2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company

The 2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company (2e CSPL) was the French Foreign Legion’s motorized infantry unit, serving in the Algerian Sahara during 1946 – 1963. This little known autonomous company originated in the Legion’s first Saharan motorized unit. In the 1950s, during the Algerian War, the company became a Saharan rapid reaction force. The unit was disbanded in 1963.

2e Compagnie Saharienne Portée de Légion - 2 CSPL - 2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company's History

 

2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company 1946 – 1963

1940:
Foreign Legion Saharan Motorized Company (Compagnie Saharienne Portée de Légion Étrangère, CSPLE)
– on November 1, Motorized Company of 1er RE became CSPLE
– it was an autonomous Saharan unit of the Legion
– CSPLE was based at Tabelbala, Algeria
– in 1944, it moved to Ain Sefra, Algeria

1946:
1re CSPL + 2e CSPL
– CSPLE was reorganized and divided into two units
– two new Saharan companies were officially formed on April 1, 1946

  • 1st Legion Saharan Motorized Company (1re Compagnie Saharienne Portée de Légion, 1re CSPL)
  • 2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company (2e Compagnie Saharienne Portée de Légion, 2e CSPL)

– 2e CSPL left Ain-Sefra and was based at Ouargla, Algeria

– in his book about the Legion’s insignias, Tibor Szeczko notes March 15 as the date of the establishment of the new Saharan companies
– nevertheless, several Legion publications from the 1950s note the 1st April

1948:
– in January, 2e CSPL moved to Laghouat, Algeria
– it was based at Quartier Marguerite

– the main tasks of 2e CSPL were:

  • to keep connection between regional settlements, military outposts
  • to help to civilian/military persons lost/being crashed in the desert
  • to police the region
  • to train the young legionnaires
  • to be an opportunity to rest and recharge for those legionnaires who returned from their necessary two-years-long stay in Indochina during the First Indochina War (1946-54)

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 CSPL participated in operations in Tunisia

1955:
– 2e CSPL participated in operations in the Aures-Nementchas mountains, Algeria

1956:
– 2e CSPL started to control the regional roads on checkpoints, while still keeping the previous tasks

– during the Algerian War, 2e CSPL became a Saharan rapid reaction force
– it was often transported by helicopters

– in June, 2e CSPL moved to Messad
– its legionnaires had to build a forward operating base there
– company depot elements stayed at Laghouat
– the forward operating base was finished in 1957 and became Camp Sergent Leiva
– it was named after the 2e CSPL’s NCO killed during operations of November 1956

– also in June, fighting in the Bou Kahil region

– in November, fighting with rebels in the Kralfoun mountains

– in December, fighting with rebels in the Bou Guergour mountains

1957:
– in January, fighting with rebels in the Djelfa region and Dem valley
– 2e CSPL fought along with 1er REC

1958:
– military operations in the Negrine, Messad and Ghardaia regions

1959:
– in January, military operation in the Aflou region

1960:
– in January, military operation in the Géryville region
– in February, military operation in the Laghouat region

1961:
– in February, hard fighting in the Bou Kahil region
– 2e CSPl fought along with 2e REC

– in July, 2e CSPL set a new record, it passed 2,000 km (1,240 miles) through the Sahara in 68 hours

1962:
– a 2e CSPL’s platoon was based at Tilrempt, an airport close to Laghouat

– in January, new military operations in the Bou Kahil region
1er ESPL (ex-1re CSPL) and 3e CSPL took part in

Algerian War officially ended
– on March 18, Évian Accords treaty was signed
– it ended the Algerian War
– however, military operations were conducted until September 1962

1963:
2e CSPL dissolution
– on March 31, 2e CSPL was disbanded
– its platoons were assigned to the 4e REI
– they formed its 1st Motorized Company (1re Compagnie Portée, 5e CP)

 

