3rd Foreign Legion Transportation Company

The 3rd Foreign Legion Transportation Company, 516th Transportation Group (CTLE 3/516) was a Foreign Legion logistics unit constituted in then French Indochina in 1949. The main purpose of this company was transportation of troops and supplies by truck during the First Indochina War (1946-54). The CTLE 3/516 was inactivated in 1953.

Foreign Legion Transportation Companies in French Indochina 1946-54

 

Legionnaire Transportation Company 2/503

July – September 1949:
Legionnaire Transportation Company 2/503
Compagnie Légionnaire de Transport 2/503 (CLT 2/503)

CLT 2/503 was established on July 1, 1949
– a transportation unit of the Foreign Legion
– it was assigned to the 503rd Transportation Group
503e Groupe de Transport (503e GT, 1943-64)
– 503e GT was a French Army regular supply train battalion
– it was composed of HQ and three companies

– CLT 2/503 was organized in French Indochina (Southeast Asia)
– it was tasked with supporting French troops during the First Indochina War (1946-54)
– a conflict between the French and the Viet Minh
– Viet Minh was an independence movement of Ho Chi Minh

– CLT 2/503 was stationed at Lang Son, Tonkin (then title for Northern Vietnam)
Captain Solt became the company commander

– the unit was composed mainly of legionnaires from 3e REI
– they had been already stationed in Indochina
– another part was formed with new reinforcement arriving from North Africa
– it was provided by 4e REI

– CLT 2/503 had to furnish supply, evacuation or maintenance services to combat units
– the company transported troops, material, ammunition, food, mails etc.
– its main operational area was Tonkin
– it often supplied the small outposts of the 3e REI along RC4 (Colonial Road 4)

– CLT 2/503 was equipped with GMC CCKW 353 cargo trucks
– the company operated tens of these vehicles

Attack at Lung Phai Pass
– it occurred on September 3, 1949
– a French convoy was attacked by a Viet Minh regiment
– the attack took place at the Lung Phai Pass, Tonkin
– CLT 2/503 vehicles made part of the convoy
– 55 vehicles of the convoy were destroyed
– many legionnaires were killed or wounded

– in October, the company was redesignated

 

Foreign Legion Transportation Company 2/503

October – December 1949:
Foreign Legion Transportation Company 2/503
Compagnie de Transport de Légion Etrangère 2/503 (CTLE 2/503)

October 1, 1949, the unit changed its title
– it became 2nd Foreign Legion Transportation Company, 503rd GT (CTLE 2/503)
– CTLE 2/503 continued to carry out its logistical transport missions
– Captain Solt kept the command of the unit

– in late December 1950, CTLE 2/503 left the 503rd Group

 

Foreign Legion Transportation Company 3/516

January 1950:
Foreign Legion Transportation Company 3/516
Compagnie de Transport de Légion Etrangère 3/516 (CTLE 3/516)

January 1, 1950, the company changed its designation
– it was assigned to the 516th Transportation Group (516e GT, created in 1944)
– it became 3rd Foreign Legion Transportation Company, 516th GT (CTLE 3/516)
– CTLE 3/516 remained stationed at Lang Son, Tonkin (Northern Vietnam)

– the company consisted of around 200 legionnaires
Lieutenant Versteege took command

– CTLE 3/516 kept its transportation tasks
– primarily, the unit supported the 3e REI outposts based along RC4

1950:
– in April, CTLE 3/516 received its own fanion

– April-May, Operation Parpaing at Dong Trieu

– in October, Battle of Route Coloniale 4
– seen as the worst French defeat during the First Indochina War
– French units based along RC4 were attacked by six Viet Minh regiments
– the enemy outnumbered five times the French troops
– over 5,000 French troops were killed, wounded or missed
– two Legion battalions were annihilated in the battle

