Legion Pulp: Affair of Honor

AffairHonor (Cvr)(Today’s post is a little late again–it’s August and we took a small vacation.)  But anyway, this is another Georges Surdez short story which appeared in the April 1937 issue of Adventure.  The plot concerns a young, fiesty lieutenant, newly assigned to the Moroccan front, named d’Herviller.  He is quickly awarded for valor and wins the respect of his hard-bitten legionnaires.  However, when he meets his Battalion commander, just before a big offensive, it is revealed that the two men are bound one’s actions from the distant past.

Affair of Honor

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Grit Gregson: Will the Arabs Revolt?

GritGregson_WillArabsRebelHere is another short story from the pages of the UK comic Lion.  This one appeared 06 February 1954.  Grit Gregson, Fighter in the Foreign Legion, infiltrates an Arab rebellion and almost loses his head to Al-Qaeda fanatics before calling in an airstrike.  No–not really.  Actually, one well placed rifle shot and some Legion back up actually get the perpetually aggrieved hotheads to put up their hands and meekly submit to captivity.

Grit Gregson_Will the Arabs Rebel

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Hodgepodge for July 2014

Some of the odds and ends related to the Foreign Legion that I discovered this past  month…

1.  Regiments of the French Foreign Legion.  Here is a very nice documentary on the Foreign Legion.  Though titled “Regiments of” it is really much broader in scope and covers modern deployments and training interlaced with bits of Legion history and plenty of interviews of legionnaires and coverage of day to day life.

2.  French Foreign Legion Miniatures.  A couple nice reviews of several sets of Foreign Legion related miniature figures can be found on the Bolt Action.net website.  The first article reviews Gorgon Miniatures which depict members of the 13th DBLE figures from the 1940 campaign in Norway.  There are two other articles which introduce WWII era Foreign Legion and Senegalese figures.  There is also a great article on painting the Senegalese figures from Griping BeastGorgon



3.  World War One and Harvard.  I actually remembered to tell my wife and kids a couple days ago that in Sarajevo about 100 years ago on 28 June, World War One was sparked by the assassination of the Austrian-Hungarian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife and that the big shooting match began in earnest in August.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming documentaries, articles, book releases and other commemorative events related to The Great War.  One of these appeared on the Harvard College website entitled “The Choicest of their Kind” and is about those “Harvard men” who fought.   The first Harvard man to die was Edward Mandell Stone.  He was serving in the Foreign Legion at the time as were many others such as Alan Seeger.

4. Valiant Hearts: The Great War.  Speaking about The Great War, here is a new video game from Ubisoft that fellow grognards might enjoy.  The graphics are kind of odd to me but it looks very nice and features a composite American Legionnaire.  Game review hereVH_SC_14_Freddy_Marne_148647


 5.  Black Hat Miniatures.  There are five sets (Exotic Adventures) of 28mm Foreign Legion miniatures available from Black Hat that look very nice and appear compatible with figures from other manufacturers.  Link  They also have some Tauregs to do battle with the legionnaires.  They are produced under license by Unfeasibly Miniatures whose press release notes: “The range depicts the French Foreign Legion at the turn of the 19th Century in Northern Africa, immortalized in the stories of Beau Geste by P.C. Wren. The range includes Tuareg’s, who resisted the French colonial invasion of their Central Saharan homelands. We have two more packs of Legionnaires with improvised weapons which will be released as soon as production moulds have been made.  Mark at Unfeasibly has plans to expand on the range to add mounted troops.”



Posted in Hodgepodge, Miniatures, Video | 3 Comments

Romance & Revolt in Under Two Flags

Poster - Under Two Flags (1936)_06

I found a very informative and entertaining article on this movie in the June 1936 edition of Romantic Movie Stories (a movie/romance pulp of the time).  This 1936 version is the fourth film adaption of the famous 1867 novel by Ouida (pseudonym of the English novelist Maria Louise Ramé) which actually featured the French Chasseurs d’Afrique and not the Foreign Legion for it’s romantic setting.  This article gently weaves together the action and plot with anecdotes about the making of the movie and the directors, actors and actresses involved.  They also seemed to have found the same spot in the California desert that was the filming location for other Foreign Legion films such as Beau Geste and there are references to the Yuma set.  I smiled a bit when I noticed the town name of Saida corresponded to the 2nd Regiment’s insignia on the legionnaire’s collar–as the Algerian town of Saïda was actual location of the 2REI until the 1960’s.  I haven’t seen the movie as it is hard to find a copy but there are some Youtube videos (Making Under Two Flags & another short clip) that give some further insight.   Like other features in the magazine this one begins with a nice double splash page as seen below.  (the poster came from the wonderful Dr. Macro site)

I can’t help but speculate that it was Ouida’s novel that ultimately gave us rough around the edges pied noir cafe girls, dingy Legion drinking joints, and garrison town intrigue and romance that are such common features to Foreign Legion stories and movies.  P.C. Wren certainly found this setting suited many of his novels as did many other early writers and film makers.