2e CSPL insigne insignia
Insignia of 2e CSPL, created in 1952. Notice the Agadez Cross of Tuaregs, used by French troops in the Sahara.
2e CSPL flag - fanion
The fanion of 2e CSPL
2e CSPL - Quartier Marguerite - Laghouat
Quartier Marguerite. Headquarters of 2e CSPL in Laghouat, Algeria
2e CSPL - Quartier Marguerite - Laghouat
Inside the 2e CSPL‘s headquarters of Laghouat
2e CSPL - Dem valley - Algerian war
A legionnaire of 2e CSPL looking for a rebels during an operation in the Dem valley (January 1957)
2e CSPL - Djelfa - Algerian war
Legionnaires of 2e CSPL waiting for a helicopter during an operation in the Djelfa region
(January 1957)
2e CSPL - Messad
Legionnaires of 2e CSPL cooking, during the new camp’s construction in Messad (1957)
2e CSPL - 2 CSPL - Camp Sergent Leiva - Messad - Messaad
Camp Sergent Leiva. The camp was built by legionnaires of 2e CSPL near Messad, Algeria to serve as their forward operating base (1957)
2e CSPL - 2 CSPL - Laghouat
Legionnaires of 2e CSPL during a ceremony in Laghouat (1957)
2e CSPL - Capitaine Plantevin
Captain Plantevin, the legendary commander of 2e CSPL, having led its company for three and half of years, reviewing the troops for the last time during the Change of Command ceremony
(October 10, 1957)
2e CSPL - Camerone 1959 - Laghouat
2e CSPL aligned during the Camerone Day ceremony in Laghouat (April 30, 1959)
2e CSPL - Flag - Saharan parade uniforme - Capitaine Le Berre
The 2e CSPL flag’s guard, together with its bearded commander, Captain Le Berre (left) (1959)
Notice the company’s Saharan traditional summer parade uniform, nicknamed Penguin by 2e CSPL’s legionnaires. It consisted of white short-sleeved shirt, black seroual trousers (since 1957, 2e CSPL was the only CSPL wearing black seroual), V-shaped red leather bandoliers model Sahara 1935. The uniform is accompanied by a light burnous cloak and sandals.
2e CSPL - 2e REC - Bou Kahil - 1961
Operation in the Bou Kahil region. 2e CSPL and 2e REC participated in (January 1961)
2e CSPL - El Haouita - school - 1961
The elementary school of El Haouita village, built by legionnaires of 2e CSPL in 1961
2e CSPL - Sahara - Dodge
Dodge of 2e CSPL stuck in sand during a patrol in the Sahara (1961)
Notice the ♣ (clubs) symbol signifying one of the four pelotons (platoons)
2e CSPL - Sahara - Dodge
Dodge 4×4 of 2e CSPL and helping hands (1961)
2e CSPL - Sahara - Dodge
Dodge 4×4 of 2e CSPL in the Sahara (1961)
2e CSPL - 2 CSPL - Laghouat
Legionnaires of 2e CSPL during a ceremony in Laghouat (1961)
2e CSPL - Sahara - Dodge - repairing
A legionnaire of 2e CSPL – wearing the camouflage combat uniform Tenue Léopard, providing to the French elite units (in use by 2e CSPL since the early 1960s) – is pumping up a tyre in the Sahara (1961)
2e CSPL - Sahara - Dodge 4x4
Dodge WC 4×4 of 2e CSPL during an operation in the Sahara (1962)
2e CSPL - Sahara - Dodge - nomades
Legionnaires of 2e CSPL visiting Saharan nomades during a patrol (1962)
2e CSPL - sports - Laghouat
Legionnaires of 2e CSPL training inside the company’s headquarters of Laghouat (1962)
2e CSPL - Sahara - patrolling
AMM8s of 2e CSPL patrolling in the Sahara (1962)
2e CSPL - Sahara - bivouac
2e CSPL‘s bivouac in the Sahara (1962)
2e CSPL - Sahara - Tadjmout - sports
Legionnaires of 2e CSPL playing volleyball in the Sahara (1962)
2e CSPL - mascot - fennec fox
2e CSPL‘s mascot, a fennec fox
2e CSPL - Flag - Saharan parade uniforme
The 2e CSPL flag’s guard parading inside the company’s headquarters of Laghouat (1962)

 

2e CSPL led by Captain Plantevin during an operation in the Aflou region in late 1956 (no sound)

 

Images & information source:
Képi blanc magazines
Insignes Legion

 
Foreign Legion’s other disbanded motorized units:
1st Legion Saharan Motorized Company
3rd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
4th Legion Saharan Motorized Company
Foreign Legion Moroccan Motorized Group
Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group

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

 

 

The page was updated on: May 29, 2016

 

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