Legion Pulp: The Word of Adjutant Kent Part 2


As promised, here is part two and conclusion of The Word of Adjutant Kent.  The story continues with our drink-starved, American Legionnaire as he defends his post from hordes of enemies outside the walls as well as from more devious enemies from within.  The file is a bit large today and if you had problems reading it in your web browser I recommend right clicking on the link and “Save Link As” to your desktop.

The Word of Adjudant Kent Part 2

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New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Murder in the Casbah


I recently stumbled upon a nice old-time radio episode from The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which features the famous duo traveling to North Africa to solve a case of a missing person who may have joined the French Foreign Legion (to disappear of course).  The show features the voices of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce–the same actors who stared in several of the feature length Sherlock Holmes films.  I grew up watching these movies on Chicago’s WGN Sunday television line-up which also featured Charlie Chan and other notable detective heroes of the silver screen.  Just hearing these voices brings back some nice memories.   The script can be found here and information about the radio show here.  You can listen to this episode at the Internet Archive or by clicking the link below.

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Dean and Jerry Join the Legion

April Fools Day

A long March indeed–endless frigid days, mounds of ugly snow everywhere, and cabin fever.  It’s a good thing April begins with a laugh or two and here is my attempt to get in on some April Fools day fun.  Anyone remember Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis?  Back in the day they were top notch in popular comedy.  Known as Martin and Lewis when they first started in 1946 the comedic duo captured the funny bone of post war America.  Movies, radio, live stage, and early television shows such as Ed Sullivan.  Exactly ten years later the team split up to pursue their own stellar careers.  Such was their popularity that they even had their own comic book–truly a mark that you made it big in the 1950′s.    This issue, #20,  of The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis came out in April of 1955.

The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis #20

A little know fact about Jerry Lewis is that when World War II broke out he tried joining the Army but was rejected because of a heart murmur.  Somewhat dismayed with his rejection he flew to England in July of 1940 and enlisted in the newly formed Free French Forces under General DeGaulle.  As a foreigner Lewis was assigned to the 13th Demi-Brigade of the French Foreign Legion as an moral adviser and interpreter but he was never made an official legionnaire combatant.  He did accompany that unit’s deployment to Africa a month later but was medically evacuated in January 1941 after contracting tropical fever.  He recuperated in England for several months and his short lived service for France ended when he returned to the United States in March.  America joined the war in December 1941 and Jerry Lewis eagerly did what he could for the stateside American war effort.  His willingness to serve France however, endeared him to the French people and to this day they regard him as a hero as well as a comedic genius.

Really–it’s all true………..

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Hodgepodge for March 2014

Here is my monthly roll up of French Foreign Legion related odd and ends.

1.  Pete Seeger–Folk Singer / Uncle Alan Seeger–Legionnaire.  Here is a connection that I was not aware of until the recent death of Pete Seeger, the celebrated American folk singer who passed away on 27 January this year.  I had noticed a posting on the Shorpy web page about “Professor Charles Louis Seeger and family.” (another posting here).   I thought this was a real interesting picture and story so I looked up Charles Seeger and found his bio on Wikipedia made mention of his poet brother, Alan Seeger, who was killed in France on July 4, 1916, while serving as a member of the French Foreign Legion.    So unlike the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game, I connected a popular American music icon to the Foreign Legion in two steps.  Pete – Uncle Alan – Foreign Legion.

2.  Fort El Moungar.  Three years ago, when I first started this blog I was fascinated with finding ruins of lost and forgotten, French North African forts.  One of those, Fort El Moungar, was a mere speck on the overhead photo of the parched Saharan desert at the time but it did have the shape of a small fort and was in the spot where the American JOG (Joint Operations Graphic at 1:250,000 scale) map indicated a fort was located.  So I wrote a post on it as I assumed this was a permanent mark, or discoloration left on the sand of what was once  a small post.  Fast forward to March and I discover that Google has uploaded new imagery for their Google Maps/Earth applications and this imagery has much clearer resolution and shows a still standing structure in classic Saharan desert fort “style”.

