Sorry for the lack of posts this month. I’ve been busy with work and other projects and I often get home in a vegetative state of mind, not wanting to do much of anything else but watch politics on TV before bed. It must be S.A.D. / Seasonal Affective Disorder. Anyway, here are some tidbits of stuff I found on the Foreign Legion this past month…
1. Avalanche Kills Six Foreign Legion Soldiers. Horrible news from Savoie, France as five Legionnaires from the 2nd Engineer Regiment (2REG) were tragically killed in an avalanche while conducting training on Monday the 18th. A sixth Legionnaire passed away from his injuries on the 25th. A memorial for the fallen was held last week. Rest in Peace.
2. Edmonde Charles-Roux. A great Frenchwoman and close friend of the Foreign Legion passed away on 21 January. Charles-Roux, at age 19, served as a nurse for a Foreign Legion ambulance unit when the Second World War broke out. Wounded in action she was made an honorary corporal of the Foreign Legion. In 1944 she joined the Free French forces as head of military social work and was with the First Army and her beloved Legion units throughout the savage winter fighting in Alsace-Lorraine and Germany. She was wounded a second time in the last part of the war and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and made a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. She would later become a writer and journalist covering art, fashion and culture, creating the fashion magazine “Elle”. She would often remind people that she was “a Foreign Legion corporal twice wounded under fire”. The Foreign Legion provided and honor guard for her memorial service.
3. Planet Figure. This is a great forum for those hobbyists dedicated to creating beautiful military, historical and fantasy figurines. I decided to run some searches there and found some really awesome figures. I borrowed some images from there but I must recommend you thoroughly check out the whole forum as there are hundreds of very accurately painted military figures.
4. Unfeasibly Casbah. Here is a new building from Unfeasibly Miniatures. I really like the style and the odd way the buildings connect together. A couple more building sets of this type and you can construct a good replica of any Arab souk / kasbah. These walled in older portions of North African cities are generally unnavigable warrens of narrow streets, walkways, alleys and passages. The place were Legionnaires go when they are told not to, searching for those small cafes where the dancing girls can be found. A great addition to their increasingly large line of Legion and Tuareg miniatures.
5. Legion Patria Nostra Photo Gallery. Here is another set of photographs by Eduard Elias. These pictures capture Foreign Legionnaires in various activities in garrison, in training, during various ceremonies as well as during their off time. I hate to say this but these guys look very much like young soldiers in most other armies. Not too many bearded, bemedalled, grizzled old anciens in these pictures.
This exciting pulp story comes from the October 1938 issue Action Stories. It includes a Bedouin attack on a small mud fort in the Sahara. The fort is commanded by a sadistic adjutant who rules over his small platoon with naked brutality and because of this the fort is doomed to fall…but for the actions of Legionnaire Clay and the Foreign Legion Air Force (yep, you read that right).
Blood Debt of the Legion
Happy New Year to everyone. I’ve sufficiently recovered from last night’s overindulgence to be able to put together this short post to start off the new year.
1. The Man and the Legend. This article is a well done piece on Peter Ortiz; former Foreign Legionnaire, U.S. Marine and OSS operative. Ortiz was awarded two Navy Crosses, second only to the Medal of Honor ,for his service in WWII. The second award was made upon his release from a German P.O.W. camp at the end of the war. His awesome reply when asked why he would subject himself to the harsh discipline of the Foreign Legion…“Yes, it’s as hard as anything in the world, I suppose, but I don’t regret going for it. I wanted to live a man’s life. What should I have been doing if I had stayed in Paris? Cocktail parties, nightclubs?”
2. 82nd Airborne Division Trains with Foreign Legion. Back in 2014, 120 Paratroopers from various units of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division landed in Corsica to continue to foster their airborne relationships with the French 2e Regiment Etranger Parachutiste (2REP). The Amarican Paratroopers, nicknamed “Task Force Corsica”, will conducedt various training missions throughout the island and participated in basic French airborne training in order to better familiarize themselves with French weapons and equipment. Pictures of this training can be found here as well as on Flikr.
3. Reading Material. Here are a couple of good websites for those inclined to do their reading on the internet. The first is a collection of anecdotes, forum posts and letters posted by Voltigeur. The second is an index to several Reddit threads that mostly have great information shared by current and former legionnaires and others who have attempted to join the Legion.
