Parachute Company of 3e REI

The Parachute Company of the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (CP/3e REI) was the first parachute unit of the French Foreign Legion. The company was established in April 1948. It participated in the First Indochina War between 1948-49. The company was disbanded a year later, in May 1949. Thereafter, its men consolidated with the 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1er BEP).

Parachute Company of 3e REI's history - CP 3e REI - CP/3 - L'histoire de la Compagnie Parachutiste du 3e REI

 

History of the Parachute Company of 3e REI

1945 – 1946:
First Indochina War started
– French Indochina reffers to French colonial territories in Southeast Asia
– in Indochina, a conflict started between the French and Ho Chi Minh
– Ho Chi Minh led the Viet-Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam)
– Viet Minh was a nationalist and (later) pro-Soviet Union movement
– in September 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared independence from France for Vietnam
– clashes between French forces and the Viet Minh started
– in early 1946, first Foreign Legion units landed in Indochina

April 01, 1948:
Parachute Company of 3e REI (Compagnie Parachutiste du 3e REI, CP/3e REI)
– in Hanoi (then capital of Vietnam) in Indochina, the CP/3e REI was born
– it was the very first parachute unit of the French Foreign Legion
– 23-year-old Lieutenant Jacques Morin took command

  • he joined the Legion as a French officer in 1947
  • he deployed to Indochina to serve with 3e REI
  • in 1949, he joined 1er BEP
  • in 1958, then Major Morin took command ad interim of 1er REP (ex-1er BEP)
  • in 1959, he left the Legion and moved to France to serve there
  • he ended up his military career in 1961 because of Generals putsch
  • Major Morin made the gesture in support of his comrades-in-arm
  • he was a close friend of Hélie de Saint Marc
  • both officers were former Buchenwald concentration camp prisoners
  • in 1966, he re-entered the service for next two years
  • in 1968, he left the French Army definitively

– the company was composed of legionnaires-volunteers from 3e REI mainly
– elements coming from 2e REI and 13e DBLE also joined the company
– these units served in Indochina during the First Indochina War too

CP/3e REI was divided into three combat platoons and one staff platoon:

  • 1st Platoon: comprising legionnaires from 3e REI
    • it was led by Lieutenant Paul Arnaud de Foïard (until May 31, Lieutenant Vion since Juin 09)
    • he was assigned as a French officer to the Foreign Legion in 1944
    • he served more than 20 years within
    • after WWII, he joined the 3e REI in Indochina, volunteered for the Parachute Company two years later
    • he later served in the 1er RE and directed the Kepi blanc magazine
    • in 1963, Arnaud de Foïard joined the 2e REP
    • he took command of the 2e REP in 1965; he moved with 2e REP from Algeria to Calvi, Corsica
    • in 1975-77, he commanded the 11th Parachute Division, which is 2e REP a part of
    • he ended up as a Army general
  • 2nd Platoon: comprising legionnaires from 13e DBLE
    • it was led by Lieutenant Audoye
    • Lieutenant Audoye was an official chronicler of Parachute Company
    • in May of 2012, his original chronicle (a manuscript) of CP was handed over to the commander of 2e REP by his three sons
    • Lieutenant Audoye also supervised construction of the Legion paratroopers War memorial in Sétif in 1952
    • he served there with the 3e BEP
    • today, the War memorial is placed at Camp Raffalli, the headquarters of 2e REP
  • 3rd Platoon: comprising legionnaires from 2e REI
    • it was led by Lieutenant Michel Camus
    • since Juin 1948, he was a commander of the company
  • HQ Platoon: comprising legionnaires from 3e REI
    • it was led by Warrant Officer Armando Masetto
    • born 1919 in Italy, he was the only legionnaire within the platoon leaders
    • he was killed in action in 1952, while serving in the 1er BEP

April 01-16, 1948:
– the company was assigned to the 3rd Battalion of 1er RCP
– 1er RCP stands for 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes
– it is an airborne “Hunters” regiment of the French regular army
– CP/3e REI legionnaires participated in parachute training

April 17, 1948:
– 83 men of CP/3e REI gained their parachute badge

April 26, 1948:
– the first combat jump
– it took place over Van-Xa in the Hai-Duong region, northern Vietnam

