2e CSPL: 1950s, 1960s Color Film Collection

Watch absolutely unique, very rare amateur footages depicting Foreign Legion ceremonies in Laghouat, Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, the town was home to one of the Legion’s Saharan companies: 2nd Legion Saharan Motorized Company (2e CSPL). Two of the rare films are in color.

2e CSPL: 1950s and 1960s Color Film Collection

These four rare amateur films were shot by Albert Weber and are archived at the Cinémathèque de Bretagne (Brittany’s Film Library), founded in 1986. The library collects amateur films concerning France’s Brittany or made by Bretons (Celtic people native to Brittany). In the majority, they show the festivities of Camerone Day (marking the famous 1863 Battle of Camerone) in the Quartier Marguerite, the Legion barracks in Laghouat. The 2e CSPL legionnaires are seen in their typical “Penguin” Saharan dress uniform, adopted in 1949. Also, at the time, an integral part of Camerone festivities was a parade of floats (decorated platforms built on a vehicle) which is seen several times in the films.

Unfortunately, the films are only available on the original site, and are without sound.

Film #1: 1949 Camerone Day
The company is under Captain Bernard (seen in an all-white dress and with a side cap / bonnet in 01:01:47). The company has its own music band. Also, the company still uses its old fanion (the original fanion of the CMA, Algerian Mounted Company, adopted in 1946).

Film #2: 1952 Camerone Day
The rare color footage. The company is now under Captain Gallouet who wears a personal fourragère (he is seen in 01:00:06, 01:00:38, and 01:00:48). It is interesting to see that even NCOs wear the white-covered képi during the défilé. A black/white footage of the festivities with families follows.

Film #3: Laghouat, 11 November 1953
The 2e CSPL is now under Captain Berthez. He is seen in 01:01:01 when receiving the prestigious Legion d’Honneur while other legionnaires and NCOs are also decorated. This time the parade is not on foot but on vehicles (the first one is seen in 01:02:28, the previous one is not from the Legion). This time the legionnaires wear the winter full dress uniform, including a beige/blue burnous cloak attached on the neck. The Legion column ends in 01:03:55. Then non-Legion footages follow.

Film #4: Camerone Day in 1954, 1960, 1963
A film designated Camerone 1963 is in fact a mix of awesome color footages shot on Camerone Day in 1954, 1960, and 1963. In 1960, even with the participation of sister units (1re CSPL, 3e CSPL). The film made on 1963 Camerone Day saw the 2e CSPL already been disbanded (for four weeks) while its men served under a new designation: 1st Motorized Company, 4e REI.

1. Legionnaires playing sketches and demonstrating an attack on a fort in old times.
2. Camerone Day 1954, with Captain Berthez (01:02:54); the company has its own Pioneer platoon.
3. Camerone Day 1960, with Captain Le Berre (01:05:17). This time in the town, outside the barracks.
4. 1re CSPL’s Captain Gilbert and fanion guard (all-white uniform, short sleeves) in 01:05:23.
5. 2e CSPL lined up, including the Muslim Harkis (auxiliaries) with a white beret.
6. 3e CSPL lined up in 01:05:40
7. 3e CSPL’s Captain Vion and fanion guard (all-white uniform, long sleeves) in 01:05:45.
8. 2e CSPL’s fanion guard in 01:05:51
8. 1re CSPL’s fanion guard in 01:05:54
9. The défilé opened by the 1re CSPL in 01:06:52 (this part must please the fans of WWII Dodge cars)
10. 2e CSPL (01:07:15). Note that this company uses a different body posture (crossed hands) on armored vehicles.
11. 2e CSPL’s Harkis (01:07:40)
12. 3e CSPL (01:07:45)
13. 1963 Camerone Day festivities, 1re CP 4e REI (01:08:18)
14. Christmas nativity scenes (undated) in 01:12:28

Related posts:
French Foreign Legion 1949 documentary
Unique photos: 13e DBLE, 4e RE and 2e REI about 35 years ago
2e REP: A rare 1992 documentary
PHOTOS: 1re CSPL Platoon Leader badge in the Saharan Desert in 1958