El Moungar_1 El Moungar_2
















3.  Foreign Legion Books on eBay.  I’m a collector of Foreign Legion books and related paraphernalia and eBay has been a very good source for many of my small treasures.  Lately, I’ve noticed several very rare titles popping up for sale to include Jean Lartéguy’s very hard to find novels The Centurions, it’s sequel The Praetorians, Born to Fight by A. R. CooperJohn Gibbons’ The Truth about the French Foreign Legion, as well as Operator 1384′s book called The Devil’s Diplomats, and several other Foreign Legion titles.  These are all being sold by the same seller at very steep prices.  However, if you read the listings it says that these are not original editions but rather a “trade paperback reprint copy”.  They are print on demand paperbacks of the original edition.  So before you shell out big bucks for what you think is a rare copy you should read the listing carefully to make sure that you will be satisfied with what you will actually get for the price.  ON THE OTHER HAND this also may be a great opportunity.  You may want to buy these books even if they are reprints as the original editions very rarely, if ever, appear for sale.  In my case, owning an original is not as important for me as the story inside so I’ll probably keep an eye out for something that I can add to my shelves. 

4.  The Warrior Tradition Series: The French Foreign Legion.   This documentary is great.  It covers the formation and history of the Legion in a way not often seen in other documentaries.  It features significant commentary by historian Douglas Porch, author of the massive book, The French Foreign Legion: A Complete History of the Legendary Fighting Force, and first hand accounts of the Legion in WWII by John. F. “Jack” Hasey.  In fact it’s pretty much a complete history up until Dien Bien Phu.  The only lame parts were the odd snippets of actors in Foreign Legion costumes looking suitably distressed in the desert.  Better yet were the still pictures used in this film, many of which I’ve never seen before.  So if you have 40 minutes or so this is well worth the viewing.


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Le Petit Journal Covers 5


A quick post today as I conduct some spring cleaning of my digital file cabinets.  These pictures are some of the weekly covers of the French magazine Le Petit Journal from the late 1800′s to roughly 1914. They were found on Galica and don’t necessarily directly relate to the French Foreign Legion but the theme here is about the uniforms of the French Army.  These covers depict military barracks life, maneuvers, new technology, and other less dramatic settings as well as some combat and response to natural disasters but what I selected were the ones that best show off the uniforms of the Armée française. NOTE: I like to view this full size and recommend right clicking on the picture and opening in a new window then clicking the “full size” link.

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The Irish in the Foreign Legion


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! 

On the History Ireland website there is an interesting article entitled Fenians in the French Foreign Legion which explores the Irish contribution to the French military and to the French Foreign Legion in particular.  Highlighted are several notable Irish nationalists and their adventures abroad, fighting for France and as the premise of the article notes, taking copious notes on weapons and tactics for later use.  John Devoy, James J. O’Kelly, Thomas Clarke Luby, Captain Martin Waters Kirwan and several other notable Irishmen were present for service with the French during the early part of the Franco-Prussian War.  It also talks about the Irish “ambulance” service which was raised to support the French at the same time with many of the men serving in a medical aid capacity slipping across the “non-combatant” line to serve with the Foreign Legion’s 2nd Regiment.  (a .pdf version of this is below)

Finieans in the FFL

This article is also a launching point for further research.  It references a 1920 movie about the Foreign Legion that I never heard of called Rosaleen Dhu.  Some of the Irishmen mentioned have written of their experiences fighting in the Foreign Legion and I hope to read these accounts in the future.  Of particular note is The Life Story of an Old Rebel, by John Denvir which is available on Project Gutenberg.  Chapter XII covers the Irish ambulance detachment and service with the Foreign Legion.  Two other works on this subject include Reminiscences of the Franco-Irish Ambulance by Michael A. Leeson and With an Ambulance During the Franco-German War by Charles Edward Ryan although I do not think they dwell much on the Foreign Legion.

There is obviously a long tradition of Irishmen serving in the Legion and I presume not all of them were Fenians.  There is John Patrick Le Peour who served in the 1880′s and wrote an extremely odd account, with considerably more blarney than fact, of his Legion service called A Modern Legionary, published in 1904.  More recently there is Hidden Soldier: An Irish Legionnaire’s Wars from Bosnia to Iraq and an online blog called Banks to Battlefields written by the pseudonymous “Legion-eire”  Indeed, there have been enough recent Irishmen who served in the Foreign Legion to start up an Irish veteran’s association called the French Foreign Legion Association of Ireland (or the AALEI).  …and lastly some references were made on the internet about this Crock cartoon strip being indicative of the way the Irish are treated in the Foreign Legion.  Perhaps in 1870.


