History of War: The French Foreign Legion

legionnaire1863Just a quick post today and an editorial note below.

This article was featured in the UK military history magazine History of War (#27, 2016).  It provides a short history of the Foreign Legion from it’s founding to modern times.  In true form for this publication it also provides many info-boxes and side-bars covering key battles, personalities, weapons and equipment.  Of note is the Head-to-Head feature that compares the 1963-era Legionnaire against a regular Mexican solider.  The accompanying  chronology of events of at Camarón is good but the graphic was a bit simplistic.

This issue of History of War also features in-depth articles on the 100th Anniversary of Battle of Verdun.  Digital back issues of this magazine can be found online and several hard copies of this issue and others can be found on Amazon or eBay.

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NOTE:  Sorry to insert politics here but if you follow this blog you will know I can’t resist saying “Finally!  It’s over! The eight year nightmare of President Obama is OVER!”  I sincerely hope this is the beginning of the end in America for cultural Marxism,  open borders, the creeping welfare state, politicization of our government institutions and identity politics and I wish President Trump all the best in his upcoming battles.

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Legion Pulp: Hands of the Idol

hands-of-the-idolJanuary’s pulp fiction story comes from the pages of Five-Novels Monthly (July 1934) and was written by Major George Fielding Eliot.  Eliot (1894-1971) was quite an amazing man who fought in the Australian Army in WWI (to include the Gallipoli campaign, the Somme, Passchendaele, Arras, and Amiens) ending his service as a Major.  After the war he became a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and then later joined the U.S. Army Reserve as an Intelligence Officer (serving from 1922-1933) where he again rose to the rank of Major before retiring again and pursuing his writing career more earnestly.  He penned several other Foreign Legion tales besides this one to include Loot for the Legion, The Trumpets of the Legion, and The Legion Strikes.  These appeared in various pulps such as War Stories and Action Stories.

Hands-of-the-Idol

NOTE: This is not my scan–so a big thank you to the original scanner, “sas”, who preserved this issue of Five-Novels Monthly forever (at least in cyberspace).

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Yaquinto’s “The French Foreign Legion”

dsc08219I’m starting 2017 off a bit differently–skipping the usual monthly wrap-up (Hodgepodge) for last month and finally doing a post on this long forgotten and hard-to-find war game.  Yaquinto Publications was a short lived (1979-1983) but prolific war game manufacturer that produced a popular series of Album Games which came in a case that looked similar to a thick cardboard record album cover.  Some of the popular titles in this series were Fast Attack Boats, Ironclads, and SwashbucklerThe French Foreign Legion was an album game they published in 1982.  It’s subtitle is “A Game of Desperate Fighting in a Desert Fort”.

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The concept is simple enough: a fold out 12″ X 24″ map board featuring the desert fort (with a square grid overlay instead of hexagons), cardboard counters for Legionnaires, Bedouins, weapons and various game event and status markers, a 14 page rule book and a quick reference two-sided Game Card (2 copies).  It calls for two players (maybe a third who can play a faction of the Bedouins or renegade Legion deserters) and is rated at “Level two” difficulty.  The basic rules are provided in the first seven pages of the rule book, optional rules are covered in the next four pages followed by two pages of scenarios.  The optional rules cover the use of dynamite, tunnels, cannon and machine-gun (for the Legion), wounds, morale, night fighting, mounted Arabs, Le Cafard!, and open/closed doors and windows. The back page of the rules booklet is a character unit sheet that one should make several copies of–you use this sheet to keep track of the KIA and WIA.   The game is turn based with each player utilizing all of their men associated with a Legion squad/ Arab tribe that is randomly selected first for movement & melee and again for the fire phase.

The counters depict 33 Legionnaires (three squads and leaders) and 52 enemy (in six squads with leaders who all seem to be a desert dwelling United Nations force composed of Arab, Berber, Kayble, Riff, Tuareg and Bedouin “tribes”.  Kind of odd but in this game you just play along with the historical inaccuracies since this is a la Hollywood.)

The map depicts a four-level desert fort (ground level, 1st level, 2nd level parapets, and 3rd level towers).  It’s not the prettiest map but it’s stairwells, doors and windows appear functional.  Along the margins of the map are interior layouts for fighting inside the buildings and towers.  Imaginative gamers will salivate at the idea of creating 3D desert fort to use with painted miniatures like this game shown at the bottom of the page.

