Here is an additional set of uniform prints from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. These were all painted by French artist and illustrator Maurice Toussaint (September 1882 – December 1974). Toussaint gained a solid reputation for his expertise in military subjects and in particular the uniformology. He illustrated many books on the French army under the old regime, and the armies of the First and Second Empire. His work was also seen in advertising illustrations for the French rail network and in many historical, detective and teen magazines like The Ace. (Wiki). This particular set of 22 watercolors depicts soldiers of the French military in North Africa (Armée d’Afrique) from 1830 to 1865. I adjusted the contrast slightly to bring out the colors. The medium resolution pictures are in the gallery below and the higher resolutions pics can be downloaded from this link:
Maurice Toussaint Watercolors
Last month I came across the following bits and pieces relating to the French Foreign Legion.
1. Delmar Calvert. I stumbled upon the name Delmar Calvert browsing cervens forum and then found two good articles about him here and here. They provide interesting background on Calvert who has been the top fencing instructor in the United States for decades and was also, in his early years, a legionnaire in the 1st Foreign Legion Cavalry Regiment. He was originally born in California but had lived in France for much of his childhood. In 1939, at the age 16, Delmar, along with his brother joined the Foreign Legion and gets caught up in the war. He fought against Nazi tanks when France was invaded and would later find himself in North Africa spending his time in the military fencing. When the Americans landed in Africa he quickly found a way to surrender to the Americans and volunteer his services to the U.S. Army Military Intelligence and subsequently the OSS. He was sent as a commando behind enemy lines to work with the French resistance. For his service to france hew was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the youngest winner of that medal in history.
2. Heat Stroke. This news article describes an unfortunate situation when common soldierly sense is disregarded. To deny water to any soldier in a desert environment such as Djibouti is unheard of in the U.S. military no matter what the training event but especially during high temperatures. In this case it was training begin conducted in Djibouti by the 2nd REP which is the toughest and hardest training unit the legion has. Nevertheless, it will be a bad reflection of the unit’s quality of first line leadership if it can be proven that this soldier died of heat stroke because he was denied hydration as a punishment.
3. 2REP vs. Para Regiment Thread on Foreign. I really enjoyed reading through this thread found on the Army Rumour Service website (aka, ARRSE, the UK’s largest and busiest UNofficial military website). There is a really long and insightful comparison of the French and British regiments posted by a former British legionnaire who served in 2REP during the early 1980’s on page 6. The same poster continues throughout several more pages to provide really interesting and informative posts on his time in the Legion. Remarkably the thread is still active despite starting back in April 2011. Lots of great pictures and information….for example I found the chart posted below which is an annotated illustration showing where the Foreign Legion units are integrated into the French Army. (There is another thread on this site as well that I have not read through yet entitled D`Artagnans Time in the FFL – 2eme REP and Algeria)
That’s it for now. I’ve still got some more uniform illustrations to post over the month and since it is October I hope to find a good creepy, supernatural Foreign Legion Halloween post.
This two-part article from Esquire Magazine appeared in their February and March issues of 1953. It provides a short account of an American’s short-lived career in the Foreign Legion during the Rif War in the mid-1920’s. The author identifies himself as George Seiters who was also known as Legionnaire 14,192. A quick search on the web reveals that Legionnaire 14,192 also penned a short pamphlet (see picture below) of his time in the Legion entitled “The French Foreign Legion” which was published by The Enamelist (a trade publication for the Porcelain Enameling Field) in 1930. It seems once he returned to America Mr. Seiters became an enameler in good standing.