4. Cthulhu, the Foreign Legion and Role Playing Games. This is an interesting thread posted on a forum devoted to role playing the H. P. Lovecraft “mythos”. The basic discussion centers on using the French Foreign Legion as a plot device in creating role playing game scenarios and adventures. It references a Lovecraft gaming fanzine called The Whisperer which apparently has two articles that provide readers with some back ground to the Legion as well as tips and rules on integrating the Legion into a game. I found it interesting because I too believe the Legion’s history, the far flung French outposts in the Sahara and the eclectic mix of legionnaires with unknown backgrounds is perfect soil for good fiction. Even good horror fiction.
5. Photo Album: The Foreign Legion in French Guiana. This gallery, entitled Operation Harpie 2015, was posted to imgur a couple of weeks ago. Once you get past the bug pictures there are several photographs that give a very close “Hero Cam” experience of Foreign Legion operations in South America.
About a month ago I purchased a bound volume of The Mentor magazine. This large and heavy book (Volume 16) included all twelve monthly issues from February 1928 to January of 1929. It was a good price on eBay and also had a nice color cover and story featuring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (which was why I bought it). Once the mail arrived and I had the book in my greedy hands I sat down and randomly opened it up to page 24 of the March issue and discovered, to my good fortune, a short article on the Sahara Desert entitled “In the Footprints of Beau Geste and Beau Sabreur”. This title is in reference to the two movies based the P. C. Wren novels of the same name which were released in 1926 and 1928 respectively.
The pictures and some of the text features the author’s visit with a Captain Mars, a short stout officer who seems to be in charge of a tiny garrison of native Seneglese at El Oued Souf. The author, Otto C. Gilmore, was a photographer as well as cinematographer who was credited with at least one movie from 1915 and also patented a two color system for adding color to movies. (No wonder his reference point throughout this article were the two Geste movies.)
It was impossible to scan these pages because of the large size and tight binding of the volume so I took some pictures instead. The whole article can be read in the document below…
Footprints of Beau Geste
First picture is unrelated…a hi-res scan of a period post card depicting legionnaires in Morocco.
Merry Christmas to all and may you have a Happy New Year!
I’m sorry for having nothing to post today but holiday well wishes….I’ve just transitioned from a week-long sinus based cold to some horrible form of extraterrestrial / bio-warfare type of stomach flu last night. My energy cells are depleted but I will get back to posting again next week.
This story is from Georges Surdez again. An early story of his that appeared in the September 1st, 1928 issue of Adventure. It does not center on the Foreign Legion but instead on another of France’s indigenous colonial forces known as the Mokhazenis. This name is derived from the name of the various governing bodies that ruled in Morocco over several centuries known as the makhzen. This armed force served the king of Morocco and eventually came under the organization and control of France. They were irregular light cavalry for the most part.
Sons of the Sword
I had to take the easy way out again on this month’s pulp story. Although I have this issue of Adventure on my scan pile it was recently scanned by someone else. So hats off and merci beaucoup to the original scanner.
I could have sworn there were 31 days in November. Oh well, here are some random internet finds related to the Foreign Legion.
1. Thibaut Corday of the French Foreign Legion Action Figure. Joe Customs is a website devoted to the plastic action figure. It seems to cover collecting, customizing and scratch building action figures of all genres. On their forum pages there is a thread featuring a Thibaut Corday figure. Corday is a fictional character created by H. Beford-Jones that appeared exclusively for Argosy. He is the crusty Legion veteran who spins tall tales of his far flung adventures. Altus Press has the entire 21 story collection.
2. Travel Documents Required for Joining the French Foreign Legion. Here is an interesting checklist for those traveling to France to join the Legion. It popped up online as part of a South African travel company called Capago.
Checklist Short Stay-ForeignLegion
3. Humor. We all need a laugh every so often so check out these oddities.
An Imgur gallery praising the Foreign Legion as the antidote to ISIS
A Havoc Journal article addressed to all the Special Ops wannabes with some tips on joining the Foreign Legion
An Alex Jones interview with Dr. Steve Pieczenik who seems to have everything in the Middle East all figured out.
4. The Musical Legion. One would be surprised to know how musically oriented the Legion is. Ever since their founding in the early 1800’s they Foreign Legion has had a band of some sort as well as being notorious for their marching songs which are essential for new Legionnaires to learn completely and to be able to sing as loudly and perfectly as possible. The Foreign Legion band has been rated one of the best military bands in the world and performs in many shows and competitions. When the Foreign Legion was still stationed in North Africa their Corps and Regimental bands provided weekly shows for locals at Sidi Bel Abbes and Saida, Algeria. Here are a just a couple of videos of the modern Legion band in action.
It’s time to post some more interesting news articles about the Foreign Legion. Most of these came from the New York Times. I enjoy these short, strange stories of missing men, would-be and actual former Legionnaires (such as artist Thure de Thulstrup). Also of note is the article about two other artists, Martin and George Baer and their travels in Morocco, Algeria and the fringes of the Saharan desert. You can read them individually below or download the .pdf file.