Alas, I was not able to play this game over the holidays as planned.  This year our dining table was taken over by Cards Against Humanity and Machi Koro.  I mentioned these two reviews in a previous post on this blog but here they are again (Review 1, Review 2).  Both indicate this game is enjoyable and highly playable.  I might try running this game solo and then try to get my kids and their friends to play some other time.  Ideally I would love to convert this to a set of miniature rules and try my hand at building another desert fort.

 Here are the rules…

french-foreign-legion_rules-book

french-foreign-legion_game-card

 

Posted in War Games & Rules | 2 Comments

Legion Pulp: They March From Yesterday (Part 2)

075As promised, here is the second part of this Georges Surdez story which was published in the March 15th edition of Adventure.  I promised to post this in less time than the original readers in 1930 had to wait for it and mistakenly thought I had 30 days but as I was scanning suddenly realized that this magazine was publishing twice monthly (two issues a month from April 1926 to May 1933 and three issues a month from October 1921 to March 1926 !) and that if I wanted to follow up with the second half of the story I needed to post it ASAP.  So here it is…

They-March-From-Yesterday-Part-2

Note: I have not read it yet so I’ll try and post a review shortly.

Posted in Pulp Fiction Stories, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Joyeux Noël / Fröhliche Weihnachten etc.

Merry Christmas to all Monlegionnaire followers, regular readers and random visitors and may your 2017 be prosperous, interesting, and peaceful.

noel-au-maroc-avec-des-legionnaires

Above is one of my favorite pictures from Le Petit Journal that appeared in the 28 December 1913 issue.

In the court of the old adobe kasbah, with their meager resources, the legionaries give themselves the illusion of a Christmas tree from their native land.  By means of a wood pole and a few palm leaves, they have improvised a fir tree, to the branches of which will be hung packets of tobacco and cigarettes, bottles of liqueurs and other small delicacies, and brightened by the luster of some rare candles saved since their departure.
While two of them watch the cooking of the roast, the “méchoui” or mutton skilfully stuffed with native spices, another adorns the rough hair of the “good dog” of the battalion with tricolor ribbons.  
Another pulls from the bottom of his sack a bottle of champagne, religiously reserved for this great occasion; it will be drunk to the health of those there; of that Alsace always so dear.
Others finish putting the cover on a table made of boards and stones and improvised benches on ammunition crates.  …but they have remained fully equipped, for in this hostile country the sudden attacks of the fierce and fanatical warriors of the Bled are always to be feared.

Here are a couple of other favorites from Kepi Blanc Magazine that I played with…

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Lets not forget some Christmas carols sung by the Legion…

…and of course, one of the best episodes of Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion.

 

Posted in Admin / Blogging / Stuff | 5 Comments

Harrison Forman’s Pictures of the First Indochina War

The University of Milwaukee Libraries Digital Collections page has posted over 300 photos taken by Harrison Forman during a 1950 visit to French Indochina.  Forman (1904-1978) was an American explorer, aviator, photographer, journalist and author.  The collection at UWM comprises 62 diaries kept by Forman as well as over 50,000 photographs and other ephemera.  His observations include accounts of the Sino-Japanese conflict, the Chinese government under Chiang Kai-shek, the Japanese bombardment of Shanghai in 1937, and the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.   During World War II he reported from China.

The photographs posted below were found under the category “indochinese war, 1946-1954”.  There were several themes to his photographs–he liked to take pictures of average soldiers from the various French forces.  These include Senegalese, Algerian and Moroccan as well as soldiers from the French Foreign Legion.  Other categories include air-drop staging, blockhouse building, and various other logistics being performed.  The details on these pictures are very sketchy as far has identifying the French units. Perhaps this was OPSEC.  I’ve not read the diary that Forman wrote during his visit but a quick scan of it does not seem to help identify any French units by name.  I believe there are pictures here of the early Foreign Legion airborne forces of the 1BEP (1st Foreign Parachute Battalion) and the 3REI (3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment) where many of the airborne volunteers were drawn from.  There may be French airborne troops from other units in these pictures but the metadata does not help identify them so sorting through these pictures I selected the best ones that depict what I believe are Legionnaires.

