Technically this is not a story from what would be considered a “pulp” magazine but it was written by the master Foreign Legion pulp fictioneer Georges Surdez. It appeared in Elks Magazine (of all places), in their September 1939 issue. The Elks are a fraternal order founded in 1868 that eventually grew large and popular enough that they began publication of a magazine in 1922. From the beginning, this publication had some fiction that appeared in it’s content and there were a couple of good stories of wilderness adventure, war, historical fiction, and a couple of gems from Surdez. This story is only two pages long and reminds me of the other “short-short” stories by Surdez that appeared in Collier’s Magazine (which you can find on this blog). As far as the story goes, all I can say is that Captain Talifer has balls of steel.
Here is an article that appeared in the 20 June 1931 issue of the UK’s Pictorial Weekly (formerly The Penny Pictorial Magazine). It was written by Colonel P. T. Etherton which was a nom-de-plume for the well known travel writer Percy Thomas (1879–1963). Thomas was one of the hundreds of reporters and guests of the Legion who descended on the Legion’s home at Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria for the 100th Anniversary of the Foreign Legion’s founding which was held on Camerone Day, April 30, 1931. This event was very well publicized and there were several similar reports filed by other journalists, writers and reporters. They all seemed to cover their meeting with the Commander of the Foreign Legion which was likely Colonel Paul-Frédéric Rollet, a bit of history, some face time with lower ranking Legionnaires, and a tour of the barracks, the salle d’honneur, the canteen and/or the mess. Thomas meets some English Legionnaires and finishes with a somewhat negative assessment.
This article was well illustrated on the cover and I would guess that it was eye catching enough to push sales. The colorist undoubtedly got carried away and gave the figure a red sash instead of the traditional blue one and an odd red-banded white kepi.
My Visit to the Foreign Legion
Here are some interesting tidbits related to the French Foreign Legion that I collected last month…
1. Quora Discussion Thread on the Foreign Legion. There are several interesting discussions about the Legion on Quora. Topics such as “How do I join?” “How good is the French Foreign Legion?” and one of my favorites “Did you regret joining the Foreign Legion?”.
2. Civilization Computer Game. I had no idea that the Foreign Legion was a unit available to players (playing France of course) of this game. A whole write up is here at the Civilization Wiki. Legion unit have a 20% combat bonus outside friendly territory. I admit I have not played this game in ages and I believe the article is referencing Version 5 of the game which was released in 2010.
3. Siegfried Freytag. Here is a Wikipedia Bio on this former WWII German fighter pilot who went on to have an 18 year, post-war career in the Foreign Legion. Freytag (10 November 1919 – 1 June 2003) had 102 confirmed aerial victories and towards the end of the war was made commander of an Me262’s (jets) fighter wing. He joined the Legion in 1952 and fought in Indo-China with the 5th REI, than to the 13th DBLE. He passed away in the Legion’s veteran’s retirement home at Puyloubier in 2003. As far as I know he did not write any memoirs of his amazing life. More on him here.
4. Famous Legionnaires. More famous Foreign Legionnaires are shown on this page. This is a picture gallery at the updated official web page for the Foreign Legion. It is a sloooooooow loader so be patient. They also have other stuff here to include wallpapers, and pictures.
Here is a very condensed, graphic version of P. C. Wren’s classic Beau Geste. This was produced by Seaboard Publishers of New York as part of their series called “Stories by Famous Authors Illustrated”. This issue was Number 5 in the series and is essentially a longer length comic book at 56 pages. The illustration quality is pretty high on this one with very good artwork, bold colors and interesting panel arrangement. I found it at Comic Book Plus (uploaded by Narfstar). The .pdf below weighs in at 73MB so be patient. The .cbz version can be downloaded at Comic Book Plus or here.
NOTE: Comic Book Plus is a great source for LOTS of vintage comics as well as British Story Papers which often have great stories of adventure and heroic military tales. Well worth becoming a registered member.
