War started
– in North Africa, local rebels intensified military actions
– these actions took part in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria
– they were aimed at French forces presented in these regions
– the main rebel force fighting the French was the FLN
– FLN stands for National Liberation Front
– later in 1955, that operations escalated to the Algerian War

1954:
2e REC reorganization
– 2e REC was composed of four squadrons:

  • HQ Squadron
  • Recce Squadron (1st Squadron)
  • two squadrons (2nd + 3rd) were equipped with AMX 13 tanks

First Indochina War ended
– the war in Indochina ended on August 1
– France had to leave northern Vietnam
– in 1956, French troops had to leave the entire Indochina pensisula

1955 – 1956:
– maintaining order in Morocco for 2e REC

1955:
– July-August, 2e REC conducted military operations in the Oujda and Berkane regions

Motorized Squadrons Group (Groupe d’Escadrons Portés, GEP)
– in October, 2nd Amphibious Group (2e GA) of 1er REC left Indochina and landed in Africa
– on November 01, 2e GA/1er REC became the Motorized Squadrons Group (GEP)
– GEP was attached to 2e REC
– it was composed of HQ + two squadrons (4th + 5th)
– GEP/2e REC was stationed at Meknes, Morocco

1956:
Independence of Morocco
– in March 1956, Morocco gained its independence
– all French units had to move to Algeria

– in May, GEP was disbanded
– its strength was reduced to a single squadron
– it became the 4th Squadron

– on June 27, 1st + 4th Squadron left Morocco for Figuig, Algeria-Morocco border
– the squadrons were based there together with 4e REI

– August 1956, 2nd Squadron moved to Algeria
– it was assigned to 1er REP
– the squadron will participate in the Suez Crisis

– in October, the regiment left Morocco for Algeria

 

2e REC insignia
2e REC insignia. Created in 1946 by Lt Col Lennuyeux and Ltn Arfeux. Image source: Wikipedia.org
Camp Clark of the 2e REC in Oujda in 1955
Camp Clark of the 2e REC in Oujda (July 1955)
AMX of the 2e REC in Berkane in 1955
The AMX-13 of 2e REC during an exercise, in Berkane (July 1955)
2e REC - Oujda - swimming pool - 1956
Legionnaires of 2e REC during swimming competitions at the pool of Oujda (August 1956)

 

2e REC: Algerian War 1956-1962

1956:
– on October 01, 3rd Squadron left Morocco for Biskra, Algeria
– it was the last combat unit of 2e REC to leave Morocco
– 2e REC will join the Algerian War

– by the end of October, 2e REC was regrouped at Biskra
– HQ + 1st + 3rd + 4th Squadron

Suez Crisis in Egypt
– in November-December, 2nd Squadron took part in the Suez Crisis
– the unit was equipped with AMX 13 tanks
– in 1957, it will consolidate with 1er REP

– in November, 2e REC was stationed at Ouargla
– Ouargla is located in the Sahara Desert of central Algeria

1957:
– in January-April, operations in the M’Raier region
– 1st Squadron was involved in

– in March, 2e REC moved to Laghouat, Algeria
– its squadrons were based in the nearest area
– 3rd Squadron was based at Tadjemout
– 4th Squadron was based at Sidi Maklouf
– at Laghouat, there was also based 2e CSPL

– in April-May, operations at Djebel Djelfa, Sahari, Amour, Senalba, Bou Kahil

– in May, 1st Squadron moved to Ghardaia, Algeria
– it will return in January 1958

– in July, operations in the Zaccar region
– 2e CSPL and 3e CSPL were also involved in
– on July 2, 80 rebels were killed

1958:
– 1st Squadron participated in operations in the Laghouat region
– 3rd Squadron participated in operations at Tadjemout

Horse Mission
– in April, 2e REC moved to the Negrine region
– the region is located in southern Algeria, on the Tunisian border
– its main task was to patrol the electric tence border
– it also guarded a hidden radar base on the Algeria-Tunisia border
– 2e REC left the Negrine region in December

– on June 26, 2e REC got involved in fighting with a rebel group
– 61 rebels were killed, 54 imprisoned

– in December, 2e REC moved to Djelfa, Algeria
– operations in the Djelfa region

1959:
– in January, operations in the Charef mountains

– in February, operations at Djebel Atrech, Faidja and Serdoun

– in March-June, operations at Zemra, Mahregue

– in July, Operation Etincelle

– in August-December, operations at Baten, Charef, Djebel Mdaouar
– operations at Kef El Djahfa and in the Bou Saada region

2nd Squadron reactivation
– on November 01, a new 2nd Squadron of 2e REC was reactivated
– it was activated by renaming a squadron assigned to 1er RE
Arzew Amphibious Squadron (Escadron Amphibie d’Arzew, EAA)
– EAA was based at Arzew, a port city in northern Algeria
– it was equipped by Alligators (Landing Vehicle Tracked, LVT)
– the squadron received AMM8
– in January 1960, it joined the regiment