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Legion Pulp: The Word of Adjutant Kent Part 1


The Foreign Legion pulp story for this month is from Argosy All Story Weekly of 08 Jun 1929.   It was written by F. V. W. Mason (aka, Francis Van Wyck Mason or Van Wyck Mason) who was a prolific pulp author and novelist who sometimes wrote an odd tale or two of the French Foreign Legion.  This story was serialized in two parts–the second appeared in the subsequent. 15 June, issue of Argosy.  I’ll post the second part of this on 15 April.  This story also appeared complete in the first issue (August 1940) of the short lived pulp entitled Foreign Legion Adventures.

The Word of Adjutant Kent features a flawed hero in the form of Legionnaire Roger Kent–a dipsomaniac, a failed American officer and a man facing his personal demons as well as hordes of Arab marauders and slavers in a forsaken pestilence ridden desert outpost on the far southern fringes of the Sahara.  He is given one last chance to redeem himself or face his final punishment at the hands of a firing squad.

The Word of Adjudant Kent Part 1

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Sergeant Klems

Sergeant KlemsSergeant Klems / Il sergente Klems.  Released 1971.  Italian–dubbed in English.   96 minutes.  Directed by Sergio Grieco; Cast: Peter Strauss (Foreign Legion Sergeant Otto Josef Klems), Tina Aumont (daughter of Rif Leader).

Like many veterans I can’t sit through a war movie without nitpicking the weapons, uniforms, tactics, jargon, or history.  With Foreign Legion movies however I’m actually a bit more forgiving since I expect technical and historical inaccuracies–kind of like watching a western.   Sergeant Klems is a movie that had many positive things going for it–things that made me smile and think “that’s neat” or “that looks real”.  Sergeant Klems was filmed on location on Morocco, it pulled together a large cast and hundreds of extras, it had decent technical details on the uniforms for both the French and the Rif tribesmen, a decent plot, and the historical setting was very good and mostly accurate.  But it also had many scenes that made me shake my head and say “WTF, Over”.  For everything they got right in this movie there was something wrong–like the fat Legion NCO with hippie hair that we first see betting on a scorpion fight (and then eating them when he loses).  The weapons depicted were great until you see an MG34 (?) being used from the top of an M4 halftrack in what was supposed to be 1927.   Even the North African fantasia, a horsemanship competition/display, turns into some weird contest of Islamic-Berber “death before dishonor”.   Also the plot progressed at a very haphazard pace–too much time spent on inconsequential scenes and then suddenly there is violent battle and then followed by too much time spent on another unnecessary scene.  But like I said–I didn’t expect much from this movie but it leaves me wondering why smart efforts made to create a good movie always seem to be wasted by poorly thought out scenes, ill-fitting characters, stupid dialogue, and poorly plotted continuity.  I said virtually the same things in review of the Jean Claude Van Damme movie-Legionnaire–great potential sabotaged.  (My viewing pleasure was also hindered by the quality of film that I had–a scaled down letterbox version of poor quality with even worse dubbing and sound.)

The plot was decent enough–beginning in the trenches of World War One we see a German soldier struggle through the mud and debris and (apparently) take the identity of a fallen comrade (though you couldn’t tell what was going on).  Flash forward to Guercif, Morocco where the same former German trench fighter, now known as Otto Klems, has been in the Foreign Legion for the past six years or so.  An outstanding soldier, he is promoted to Sergeant but later experiences disillusionment after being accused of letting a prisoner escape by his commanding officer–an obviously creepy sexual predator who repeatedly has his queer advances rebuffed by Klems.  Klems eventually deserts his unit to meet the wife of the man who’s identity he has stolen.  This doesn’t pan out to anything as far as the plot goes and Klems then flees into the desert where he is captured by Rif tribesmen.  He eventually becomes a military adviser to the rebels who handily route the Spanish forces controlling their homeland.  Then the French get dragged into the conflict and we see Klems leading Rif tribesmen against his former comrades in the Foreign Legion.   Along the way he gets married to the daughter of Abd El-Krim.  He eventually is captured by the French and is sent away to Devil’s Island where he supposedly dies of gangrene.

