Legion Pulp: Behind the Throne

This month’s Legion short story was written by J. D. Newsom and arrived via a late issue (full of reprints) of Short Stories (May 1953).  It was originally published in the 10 February 1932 issue of the same magazine and featured the original front cover painting by William Reusswig.  It’s 30 pages long so set aside enough time for reading it; turn off the TV, put away the cell phone, mix a nice drink and enjoy.

The setting for this tale is an isolated kingdom, Pnom Tao, located in hills of northern Tonkin (the northern part of French Indochina).  The 3rd Company of the Legion is besieged in the capital by a violent crowd of protesting locals.  They were to escort a French diplomatic mission to the King of Pnom Tao and were strictly forbidden from using force as to not antagonize the population.  The company commander, Captain Rombillac, is hard pressed with things getting out of hand with the rioters and having to deal with the sinister machinations of the French diplomats.  To make his day even worse Rombillac has to deal with the American Legionnaire Frank Dawson who just discovered his contractual commitment to the Legion ended fifteen days ago and is demanding that since he is now a civilian he wants to go home.  Needless to say, Dawson doesn’t get too far from the Legion.

This is one of Newsom’s best Legion stories I think.  It’s full of action with good rough characters and boilerplate plotting.  As I read this I could imagine the same frustrations of Captain Rombillac were experienced in real life by American ground commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq who also had their hands tied by diplomatic considerations.  You can download the entire issue of this magazine in .cbr format here or other formats via the Internet Archive.  Below are links to the normal black and white .pdf file and a colored file if you find the text too faded.

Behind the Throne

Behind the Throne (Color)

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Legion Pulp: Desert Trap

This short story appeared in the February 1950 issue of Adventure Magazine.  The author, George C. Appell, was a prolific pulp author found in many magazines and later paperbacks from 1944 to 1957.  He mostly wrote westerns but also occasional work for the mystery pulps and general fiction titles like Short Stories and Adventure.  This is the second Legion story by him that I’ve posted here.

Desert Trap takes place after WW2 and  brings the Legion into the modern age with jeeps and ex-Nazi’s but keeps the desert forts.  It’s pretty much a tale of murder and revenge played out in the inferno of the Sahara desert.  I’m surprised it featured as the magazine’s cover illustration but I’m glad it did because the cover is awesome.

Desert Trap



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Books for 2023

Here are several books related to the Foreign Legion that I’ve noticed are available this year.

1. Line in the Sand: Foreign Legion Forts and Fortifications in Morocco 1900 – 1926 (From Musket to Maxim 1815-1914) by Richard P. Jeynes.  This is an interesting work by an author who generously corresponded with this blog some time ago about his  archaeologic expedition to Morocco.  The purpose of the research was to explore French fortresses in that country during the French conquest of Morocco and the Rif War–roughly between 1900 and 1926.  The trip was done on motorcycles and the group basically roughed it over the desert to visit several former French forts near both Bou Denib and in the northern (Rif) region of Morocco. The book, which is coming out in Spring, can be found at Helion Books or pre-ordered at Amazon. 84 pages 20-25 photos, 2 maps, 4 diagrams

About the Author: Richard Jeynes studied Archaeology and Landscape Archaeology at Durham and Leicester Universities before attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  After service in the Intelligence Corps he trained as a teacher eventually becoming Head of several schools.  In 2004 he set up his own company, Trailquest, specializing in organizing and running expeditions to a variety of remote locations around the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and has lectured widely on his travels and research. He has written articles for numerous magazines.

2. Collecting French Foreign Legion Insignia, Volume III – Part 1 by Andrew J. Mitchell.  This is a print on demand book available at Blurb Books.  This is the author’s very latest publication in this very nice series (I noted in a previous post his two earlier releases are available: Volume I covers the insignia of the 1st Foreign Regiment and Volume II coveres insignia related to the 2nd Foreign Regiment.  It should also be noted the author has published Tigers of Tonkin and A Pictorial History of the French Foreign Legion in Indochina, 1927-1945 which are also available viaAmazon and Blurb respectively.  Mr. Mitchell’s facebook page is also a veritable fountain of information on the Foreign Legion and their insignia.

Book Description: This third fervently anticipated volume detours slightly from the path which the previous two volumes took. Insomuch that it delves into the battles undertaken by the paratroopers with the first English language histories of the 1er BEP, 2e BEP, 3e BEP and 1er REP. With supplementary information on the more obscure legion airborne units and commandos. The author uniquely combines the often fragmented history together with unpublished photos from private collections and documents from the Drago files. Additionally, the most complete array of Legion paratroop insignia has been laid out for enthusiastic collectors to diligently study, including some of the official restrikes.

3. The Englishman” Series by David Gilman.  This is a series that flew under my radar until I noticed an ad for Resurrection.  The Englishman is a thriller series introducing Dan Raglan, a contemporary knight errant who served in French Foreign Legion.  I’m not sure how much “Foreign Legion” flavor is in these books but the third in the series at least takes place in the Sahara.  These are all available at Amazon but only in paperback and hardcover.

