38th Dump Truck Company

The 38th Dump Truck Company (38e CCB) was a Foreign Legion engineering unit constituted in France in 1947. Its main task was to support French troops during the First Indochina War (1946-54). The unit was providing transportation of building materials and supplies by truck. It also participated in road building. The 38e CCB was dissolved in 1955.

Foreign Legion Engineering Companies in French Indochina 1946-54

 

First Indochina War (1946-54)
– French Indochina reffers to French colonial territories in Southeast Asia
– today’s Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
– in Indochina in the 1940’s, a conflict started between France and Ho Chi Minh
– Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam)
– Viet Minh was an independence 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

 

1946-47: 1st Bridge Equipment Company

1st Bridge Equipment Company
1re Compagnie d’Equipage de Ponts (1re CEP)

1re CEP had served in Indochina since February 13, 1946
– an almost unknown military engineering company
– placed in Hanoi, Tonkin
– Tonkin was then title for Northern Vietnam
– the company supported French operations in the region
– it was providing pontoon bridge construction works

– in June 1947, the 1re CEP would be reorganized and redesignated
– it was reinforced by an important number of legionnaires from the 40e CCB

June 30, 1947, the 1re CEP was administratively dissolved

 

1947-55: 38th Dump Truck Company

38th Dump Truck Company
38e Compagnie de Camions Bennes (38e CCB)

38e CCB was established on July 1, 1947
– a military engineering support unit
– an administratively autonomous company
– ex-1st Bridge Equipment Company (1re CEP)

– 38e CCB was composed of 4 officers + 137 men
– legionnaires in the vast majority
– the company was still stationed in Hanoi, Tonkin
Captain Perrotte became the company commander

  • a French officer of the Legion
  • a robust wrestler
  • in 1950-51, he would serve in Sidi Bel Abbes, then HQ of the Legion in Algeria
  • in 1951, Captain Perrotte took command of the 3e CSPL in Libya
  • in 1953, he would become the military chief of the Sebha province, Libya

– 38e CCB was devided into four platoons:

  • HQ Platoon (Sergeant Major Forx)
  • Maintenance Platoon (Second Lieutenant Bourneuf)
  • Transportation Platoon (Lieutenant Bart)
  • Transportation Platoon (Lieutenant Lamélie)

– 38e CCB was furnished with 87 vehicles
– different models from different countries
– ex-WWII cars and trucks

– the company was carrying out mainly transportation tasks
– it participated in different road building works in Tonkin
– it also helped to build the airfields of Bach Mai and Gia Lam
– both were important airfields located in Hanoi

 

38e CCB - 38 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1947
The insignia of 38e CCB, created by Captain Perrotte in 1947. It is made in red & green colors (Legion colors). The insignia bears the seven-flame grenade of the Legion + a half of a cogged wheel in black (to symbolize French engineer transportation units) and a GENIE inscription (Engineers in French).

 

38e CCB: 1949 – 1950

1949:
– in 1949, Captain Kappler served as the company commander

– October 19, a Viet Minh attack
– on Road Colonial 3, close to the Canal des Rapides
– located near Hanoi, in the Red River Delta
– a GMC truck exploded after driving over a mine (EOD)
– occupied by Sergeant Bertellotti + Corporal Sanchez + legionnaire Rubio
– then a skirmish occurred
– 2 attackers were killed + 2 another wounded
– a Viet Minh attacker was captured

 
1950:
– in 1950, Captain Jolly became the company commander

– operations along Road Colonial 1, south of Hanoi
– detachments also north-east of Hanoi or around Hai Phong

Mention in Dispatches
– October 9, 1950, the 38e CCB was mentioned in the order of the brigade
– the company obtained the War Cross with a bronze star

 

38e CCB: 1951 – 1953

1951:
Mo Dao Accident
– March 28, 1951, an EOD accident
– at Mo Dao, close to Huong Canh, north-west of Hanoi
– a truck exploded after driving over a mine (EOD)
– occupied by Senior Corporal Delgado + other legionnaires
– all legionnaires were seriously wounded

 
1952:
– in 1952, Captain Despie became the company commander

– operations along Road Colonial 6, south-west of Hanoi

– in February 1952, the company participated in the evacuation of Hoa Binh
– at Hoa Binh, the Battle of Hoa Binh occurred (Dec 1951-Feb 1952)
– its trucks were evacuating French troops, including legionnaires

– also in 1952, 38e CCB was reorganized
– the company was equipped with new U.S. vehicles
– a number of Vietnamese auxiliaries reinforced the unit

 
1953:
Mention in Dispatches
– February 11, 1953, 38e CCB was mentioned in the order of the division

– in 1953, operations in the Red River Delta

 

38e CCB - 38 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Legionnaires - Hanoi - Indochina - 1950
Members of 38e CCB in Hanoi in 1950. Note that the legionnaires and French engineers wear the calot (side cap) instead of kepi.
38e CCB - 38 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Fanion - Indochina - 1953
The fanion of 38e CCB in 1953-54. It bears the Legion’s motto Honor & Fidelity, and the War Cross with two stars, representing the mentions in dispatches in the order of the brigade and the division from October 1950 and February 1953.

 

38e CCB: 1954 – 1955

1954:
– in 1954, Lieutenant Corolleur became the company commander

– most likely, the vast majority of legionnaires had already left the company
– the unit was composed of French sappers and Vietnamese auxiliaries

– operations around Hanoi, Bac Ninh (north-east of Hanoi) and Hai Phong

– in June 1954, Reconstruction of Road Colonial 39
– in the Hung Yen region, south-east of Hanoi
– 38e CCB participated in

First Indochina War ended
– in August 1954, the war in Indochina ended
– all French units had to leave Tonkin

– in late 1954, 38e CCB left Tonkin
– the company moved to Southern Vietnam
– it was stationed in then Saigon

– at that time, 87 Vietnamese auxiliaries were members of the 38e CCB

 
1955:
38e CCB’s dissolution
– in early 1955 in Saigon, a decision to dissolve the unit
– 38e CCB was officially dissolved on February 28, 1955

 

38e CCB - 38 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1954
The new insignia of 38e CCB from 1954, most likely created by Lieutenant Corolleur. It bears French engineer unit symbols and a map of French Indochina. The Legion is represented only by red & green colors. At the time, the vast majority of legionnaires had already left the unit.

 
 
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Main information sources:
Pierre Dufour: Génie-Légion – de Sidi Bel Abbes au Kosovo (Lavauzelle, 2000)
More-majorum.de (Germans in French Indochina 1946-56)
Insignes Legion (Fr)
Fanion Vert et Rouge (Fr)

 
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See Foreign Legion’s other disbanded engineering companies of Indochina:
1st Engineer HQ & Services Company
15th Engineer Maintenance Company
16th Engineer Maintenance Company
40th Dump Truck Company
39th Riverine Craft Engineer Company

 

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The page was updated on: June 21, 2018

 

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