40th Dump Truck Company

The 40th Dump Truck Company (40e CCB) was a Foreign Legion engineering unit constituted in France in 1945. The company is supposed to be the very first engineering unit of the Legion formed after the end of WWII. The main purpose of this company was to support French troops during the First Indochina War (1946-54). It was providing transportation of building materials and supplies by truck. It was also carrying out river crossings by pontoon bridges. The 40e 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

 

1945-55: 40th Dump Truck Company

40th Dump Truck Company
40e Compagnie de Camions Bennes (40e CCB)

40e CCB was established on October 1, 1945
– organized at Camp Garrigue near Nimes (southern France)
– a military engineering company
– an administratively autonomous unit
– constituted to serve in Indochina
– ex-31st Dump Truck Company (31e CCB, Captain Spinner)

– 40e CCB was composed of 3 officers + 114 men
– at the beginning, French sappers in the majority
– a few weeks later, they were replaced by legionnaires
– also, a number of German POWs (prisoners of war) joined the company
Lieutenant Rodriguez took command

the very first engineer unit of the Legion created after WWII

– in November, Captain Bonneteau became the company commander
– in December, the company moved to Marseille, southern France

 

40e CCB: 1946

1946:
– in mid-January, 40e CCB left France for French Indochina

– February 7, the company landed in then Saigon, Cochinchina
– Cochinchina was then title for Southern Vietnam
– 40e CCB was placed at Gia Dinh, a district of Saigon

– 40e CCB was devided into six platoons:

  • HQ Platoon
  • Maintenance Platoon
  • 1st Transportation Platoon (Dump Trucks)
  • 2nd Transportation Platoon (Dump Trucks)
  • 3rd Transportation Platoon (Dump Trucks)
  • 4th Transportation Platoon (Trucks)

– 40e CCB was furnished with tens of vehicles
– the company was carrying out mainly transportation tasks
– it transported building material
– it helped to build a runway and roads around Saigon
– the unit also participated in building outposts in the region
– 40e CCB legionnaires also conducted patrols and military operations

– in mid-February, Captain Rivière took command
– in May, he was replaced by Captain Colonges

 

40e CCB: 1947

1947:
– in 1947, 40e CCB served throughout French Indochina
– it carried out military tasks in Cochinchina or Annam (then title for Central Vietnam)
– its detachments were also in Cambodia or Laos

– in April, 1st Transportation Platoon was placed at Tourane, Annam

– in mid-1947, 40e CCB was composed of 4 officers + 15 NCOs + 195 legionnaires

– in June, Captain Liesenfelt became the company commander

  • Hubert Liesenfelt was a French officer born in 1913
  • in 1938, he was assigned to the Foreign Legion in Algeria
  • in 1939, Lieutenant Liesenfelt moved with his battalion to Syria
  • his battalion became part of the 6e REI
  • with the regiment, he participated in the 1941 Syria-Lebanon Campaign
  • back in Algeria, the regiment became the 1er REI (1er RE now)
  • in 1942, Lieutenant Liesenfelt was assigned to the 3e REI in Morocco
  • in 1943, with his unit, he was involved in the Tunisian Campaign
  • the same year, he was promoted to Captain
  • 1944-46, he served with Legion recruiting offices in Morocco, France and Germany
  • in May 1947, Captain Liesenfelt was sent to French Indochina
  • 1947-49, he commanded the 40e CCB
  • in August 1949, he left the company and Indochina for North Africa
  • in 1949-52, Captain Liesenfelt served with the Legion’s General Staff
  • in 1953, he joined the 3e BEP (later 3e REP) and was promoted to Major
  • later that year, he left Algeria and returned back to Indochina
  • in September 1953, he took command of the 2e BEP (2e REP now)
  • in 1954, he and his unit participated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
  • imprisoned in May, Major Liesenfelt was liberated in October 1954
  • he left the Legion a month later for a French infantry regiment
  • he was discharged from the French Army in 1957
  • Lieutenant colonel (retired) Hubert Liesenfelt died in 1993

 

38th Dump Truck Company
– in June 1947, two platoons left the unit
– they helped to form the 38e CCB

– in late 1947, 40e CCB was devided into four platoons:

  • HQ Platoon
  • Maintenance Platoon
  • 1st Transportation Platoon
  • 2nd Transportation Platoon

 

Attack of My Tho
– July 2, 1947, a 40e CCB truck was attacked by the Viet Minh
– the attack occurred close to My Tho, Tien Giang region, Cochinchina
– 5 legionnaires of the 40e CCB were killed

 

40e CCB - 40 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1947
The first insignia of 40e CCB, created in 1947, most likely by Captain Liesenfelt. A cogged wheel (symbolizing French engineer transportation units) in red & green colors, the Legion’s colors, is held by an Asian dragon representing French Indochina. The insignia bears the seven-flame grenade of the Legion and a GENIE LEGION inscription (Legion Engineers in French).

