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5th Foreign Regiment

The 5th Foreign Regiment (5e Régiment Etranger, 5e RE) was an infantry unit of the French Foreign Legion and the only regiment of the Legion established in Far East (in French Indochina, mostly today’s Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos). The regiment was activated in 1930 as the 5e REI. It participated in the Franco-Thai War, Second World War, First Indochina War and Algerian War. The 5e RE was disbanded in July 2000. Traditions of 5e RE were adopted by the 2e REG.

5th Foreign Regiment History - 5 RE - L'histoire du 5e Régiment Etranger

 

5th Foreign Infantry Regiment (5e Régiment étranger d’infanterie, 5e REI) 1930-45

August 2, 1930 – in Indochina (southeast Asia), the Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion (Demi-brigade de Légion étrangère, DBLE) is established

- DBLE is composed of four battalions of the 1er REI having already been stationed in Indochina since 1920

September 1, 1930 – DBLE became the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment (5e Régiment étranger d’infanterie, 5e REI)

  • 1st battalion of 5REI:
    • former 4th battailion of the 1er REI (based in Indochina from 1920)
  • 2nd battalion of 5REI:
    • former 7th battailion of the 1er REI, an ex-4th bat. of the 4e REI created in Syria in 1921, having spent 2 years there, then 3 years in Morocco before it finally moved to Indochina
  • 3rd battalion of 5REI:
    • former 9th battailion of the 1er REI, an ex-4th training battalion (Bataillon Forment Corps, BFC) of the 2e REI
  • 4th battalion of 5REI:
    • former 1st battailion of the 1er REI

April 1, 1931 – battalions of the 5e RE are stationed in the Tonkin region (the northernmost part of Vietnam, the Foreign Legion has already been for 47 years there, since 1883)

- 5e REI is nicknamed the “Regiment of Tonkin” (Regiment du Tonkin)

May 7, 1932 – 5e REI received its flag

September 1932 – after a short time of its life, the 3rd bat. is disbanded and its place is taken over by the 4th bat

1936-40 – legionnaires of the 5e REI are used for public and military infrastructure construction

January – May 1941 – 5e REI moved to Cambodia to fight in the Franco-Thai War

1941 – 1945 – since the French Vichy regime was under the control of Germany, 5e REI was not in war with the near Japanese

- 5e REI was very autonomous unit, far away from Europe or Africa, living a relatively normal, independent life

 

Camps of the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment in Tonkin in 1935

5e REI camps in Tonkin in 1935 – Staff in Vietri, Special section (Section spéciale) in Hagiang, a main base in Tong

Legionnaires of the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment in 1941

Legionnaires of the 5e REI in the Franco-Thai War in 1941

 

5th Foreign Infantry Regiment – 5e REI: 1945 – 1947

March 9, 1945 – Japanese coup de main (direct assault) in French Indochina

– 87 legionnaires of the Special section (Section spéciale) based in Hagiang are fighting against hundreds of Japanese
- 64 legionnaires are killed

March 10, 1945 – an order to leave Tonkin for China, where the French forces of Indochina are regrouped

March – June 1945 – legionnaires of 5e REI marched through the jungle more than 1,500km (1000 miles) during 93 days and fought against the Japanese

July 1, 1945Mong Tzeu in China: 5e REI was disbanded because of large losses while marching and fighting in the jungle
- the rest of survived legionnaires created the Provisional Battalion of the 5e REI (Bataillon de marche du 5e REI, BM5)

February 1946 – BM5 is marching back to the Tonkin region, Indochina

February 19, 1946 – BM5 is in Tonkin

March-October 1946 – BM5 is fighting against rebels in the jungle in the Tonkin region and in the northern Laos

October 23, 1946 – fights terminated, legionnaires are moved to Saigon

November 1, 1946 – BM5 is disbanded

December 1946 – legionnaires of the BM5 are shipped to Africa, most of them has its 5-years-contract terminated

January 20, 1947 – legionnaires of the BM5 landed in Africa, after 20 months and 5,000km of marching and fighting in the jungle

 

Insignia of the 5e REI 1930-45 and the BM5

Insignia of the 5e REI 1930-46 and the BM5

5e REI - 5 REI - Repatriated legionnaires - BM5

Repatriated legionnaires of the BM5 marching in Sidi Bel Abbès (a main base of the Foreign Legion) after their arrival in January 1947

 

5th Foreign Infantry Regiment – 5e REI – First Indochina War

November 1, 1949 – 5e REI was recreated in Indochina with legionnaires from the 3rd Battalion of the 6e REI and the 5th Battalion of the 4e REI

February – March 1950 – Operation Tonneau

May 19503rd battalion is formed

January – February 1952 – Battle of the Hoa Binh

1952 – Operations Mercure, Polo, Dromadaire, Sauterelles, Cigogne and Caïman

June 19532nd Foreign Legion Mortar Mixed Company (2e CMMLE) was established and attached to 5e REI

July 1953 – Operation Hirondelle

September 1953 – Operation Brochet

January – May 1954 – the 1st battalion fought against rebels in the Tonkin region

- 5e REI suffered heavy losses

March – May 1954 – 2e CMMLE and volunteers from 5e REI participated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu

- 5e REI participated also in the battles in the Ban Seng Phon region

May 12, 1954 – 5e REI is regrouped

June 1953 – 2e CMMLE was disbanded, due to being destroyed in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu

