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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Grit Gregson: Dandy Diamond Captured!

Since this week is the run-up to Camerone Day (30 April) I’m going to try to post as much as my schedule can allow.  This will mean an obligatory Grit Gregson story from the pages of the UK comic “Lion”.  This one appeared in issue #104 (13 Feb 1954).  This time “Dandy Diamond”, the British legionnaire gets into a pickle and the pickle is resolved on enemy territory through quick thinking and of course, a flashing mirror.  Check out the fort on the second illustration below.  That looks like a Foreign Legion outpost to me…not an Arab fort.

Grit Gregson_Dandy Diamond Captured!

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Légion Étrangère Souvenir – 4th B.F.C. 1RE Tong-Tonkin

Here is a wonderful find discovered a couple months ago, although it has been out there for a while.  The item is a digital copy of a photo album produced for the 1931 Colonial Exposition-Paris.  It portrays legionnaires from the 4eme Bataillon Format Corps (4 B.F.C) which, I believe, was the precursor to the 1BN, 5REI (5REI being the “Regiment of Tonkin” which was created April 1 1931).  It was made available on-line as part of a number of items related to the exposition by the University Cote D’Azure at Nice, France. The annotation provided at the university site says “This album gives a glimpse of the daily life of the legionnaires of the 4th battalion of the 1st foreign regiment of the Foreign Legion: maneuvers, trainings, parties, views of the barracks, places to live, portraits of officers, etc. The legionnaires were stationed at the Tong camp, which must have been a few kilometers from Son Tay.” 

You can download the entire album here or directly from this blog here.  More importantly, the site also allows you to download individual photographs that were scanned separately from the album.   The interface however is a bit problematic–you have to go to the first link for the entire album where it will start downloading the .pdf automatically but you will also see the links to the individual photos at the bottom of the page.  Here are a couple of examples from about 137 photographs….

I’ve downloaded 130 of the 137 photographs and placed them in a compressed file here.  You can also download a .pdf compilation here.  I omitted some of the ones not really directly related to the Legion.

Now that I shared these pictures I want to direct you to a book that contains these and many other rare photographs and images about the Foreign Legion in Tonkin.  Of course, I’m talking about Andrew J. Mitchell’s recent book “A Pictorial History of the French Foreign Legion in Indochina, 1927-1945“.  Mr. Mitchell, who runs the page Collecting French Foreign Legion Badges, provides an excellent commentary on these photos and the others that he included in the book.  Additionally he cleaned up the images from the faded gray to a crisp black and white.  I highly recommend his other books as well, Tigers of Tonkin, The History of the French Foreign Legion in Indochina (a revised Tigers of Tonkin)  and his two newer books on Foreign Legion Insignia.  These are one of a kind and well worth the price.

Pictorial History of the French Foreign Legion in Indochina, 1927-1945 (link)

The Tigers of Tonkin: The History of the French Foreign Legion in Indochina 1883-1945 (link)

The History of the French Foreign Legion in Indochina 1883-1945-Tigers of Tonkin (revised) (link)

Collecting French Foreign Legion Insignia, Volume 1, 1st Foreign Regiment  (link)

Collecting French Foreign Legion Insignia Volume II, 2nd Foreign Regiment (link)

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Legion Pulp: Wineskin

The mid-month pulp story for April is another great tale written by Georges Surdez.  It appeared in the 15 December, 1930, issue of Adventure.  The story here, like many others, speaks to the power of wine, for good or bad, on the constitution, actions, bravery and fate of certain Foreign Legionnaires.  It takes place in the hills of Morocco after the first world war.  Small French garrisons were established to secure the loose border and the lines of communications marauding native Chleuh tribesmen.  A patrol is sent out from Poste Kitosso to investigate the ambush of a supply column and find the three trucks burned and destroyed and nine members of the transportation corps dead–some decapitated and one tortured to death.  Found at the bottom of a cliff were three large wine casks pitched by the attackers who forsake alcohol.  It is the Greek white wine within those casks that works it’s magic on the twenty legionnaires who, after drinking their fill, march to the fortress of Kaid Hammou to avenge the attack.

Wineskin

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Legion Pulp: The Last Outpost

This story appeared in the March 1931 issue of  “Far East Adventure Stories“.  This pulp title published at least three Foreign Legion tales during it’s short run of twelve issues.  In addition to this story there was “The Affair at Ain Hadoun“, also by Theodore Roscoe, which appeared in the first issue (October 1930) and according to the ad on the last page of this story there was Cadets of Gascoyne by Jacland Marmur.  There might be more but from looking at the story titles it is hard to tell.  Six of the twelve issues of Far East Adventures are available at Adventure House.

The Last Outpost

The Last Outpost is not one of Theodore Roscoes’s Legion stories featuring Thibout Corday which he was wrote for Argosy.  Like many pulp stories this one is a mystery story in an exotic locale.  The garrison at Fort Avant-poste is wiped out but by whom?  Was it a renegade American officer (Brown) that seems to have vanished from North Africa or is it something more sinister?  In any case, it’s hard for the other American Legionnaire (Smith) to find the answer when the Tuareg tribes keep attacking.  Lots of action perhaps to mask a somewhat weak plot.

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Legion Pulp: Thirst

Thirst is another Curialo & Withers yarn from J. D. Newsom.  It appeared in the 10 Feb 1929 issue of Short Stories.  For those unfamiliar with the duo, Legionnaire 2nd Class Curialo is the sometimes level headed American shirker while Withers is the endlessly complaining English Cockney.  Newsom wrote several pulp stories with these two in Short Stories and Adventure from 1926 to 1933.  The duo’s existence in the Legion is marked by an avoidance of work details, officers and non-coms, the endless pursuit of drink, food, and what other small comforts can be found near the trenches or in the deserts.  This tale involves a small farmhouse caught between the front lines where the innocent matron confuses the Legion for German spies.  Wine figures prominently in the story.

Thirst

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