Legion Pulp: Lacey of the Legion

The author of this short story from Thrilling Adventures (August 1940) might ring a bell.  It’s a house pseudonym used by several authors writing pulps for Standard Magazines (whose bevy of titles included G-Men, Popular Western, Texas Rangers, Ranch Stories, Rio Kid and Masked Rider Western, Captain Future and Black Book Detective among many others).  The most popular author associated with this handle was A. Leslie Scott who wrote many, many Texas Ranger stories featuring rangers Walt Slade and Jim Hatfield.  Thrilling Adventures ran from December 1931 to November 1943 for 139 issues.  If you want to read the entire magazine it is available hereThe cover is below (restored by the generous scanner “sas”). 

Lacey of the Legion

Lacey of the Legion is a good action tale, a bit short on character depth and Legion lore and background but it was funny in places and well written.  It’s also a perfectly formulaic Foreign Legion pulp story that includes desert outposts, a strong and impulsive Anglo-American lead, funny and odd sidekicks, and a flustered senior commander.   It also has the rebellious Tuareg tribe teaming up with Nazis to mess with the French outposts–so the classic Legion garrison tale is updated to the 1940’s.

NOTE:  I apologize for slacking off from blog posting these past months.  One pulp story a month is pretty lazy IMO.  I had every intention on posting weekly during this year and even made a detailed plan back in January that scheduled my ready-to-post material and content out to 2024.  I also built a reading list and movie list to follow.  Alas, I’ve fallen victim again to a personal weakness my father pointed out to me when I was young–“you move from one damn thing to another!“.  He was not being critical but was just pointing out that my interests would move too frequently from one subject to the next.  One month I would be obsessed with the U.S. Civil War, then next month it was the Eastern Front of WWII, then Dungeons and Dragons, Pirates, WW1 air combat, French-Indian War, Spies, etc.  I was too easily swayed in my interests.  What I decided to read reflected this kaleidoscope in my head.  It also showed up in the subjects of my drawings, movies I watched and my gaming tables (I was a nascent war gamer in the 70’s).  Just before joining the Army I read nothing but police novels like Joseph Wambaugh, Robert Daley, and Ed McBain and then as a new private in an Infantry Brigade moved quickly to reading Vietnam memoirs.  I don’t think I’ve ever grew out of this habit.

I mention this because a wayward attention span effects my posting regularly to this blog.  Last year it was WW2 U.S. Submarines and the war in the Pacific Theater.  This year it was the war in Ukraine that totally sidetracked me.  Since February I’ve dropped all my other interests in order read books about Ukraine to better understand what happened in 2014 and the history of that region in general.  Then there is the regular flow of news, videos, social media feeds, and think tank articles.  I religiously follow the ISW reports as well as Euromaidan Press and several other websites.  I can’t seem to get enough even though it has no practical use.  Then, to really mess with my head, there was an important election this year (which ended horribly for my team) and I devoted much of any remaining time to keeping track of that.  So, in summary, I blame Putin and ballot-harvesting Democrats (bastards!) for diverting me away from blogging about the French Foreign Legion.

…and that’s my excuse.  I do hope to recover soon, make up for lost time and get back on my blogging schedule so stay tuned.

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Legion Pulp: Loot at Kwang-Kum

This Foreign Legion tale from Bob Du Soe (Robert Coleman DuSoe) appeared in the February 1934 issue of Thrilling Adventures.  I find the work of Du Soe to be really straight forward with not much effort spent on extensive character development or plot background–always direct to the action.  This story, set in French Tonkin, is full of standard pulp elements such as a golden idol stashed away in a destroyed temple (the loot) with a precious map needed to find it again, a multiple murder mystery to solve and plenty of action leading to a final battle and revenge.  Standard fare, but I found it interesting that Du Soe gave the American Legionnaire a wooden hand…where have I heard about that before?

Loot at Kwang Kum

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Legion Pulp: Warriors in Exile – Gentleman Royal

This month’s story is from Blue Book Magazine (June 1938).  It is installment #13 of 17 in the Warriors-in-Exile series of Foreign Legion stories written by the famous and prolific pulp author H. Bedford Jones.  This one takes place during the Franco-Siamese War of 1893.  One has to hand it to Bedford-Jones, as this is probably the only story written that is set in this conflict in all of pulp fiction.   As Bedford-Jones often does, this story begins as a frame story.  A tale recounted to the narrator of the story by another who participated in the events.  This time it is by a Pierre Dupre, a highly decorated former legionnaire who tells about his early experiences in the Siam incursion and his comrade, an “Unknown Solder” the mysterious Corporal Andre d’Ici.  The story takes the concept of Legion anonymity and plops it in the jungles of Siam, adds a nefarious arms dealer, a naive young legionnaire and just enough action to make it to the end of 10 pages.  It’s not the best Warriors-in-Exile stories and I found Beford-Jones’ writing in this case somewhat hard to follow but it’s not bad.  Also, if there was an allusion in the end to a real life royal family I’m too obtuse to figure it out.  …and the girl in the story?…it doesn’t end well for her.