November 8, 1955 – 5e REI is placed in Annam

January 14, 1956 – The 1st and 3rd battalions of the 5e REI left Indochina for Algeria, where the Algerian War starts

March 12, 1956 – the 2nd battalion of the 5e REI is the last Foreign Legion unit leaving Indochina, shipped to Algeria

 

5e REI in the First Indochina War

Legionnaires of the 5e REI in the First Indochina War

2nd Battalion of the 5e REI is leaving Indochina

2nd Battalion of the 5e REI: The last render homage to the Flag, the last Legion unit leaving Indochina, after 73 years

 

5th Foreign Infantry Regiment – Algerian War 1956 – 1962

1956 – 5e REI joined the Algerian War

- fighting in the Tlemcen region

1957 – 5e REI participated in the battles in the west of the Oran region, the 2nd battalion is disbanded

1958 – fighting in the Djelfa and Oran region

1959 – Operation Jumelles in the Grande Kabylie region

August 22, 1959 – 5e REI liberated Pierre du Bois de Dunilac (a Swiss painter) and his wife, they were captured and holded by Algerian rebels for two months

1960 – Operation Trident in the Aurès Mountains

March 1961 – operations in Oran city and in the Géryville region

1962 - Algeria became an independent state, the 5e REI is regrouped

 

5e REI liberated Pierre du Bois de Dunilac

5e REI liberated Pierre du Bois de Dunilac

5th Foreign Infantry Regiment in the Algerian War

Legionnaires of the 5e REI in the Algerian War

 

 

5th Foreign Infantry Regiment – 5e REI: Algeria 1962 – 1963

March 1963 – 5e REI is organized as the engineer regiment to public and military infrastructure construction

March-September 1963 – legionnaires of the 5e REI are sent to the engineer regiments in France – to Montpellier (4e Génie) and Grenoble (20e Génie) – to learn how to manipulate with the military engineer engines/vehicles

May 21, 1963 – first legionnaires of the 5e REI are sent to Tahiti (French Polynesia) to build a new military base in Arue

July 19, 1963 – first legionnaires of the 5e REI landed in Tahiti
July 19, 1963   – some of them are immediately sent to the Mururoa atoll to start building the future nuclear test site

September 1963 – next 120 legionnaires of the 5e REI are shipped from Algeria to Tahiti

November 30, 1963 – 5e REI is officially disbanded

 

Camps of the 5e REI in Algeria in 1963

Camps of the 5e REI in Algeria in 1963: Ain Sfera and Camp d’Armandville (the last ceremonies of the 5e REI before its dissolution)

Departure of first legionnaires of the 5e REI to French Polynesia

May 21, 1963 – Mers El Kébir: Departure of first legionnaires of the 5e REI to French Polynesia

Arrival of first legionnaires at Tahiti

July 19, 1963: Arrival of first legionnaires at Papeete, Tahiti (French Polynesia)

 

5th Mixed Pacific Regiment (5e Régiment Mixte du Pacifique, 5e RMP) 1963 – 1984

October 1, 1963 – the 5th Mixed Pacific regiment (5e Régiment mixte du Pacifique, 5e RMP) is constituted

- 5e RMP consisted of legionnaires, marines, military engineers and 400 civilian persons

December 1963 – 5e RMP is stationed at Tahiti (French Polynesia) in Camp d’Arue

1965 – 3 companies of the 5e RMP are placed at Hao

1965 – 1976 – 5e RMP built a large civil and military infrastructure in French Polynesia

January 5, 1976 – 5e RMP is regrouped at Mururoa to protect a nuclear test site

January 14, 1978 – legionnaires of the 5e RMP are sent to Nuutania
- they had to calm down the rebellion in the biggest prison of French Polynesia

 

Camp of the 5e RMP in Polynesia in 1964

Camp d’Arue of the 5e RMP in French Polynesia in 1964

 

5th Foreign Regiment (5e Régiment étranger, 5e RE) 1984 – 2000

July 1, 1984 – 5e RMP is reorganised and renamed as the 5th Foreign Regiment (5e Régiment étranger, 5e RE)

January 2, 1987 – a group of legionnaires of the 5e RE landed at Wallis and Futuna Islands (3,500km from Tahiti)
- legionnaires helped to rebuild the local infrastructure of the islands, having been devastated by a tropical cyclone

February 1988 – legionnaires of 5e RE were fixing the wall of defense of the most important local port at Marquesas Islands
- more than 15,000 tons of material are used up for

November 1993 – a new reconstruction mission at Wallis and Futuna Islands (as a result of an earthquake)

1997 – French nuclear tests are terminated, 5e RE left Mururoa for Hao

July 1, 2000 – 5e RE was disbanded

November 2000 – 5e RE’s flag is placed in the Foreign Legion’s Museum in Aubagne

 

5e RE at Mururoa in the 1980s

5e RE at Mururoa in the 1980s

 

Insignia: 5e REI, 5e RMP, 5e RE

Regimental insignia: 5e REI in 1949 and 1956, 5e RMP in 1964, 5e RE in 1984

 

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Regimental song of 5e RE: Le front haut et l’âme fière

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Information & images source (besides that already defined):
Képi blanc – official FFL magazine
Ecpad – French Army media agency

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See Foreign Legion’s other disbanded regiments:
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment
2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment
3rd Foreign Parachute Regiment
4th Foreign Infantry Regiment
6th Foreign Infantry Regiment

 

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