About the Author: David Gilman has had an impressive variety of jobs – from firefighter to professional photographer, from soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon to a Marketing Manager for an international publisher. He has countless radio, television and film credits before turning to novels.  Gilman is also the author of the 7-book Master of War series as well which is a Medieval setting.

4.  French Foreign Legion Commando by Harry Dobson.  This looks like a very interesting addition to the long and venerable line of Foreign Legion memoirs written by former Legionnaires. The book is available again via Amazon.  You can also find more information about Dobson and see some cool pictures at his web page.

From the description: French Foreign Legion Commando is a memoir written by Harry A. Dobson after his 5-year term of service to the French army. During his time he completed a total of 3 tours of duty in Mali, North Africa.  Harry was accepted into one of only two elite commando units within the French army. With the GCM – ‘Groupement Commando Montagne’ (mountain commandos) Harry served his last 2 tours and fought in a number of high-profile missions, many of which made it to Front-page French newspapers.
The book outlines the many trials life in the French Foreign Legion presents, the highs as well as the lows. Harry describes all the fascinating characters he met along the way and the bonds of friendship he formed with men brought together by a unique institution.
Apart from the conflict of Mali, the book also covers the rigorous training French commando’s undergo and the complications Harry had to face as a non-French speaker and Legionnaire within that elite group. Finally, the book aims to provide an insight into what life as a Legionnaire is like and the effect that the organization has on the men serving within it. You are seldom likely to stumble across such a story twice.

5. The Compleat Beau Geste by Frank Thompson.  A previous post here promoted the kickstarter for this book but you can now purchase your hardback copy directly via Amazon.  My book is on the way and once it shows up on my door step I’ll be sure to provided you a review.

From the Description: A heavily illustrated examination of all adaptations of P. C. Wren’s 1924 novel “Beau Geste” — film, television, stage, radio, comics, and much more.

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Legion Pulp: Luck of the Legion

This is not the “Luck of the Legion” by Geoffrey Bond.  It’s a short story by Georges Surdez that appeared in the pulp magazine Adventure for January 1942.  Surdez took his writing to a different level during the war by setting many of his stories in occupied and wartime France, North Africa and in this case Syria where at some point Free French Foreign Legion forces clashed with Vichy Legionnaires. This is a short three page story that appears to me may have been the start of something longer by the author but truncated at some point perhaps by a deadline to meet or the publishers wanted something squeezed into three-pages to fill a gap.  It’s not one of Surdez’s best pieces but he again does a good job of capturing the small world veteran Legionnaires live in and the things they will do for their comrades.

Luck of the Legion

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1st Day of Christmas: 1 Kepi Blanc

It’s the end of the 12 Days of Christmas and my backwards countdown is done as I present one Kepi Blanc magazine.  I was originally going to scan my oldest (1962) issue from my collection, but those are the size of Life Magazines and did not fit on my scanner window.  Instead I have the slimmer Number 618 from January 2001.  It’s representative of what you will find in the magazine going as far back as the early 1950’s when the magazine became a slick production with their iconic logo and illustrated / photographic cover.  Features inside usually include a profile of what the legion is doing around the world, promotions, departures, awards, exercises letters and editorials from commanders, biographies, announcements, veterans organizations and information and (my favorite) historical articles.  Older magazines had a jokes and cartoon section while this one has a small crossword puzzle.  This issue also had a small section featuring pictures of Foreign Legion insignia but as I scanned the pages I noticed somebody cut out one of the pictures (page 69).  What I like the most is the high number of photographs found in each one.

So I hope you enjoy it–scanned copies of Kepi Blanc are very rare.  I wish someday that Kepi Blanc Magazine will offer digital back copies of their archive.  With such a large number of magazines (859 so far) I think it is an incredible resource that folks would pay money to access.  NOTE: Hopefully I don’t get a take-down notice–I thought folks would enjoy looking on the inside of a representative issue of the magazine.  Below is the link to the .pdf.  A cbr version is here.

Kepi Blanc n618 [2001-01]

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2nd Day of Christmas: 2 Tales of Escape

For the 2nd Day of Christmas (or the 11th Day if you follow the Christmas carol) here are two tales of escape from the Foreign Legion.  They both appeared in the Wide World Magazine.  Though the same size as common pulp magazines, Wide World was a slick that specialized in “true narratives” although at some point they started to run adventurous fiction.  It published monthly and ran from April 1898 to December 1965 for about 800 issues.  There were several articles on the Foreign Legion and I’ve been able to find some of them via various archives.  It’s good that each year more yearly editions of this magazine (and others) fall into the public domain.

An Englishman in the French Foreign Legion.  This story appeared in the October 1905 issue and seems to be another case of an eager Englishman, a Mr. Gallichan, joining the Foreign Legion strictly for the adventure.  The fact he convinced his friend to join with him but promptly decided to desert after three days with the 2REI at Saida tells you much of where this story is going.  Interesting nonetheless.