Warriors in Exile – Gentleman Royal

Note: The entire Warriors-in-Exile series can be found in this most excellent book from Steeger Books.  That’s 373 pages of pulp goodness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Legion Pulp: A Saharan Battle

I hope nobody is disappointed by this single page pulp story.  It appeared in the January 1931 issue of Blue Book Magazine which also featured a Tarzan story by Edgar Rice Burroughs so we are lucky enough that this one was scanned by a generous soul on the internet.  One can tell from the first paragraph however that the authenticity of the tale is somewhat suspect since I never heard of a French Foreign Legion officer commanding a goum of meharists (camel mounted scouts).  But, this page did appear in a pulp magazine and I have to post it some time eventually as old pulp fiction stories of the Legion are a finite resource and are getting harder to find.  So you can use the .pdf or the image below to print out this story of a short but bloody desert action.  Note: I promise a longer story next month. 

A Saharan Battle

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Legion Pulp: Taboo

Here is a short novelette from Georges Surdez that appeared in the 15 October 1930 issue of Adventure Magazine.  Like many of Surdez’s stories, he explores certain common military themes and situations but through the unique lenses, traditions and customs of the French Foreign Legion.  In this story he again addresses the often tense relationship between new, inexperienced and often impertinent young officers and the old school, decorated, war forged, grizzled Legionnaires.  It’s a situation most officers and senior NCO’s of any country’s military can relate to–that delicate task of the senior enlisted in training and mentoring the young shavetails for the difficult leadership tasks they will face ahead in their careers.  There are often conflicts between the two strong willed soldiers and sometimes there are Anciens that simply confound the whole system and it takes a shooting war to sort things out.

Taboo

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Legion Pulp: Missing—Believed Dead

This month’s pup tale comes from Short Stories and appeared in the 25 March 1933 issue.  The author, Leighton H. Blood, penned several Foreign Legion stories in his latter career as a writer.  Blood was an U.S. Army infantry and armor soldier in WWI, achieving the rank of captain by war’s end.  In between wars he had a chance to visit the Foreign Legion in Morocco circa 1927/28 which lends his stories a bit of authenticity.  His fiction work appeared mostly in The Popular Magazine and some slicks

The hero of this tale is Rene Falk, AKA John Edward Lockett, an American Legionnaire born in Chicago who joined the Legion after years of undercover espionage work in North Africa during the Great War where he foiled German plans to arm Berber rebels against the French.  It seems that once dipped in the mire of espionage it is not so easy to get away from it’s ramifications, even when the war is long over with. (Note, this story contains one of the slowest forms of intelligence communications I’ve ever read about.)

Missing – Believed Dead

You can read the entire Short Stories issue here.

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Legion Pulp: The King’s Pipe

A little known campaign of the Foreign Legion occurred in 1892 when a mixed 800 man Battalion was sent to fight in the west African country of Dahomey ( present-day Benin).  King Behanzin was leading his forces against the French interests there and it was up to Colonel Alfred-Amedée Dodds of the Colonial Infantry and his contingent of 4,000 marines, legionnaires, Senegalese tirailleurs, Spahis and loyal Hausa tribesmen to restore order.  Facing the French were a strong force of 4,500 of the kings guard and another 10,000 or so warriors.  Among the toughest fighters in Behanzin’s forces were the female warriors nicknamed Amazons “renowned for their marksmanship and feared for their propensity to torture and mutilate anyone who fell into their hands. Once every three years the best families in the kingdom would present their eligible daughters before a sort of royal examination board. The prettiest were chosen for the king’s harem, and the most physically fit were placed in the king’s bodyguard and trained for war.” 

This story is one of the few pieces of fiction that I’m aware of that is set in the troubled Dahomey of this time.  Of course it was H. Bedford Jones who wrote it for Blue Book Magazine (July 1938) as part of his long running Warriors in Exile series of Foreign Legion tales.  I actually found a copy of this on FadedPage so this month’s format is a bit different without the two column pulp format.

