1976: Training units left Corsica for Castelnaudary

Since June 1962, training units of the French Foreign Legion had been based in Corsica, having arrived there from Algeria. In October 1976, they left the island and moved to mainland France to be stationed in the town of Castelnaudary, in the southern part of the country.

The training units of the Legion, at the time called Foreign Legion Training Group (Groupement d’instruction de la Légion étrangère, GILE) were composed of several training companies, including two basic training companies: the 1st and 2nd Enlisted Volunteer Companies (CEV).

In Corsica, the 1st Enlisted Volunteer Company (1re CEV) was based in Bonifacio (the south of the island), in the Montlaur citadel. In the 1970s, the latter would be also occupied by the GOLE and the 2e RE (2e REI now). The 2nd Enlisted Volunteer Company (2e CEV) was based at the same location, but had to leave it in 1971; it would be stationed in the citadel of Corte (north of Corsica).

On October 11, 1976, both enlisted volunteer units left Corsica for mainland France. The 1re CEV was temporarily housed at the Foreign Legion Invalid Institution of Puyloubier near Marseille, in Southern France, the home of Foreign Legion veterans. The 2e CEV temporarily replaced the 4th Squadron at the military base of the 1er REC in Orange, Southern France, while the squadron moved to Corte in Corsica.

The enlisted volunteers, still passing their four-month basic training, stayed at their provisional locations until late November.

On November 23, first legionnaires arrived in Castelnaudary, Southern France. They were stationed in the Quartier Lapasset (also Caserne Lapasset), the old barracks of Mobilization Center 143 in the town center. On December 11, 1976, the first Foreign Legion parade was organized in the town.

In early August 1977, the Team Leader Training Company (CIC), GILE left Corte in Corsica and also moved to Castelnaudary, while the Specialist Training Company stayed on the island and was assigned to the 2e RE. A month later, on September 1, 1977, the the battalion-sized GILE would be reorganized and redesignated. It became the Foreign Legion Training Regiment (RILE). Three years later, on June 1, 1980, the training unit was renamed again. The RILE became the 4th Foreign Regiment (4e RE).

Since July 1986, training units of the French Foreign Legion have been based in the new, modern Quartier Capitaine Danjou, built on the outskirts of Castelnaudary. However, the Quartier Lapasset would be used by the 4e RE until the early 1990s.

GILE in Bonifacio in the Montlaur citadel
Montlaur Citadel in Bonifacio, home to the 1re CEV, GILE
GILE in Corte in the Citadel
The citadel of Corte (on top), home to the 2e CEV, GILE
GILE is leaving Corsica
The GILE is leaving Corsica (October 11, 1976)
2nd Volunteer company of GILE is travelling to Orange
2e CEV, GILE on the way to Orange (October 1976)
1st Volunteer company of GILE is travelling to Puyloubier
1re CEV, GILE on the way to Puyloubier (October 1976)
1st Volunteer company of GILE in Puyloubier
1re CEV, GILE in Puyloubier, during a ceremony (November 1976)
GILE parading in Castelnaudary in December 1976
The Foreign Legion’s first parade in Castelnaudary (December 11, 1976)
GILE headquarters in Castelnaudary in December 1976
Crowd of people in front of the new home of the GILE in Castelnaudary (December 11, 1976)
GILE headquarters in Castelnaudary in December 1976
The old military barracks in Castelnaudary, new home to the GILE (December 1976)
Quartier Lapasset
A new entrance of the Quartier Lapasset (also called Caserne Lapasset)
Quartier Lapasset
The Quartier Lapasset, home to the 4e RE until 1986

 

The citadel of Corte, 1972. Young legionnaires from the 2nd Enlisted Volunteer Company, GILE sing during their instruction.

 

Information & images source:
Kepi blanc magazines

 

Related posts:
4e REI: History of the Regiment of Morocco
Foreign Legion in a 1978 documentary
French Foreign Legion 1949 documentary
History of the French Foreign Legion in pictures