NOTE: I disabled the gallery function because it was not working right so I recommend using the old “right-click, open-in-new-window” function. I also cleaned up the duplicate pictures that somehow slipped by.

 

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Legion Pulp: They March From Yesterday (Part 1)

1Here is this month’s pulp story–another great tale from Georges Surdez.  Well, actually only half a story; the first of a two-part serial which appeared in the March, 1930 edition of Adventure.  I have the second part of this story in hard copy so stay tuned–I promise you won’t have to wait as long as the folks back in 1930 had to wait for the next issue.

The story concerns an French-American who gets involved in some gangster-related activity in New York and has to beat a quick escape to his father’s hometown in France.  Unfortunately for him the authorities there keep good records of who is due for mandatory service in the military.  So naturally, following his sense of adventure, he signs up for the Foreign Legion.

They-Marched-From-Yesterday

Thanks to the original scanner “SAS” for making this beautiful pulp available.

 

Posted in Pulp Fiction Stories | 1 Comment

Hodgepodge for November 2016

It’s amazing how quickly the days are passing as this cruel and amazing year draws to an end.  The Christmas Season has suddenly exploded; all over the stores, the TV, radio and internet.  My small town’s streets and shop windows are well decorated and the neighbor’s houses are aglow with thousands of twinkling lights and inflatable Santa Clauses.  Daylight has become scarce (despite the charade of Daylight Savings Time) and yet we still have leftovers from Thanksgiving in the fridge, not a single present has been bought and not a flake of snow has lasted more than a minute.  …and I’m a day late on this post.  Here are some of the random things related to the Foreign Legion that I found last month.

conactart1. The Legion was my Homeland.  This article appeared as one of several articles on the Foreign Legion found on Special-Ops.org.  It was written by Sean Burton and originally appeared in the Australian military magazine Contact (Issue 1, March 2004).  It relates a brief description of service in the Legion as experienced by an Australian named Shane.  Here is a .pdf.

2. French Involvement in Vietnam & Dien Bien Phu.  I saw this recently on YouTube.  This is a 26 minute documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite that neatly summarizes what is called the First Indochina War from December 1946 to August 1954.  There are several scenes that show the Foreign Legion in action.

3.  Another Inspirational Video Clip.  I really can’t keep up with the number of cool Foreign Legion videos that appear on YouTube.  I don’t think I posted this one yet–it’s really well done.

4. Flickr Photographs.  Here are some recent pictures that came up on Flickr.  The first ones are additions to this album posted by Hans-Michael Tappen.  The Son Tay monument appeared in a photostream by manhhai who has also shared hundreds of other vintage pictures of Vietnam.

5.  Facebook.  This is a useless app.  I really hate it.  Nonetheless, I’m increasingly getting pulled into this madness because so many of my family and friends are active there.  In fact, this blog, Monlegionnaire has a Facebook doppelganger.  For now it simply mirrors what I post here on the wordpress blog.  I did notice that there are many Foreign Legion related Facebook pages out there that need to be recognized.  So here are some of my favorites….  (more on this topic later as there seems to be a Facebook page for every Foreign Legion unit down to the company level as well as every recent Legionnaire who served or are still serving.)

French Foreign Legion: a Descriptive Bibliography

Foreign Legion Info

Légion Etrangère / French Foreign Legion

Collecting French Foreign Legion Badges

Posted in Hodgepodge, Photographs, Video | 6 Comments

French Saharan Adventures (Le Petit Journal 6)

Here are some more color covers; this time from Le Petit Journal illustré which was the weekly illustrated supplement to the daily newspaper Le Petit Journal.  These depict various scenes from the French colonial experience in the Sahara.  Some of these, such as those featuring the Tuaregs, appear to be over-painted photographs.  These came (mostly) from GalicaI just brightened them up a bit using GIMP.

 

Posted in Art & Illustration | 2 Comments

French Colonial Adventures (La Petit Parisian 3)

Here are some more pictures from the journal La Petit Parisian that depict various scenes from the French colonial outposts in Africa and Indochina.  Most of these are from 1889 to 1912 and were found on Galica.  I played around with the brightness and contrast on the colored illustrations to make them a bit more vivid.  There are also some more covers from the Petite Journal–a magazine very similar with full illustrations on the front and pack covers and I’ll try to post those next.

Posted in Art & Illustration, Tonkin | Leave a comment