Image 0016 and 0017 join


Under Two Flags

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Legion Pulp: Outguessed

LEGIONNAIRE_2This short pulp story comes from the pages of Thrilling Adventures fiction magazine–specifically the July 1936 issue.  It was written by Ralph Milne Farley which was a pen name for Roger Sherman Hoar who wrote for several pulp titles between the two world wars and after his early career in Massachusetts politics.  Thrilling Adventures was a late competitor to the long running Adventure but only lasted from 1931 until 1943. This is a quick read and says much for planning ahead.  (Picture is not from the story.)


Posted in Pulp Fiction Stories, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Grit Gregson Fighter in the Foreign Legion: The Wine Barrel’s Secret

GritGHere is a short story featuring the Grit Gregson, a British legionnaire who gets mixed up in many North African adventures.  Grit was a popular feature in the early issues of the weekly UK comic called Lion (King of Picture Story Papers).  This particular issue, #100, came out 16 January 1954.  It’s obviously tailored to the junior ages but I give it credit for at least making the kids read something other than comic dialogue balloons.  The plot is somewhat exciting too and actually has some hard lessons for modern counterinsurgency.  I took some liberty with the illustration as it struck me that it depicted three very thirsty legionnaires.

The Wine Barrel’s Secret


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Hodgepodge for June 2014

Not much to post today in this month’s random collection of Foreign Legion related news, products, stories, pictures and what-nots.

1.  Agony of War.  Here’s a great story about Vietnam War veteran and former French Foreign Legion member Ruediger Richter.  You have probably seen the famous black and white photograph of SP4 Richter watching a descending helicopter while his comrade looks over a body bag prepared for evacuation.  Before this iconic picture was taken Richter had served in the Foreign Legion for five years in the early 1950’s.

The_Agony_of_War.JPEG-075db_tx495I’ve read many books on the Vietnam War (and had a decades long subscription to Soldier of Fortune Magazine) and am always amazed when I come across stories of foreign born American soldiers who fought in that conflict.  Rick Rescorla comes to mind as well as the many Canadians and scores of Hispanic and Asian immigrants.   During my first assignment in the Army, in 1984, I knew a Sergeant Major Van Dam–a Dutch immigrant from Indonesia who (according to everyone I knew) had spent time in the Foreign Legion after WWII before moving to the United States, joining the U.S. Army and fighting in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division.   Even to this day there is still a large percentage of foreign born soldiers in the U.S. armed forces.  During the Iraq war, more than 30,000 non-citizens were serving in the U.S. military, accounting for close to 2% of the total 1.4 million active duty service members.  Roughly a third of the non-citizens in the armed forces today are from Latin America and the Caribbean. Many others are from Canada, China, Africa, Vietnam, India, Nigeria, Turkey, Korea and the Philippines.

2.  A Tale of the French Foreign Legion.   History.net has a very good on-line article about the Foreign Legion during World War II written by by Edward L. Bimberg (and originally appearing in World War II Magazine in 1997).  It relates the story of the 13th Demi Brigade (13e DBLE) during the early years of the war and also how the 6th Regiment of the Foreign Legion of the Vichy government fought against it’s Free French counterparts in Syria in 1941.  Be sure to read the interesting comments that follow the article.

3.  Sidi Bel-Abbes, March, 1940.  The pictures below relate to the article above as they depict the assembly and departure of Legionnaires from Sidi Bel Abbes to France (and the “Metropolitan Front”).  The newsreel where these pictures are taken from gives a wonderful view of the Caserne Viénot and the legionnaires in full battle-rattle as they say farewell to their Algerian home and in come cases their wives and children.

4.  T-Shirts.  Lastly, here are some links to web sites that sell Foreign Legion apparel such as t-shirts, sweat jackets, and polo shirts.  The Red Rubble shirts support the fantastic web site Foreign Legion Info and the ProArt site supports the Institution des Invalides de la Légion étrangère (IILE).  I have no commercial interest in any of these–I just keep seeing them pop up when I browse the web and thought many of the designs are pretty cool looking.  I also promote free market capitalism and am pleased to see people making money in a niche that I’m so fond of.  Now, if I could just get my cheapskate kids to buy me something for my birthday….

Cafe Press

Red Bubble


ProArt Shirts


Top Military T-Shirts

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Legion Pulp: Born to Fight

img293The Foreign Legion pulp fiction story for June is Born to Fight by Georges Surdez.  It appeared in the January 1937 issue of Adventure (Vol 96, No. 3).  I haven’t even had time to read this one yet but a quick scan tells me it is boilerplate Surdez–American mercenary, Frenchman and German all compete for the attention of a young dark haired local beauty.  Thrown in is some personal mano-a-mano fighting, desert combat and conspiracies to kill a commanding officer.  This looks like a good one.