May 04, 1948:
– south of Hanoi, a combat near the village of Ay Mon Tông
– Lieutenant Morin, the company commander, was injured
– he had to be sent to the hospital
– Lt Morin did not rejoin its unit until December 1948
– Lt Arnaud de Foïard, thereafter Lt Camus replaced him as company commanders

May 06, 1948:
– a combat in the village of Xa Hieu

May 16, 1948:
– heavy fights in the Gia Lôc region
– around 100 men of a Viet-Minh company were killed

June 09, 1948:
– combat jump in the Cao Bang region
– CP/3e REI supported the 3e REI during the Battle of Route Coloniale 4

June 10-19, 1948:
– operations close to Route Coloniale 4

June 20-21, 1948:
– operations close to the villages of Quang Uyen and Tra Linh
– they are located along the China border with Vietnam

October 1948:
– rest time in Hanoi because of illness of many legionnaires
– one of them died in the hospital

November 01, 1948:
– operations alongside the Route Coloniale 4 again

November 15, 1948:
– combat jump over the Nuoc valley

November 26, 1948:
– return to Hanoi

December 1948:
– the company is no more a part of 3e REI
– it was administratively assigned to the 1er BEP
– 1er BEP landed in Indochina in December 1948
– it was based in the same region of northern Vietnam

January 1949:
– operations in the Bac Ninh region

March 23, 1949:
– the company was transported to Lao Kay on the China border
– it had to participate in operations in this northern Vietnam region

April 1949:
– the company was divided into two groups, headed by Ltn Morin and Ltn Vion

April 10, 1949:
– fights close to Lang Phen

April 14, 1949:
– another fights, close to Dong Mo and Lang Thac

April 16, 1949:
– 2nd platoon jumped over Lao Kay

May 1949:
– the company received finally its insignia

May 21, 1949:
– combat jump over Nghia Lo to participate in operations in the region between the Red River and the Black River

May 30, 1949:
– end of oparations, majority of the company was transported back to Hanoi

May 31, 1949:
Parachute Company of 3e REI was officialy disbanded

June 01, 1949:
– the company (around 100 men) consolidated with the 1er BEP

June 11, 1949:
– Sergeant Heinz Hammermeister and his 12 legionnaires were transported back to Hanoi
– they were between the last elements to join the 1er BEP
­- Sergeant Hammermeister was a former Fallschirmjäger, a German paratrooper
– during WWII, he was involved in the well-known Operation Mercury in Crete in 1941
– Operation Mercury was the first mainly airborne invasion in military history
– in July 1949, he was seriously injured during Operation Bastille
– next day, Sergeant Hammermeister died in the hospital of Hanoi

 

Parachute Company of 3e REI insignia
Parachute Company of 3e REI insignia, created by the company commander Lieutenant Morin, in 1948; legionnaires received their insignias one month before the company was disbanded
Image source: Wikipedia.org
Parachute Company of 3e REI in Hanoi 1948
Parachute Company of 3e REI during a ceremony in Hanoi in 1948

Lieutenant Morin and Lieutenant Arnaud de Foïard of the Parachute Company of 3e REI
French officers Jacques Morin and Paul Arnaud de Foïard, which commanded the Parachute Company of 3e REI. Later, they also commanded Foreign Legion parachute regiments (1er REP, 2e REP).
Image source: Kepi blanc magazine & Wikipedia.org
 

General Paul Arnaud de Foïard of the Parachute Company of 3e REI
Army general Paul Arnaud de Foïard, a former head of the Parachute Company of 3e REI and 2e REP, with the hand of Captain Danjou during the Camerone Day ceremony in Aubagne in 2005; he died a few weeks later
Image source: Militaryphotos.net
 

Parachute Company of 3e REI chronicle manuscript

 

See a few images of Parachute Company of 3e REI on the More Majorum website

 

Information source:
Pierre Montagnon: Les parachutistes de la Légion: 1948-62
Parachute Company of 3e REI chronicle manuscript
Kepi blanc magazine
More-majorum.de

 
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See other Foreign Legion airborne units:
1st Foreign Parachute Regiment
2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment
3rd Foreign Parachute Regiment
1st Heavy Mortars Foreign Parachute Company

 
See also Foreign Legion’s disbanded regiments:
2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment
4th Foreign Infantry Regiment
5th Foreign Regiment
6th Foreign Infantry Regiment

 

 

The page was updated on: May 14, 2015

 

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