No, this is not a zombie story but a nice short tale of a Foreign Legion officer who was long ago written off as killed in action but miraculously returns to the land of the living and to the care of his old Regiment. This tale appeared in the 15 December 1930 issue of The Popular Magazine and the author, Captain Leighton H. Blood (Dec 1896 to March 1961) was a newspaper man and WWI veteran who wrote several pulp stories that appeared in The Popular Magazine in the early 1930’s. Several of these were set in Africa and I suspect they were also about the Foreign Legion. In the February and March issues of the American Legion Magazine Captain Blood recounts his true to life visit to the Legion in Morocco. I posted those articles here.
It appears that Captain Blood’s literary career was fairly well developed before he went off with the U.S. Tank Corps to fight in France as he was employed with the Boston American and then the Boston Record newspapers in 1916 (at age 20/21). He also worked for the Treasury Department in Prohibition Enforcement during the 1920’s. He was a frequent writer for the American Legion Magazine in 1920’s and was later published in Liberty Magazine as well as in the pulps. However I can find no written fiction or nonfiction works by him after 1933 but it seems he remained in the newspaper business until his death in 1961.
But anyways….here is the story and thanks once again to the original scanner — SAS.
The Dead Shall Arise
Tradition, the fantastic French language magazine that showcases historical military uniforms, equipment and militaria (armes-uniformes-figurines) had a three part series back in 1997 that explored the founding of the French Foreign Legion and goes into detail about their uniforms and equipment. It was written by Raymond Guyader who is the smartest man on earth when it comes to the uniforms of the Foreign Legion. He has several books to his credit about the Foreign Legion to include The French Foreign Legion in Indochina, 1946-1956 and La Legion Etrangere en Algerie 1954-1962. I believe his current job is as curator to the Foreign Legion Museum at Aubagne, France. Martin Windrow, the author of several Osprey publications of the Legion consulted with Guyader on various uniform details. Here are the three articles (combined into one)…
Legion Uniforms 1831-1835
January was a pretty slow month as far as news, press releases and interesting items related to the Foreign Legion. Here is what I have been able to cobble together….
1. Foreign Legion Forts on eBay. I admit to shamelessly copying images from eBay listing that feature models or war game terrain of a desert fortresses. There are some very nice constructions out there and here are a couple of recent examples.
2. Wargames Illustrated Issue #350. Wargames Illustrated magazine had a Foreign Legion cover for their December issue. The article inside was for The Battle of Messifre (Syria) 1925. It provided a couple of good ideas on how to simulate this complex battle that featured outnumbered Foreign Legionnaires against human wave attacks of Druse tribesmen. There were also a couple of terrain making articles–making African huts and barbed wire fences.
3. Insignes Legion. Here is a fantastic website that has escaped my attention for quite some time. It is just about everything you need to know about Foreign Legion insignia and badges. It is organized by regiment and unit so you just drill down from the list on the left of the page to view the specific badge/insignia for each unit and sub unit. The photos are not as clear as the ones on this facebook page but it is pretty comprehensive and well worth being added to your bookmarks.
4. Benno’s Figures Forum Posts. One of my favorite miniature forums is Bennos. Here are some more recent posts that I found there….March or Die. French Foreign Legion (WWII). and French Foreign Legion. Some great painting work on all of these figures.
Here is an additional batch of pictures taken by journalist Harrison Forman during his trip to Indochina in 1950. These photographs were found on the University of Milwaukee Libraries Digital Collections page but were labeled differently than those posted here in December. Forman’s work is not very well organized and these were tagged “Laos” while the others were tagged “Cambodia”. Oddly enough some of them feature the same subjects or soldiers but are completely different pictures with one tagged Cambodia and the other Laos. I think the archivist might want to re-look the whole collection. Another problem with their archive is that it limits how many images you can look at in a day so you have to keep deleting their cookies to keep browsing. I’ve loaded both sets of pictures into an archive file that you can download from this link at Mediafire. The gallery below only features some of the better pictures of French Foreign Legion and Army soldiers engaged in various activities or just mugging for the camera.
Just 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.
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.
January’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.
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).