Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group

The Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group (GPLEA) is an unknown unit of the French Foreign Legion, serving for a short time in Algeria, during the Algerian War. GPLEA was established in February 1956, to group the autonomous motorized infantry companies participating in military operations in Algeria since January 1955. GPLEA was disbanded in October 1956 to double the ranks of the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment.

Groupement Porté de Légion Étrangère d'Algerie - GPLEA - 21e CPLE - 22e CPLE - 23e CPLE - Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group History

 

Motorized companies, 6th Battalion, 1er RE: 1954-1955

1954 – 1955:
Algerian War started
– in North Africa, local rebels intensified military actions
– these actions took part in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria
– they were aimed at French forces presented in these regions
– the main rebel force fighting the French was the FLN
– FLN stands for National Liberation Front
– later in 1955, that operations escalated to the Algerian War

1954:
– in September-October 1954, a reorganization of the Foreign Legion
– a decision to create new modern units
– it reflected the end of the First Indochina War (August 1, 1954)
– it also reflected the growing activities of rebels in North Africa
– in November 1954, the Algerian War officially started

– a decision to establish new motorized companies
– they would form a new battalion
– it would be 6th Battalion of the 1er RE

21st Motorized Company (21e Compagnie Portée, 21e CP)
– on November 16, 21st Motorized Company was born
– it was organized at Ain Séfra, Algeria
21e CP was commanded by Captain Hedan
– in December, 21e CP moved to Quartier Marguerite, Laghouat, Algeria
– it was the military base of 2e CSPL

22nd Motorized Company (22e Compagnie Portée, 22e CP)
– on December 16, 22nd Motorized Company was born
– it was also organized at Ain Séfra
22e CP was commanded by Captain Desjeux (Captain Lafontaine since June 1955)
– in January, 22e CP also moved to Laghouat

1955:
23rd Motorized Company (23e Compagnie Portée, 23e CP)
– on January 01, 23rd Motorized Company was born
– it was also organized at Ain Séfra, Algeria
23e CP was commanded by Captain Magnas

– the three companies formed the 6th Battalion, 1er RE
– at Laghouat in January, 21e CP and 22e CP received its flag

– in February, 21e CP left Laghouat
– it was placed at Ferkane, Algeria
– in March, 21e CP was stationed at Bir El Ater and Soukies, Algeria

– on June 30, 6th Battalion of 1er RE was officially disbanded

 

21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE: 1955 – 1956

1955:
21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE
– on July 1, 21e CP, 22e CP, 23e CP became autonomous, self-governing units

– 21e CP was renamed
– it became the 21st Foreign Legion Motorized Company (21e Compagnie Portée de Légion Etrangère, 21e CPLE)

– 22e CP became the 22nd Foreign Legion Motorized Company (22e Compagnie Portée de Légion Etrangère, 22e CPLE)

– 23e CP became the 23rd Foreign Legion Motorized Company (23e Compagnie Portée de Légion Etrangère, 23e CPLE)

– the companies were composed of 4 platoons (pelotons)
– 3 motorized platoons + 1 armored platoon
– in total, they comprised about 160 men

– 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE were equipped with:
– Jeeps, Dodge WC 6×6 cars and AMM8 (Greyhound) armored cars
– each motorized platoon was also equipped with 3 mortars (81 mm)

– 21e CPLE served in the Tebessa region of north-eastern Algeria
– it guarded the Algeria-Tunisia border, crossing by rebels
– it was also participating in searching and destroying rebel groups
– although motorized company, 21e CPLE was often transported by helicopters
– it was due to operations conducted in the mountain region of Tebessa

– 22e CPLE guarded the Laghouat region, central Algeria
– 23e CPLE guarded the Ain Sefra region, western Algeria

24th Foreign Legion Motorized Company
– on August 01, 24e CPLE was born
– it was organized at Sidi Bel Abbes (Legion’s HQ), Algeria
– 24e CPLE was commanded by Lieutenant Thimel
– in September, it moved to Ain Séfra
– in January 1956, the unit became 4e CSPL

– in September, 22e CPLE left Laghouat
– it moved to the Biskra region, north-eastern Algeria
– 23e CPLE left Ain Séfra
– it moved to the Negrine region, north-eastern Algeria

Operation Timgad
– in September-October, a military operation in north-eastern Algeria
– it took place near Djebel Rihane, Negrine region
– 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE + 1re CSPL and 2e CSPL together participated in

– in October, the companies changed their stations
– 21e CPLE was based at Negrine and Ferkane
– 22e CPLE was based at Zeribet El Oued
– 23e CPLE was based at Bir El Ater and Soukies

– in December, a large operation near Tebessa
– 21e CPLE + 1er REP took part in
– more than 200 rebels were killed

 

Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group: 1956

1956:
Foreign Legion Algerian Motorized Group (Groupement Porté de Légion Etrangère d’Algérie, GPLEA)
– in February, a decision to form GPLEA
– it had to group the 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE and 23e CPLE
– GPLEA had to be created in the manner of GPLEM, serving in Morocco
– Major Marcel Calvin took the provisional command of GPLEA
– however, the unit still exists only on paper