– the French were ordered to evacuate the region
– 516e GT (including CTLE 3/516) had to leave Lang Son
– 516e GT (HQ + 2nd Company) will be stationed at Haiphong, Tonkin
– CTLE 3/516 was placed at Khe Sat and Nam Dinh, Tonkin

1951:
516e GT reorganization
– in February, 516e GT was reorganized
– 1st Company (CT 1/516) left the Group
– the company became a mixed unit, reinforced by legionnaires
– it was retitled to 2e CTQG (Transportation and Headquarters Company)
– until October, 516e GT consisted of HQ + CT 2/516 + CTLE 3/516
– February-October, 516e GT served as a half-regular, half-Legion unit

– during 1951, CTLE 3/516 supplied French troops throughout Tonkin
– it also supported them in several military operations
– in January, Battle of Vinh Yen
– in March, Battle of Dong Trieu
– in June, Battle of Song Day
– in November, Battle of Hoa Binh

– in August, Lieutenant Froment took command of the company

– in October, a new 1st Company (CT 1) was constituted

– in November, Captain Baron took command

1952:
– January 25, a French convoy was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack took place in the Lac Quan region, Tonkin
– several legionnaires were killed or wounded
– between them, men from the CTLE 3/516

– in March, 516e GT was mentioned in the order of the Army
– its fanion was awarded with the War Cross

– during 1952, CTLE 3/516 supported French troops throughout Tonkin in numerous military operations

1953:
– in January, CTLE 3/516 was mentioned in the order of the Army
– for its excellent service, the Legion company was mentioned in dispatches

– 516e GT itself was awarded with 4 citations in the order of the Army
– its men, including legionnaires from CTLE 3, were allowed to wear a Fourragère

CTLE 3/516 dissolution
– CTLE 3/516 was dissolved on September 30, 1953
– its legionnaires were transferred to the 3e REI

– a new 3rd Company, 516e GT was formed with local auxiliaries

 

CTLE 3/516 - CTLE 3 - Foreign Legion Transportation Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1950
The insignia of CTLE 3/516, created in 1950 by Lieutenant Versteege. It bears a cogged wheel (the symbol of French support train units) and the seven-flame grenade of the Legion. The badge also includes the Legion’s green & red colors. It is the only insignia of the Legion’s transportation units without any symbol of French Indochina.
503e GT - 503 GT - Transportation Group - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1949
The insignia of the 503rd Transportation Group, 503e GT. The CTLE 2/503 was assigned to this group (a French designation for motorized or provisional battalion) as its 2nd Company, although autonomous.
516e GT - 516 GT - Transportation Group - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1947
The first insignia of the 516th Transportation Group, 516e GT, created in late 1940’s. The CTLE 3/516 was assigned to this group as its 3rd Company. It was still keeping its independence, however.
516e GT - 516 GT - Transportation Group - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1952
The second insignia of the 516th Transportation Group, 516e GT, created in 1952. As its predecessor, it bears a map of French Indochina and the motto “Servir”, to serve in French.
516e GT - 516 GT - Transportation Group - GMC CCKW cargo trucks - Indochina - 1950
GMC CCKW 6×6 Cargo trucks from a transportation company of the 516e GT carrying legionnaires on RC4, Northern Vietnam, 1950. The first vehicle (bearing the 516e GT’s insignia) is a GMC CCKW 353 6×6 Cargo truck with open cab, produced in 1941. These trucks were transporting US troops in North Africa and Europe during WWII. The Legion used them later in Algeria, until the 1960’s.

 
 
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More Photos:
See a few rare photos from CTLE 3/516: Compagnie de Transport de L.E. N° 3/516 (De)

 
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Main information sources:
More-majorum.de (Germans in French Indochina 1946-56)
Insignes Legion (Fr)

 
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See Foreign Legion’s other disbanded transportation units of Indochina:
1st Transportation & Headquarters Company
2nd Transportation & Headquarters Company
2nd Foreign Legion Transportation Company

 

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The page was updated on: October 26, 2017

 

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