New Clippings 3
Here is a real treat today,…(I think we need it), the entire second issue of Foreign Legion Adventures. This was a very short run pulp that consisted of only two issues by Munsey. The first issue was published in August 1940 and this issue was published in October of 1940. Both are increasingly rare and if you see either of these issues in very good condition it would fetch well over $100.00. Issues with missing covers still go for over $20-30.00. So thanks to Joel for the scan. You can also download a .pdf version of the magazine below (beware—89 MB).
Foreign Legion Adventures Issue 2
The issue consists of the following stories which are mostly reprints from previous issues of Argosy. I’ve previously posted The Renegade Caid but Soldiers of Misfortune, Murder in the Rif and The Death Watch are all new to this blog.
Page 6 · Soldiers of Misfortune by J. D. Newsom (appeared in Argosy Jun 1 1935)
Page 47 · The Fighting Man’s Lexicon by W. A. Windas (1 page graphic).
Page 48 · Murder in the Rif by Houston Day (appeared in Argosy Jun 2 1934)
Page 56 · An American Officer of the Legion: Capt. Edgar G. Hamilton by Stookie Allen (1 page)
Page 58 · The Death Watch [Thibaut Corday] by Theodore Roscoe (appeared in Argosy May 3 1930)
Page 82 · The Renegade Caid by F. Van Wyck Mason (appeared in Argosy Sep 6 193)
Random Comment: God bless those killed and God comfort the wounded and survivors in the latest senseless attacks in Paris. It’s sickening what happened. ISIS is sickening. Their demented death-cult ideology is sickening….and I’m damn sick of hearing the latest whining from the so-called religion of peace and their apologists.
However, most nauseating, is seeing the cultural suicide of Western Europe (and the United States) played out in slow motion and narrated with inane commentary by the usual politically correct left wing, socialist morons. These diversity cultists are now making excuses for ISIS. They are more concerned about the hurt feelings of Muslims and climate change than they are about the slain victims. Obama can’t even call these Muslims what they are–Islamic Terrorists, and dares to lecture us again on jumping to conclusions about the perpetrators. How many dead will it take to convince them that Muslims don’t like Western Civilization? …or are we just supposed to live with the occasional terror attack (keep your mouths shut!) and accept that this is the price to pay for achieving their goal of a multicultural paradise?
For God’s sake Europe! …at least close the borders and deport the hordes of infiltrators that now squat within your borders and who demand housing and money, rape your women, and burn your neighborhoods.
If I offended anyone….too f***ing bad.
Here is a recapitulation of the odds and ends I found last month on the net related to the French Foreign Legion…
1. The Good Soldier. This article appeared in the recent September Rolling Stone Magazine. It is a pretty good story about Lieutenant Lawrence Franks, the West Point graduate who deserted his Army platoon to join the Foreign Legion in 2009. Franks later turned himself in to the Army a day after he fulfilled his five year obligation to the Legion, knowing he would have to face the music. I’m not a fan of the loony leftist Rolling Stone but every so rarely they have some decent reporting and this one was very informative. It would have been much better if the author didn’t try so hard to scandalize the U.S. Army’s actions in dealing with Franks. (Leftists always have to have a CAUSE don’t they?) Make your own judgements after reading this.
Personally, I think Franks should have got a lighter sentence and some medical attention/evaluations while he serves out his time in the brig. He’s not ignorant about his condition and stated that he will never use medication which he fears might make matters far worse. Yet, he did desert after all and will probably have to pay back the government for his schooling at West Point. I’m also glad his service in the Legion seemed to help him overcome his personal demons and this alone is inspiring in several ways. I really hope he writes a book about his whole experience that might be some sort of help to fellow soldiers–American, British, French or any nationality–who also might suffer with similar bouts of depression. For another take on Franks you should check out this good piece.
2. Some Videos. Here are two videos worth watching. The first is some 2003 action footage from the Foreign Legion operations in the Ivory Coast / Cote d’Ivoire. The other is another motivational video.
3. Fighting for the French Foreign Legion. Here is a good book review of Alex Lochrie’s memoir of his time in the Legion. Originally published in 2009, it is a great account of life in the 2REP (2nd Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment) during the 1990’s.
4. Follow that Camel. It appears this wargaming thread over on Lead Adventures may have run it’s course with the concluding battle playing out on the last four pages of comments. The whole thread provides some excellent terrain building tips and gaming ideas not to mention visually stimulating photographs. It’s nice to see how it all comes together.