Deserter from the Legion
Reading this article it seemed to be a very familiar story which now makes sense since the Enamelist pamphlet was one of my earliest additions to my Foreign Legion book collection and I’ve read it several times. The author concisely covers just about every aspect and detail of Legion service that was also recounted in other memoirs written at around the same time such as those by Bennett Doty, John Harvey, and A. R. Cooper. He rapidly relates his enlistment, training at Sidi Bel Abbes and service in Morocco against the Rif. He is wounded in the fighting there and sent back to Algeria to convalesce but uses this time to make good his desertion via an English merchant ship. This article and the pamphlet are the same except Esquire only published about 2/3 of the 36 page Enamelist pamphlet. This is a shame because there was plenty of interesting detail they could have included if the serial was extended for just another month. This might have made the article stand out as a more unique and personal memoir and not (as it seems to me) a condensed version of a generic Foreign Legion memoir. On the other hand, I do like the highly exotic native dancer illustration found in the Esquire article better than the bland cover below.
You might want to check out the online archives of Esquire Magazine that recently came available. It is a pay site ($4.99 a month) but the first month is free and I think you can cancel any time.
The Foreign Legion pulp story for this month comes from an unusual source but a familiar author. Robert Carse’s story, Murder Joins the Legion, appeared in the 20 July 1940 issue of the pulp Detective Fiction (formerly known as Flynn’s Weekly). Carse was a very prolific author and his fiction in wide ranging genres appeared in dozens of pulp titles though his mainstays were Short Stories, Argosy and Adventure. These magazines were where you would usually find his Foreign Legion stories. As the title implies, this story is a murder and frame-up mystery set in the North African desert outposts of the Foreign Legion.
I took a shortcut today and used a story from a beautiful scan of this Detective Weekly issue that was recently done by “SAS”. So thanks goes to the OP. The .pdf is below.
Murder Joins the Legion
These images again come from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. These consists of watercolor works (aquarelles) from the brush of Pierre Albert Leroux. His works on this site cover French soldiers from the Napoleonic era up until WWII. The pictures of the mounted figures are from a series of 32 watercolors completed by Leroux in 1913. Most of the other paintings of dismounted soldiers were completed just before WWII in 1939. Leroux was born 10 November 1890, in Versailles and died 1959. He was a pupil of Fernand Cormon and Pierre Laurens at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and he exhibited his work in Paris at the Salon des Artistes Français. (Note: Leroux was the artist that painted the three Foreign Legion figures in my previous posts.)
Here are the lower resolution images of the mounted figures.
Here are the lower resolution images for the figures on foot.
These Mefiafire links will download zipped files of the two groups of high-resolution images. These are 216 MB and 149 MB. (I updated these links September 8th and was able to lower the file sizes significantly).
Pierre Albert Leroux Cavalry
Pierre Albert Leroux Soldiers
In addition to the uniform prints that I’ve been all fired up about (and will post many more shortly) I did stumble on other items relating to the Foreign Legion this month.
1. French Foreign Legion in WWII. Here (and below) is an interesting video on the weapons, uniforms, and equipment used by the French Foreign Legion in WWII. There is a good article here HistoryNet that discusses the role and actions of the French Foreign Legion in WWII. Not only was the Legion defending part of the Maginot Line when the Germans invaded France but there were detachments still holding down the forts in North Africa and a significant number who participated in the Norway campaign with the 13th Demi-Brigade. Fighting later shifted to Africa and the middle east where the Vichy French Foreign Legion detachments fought against the Free French Foreign Legion in Syria. NOTE: I already posted about this article last year in June but thought this video would supplement it well.
2. A Sociology of the Total Organization: Atomistic Unit in the French Foreign Legion. Here is an “academic” work that addresses the social and ethnographic organization of the Foreign Legion. The synopsis, in the mumbo-jumbo of egghead speak reads….”this book takes its theoretical point of departure in the notion of the voluntary total organization; that is to say, an institution that constitutes a geographically delimited place of residence and work in which inmates are voluntarily separated from the outside world, leading an enclosed, formally administered life. Informed by a modified version of Goffman’s original concept of the total institution, A Sociology of the Total Organization untangles the Foreign Legion and the ways in which different kinds of social orders interplay there.” The author, Mikaela Sundberg, is an Associate professor of Sociology and a senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology, Stockholm University. She is also the author of the best selling blockbuster Parameterizations as Boundary Objects on the Climate Arena. More info can be found here where you can also order your copy for a mere $107.96. The first chapter is available as well.