– in February-March, an operation in the Nementcha mountains
– 21e CPLE, 23e CPLE + 1er REP participated in

– in April, 21e CPLE (and probably also the other two companies) received its insignia

– in May, Colonel Jean Rossi took command of GPLEA
– Colonel Rossi was a former regiment commander of 13e DBLE (May 1954 – April 1956)
– the headquarters of GPLEA was based at Djelfa (north-central Algeria)

– in May-June, clashes with rebels near Bir Chabet, Ain Mrata
– clashes at Djebel Fedj (Algeria-Tunisia border)
– 23e CPLE participated in these actions

– on June 1, GPLEA was officially established
– 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE and 23e CPLE lost their independence
– because of that, their lost “Foreign Legion, LE” in their titles
– the became 21e CP, 22e CP and 23e CP of GPLEA (21e CP/GPLEA,…)

– in September, clashes with rebels at Djebel Foua
– 23e CP/GPLEA took part in

GPLEA dissolution
– on October 31, GPLEA was officially disbanded
– on November 1, its companies consolidated with 2e REI
– they doubled its ranks and formed its second GCP (Motorized Companies Group)

– 21e CPLE became the 4th Motorized Company (4e Compagnie Portée, 4e CP) of 2e REI
– 4e CP was stationed at Negrine

– 22e CPLE became the 5e CP of 2e REI, stationed at Zeribet El Oued
– 23e CPLE became the 6e CP of 2e REI, stationed at Bir El Ater

 

 

GPLEA - 21 CPLE - 22 CPLE - 23 CPLE - 21e CPLE - 22e CPLE - 23e CPLE - VI/1er RE - insigne - insignia - Compagnie Portée - Legion etrangere
Insignia of 21e CPLE, 22e CPLE, 23e CPLE. While the first two insignia are “unicolor”, that one of 23e CPLE is a little bit different – the silver gazelle on gold flames. Insignia were made and distributed in 1956. As for GPLEA, there was no insignia created for…
21 CPLE - 22 CPLE - 21e CPLE - 22e CPLE - VI/1er RE - Compagnie Portée - Laghouat - 1955
The company commanders of 21e CP and 22e CP are receiving the company banners inside Quartier Marguerite of Laghouat (January 25, 1955)
21 CPLE - 21e CPLE - Algeria - 1955
21e CP moving to the Negrine region (February 1955)
21 CPLE - 21e CPLE - 23 CPLE - 23e CPLE - Bir el Ater
Bir El Ater. Headquarters for 21e CPLE (1955) and 23e CPLE (1955-56)
21 CPLE - 21e CPLE - Bir el Ater - 1er REP - 1 REP - 1955
The company commanders and officers from 21e CPLE and 1er REP during gathering inside the 21e CPLE’s station of Bir El Ater (August 1955)
21 CPLE - 21e CPLE - Negrine - 1956
21e CPLE during the Camerone Day ceremony at Negrine (April 30, 1956)
22 CPLE - 22e CPLE - Djelfa - 1956
22e CPLE parading during the Camerone Day ceremony at Djelfa, headquarters of GPLEA (April 30, 1956)
22 CPLE - 22e CPLE - Djelfa - 1956
22e CPLE during the Camerone Day‘s lunch at Djelfa (April 30, 1956)
Capitaine Camelin - 23 CPLE - 23e CPLE - 1956
Captain Camelin, the company commander of 23e CPLE, during an operation in the Tebessa region (June 1956)
23 CPLE - 23e CPLE - Bou Alam - insigne - insignia - 6 Compagnie Portée - 2 REI - 2e REI
Traditions in the Legion. The emblem of 23e CPLE inside the outpost of 6th Motorized Company, 2e REI at Bou Alam, in honor to the company’s origin. (July 1957)
23 CPLE - 23e CPLE - Sergent-Chef Johann Kraus - 6 Compagnie Portée - 2 REI - 2e REI
Sergent-Chef Johann Kraus, the non-commissioned officer of German origin and a platoon commander with the 23e CPLE. Serving in the First Indochina War for about 5 years, participating in the well-known Battle of Dien Bien Phu, four times wounded, imprisoned by Viet-Minh for 4 months, SCH Kraus joined 23e CPLE from its very beginning and stayed there till its uniting with 2e REI. He was killed during a battle in the Ain-Séfra region, Algeria in January 1959, after 11 years spent in the Legion.

 

Images & information source:
Képi blanc magazines
Camerone bulletins
Insignes Legion

 
Foreign Legion’s other disbanded motorized units:
Foreign Legion Moroccan Motorized Group
1st Legion Saharan Motorized Company
2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
3rd Legion Saharan Motorized Company
4th Legion Saharan Motorized Company

 
Foreign Legion 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: December 18, 2016

 

← Back to French Foreign Legion Units

 

↑ Back to Top