Legion Pulp: Born to Fight by Bob Du Soe

This pulp magazine gets my award for most awkward looking figure on a cover illustration.  The story is by Bob Du Soe and it appeared in this February 1935 issue of Thrilling Adventures.  If the title seems familiar it is because another Legion story with the same title, written by Georges Surdez, was published in 1937.  I posted that one back in 18 June 2014.  Born to Fight starts off with an American getting press-ganged into the Foreign Legion (which is odd yet again because Du Soe also wrote The Shanghaied Legionnaire). 

Born to Fight_Du Soe

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Legion Pulp: The Affair at Dar-Mashrik

Here is something that didn’t actually appear in a pulp but it WAS written by the master of Foreign Legion pulp fiction, Georges Surdez.  This story comes from the February 1937 issue of The Elks Magazine–the official magazine of The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.  Back in the good old days many magazines featured fiction as a way to keep their subscription rates up.  Publications such as the American Legion Magazine, The Shrine Magazine (Shriners/Masons), Boys Life Magazine, and even the WWII serviceman’s magazine Yank had some fiction mixed in with soldiers anecdotes.

This story starts off good–in a small fort in the hills of Morocco manned by 40 some legionnaires.

The Affair at Dar-Mashrik

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Legion Pulp: Legion Steel

Here is a short Foreign Legion story from the very first issue of Thrilling Adventures which appeared in December of 1931.  Legion Steel was written by Peter Forrest who is most likely an Englishman as most of his stories (not many) appeared in The Strand.  Like many of the stories that would appear in Thrilling Adventures this one begins with lots of bloody action.  Don Lewis is an American Legionnaire sent to establish a heliograph station in the High Atlas that is besieged by Berber tribesmen.  It’s up to him to save the day and his comrades in the Legion.

Legion Steel

NOTE: Sorry I’m late on this one.  I usually aim to post new pulp stories on the 15th of each month but Windows updates always plays havoc on my PC and I didn’t have the patience for it this weekend.  

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Photographs from 1908 – Casablanca Incursion

Just a quick post today to share some pictures recently posted to the French digital archives at Gallica.  These show events and troops related to the 1907-1908 French incursion into Morocco and subsequent battles and maneuvers against rebel tribesmen further inland.  A great account of this episode was written by Reginald Rankin–a war correspondent at the time.  It is called In Morocco with General D’Amade and can be found at the Internet Archive here or you can download a copy I just added to the Library page.  In sort, several railroad workers (French, Spanish, and Italian) were massacred by Moroccans because their railroad expansion crossed a certain burial ground.  This attack and other provocations resulted in a very harsh response by France to include bombardment of the city of Casablanca and subsequent landing of troops that would eventually stay in Morocco until 1956.  These mostly show the action in 1908 and were recorded by a newly formed French press agency (L‘agence Rol). The picture above is my favorite showing two Legionnaires, probably wounded, being evacuated by expedient mule ambulance. 

 

 

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Legion Pulp: The Battle of the Soap

This is the second pulp fiction story by Warren Hastings Miller featuring his Hell’s Angel Squad that I’ve posted here.   This one, like all the others in the series, was featured in Blue Book Magazine.  This one is from December 1934.  The Hell’s Angels are lead by Sergeant Ike, an American Legionnaire.  The rest of the squad consists of Criswell (from Michigan), Anzac Bill (Australian), Di Piatti (Italian), Mora (Spanish), Rutli (Swiss), and Calamity Cyclops (?).  This time they have become part of the Legion’s long range Mounted forces  (Compagnies Montées de la Légion étrangère) but unlike the other mounted units who rote mules the Hell’s Angels Squad is mounted on native horses and equipped with automatic rifles.

The Battle of the Soap

The Hell’s Angel’s Squad series ran for 20+ short stories from July 1927 to December 1934.  It is a great series of stories and all were very well illustrated to the usual Blue Book standards. Miller clearly knew his stuff when writing about the French military and North Africa.  The Battle of the Soap was the last story of the series according to the Fiction Mags Index.  The good thing is that you can now enjoy 10 of these fast paced stories in Issue #172 of High Adventure that was published back in May.  This is a nice 7″ x 10″ paperback with glossy covers and 112 pages of interior goodness.  Amazon also sells this with free Prime shipping.