Digging around the web for Miss Sundberg I stumbled on this thread comparing the 2nd REP to the British Para Regiment. Says Condottiere “If she did fieldwork, bet she was offered a lot of individual attention in her research.”
3. The Goon Show: Under Two Floorboards – A Story of the Foreign Legion. To lighten things up a bit here is a hilarious Goon Show skit from 25 January 1955 that utterly mangles the story of Beau Geste. The Goon Show was a British radio show that was blessed with a cast consisting of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine among others and lasted from 1951 to 1960. Script can be found here or you can download your own mp3 here.
Here are some downsized uniform pictures for those readers who really don’t want to download the massive image files in my previous two posts.
- Foreign Legion Uniform Prints….
2. French Uniforms from Auguste Legras…
Here is the second installment of pictures from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Today’s images feature the artwork of Auguste Legras (1817 – 1887) who was “born in Perigueux, France and was a pupil of Jean-Claude Bonneford (1796 – 1860) and Ary Scheffer (1795 – 1858). LeGras made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1847 and exhibited up to 1882. He was Ary Scheffer’s assistant for some twenty years. He worked mainly on portraits and copies of Old Masters” and apparently military uniform studies. The majority of these paintings were part of a large collection entitled Etudes de Types Militaires that was published in 1875. There are a total of 114 of Legras’ uniform prints on the Brown server–I’ve only downloaded the French ones. To see all of them go to this page.
The images, as downloaded, were somewhat dark and lacking the vibrant colors found in the French uniforms of the day. A quick fix in GIMP (adjusting the brightness a small bit and kicking up the contrast) was all that was needed to light up these beautiful pictures. Again, these images are very large, so I broke them down into four separate Mediafire downloads. I put twelve .jpeg’s into each zip file but that apparently didn’t do much to compress the overall size.
Here are the Mediafire links….(each is over 300MB so be patient).
Auguste Legras Folder 1
Auguste Legras Folder 2
Auguste Legras Folder 3
Auguste Legras Folder 4
GI deserter, flesh-peddler, black marketeer–at 41, a man without a country.
Here is a tale of the Foreign Legion from the sultry pages of the February 1958 issue of Stag men’s magazine. It was written by Richard F. Gallagher (who I believe is the author of Women Without Morals, an Avon paperback book featuring five of his other sleazy short stories) and reprinted with the permission of Lion Books. The illustrations were by the renowned magazine artist Charles Copeland. The story is about Alfred Becker (an alias), an American G.I. who gets mixed up in the black market in the final days of WWII and deserts his unit to avoid arrest and digs himself deeper into the French underground world of back alleys and pimping. Eventually the law catches up to him and he joins the Legion to make good his escape. The Legion gives him a rough welcome but Becker fits in well. Pretty soon he is consumed in the fighting and is promoted to Sergeant. This gives him more power and freedoms which he uses in playing off both sides during the FLN insurgency in Algeria.
I was a bit concerned about this story when, in the first paragraph, the author describes two of Becker’s companions as former German Wehrmacht paratroopers. Of course everyone knows paratroops belonged to the Luftwaffe. The photographs used in the article were from a news pool with at least one from a Foreign Legion movie. I also think I read the leading action, a Bedouin ambush on Becker’s jeep, in some other book. Alas, besides some other nit-picking items the story is still very good and I think it accurately depicts the Legion and the situation in Algeria in the late 1950’s. I’m not sure there ever was a real Alfred Becker or if the story was based on any real memoir of the Foreign Legion (as I can’t seem to find any Lion paperback/book on the Foreign Legion). Perhaps it was one of the author’s short stories that Lion couldn’t fit in any of their other books and sold it to Stag.
Ten Years with the Legion of Hell