The King’s Pipe

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Foreign Legion Coloring Pages

I’m sure everyone has seen those adult coloring books at your department store checkout lanes or book kiosks.  I’m not talking about “adult” type of books with boobs but those coloring books designed for adults (or older children) to work on in order to relax with and relieve the stresses of the day through a meditative process of simple artistry.  I think some of them are kind of interesting and worked on a couple of pages from a Celtic Knot book some years ago.

So, for those who want to try something different than doodling, here is the first version of a simple digital coloring book that I’ve been compiling for a while.  I’ve tried to isolate as many line drawings as I could and edit them so they provide blank space to color inside.  These are mostly drawings by the great French illustrators Pierre Benigni, Maurice Mahut and the more contemporary Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage.  The others you might recognize from the pulp magazine illustrations posted here all these years.  Some of the other images came from old Kepi Blanc magazines, Pinterest, and who knows where else.  Just browse through and print the current page you like (be careful not to print all of them as there are 105 pages or so).  Colored pencils might work better than markers or crayons but that’s up to the user.  It’s a first draft and I’m aware of one duplicate image and some fuzziness to a couple others but I’m posting it now so it does not fall victim to the “perfection is the enemy of good enough” syndrome.  Later on I’ll update this post with a 2.0 version.

French Foreign Legion Coloring Pages

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Camerone 2022!

Today is the 159th anniversary of the famous Battle of Camarón (Bataille de Camerone) that took place this day in Mexico.  It’s the most revered and celebrated commemoration in the Foreign Legion.  For the first time in two years since Covid restrictions began attendance was open to the public for all Regimental celebrations and events.  It is a day celebrated by Legionnaires no matter where they find themselves.  The official event that includes the hand of Captain Danjou happens in Aubagne, France which is the headquarters of the Foreign Legion.  YouTube videos are already up…here is a good overview and one here.

The designated Porteur de la Main is Captain Estoup. He is a veteran of the 1 REP who saw action in Indochina. He was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor on 29 April and on Camerone Day he was designated to walk up the “sacred path” with the wooden hand of Captain Danjou accompanied by a guard of legionnaires both retired and active: Chief Warrant Officer Heinrich Hartkopf (Retired), Chief Warrant Officer Saïd Ighir (Retired), Sergeant Lucien Veres and Chief Brigadier Magomed Moussaiev. During this ceremony the fallen legionnaires of the 1REP and other former parachutist legionnaires were honored.

According to the Captain Estoup’s book he refers to the First Parachute Regiment of the Legion (1REP) and honors it’s fallen members.  The unit was disbanded for participation in a putsch against then President Charles DeGaulle.   “This regiment (1REP) died on April 28, 1961 and on April 29, 2011, in Puyloubier, in front of the flag of the 1st REP exhumed from the crypt of Aubagne and entrusted to a guard of the 2nd REP, the Amicale des Anciens Parachutistes de la Légion Étrangère (Association of Former Paratroopers of the Foreign Legion) called the roll of the 751 men of the 1st BEP-1st REP, including 2 of its commanding officers, who had died for France in Indo-China and in Algeria from July 1, 1948 to April 30, 1961. And still, no Vietnamese name was included in the roll call because we have not been able to preserve the memory, individually, of the many auxiliaries who fell in our ranks in Indochina! Thirteen years of fighting. Two resurrections, one final death. …They will be honored on April 30th.”

More pictures here.

NOTE:  I had to be away from the keyboard for most of today so I’m playing catch up.  I still have a couple more posts to get to to celebrate Camerone Day so come back soon. 

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200 Foreign Legion Fiction Books

Here’s another long term project finally come to completion.  It consists of two very large sized pictures that serve as a graphic bibliography depicting the covers of 200 fiction books featuring the French Foreign Legion in some capacity. The first hundred books were  easy to find but the other hundred…not so much.  I have to credit Tom Savage’s facebook page for many of these items especially the dust covers for the old UK/Sampson Low novels.  Also thanks to Eugene O. who provided a dozen or so of the rare Panther paperbacks and, I have to admit, Amazon was helpful for many of the more obscure but wonderful books out on Kindle and print-on-demand option. I may have a repeat or two in here because so many of the covers change over time as the story gets reprinted and passed around to other publishers.  I’ll keep working on it.  There are several more books I could not fit into the 200 book format so these will be the start of the 100 slide.  The pictures are large and may not display properly because Word Press sucks.  Here are the direct download links (Slide-1) and (Slide-2).

Note: I posted an earlier graphic depicting 100 non-fiction books here. I’m working on a follow on to that one but have not reached the 200 mark yet.

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