An Englishman in the French Foreign Legion

Two Boys in the Foreign Legion.  This story appeared in the August 1921 issue of Wide World. This time the two protagonists are literally shanghaied into the Legion while carousing Europe on a lark (more likely drinking and whoring).  Of course they are not keen of finding themselves in uniform but they actually stayed for a while and seemed to thrive with the heavy physical activity.  Eventually, along with three Italian friends, they make good their escape and good for them too because at one point they fought against an Arab posse that was attempting to capture them and likely killed several of the pursuers.

Two Boys in the Foreign Legion

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3rd Day of Christmas: 3 Beau Peep

We are fast counting down to the end of the holidays.  My tree is still up until this weekend and the outside Christmas lights will still be lit but will come down after the tree–I’m not like the neighbors who leave them on until April.  Today we have three Beau Peep books for mirth and merriment.  Beau Peep was a popular British comic written by Roger Kettle and illustrated by Andrew Christine. The strip features the misadventures of the eponymous lead character, Beau Peep, an inept and cowardly British man who joins the tough and hardy French Foreign Legion in the deserts of North Africa to escape his terrifying wife Doris back home. There are also numerous surreal supporting characters.

Beau-Peep No. 1

Beau-Peep No. 2

Beau-Peep No. 3

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4th Day of Christmas: 4 Foreign Legion Forts

Here are some scale model Foreign Legion forts a la Zinderneuf.

Modular 3D Printed.  This one appeared on Facebook and it’s really well done but I’m can’t find the original post.  It appears in some large wargame tables so I’m thinking it is available as a 3D .Stl file somewhere.  If anyone can point me in the right direction I’ll be sure to provide attribution.

Colonial Steamboat Company.  These guys make really nice scratch build terrain including nice Afghan hill forts and, of course steamboats.  This is a representation of several Legion forts that I’ve seen from them.

Airfix Mod.  Not sure where this appeared–probably Facebook.  Nice job converting the old Airfix fort into something much better than the out-of-the-box configuration.

Small Scale.  This is a nicely painted model for smaller scale figures I’m guessing 10mm or 15mm.  Again, I probably found the pictures on Facebook.  It’s hard to tell if it was scratch built or from a model as there seems to be many add-ons to make the scene.

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5th Day of Christmas: 5 Foreign Legion Miniatures

Happy New Year everyone!  It was a bright and mild first day of 2023 in central Wisconsin–a great start to the next year.  Here are five galleries of miniatures, or “figurines” as some prefer, that I probably found on Planet Figure, a great forum site that I’ve spent many hours browsing in amazement at the craftsmanship on display there.   (I apologize in advance if any of you find your work included below without proper attribution–I’ll be more than happy to do so).

Beau Geste


1BEP Indochina (two versions of the same figurine).


Attica Miniatures: Soldiers of the Foreign Legion 1903 (found here)

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6th Day of Christmas: 6 Legionnaires

Here are some notes and information on six somewhat famous and somewhat obscure former members of the Foreign Legion. The names are Norman Kerry, LeRoy Prinz, Fred Fisher, Ruediger Richter, Algernon Sartoris and a Private H. Levenkron.

Norman Kerry was a very popular silent-era movie star who actually starred in the 1928 movie “The Foreign Legion”.  By the time “talkies” took over the movie industry Kerry had already semi-retired to southern France but when WW2 began he joined the Foreign Legion (probably the 11REI or the 12REI) and served for a while in N. Africa and later along the Maginot Line.  He wrote an interesting article about this time and I found a copy you can read here “I Saw the Fall of France“.

Here is an extensive article on LeRoy Prinz that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post that alludes to Prinz already being in the Foreign Legion before WW1 with a couple of years service in North Africa before heading to France and joining the French aviation units and subsequently the aviation squadron of Eddie Rickenbacker.  LeRoy Prinz SEP 19490430

A really interesting character is German Ruediger Richter who, at 17 years old, joined the Foreign Legion after WW2 under the name of Horst Timm and served for five years in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.  He emigrated to the United States in 1964 and then two years later, due to boredom, joined the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade and promptly found himself in Vietnam.  The rest is history.  Richter is the man looking up to the helicopter in the first iconic photograph below.


Algernon Sartoris was the grandson of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant.  His father was an English singer who married Grants daughter Ellen (Nellie).  When the First World War began he rushed to join the first American volunteers of the Foreign Legion. He didn’t have far to go as he was married to a French woman and was living in France at the time.  Sartoris was already a military man who attained the rank of Captain and served as an aide to General Fitzhugh Lee during the Spanish American War before getting out of the Army in 1903 and serving as a diplomat until 1909.  I’m not sure how long he was in the Legion but it was probably not long given his existing poor health and age.

Finally we have an obscure Legionnaire, a Private H. Levenkron, who’s name appeared in a long forgotten copy of the Army Times from 06 November 1943, who fought in both the Spanish Foreign Legion and the French Foreign Legion.  An American stranded in Germany at age 18 without money he decided to join the Tercio de Extranjeros and fought in the Riff War with both the Spanish and later the French Foreign Legion.  Levenkron is one of many names that appeared in the Army Times that highlight the Foreign Legion experience of Soldiers serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  (I’ll have to post more of these at a later date.)






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