I used to post a monthly wrap up of new Foreign Legion related articles and items (a hodgepodge) found on the “inter-webs”. I stopped these posts last year because it seemed like I was reaching too hard for relevant material each month. But, since it has been a while since the last “Hodgepodge” there are many interesting things you may have missed. So here is a Springtime Hodgepodge…
1. Warriors in Exile by H. Bedford-Jones. This is a new book from Altus Press which contains seventeen pulp stories about the French Foreign Legion. “Collected for the first time is author H. Bedford-Jones’ 17-part saga of the French Foreign Legion… the fascinating series based on the records of the most famous and picturesque fighting force of modern times. Featuring stories of the Foreign Legions in Crimea, Italy, Formosa, Tonkin, Siam, Dahomey, Sudan, Madagascar, the Sahara, with Maximilian of Austria in Mexico, war-torn Spain in 1835, and the Franco-Prussian War.” The soft cover is $24.95 which is a bargain at any price since the only alternative is to find and purchase 17 issues of the old and crumbly yet expensive actual Blue Book Magazine to read each of the stories. This volume measures in at 384 pages which would make this one of the finest collection of Foreign Legion pulp fiction ever published between two covers. Here is the list of stories included in this collection.
I. “We, About to Die”, The Blue Book Magazine Jun 1937
II. A Touch of Sun, The Blue Book Magazine Jul 1937
III. The Legion in Spain, The Blue Book Magazine Aug 1937
IV. The Grandson of Pompey, The Blue Book Magazine Sep 1937
V. Leather-Bellies in the Crimea, The Blue Book Magazine Oct 1937
VI. “Life, Not Courage, Left Them”, The Blue Book Magazine Nov 1937
VII. The First American to Fight in the Legion, The Blue Book Magazine Dec 1937
VIII. One Night in Magenta, The Blue Book Magazine Jan 1938
IX. Dust of Dead Souls, The Blue Book Magazine Feb 1938
X. A Crown Is Earned, The Blue Book Magazine Mar 1938
XI. The Crime of the Legion, The Blue Book Magazine Apr 1938
XII. Fighting Through, The Blue Book Magazine May 1938
XIII. Gentleman Royal, The Blue Book Magazine Jun 1938
XIV. The King’s Pipe, The Blue Book Magazine Jul 1938
XV. The Little Black God, The Blue Book Magazine Aug 1938
XVI. Reilly of the Legion, The Blue Book Magazine Sep 1938
XVII. A Devil in the Heart, The Blue Book Magazine Oct 1938
2. Foreign Legion Wargame at Hamburger Tactica. This popular wargame convention featured a Foreign Legion game billed as “Sons of the Desert”. It used the Triumph & Tragedy game rules to resolve a large skirmish between France’s legionnaires and massed forces of marauding Arab tribesmen. The table was top-notch and featured a Hudson & Allen Fort Zinderneuf desert fort as the center piece of terrain. Pictures and a recap of the game are here and a description of how the game table was assembled is here. I see other photographs of this game on various AAR’s from the Tactica event–too numerous to post here but just look for AAR’s from the convention and you will find them. Also note that there were several desert themed boards (Dune, Battle of Hattin, Afghanistan, Benghazi, etc.) there and the Turkish Fort I spotted would double for a good French one. A video of the convention is here (with the Legion board making a cameo at 13:57) and another one here (at 14:03).
3. Thomas Gast–The Foreign Legion – First Hand Tips. If you have not been to this webpage before you are in for a real treat. Mr. Gast, a Legion veteran (of 17 years!) provides his passionate insights into how to join and survive in this famous unit. In numerous videos he also discusses some history of the Legion and talks about his experiences from 1985-2002 where he served in the 2nd Parachute Regiment (2REP). The links may be a bit confusing but you can access all of his videos on YouTube here.
4. Fremdenlegion in Indochina. Here is another set of vintage photographs of the Legion in Indochina that appeared on the Flickr page of Hans-Michael Tappen. They are clearly not all taken in Indochina as several are definitely from North Africa (and include some odd, unrelated portraiture as well). Additional random pictures of the Foreign Legion were added to this album as well as to this album. The picture above seemed to have slipped into yet another album of Mr. Tappen’s that had no other Legion photographs. It seems to show some Legionnaires from the 1st BN, 5th Regiment playing around by the kitchen doors. It appears that second man on the right might have just been promoted to “caporal” and is being ribbed by the guy on the far left.
5. Americans in the Foreign Legion. Here is an article from Stars and Stripes that addresses this subject directly. There are several pictures to this one as well and the comments are enjoyable too (including my own).
6. Random Photographs. I’m always “hoovering” the internet of photographs related to the Foreign Legion. Here some of the more interesting items I’ve found these last several months…
- Rif War Aerial Photographs. These pictures appeared recently on Gallica and show a bird’s eye view of several French bases and outposts used during their fighting against the Rif in the mid 1920’s. The small blockhouses perched on the high ground are very interesting to look at if you zoom in. You can see how hastily they were constructed with rock walls, ammo boxes filled with earth, wire obstacles, and outer trench-works.
- North Africa. These pictures came from this French website where you can search by location for pictures in their database. It is a poor interface but I found that some key words were able to bring up many military related photographs. Most of these photographs were taken circa 1915-1916 in Morocco where the Legion was engaged in operations against various rebel and bandit groups while the Great War was being fought in Europe. Events include awards ceremonies, campaign maneuvers, groups shots, etc.
7. Drinking to Forget. This article is a somewhat humorous take on what has often been called the curse of the French Foreign Legion–Drink. The author treads lightly on what could realistically be a seriously long, scholarly article but does a nice job of covering Legion history and the drink preferences of the Legionnaire. There are also some nice quotations including this gem: “The legionnaires drink to forget – but they seldom forget to drink.”
This article also allows me to post one of my favorite postcards of the classic Foreign Legion in their garrison town of Sidi Bel Abbes. The scene above depicts two legionnaires under armed escort leaving the Arab quarter of the city (the village negre). The caption says: Arrestation de Legionnaires en goguette – Arrest of Legionnaires on the run (deserters). However, I would point out the two men did not get very far from town and seem to be in a very happy mood. Perhaps the caption should say “Arrest of Drunken Legionnaires” as they most likely became deserters by staying out way too long after curfew and were recovered by the armed patrol in a no-go area sometime in the bright morning hours. If this was the case, the offenders might only get two weeks in the post brig and/or a month on restriction because while desertion is frowned upon and punished severely being drunk and stupid is just not the same thing.