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Legion Pulp: The Baturu Mandarin

Here is another Georges Surdez short story–only this one is set in the northern Tonkin jungles of French Indochina.  It was featured in the February 1934 issue of Adventure Magazine.  The plot revolves around young Lieutenant Larcher, a well-to-do scion, newly arrived in country and itching to prove himself.  After a very disappointing first patrol searching for a wily Chinese bandit he feels himself a failure.  However, the opportunity soon comes for him to literally buy himself a chance for redemption by funding and participating in a truly covert cross-border raid into China.

Baturu Mandarin

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Legion Pulp: Suicide Patrol

Here is another fine story from Georges Surdez.  This one appeared in the August 1934 issue of Adventure and featured this glorious cover by John Newton Howitt.  At 34 pages it is pretty long and features plenty of action against the Rif in the hills of Morocco.  The reasons men join the Foreign Legion vary with each man and the secret backgrounds of certain American legionnaires play out through this story.  Eventually loyalty, honor and friendship win out over misplaced grudges and the best efforts of the hill tribes.

Suicide Patrol

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Monlegionnaire – 10 Year Anniversary!

My first post on this blog was made 10 years ago on 11 May 2010.  Since then I’ve made 535 total posts–roughly 4.4 posts a month or one post a week.  There have been 752 comments from readers and myself that Monlegionnaire has over 5GB of multi-media posted or available to download with an additional bunch of downloads available on Mediafire.  Total all time views are 741,277 — a 10-year average of 6,200 a month.  There are 138 folks who follow Monlegionnaire.  Not bad I guess for a hobby but not a great showing when compared to similar blogs.  I’ve not promoted this blog in anyway nor do I do what the experts say about driving up traffic.  I’ve kind of just let this page get discovered and hopefully bookmarked or followed.  Very old school I guess and I’m glad I’ve kept at it.

To celebrate this anniversary I upgraded my WordPress plan.  Now you won’t see those annoying banners and pop-ups bothering your reading experience or tempting you to buy something stupid like face masks or romance novels.

Why did I ever create this in the first place you might ask?  It’s a long and stupid story but it all started when I thought about developing a role playing game about the classic French Foreign Legion.  A role playing game (RPG) is a tabletop game in which several players take on the roles of imaginary characters who engage in adventures in a fictional setting with a plot that is partly overseen by a referee or game master with the rest left up to the rolls of odd shaped dice.  The most famous of these games is Dungeons and Dragons, a game I began playing in 1977.  My Foreign Legion game was going to integrate a Beau Geste type of setting for the role playing portion with tabletop war game rules involving miniatures and square cardboard unit counters (like Avalon Hill strategy games) to resolve skirmishes and pitched battles.  Needless to say I never got around to finishing the project and instead got caught up in the amazing history, stories, and general romance of this storied Corps.

What is the future of this blog?  I’m going to keep plugging along for another ten years at least.  I’m trying to increase my posting rate which admittedly has been slacking this past year.  I have many, many drafts of future posts and a veritable hoard of additional material to get to.  Right around the corner I’ll be: updating the library page with more downloadable books; book and movie reviews; some war game terrain tips; more monthly pulp fiction stories supplemented with adventures from various British story papers.  I’m also thinking of ways to generate some income from all this work so I can purchase more material such as pulps, books, magazines, photographs, period postcards and various other items to share.  I’m thinking of selling some eBooks with exclusive or original material but more to follow on that.  I’m also decided on selling some rare items in my collection so I will announce these eBay listings here as well.

Looking back.  I was very excited about my game project when I started it but like many other creative things I start it just didn’t happen.  When I was drafting the outline for my game I knew I needed a bunch of maps so I created one for Sidi Bel Abbes in Algeria, the garrison city I believed would be the primary base for your Legionnaire characters.  I then created another map for a barracks room typical of what you would find in the Quartier Vienot (the Legion base).  The Sidi Bel Abbes map was my second post to Monlegionnaire so today I thought I would follow up that thread by sharing the barracks maps and a book extract I found about the town.

 

To understand why Sidi Bel Abbes would be the logical and equivalent choice for the proverbial “Village Inn” setting normally found in Dungeons and Dragons here is a chapter from a 1934 book called Sinful Cities of the Western World by Hendrick DeLeeuw.  It is short but drips with potential plots and covers the illicit sex-trade of the Arab Quarter of that city pretty well.  So if one is inclined to move this information into the gaming mode all that is needed is to populate the map with your bars, hotels, shops, secret societies, villains and friendly contacts and non-player characters, and you have the start on a Foreign Legion adventure straight out of the pulps.

Sidi Bel Abbes Chapter

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Happy Camerone Day!

Happy Day to the Foreign Legionnaires.

Bonne fête!