Born to Fight

Admin Note:  Sorry I’m late with this as I usually publish the monthly pulp story on the 15th of each month.  I was on vacation however and didn’t take the right preparations to post remotely. 

Posted in Pulp Fiction Stories | 1 Comment

Monsieur Gravedigger


Monsieur Gravedigger is a short Foreign Legion tale found in Weird War Tales comic issue #2 (v1 002, Nov-Dec 1971).  The title alone as well as the setting sounds like classic P.C. Wren who often gave his fictional legionnaires nicknames–who can forget Sergeant-Major Suicide-Maker.  The fort is straight out of Beau Geste (the movie) and aptly named by the mutineer in this story “Madame La Republique’s Mud Oven”.  There are lots of other good classic Foreign Legion plot devices all packed into one great nine page story.

Weird War Tales was an exceptionally well done comic with a 12 year / 124 issue run.  The artwork is top notch and the well written stories are very entertaining.  The anthology format that jumped throughout history also appeals to me–as some of the WWII or Korean War settings of other war comics got repetitive.  There is a Showcase collection of the first 21 issues available.

Monsieur Gravedigger

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Hodgepodge for May 2014

Well, another month zooms by.  Our rough winter is now a faded memory and spring reigns.  Here is what I stumbled on this month–items with tangential connections to the French Foreign Legion.

1.  How to Join the French Foreign Legion in 19 Easy Steps.  Here is a guide to joining the modern Foreign Legion–complete with cheesy graphics.   I suppose it is technically correct but I just could not stop laughing at the graphics that don’t quite match the gravity of this act of enlistment.

2.  Foreign Legion Wine Bar.  Yep, this sounds like it should be in Sidi Bel Abbes but it’s in the upper Midwest.  Right up the interstate from me is the state of Minnesota and further north, the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis).  In Minneapolis there is a new Foreign Legion themed after hours establishment located in the downtown Soo Line Building.  “Both a Wine & Cheese Bar, as well as a Private Dining Facility for Brasserie Zentral, Foreign Legion is a decadent and unique space tucked within the Historic Soo Line Building.”  For now, judging by the website and limited pictures, it looks Foreign Legion in name only but hopefully they will get with the program soon and put a white kepi or two on display amid green and red silk wall paper.  Their mixed European menu looks good.  Their facebook page.

3.  60th Anniversary of IILE (Institution des invalides de la Légion étrangère).   Here is a nice slideshow of the recent activities of the IILE, an organization for disabled Legion veterans located in Puyloubier, at foot of Saint Victoire Mountain in southern France (45km Northeast of Marseille).  Also their official website is here.

I look at what they do at Puyloubier and shake my head in disgust at the recent scandal affecting our own Veteran’s Administration Hospitals.  I’ve been to our local VA and it is clear to me the whole organization is run for the sole benefit of it’s employees (career bureaucrats and lesser functionaries) and not the patients.  Kind of like our post office who keeps raising prices to cover it’s retirement pensions.



4.  Collecting Foreign Legion Badges.  I have not caught this particular collecting bug yet but God protect my bank account if I ever do.  There are hundreds of collectable badges of Foreign Legion units, sub-units, missions & deployments, exercises, task forces (and other miscellaneous justifications for making a badge) –not too many to be overwhelming and yet not so few that the chase becomes old after a while.  I came across this guys great Facebook page and was immediately impressed by the quality of pictures and the detailed descriptions of each badge.  Another great resource on Foreign Legion Badges is the French website Insignes Militaires Lavocat.  I have a handful of Legion badges and insignia and am always tempted to start an add-one-a-month collection but I know this might turn into something obsessive.  Here is an example of some of these beautiful badges which in this case features an owl, indicating that the unit is military intelligence related–a special Human Intelligence detachment (URH) used in Afghanistan.


5.  Mali Update.  Another Legionnaire lost in Mali counter-terrorism operations on 9 May.  News reports indicated the Slovakian member of the Foreign Legion was killed in an explosion when his vehicle hit a home-made explosive device, which also left two other soldiers injured and subsequently hospitalized.   R.I.P.  

6.  More Action Figures.  This web site, Machinegun Figures, features several modified 1/6 scale action figures in various Foreign Legion uniforms.  There is this hyper realistic Sergent of the 1st Company Saharienne Portée and this modern member of the 13th DBLE.  The amount of detail and ingenuity spent on these figures is amazing.  If you like these you should check out the gallery as there are lots of other Foreign Legion and other interesting figures there.  Probably one of the best 1/6 scale websites I’ve seen.

7.  Foreign Legion Fort.  Last but not least I stumbled on a couple of larger scale miniature Foreign Legion/Desert forts.  The first can be seen here.   A remarkable set up with some of the high end quality Foreign Legion figures.  The other fort is nice in a more rugged way…I can’t remember where I found these however.

FFL Fort 1 FFL Fort 2 FFL Fort 3


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