Sergeant Klems is actually based on the real events and exploits of Legionnaire Josef Otto Klems who actually deserted the Foreign Legion and joined the Rif rebels in Morocco.  He became one of the key advisers to El-Krim’s forces and was “most wanted” by the French.  Accounts differ on who Klems actually was, his rank in the Foreign Legion, his role in the Riffian rebellion and even his capture and subsequent demise in captivity.  In Foreign Legion fiction there are plenty of Sergeant Klems’–men who defect to the tribesmen for gold, revenge, or because they were rescued in their attempt to escape their service to the Legion.  Even P. C. Wren explored this role of “going native” with his novels Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal.   I’m gathering what I can about Klems and hopefully have enough to put together a post on this controversial legionnaire.  (some screenshots below–poor copy = poor quality).

Sergeant Klems

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Hodgepodge for February 2014

Some of the the neat things I’ve found this past month….

1.  How to Make a French Foreign Legion Fort.  I came across this entry on Lead Adventure forums for making a Foreign Legion / Beau Geste type fort for your war game table.  Link.  I think the final result looks great.  If you go to the author’s web page, Grimsby Wargames Society,  you can also find lots of other great terrain building tips and articles on the hobby.

2.  La Saga Lafite.  I often go to a web page called “Oran des années 50” to view pictures of Algeria.  It harkens back to life in that country and particularly in the province (and city) of Oran back in the good old days when the French were still running things and the sizable Pied Noir population lived in prosperity.  It hosts many pictures from the per-independence days of Algeria.  For example you can view many vintage post cards and pictures of both Sidi Bel Abbes (home of the 1st Foreign Legion Regiment) and Saïda (home of the 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment).

One of these collections on this site chronicles the military career of Armand and Paul Lafite (brothers).  It starts here.  If you click on the link for Armand you can browse hundreds of pictures depicting his wonderful military career which starts at St. Cyr in 1921, some time in the 153rd Infantry Regiment and then a long spell with the Goums in Morocco in the late 1920′s.  Though there are no pictures it appears Armand was away from the military in the 1930′s or so before resuming his career in 1939 with the 9th Zouaves, Oran Indigineus Affairs, and the 6th and 3rd RTA  (Regiment Tirailleurs Algerian).  He died in 1952 as a full Colonel.  The link for Paul Lafite has many pictures of his service in Indochina.  I know most of the pictures are not concerned with the Foreign Legion I did find two interesting ones depicting legionnaires with carrier pigeons.  The rest are still awesome.

PERIODE MAROCAINE 1928 1930 LAFITE A- 293- Agdz PERIODE MAROCAINE 1928 1930 LAFITE A- 303- Aït Saoun

3.  Various Miniatures Links.  I’ve come across several galleries and web pages devoted to military miniatures.  In French.  These pictures will inspire you to get your paints and brushes and some figures to help pass the time until spring.  You can use links also these to branch out and find other web pages devoted to the subject.

Le Bivouac  (their links page)

Le Forum La Figurine

L’atelier de Bruno

FF Figurine-Historiq

Jean Pierre Feigly

AFM Montrouge

Le Briquet


Planet Figure

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Legion Pulp: Legionnaire Pro Tem

Legionnaire Pro Tem PictureThis month’s pulp story is another work by Georges Surdez.  It was featured in Blue Book Magazine of May, 1939.  Blue Book in my opinion was the best general fiction pulp magazines there was.  It had less serials than Argosy and far more illustrations than either Adventure, Short Stories or Argosy combined.  The story writing was top notch too as can be seen in this tale.

Richard Lacy is an American movie actor whose ill calculated trip to Morocco and mix up with a bunch of real live Foreign Legionnaires almost ends his movie making career for good.  It’s a classic formula Foreign Legion tale that involves an unlikely, or in some cases clueless, new recruit (which could have been taken right out of the Foreign Legion story plot book of J. D. Newsom).

Legionnaire Pro Tem

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