 

40e CCB: 1948 – 1950

1948:
Folding Boat Platoon
Section de Bateaux Pliants (SBP)
– August 16, 1948, a new platoon was assigned to the 40e CCB
Folding Boat Platoon
– transferred from the 1re CEMSG
– led by Lieutenant Arocco
– a mobile pontoon bridge construction unit
– providing river crossings for French military convoys
– also carrying out riverine transportation tasks
– within the 40e CCB, the unit consolidated with the 1st Platoon
– Folding Boat Platoon was stationed in Tourane, Annam

– in 1948, the dump truck company continued to carry out its common tasks
– it conducted road building and outpost construction works
– its detachments were placed throughout Cochinchina
– 1st Platoon elements remained in Tourane, Annam

– in September 1948, a mention in dispatches
– 40e CCB was mentioned in the order of the brigade

1949:
– in November 1949, 2nd Platoon was placed in Tonkin
– Tonkin was then title for Northern Vietnam
– the platoon would remain in Tonkin until 1951

– in August 1949, Captain Marconnet became the company commander

 

40e CCB - 40 CCB - Folding Boat Platoon - Section de Bateaux Pliants - Insignia - Indochina
The insignia of Folding Boat Platoon, 40e CCB. The insignia was created after 1948. It has a shape of a breastplate (the symbol of French engineering units) made in the Legion’s green & red colors. It bears the seven-flame grenade of the Legion, a cogged wheel with a boat inside, and the latin motto AD ULTIMUM (Until the End).

 

40e CCB: 1951 – 1953

1951:
– in 1951, Captain Le Clech became the company commander

1952-53:
– 1952-53, Captain Billon, later Lieutenant Le Marre led the company

– 40e CCB carried out its missions in Cochinchina and Annam

– October 15, 1953, another mention in dispatches
– 40e CCB was mentioned in the order of the Army
– in France, it is the highest-possible mention

– in late 1953, 40e CCB was reorganized
– a number of Vietnamese auxiliaries arrived
– the legionnaires left the company
– 40e CCB would be no more a Legion unit
– it became part of the Far East Ground Forces’ Engineers (Génie des FTEO)

 

40e CCB - 40 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1951
The second insignia of 40e CCB, created by Captain Marconnet in 1951.
40e CCB - 40 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Fanion - Indochina
The fanion of 40e CCB. It bears the Legion’s motto Honor & Fidelity, and a TFEO GENIE (Far East French Troops’ Engineers) inscription.
40e CCB - 40 CCB - Folding Boat Platoon - Fanion - Indochina - 1953
The fanion of Folding Boat Platoon, 40e CCB in 1953. Besides the 40e CCB’s second insignia, it bears the 1st PLATOON inscription and the War Cross with three stars, representing the mentions in dispatches in the order of the Expeditionary Forces from 1946 (when the platoon served within the 1re CEMSG), and of the brigade and the Army from 1948 and 1953.

 

40e CCB: 1954 – 1955

1954:
– January 1954, Captain Devaux became the company commander

– at that time, 40e CCB was composed of 3 officers + 18 NCOs + 144 men
– the other two officers were Lieutenant Manet and Lieutenant Colon
– 8 NCOs + 117 men of the company were local Vietnamese auxiliaries

– 40e CCB was furnished with 120 vehicles
– between them, 50 GMC trucks
– also 23 Diamond T 4-ton 6×6 trucks

 

First Indochina War ended
– in August 1954, the war in Indochina ended

– 40e CCB continued to carry out its transportation tasks
– most likely, the unit remained stationed in Saigon

1955:
40e CCB’s dissolution
– in 1955, a decision to dissolve the unit
– 40e CCB was officially dissolved on June 30, 1955

 

40e CCB - 40 CCB - Dump Truck Company - Insignia - Badge - Indochina - 1954
The third insignia of 40e CCB, created by Captain Devaux in 1954. At the time, the unit hadn’t already been a Legion unit. The vast majority of its personnel were local auxiliaries. The insignia is made in black, the color of French engineers, with the red shape of French Indochina. It bears the traditional symbols of French engineer & transportation units.

 
 
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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
38th Dump Truck Company
39th Riverine Craft Engineer Company

 

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The page was updated on: June 21, 2018

 

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