Given the subdued way in which this great day is to be celebrated you might be interested in how it was done last year.  For your browsing pleasure here is the press release for Camerone 2019.  Along with this document is the 2019 review of the Foreign Legion which gives a great run down on the Legion’s organization, regiments, deployments and highlights the appropriate portions with organizational insignia badges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year the Legion selects a veteran to carry the hand of Captain D’Anjou at the official ceremony at Aubagne as well as his escorts.  This year it was completed in a very different manner with substitutes but these are the men selected.  You can read about their backgrounds here.

 

Here is the event as it transpired today.  Please check out the Legion’s Facebook page for more pictures and information.

 

Finally, for those who like their history a bit more visual, here is a short graphic story that appeared in issue 7 of Savage Tales (October, 1986).  Thanks to Jeremiah for spotting this one.

Camerone_Savage Tales

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Camerone Day -1

Well another year has passed and tomorrow, 30 April, Legionnaires past and present will celebrate the famous Bataille de Camerone which took place 157 years ago in Veracruz, Mexico.  It’s hard to imagine how this commemoration will be celebrated given this godforsaken Chinese curse that lays upon the land.  It’s probably for the best that the crowds are kept small and the old-timers stay at home and watch on the computer or tablet.  Indeed, the celebration has been officially curtailed with this announcement on 27 April…

This year, the crisis situation in which we find ourselves leads us to celebrate Camerone differently.  First on several fronts!  This Camerone 2020 will indeed be, for many legionaries, a Camerone “in operation”: in the Sahel, elsewhere in the world, on the national territory within the framework of the Sentinel and Resilience operations. Second, because the context requires us to be focused, vigilant, to preserve our full operational capacity over time; but also to save our worried families, our elders, our brothers in arms and our friends, from any health risk.

This is why the 157th commemoration of the fight of Camerone will be held without audience and in strict compliance with the barrier gestures: the great gathering of the Mother House, the regimental ceremonies, the tight order, the corps mess and the fairs won’t do.  In Aubagne, the bearer of the hand, the ex-Chief Warrant Officer Ende and the escorts, the ex-Sergeant Veress, the ex-Legionary Tepass, Major Deutschmann, and the Master Corporals Milinkovic and Rayapin will not be present.

But, we don’t want this Camerone 2020 to look like the one in 1961; the only year since 1947 when the hand was not presented to the Troops. We do not want our elders, confined to their homes, far from their comrades, to have the feeling of being forgotten, they who wrote the pages of glory of the Foreign Legion. Finally, we do not want our families, our friends, present with us for years, not to be able to attend this beautiful liturgy of courage and loyalty.

Also, we have ordered a sober commemoration, brief but full of dignity, so that the hand of Captain DANJOU is presented to the legionaries, as tradition dictates.

We wanted the gesture of this heroic fight, led by foreigners in the service of France, to be transmitted like a torch. That the legacy, forging the soul of the Legion be exalted despite the context, around the cardinal values ​​that define the Institution: the sacred nature of the mission, fidelity to the word given, the community of destiny chosen and accepted by all, and also solidarity.  Because, far beyond the grand military ceremonial, we have the strength of our virtues to offer.

Symbolically, on April 30, 2020, in the early session of the Viénot district, 03 officers, 05 non-commissioned officers and 57 legionaries will be present on the sacred way.  They will discuss the exact effective order of battle of the 3rd company of the foreign regiment, under the orders of Captain Danjou in 1863–the one who honored the mission until the supreme sacrifice, with fidelity.  Major Balanzat, president of the non-commissioned officers of the Foreign Legion, will present the hand of Captain Danjou to this very symbolic company. He will go up the sacred way with the rhythm of a drum which will recall the drum of Legionnaire Lai, left for dead during the fight of Camerone.  The story of the fight will be told by Lieutenant Vagner, in memory of Lieutenant Francois who read it for the first time in 1906, in the isolated post of Ta-Lung in Indochina.

We will broadcast the filmed account of this sober and very brief commemoration at noon: the hour at which Captain Danjou fell in the hacienda of Camarón de Tejeda, Mexico, on April 30, 1863.

Never forget this fight of a handful of brave men who freely took the oath to carry out a desperate mission to the end and who kept this word until death, heroically, in the service of France

We share with you this Camerone 2020 “otherwise” on our social networks, from April 28, through several publications.  You can, right now, write your comments on our Facebook page or our Facebook event and join us on Twitter at # Camerone2020.

NOTE:  Illustrations were borrowed from an old Kepi Blanc cover and a 1958 book commemorating Camerone published by the 1REI at Side Bel Abbes.

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