61st Engineer-Legion Mixed Battalion

The 61st Engineer-Legion Mixed Battalion (61e BMGL) was a mixed engineering unit consisting of the French sappers and legionnaires of the French Foreign Legion. The very little-known battalion was established in France in January 1971 to build up the largest military area of Western Europe – Camp de Canjuers. After the works at Canjuers were finished, the 61 BMGL participated in construction and modernization of other French military maneuvers areas. The battalion was disbanded in 1982.

61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - 61st Engineer Legion Mixed Battalion - History

 

Foreign Legion Pioneers Company 1968 – 1971

January 1968:
– in Aubagne, Foreign Legion Pioneers Company (Compagnie de Pionniers de la Légion Etrangère, CPLE) was established
– the main task of CPLE was to help build the largest military shooting area of Western Europe
– CPLE was composed of around 150 officers, NCOs and legionnaires
– it was attached to the 1er RE
– in the majority, the company consisted of legionnaires formerly serving with 2e REI
– 2e REI left Africa for France in January 1968, as the Legion’s last regiment
– the same month in Aubagne, it was officially deactivated

February 1968:
– CPLE moved to Canjuers, a calcareous plateau in Provence in southeastern France
– at Canjuers, the legionnaires of CPLE were working together with a company from the 5th Engineer Regiment (5e Régiment du Génie, 5e RG), the French regular army unit of Versailles

May 1969:
– a platoon from the Material engineer unit + a company from the 7th Engineer Regiment (7e RG) of Avignon joined the works at Canjuers

April 1970:
– CPLE received its insignia

 

61st Engineer-Legion Mixed Battalion 1971 – 1982

January 1, 1971:
– at Canjuers, the working units merged into a battalion

– the 61st Engineer-Legion Mixed Battalion (61e Bataillon Mixte Génie Légion, 61e BMGL) was created

– its name referred to the former mixed 61st Engineer Battalion (61e Bataillon du Génie, 61e BG), serving in the First Indochina War during 1949-55 and consisting of French combat engineers and legionnaires

61e BMGL was composed of three companies:

  • HQ & Services Company (Compagnie de Commandement et des Services, CCS)
  • Engineer Construction Company (Compagnie de Travaux du Génie, CTG)
  • Legion Construction Company (Compagnie de Travaux du Légion, CTL)

April 1971:
– 61e BMGL received its insignia

May 11, 1971:
– 61e BMGL received its flag

January 1, 1975:
– a camp’s firefighters platoon consisting solely of legionnaires was established

July 1978:
– 61e BMGL finished its tasks at Canjuers
– since 1968, around 35,000 ha (86,500 ac) of Canjuers were transformed into the largest military area of Western Europe
– at the camp, 61e BMGL was replaced by CRTRLE, another hardly known Legion’s unit, the predecessor to 1er REG

August 29, 1978:
– 61e BMGL left Canjuers to be placed at Camp du Larzac, another French military exercise area, to modernize it

July – October 1981:
– CTL moved to Camp de La Courtine, a French cavalry maneuvers area
– since that time, the companies of 61e BMGL worked separately

November 1981 – March 1982:
– CTL was deployed at Camp des Garrigues, another French military exercise area

April – October 1982:
– CTL returned at Camp de La Courtine

July 1982:
– 61e BMGL was regrouped and reorganized at Larzac
– the French engineering soldiers moved to Camp de Mourmelon in northern France to join the 72nd Engineer Regiment (72e RG)
– legionnaires from CTL returned at Camp de La Courtine to finish their work

November 2, 1982:
– 61e BMGL was officially disbanded
– since July, in effect, it consisted of the CTL merely

CPLE insigne - CPLE insignia - 1970
Insignia of CPLE, distributed in April 1970
61e BMGL insigne - 61 BMGL insignia - 61st BMGL 1970
Insignia of 61e BMGL, distributed in April 1971
61e BG - 61e Bataillon du genie / 21e compagnie Indochine insigne - 61 Engineer Battalion / 21 company Indochina insignia - 1949
Insignia of the Foreign Legion’s 21st Company of the 61st Engineer Battalion, created in Hanoi in 1949 during the First Indochina War (insignia created in 1949)
Camp de Canjuers - provisional military camp 1968
A provisional military village at Camp de Canjuers (1968)
Camp de Canjuers Genie Legion board 1968
Camp de Canjuers board (1968)
Legion - legionnaire at Camp de Canjuers 1968
A modern legionnaire-pioneer from CPLE at Camp de Canjuers (1968)
Legionnaires - CPLE - Camp de Canjuers 1970
The head of 1er RE visiting CPLE at Camp de Canjuers. Two weeks later, the company became a part of 61e BMGL (December 1970)
The farm of the Legion - CTL at Camp de Canjuers 1974
A farm occupied by a platoon of CTL, still proudly maintaining the old company’s title, at Camp de Canjuers (1974)
Legionnaires - CTL at Camp de Canjuers - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - 1974
Legionnaires of CTL working at Camp de Canjuers (1974)
Legionnaires - fire fighters at Camp de Canjuers 1975 - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL -
One of the five groups of legionnaires – firefighters at Camp de Canjuers (1975)
Camp de Canjuers - Sainte Barbe - 61e BMGL - 1975
61e BMGL celebrating Sainte Barbe Day at Camp de Canjuers (December 1975)
Camp de Canjuers - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - 1978
The last ceremony. 61e BMGL finished its task at Camp de Canjuers (July 1978)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - BMGL - Millau 1978
CTL during the Remembrance Day at Millau, nearby the Camp du Larzac (November 11, 1978)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - Sainte Barbe - Larzac 1979
Legionnaires of 61e BMGL celebrating Sainte Barbe Day at Camp du Larzac (December 1979)
61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - Legionnaires CTL at Camp Larzac 1979
Legionnaires of CTL / 61e BMGL working at Camp du Larzac (1979)
61e BMGL - Legionnaires CTL at Camp Larzac 1980
Legionnaires of CTL visited by the Legion’s commander at Camp du Larzac (1980)
61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - Legionnaires - CTL - exercise - Larzac 1980
Legionnaires of 61e BMGL during a military exercise at Camp du Larzac (September 1980)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - exercise - Larzac 1980
A bivouac of legionnaires from 61e BMGL during a military exercise at Camp du Larzac
(September 1980)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - Camerone Day - Larzac 1979
Legionnaires of 61e BMGL parading during the Camerone Day at Camp du Larzac (April 30, 1981)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - La Courtine 1981
Legionnaires of CTL visited by the Legion’s Staff officers at Camp de La Courtine (August 1981)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - Garrigues 1981
Legionnaires of 61e BMGL working at Camp des Garrigues (November 1981)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - Camerone - La Courtine 1982
Camp de La Courtine. Legionnaires of 61e BMGL celebrating their last Camerone Day.
(April 30, 1982)
Legionnaires - CTL - 61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - Larzac 1982
Camp du Larzac. The last collective ceremony of 61e BMGL (July 16, 1982)
61e BMGL - 61 BMGL - BMGL - Legionnaires CTL 1982
Legionnaires from CTL, the Legion’s company of 61e BMGL (1982)

Images & information source:
Képi blanc magazines
Insignes Legion

 
Foreign Legion’s 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: January 02, 2015

 

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