1960:
– on January 21, fighting at Gadet Meglires
– more than 60 rebels killed

– in March, operations at Djebel Mahreg

– in April-June, operations at Zerca, Matmoura, at Djebel Malleg

– in September-October, operation in the Bou Kahil region
– 100 rebels were killed

– in November, operation in the Bou Saada region

1961:
– in February-May, clashes with rebels at Teniet El-Hasbaia in the Bou Kahil region
– 2e CSPL was also involved in

– in July, 2e REC deployed to northern Algeria
– they maintained order in the Médéa and Tipasa regions

1962:
– in January, 2e REC left Djelfa
– it moved to the Biskra region

Algerian War officially ended in March
– Évian Accords treaty, signed on 18 March 1962, ended the Algerian War
– on July 5, Independence of Algeria was declared
– however, military operations were conducted until September 1962
– on September 25, the Algerian republic was established

– in April, 2e REC is redeployed again, still within the Biskra region

– on June 12, an order was issued
– 2e REC will be reduced to only two squadrons
– they will consolidate with 1er REC
– they became 5th + 6th Squadron of 1er REC

– on July 31, 2e REC was officially disbanded

– in Algeria, 2e REC killed over 1,000 rebels and lost 59 men
 
 

 

2e REC 2nd squadron in Blida in September 1956
The 2nd Squadron of 2e REC during the Saint Michael Day parade in Blida (September 29, 1956)

AMX-13 2e REC 2nd squadron in the Suez Crisis November 1956
The AMX-13 of the 2nd Squadron of 2e REC during the Suez Crisis in Egypt (November 1956)
2e REC Djebel Djelfa April 1957
Djebel Djelfa – the first big operation for 2e REC during the Algerian War (April 1957)
2e REC Djebel Djelfa April 1957 wounded legionnaires
Wounded legionnaires from 2e REC during the Djebel Djelfa operations
(April 1957)
2e REC Djebel Sahari April 1957
Legionnaires from 2e REC with the 75 S.R. cannons during the Djebel Sahari operation (April 1957)
2e REC - Camerone Day 1957
Legionnaires from 2e REC and their commander, colonel de Baulny, during the Camerone Day ceremony in Laghouat (April 30, 1957)
2e REC - Camerone Day 1958 at Negrine
Colonel de Baulny during the Camerone Day ceremony of 2e REC at Negrine (April 30, 1958)
2e REC 4th Squadron at Vieux Negrine
The 4th Squadron of 2e REC at Vieux Negrine on the Tunisian border during the Horse operation (June 1958)
2e REC 4th Squadron at Vieux Negrine in June 1958
The 4th Squadron of 2e REC at Vieux Negrine (June 1958)
2e REC - Camerone Day 1959 in Djelfa
2e REC parading on Camerone Day in Djelfa (April 30, 1959)
Arzew Amphibious Squadron in Arzew in 1959
Arzew Amphibious Squadron training in Arzew (July 1959)
In a few weeks, it becomes the 2nd Squadron of 2e REC
Alligators of the Arzew Amphibious Squadron in 1959
LVT-4 (called “Alligator”) of the Arzew Amphibious Squadron training in Arzew (July 1959)
2e REC Charef region October 1959
2e REC during an operation in the Charef region (October 1959)
2e REC parade 1960
AM-M8 of 2e REC during a parade in Algeria (1960)
Image source: Voltigeur’s Web Page
2e REC Gadet Meglires on January 21, 1960
The officers of 2e REC during an operation at Gadet Meglires, in which more than 60 rebels were killed (January 21, 1960)
2e REC Djelfa region June 1960
2e REC during an operation in the Djelfa region (June 1960)
2e REC Bou Kahil region June 1960
2e REC during an operation in the Bou Kahil region (October 1960)
Finishing works at the holiday camp of the 2e REC in Douaouda 1960
Finishing works at the vacation/holiday camp of 2e REC at Douaouda (1960)
2e REC Bou Kahil region February 1961
AM-M8s of 2e REC during an operation in the Bou Kahil region (February 1961)
2e REC parading - Algeria 1961
2e REC during a parade in Algeria (1961)
2e REC redeployment January 1962
2e REC during the redeployment to the Biskra region (January 1962)
1st Squadron of the 2e REC working at the new camp in Sidi-Okba February 1962
Legionnaires of the 1st Squadron of 2e REC working at their new camp of Sidi-Okba (February 1962)
1st Squadron of the 2e REC working at the new camp in Sidi-Okba February 1962
1st Squadron of 2e REC parading in Sidi-Okba (February 1962)
2e REC Flag
Flag of the 2e REC during an operation

 
See more nice images of 2e REC:
2e REC Photo Slideshow


 

Images source (besides that already defined):
Képi blanc magazines

Information source:
Legion cavalerie
Cavaliers Blindés
Kepi blanc magazines

Special thanks to Joe van Raamt, a former cavalry legionnaire, for his great help with this article!

———

 
See Foreign Legion’s other disbanded regiments:
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment
3rd Foreign Parachute Regiment
4th Foreign Infantry Regiment
5th Foreign Regiment
6th Foreign Infantry Regiment

 

 

The page was updated on: November 07, 2016

 

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