This story by J. D. Newsom was published in Adventure Magazine on 01 January 1930, appearing four years before Newsom’s other Foreign Legion story called “The Rest Cure” which appeared in the April 1934 issue. They are two different stories but yet this is a similar “fish out of water” Newsom tale where the least likely specimen, in this case a self identified poet, finds himself in the roughest of military and social organizations. Monte Fisher fancies himself a poet but a poet of the rough and tumble Robert Service type and has arrived in Paris determined to shock the local literary effete with his He-Man prose. I’m not sure if Newsom had in mind Allan Seeger or not or, more likley, if he was merely taking a shot at the highbrow class who, in this story, are very relieved to see the irritating Monte Fisher remove himself from their close circle and head off to the Legion. Almost immediately Fisher runs afoul of the honestly rough legionnaires and the rif-raf they recruit and quickly is convinced that desertion is the next best option. Of course, there are some life lessons in every Newsom story and the first one is: Never enlist into military servitude while you are still intoxicated…and of course there is nothing like combat to sort out any bad life decision.
NOTE: This issue has a great cover and I have a copy. Somewhere. For now, here is a place holder until I can scan and post a higher resolution image. Thanks to Eric, the original scanner. Also, is it just me or does this cover show a very close resemblance to Gary Cooper?
I hope nobody is getting tired of Georges Surdez because the pulp story for September is yet another Surdez tale that appeared in Adventure Magazine (October 1938). It is not that long at 11 pages but is a good one nonetheless. It is told by an narrator who relates the time in the Foreign Legion when German legionnaires in North Africa were suspected of having split loyalties during World War I. They were kept from joining the Legion units fighting in France and had little option but to stay in the African Legion and give their best because they were “under contract”. Surdez takes it a bit further and introduces a French officer fresh from the trenches who is not very fond of the boche in his command which is just about all of them.
Combat and Survival was a military, firearms and survival magazine that appeared in the late 1980’s from the United Kingdom. You might recognize this older logo. It was a slim publication but one that actually lasted 30 years or so only to be eliminated through various buy-outs and eventual liquidation in 2018. The version that I’m familiar with is the 28 volume set published by Stuttman that was released in the United States through a subscription. Back then, I was a sucker for things like this when I was in the Army and gladly shelled out God-only-knows how much good money for what I thought was a fantastic addition to my library. I liked it at the time but like so many things it has tarnished with age and has become something that only takes up space. In fact, I have tried selling the entire set during my annual garage sale. I put dirt-cheap $10.00 on the whole box and people never even looked at them. Luckily, and since the set didn’t sell, I remembered to scan all the articles that pertain to the Foreign Legion. These appeared in volumes 1, 6, 14 and 17. Here are the individual pages that cover action of modern Legionnaires in Chad, Mayotte, Djibouti, and Corsica. A compiled .pdf can be downloaded here.
Here is the last installment of this grand serial. The story left off with the small band of deserters caught between vengeful Spanish patrols and their own fears of returning to French Morocco and facing eight years in a punishment company. The remaining few of the original nine men eventually are rounded up by Legion patrols but circumstances”well above their pay grade” determine their eventual fate. A really good story here–enough for a movie (if Hollywood will ever make good movies any more, instead of insipid politically correct Super Hero flicks).
Nine Picked Men Part 4
I think Georges Surdez had a real understanding of soldiers even though he never wear a uniform. Toward the end of the story the veteran Lieutenant says to Brandon Maddock…..”Even if you decide to leave when your enlistment expires–you will not believe it now, but is it true–your years with us will stand out in your entire life“. This struck a chord with me because I believe it to be very true–that a veteran will look upon his years of service with much pride and a certain wistfulness for past camaraderie and adventure.
Here is the next installment of Georges Surdez’s serial. This part takes the nine deserters from the Foreign Legion into the Spanish controlled area of Morocco where the leader of the small band expects to make contact with allies in the Spanish military. Things don’t go as planned and one by one the nine become eight and then the eight become seven and the seven…
Nine Picked Men Part 3
As promised, here is the second installment of this serial. If you read the first part you will remember that Legionnaire Brandon Maddock, after beating up a pesky corporal in a dive bar in the village négre , used some sportsmanlike moves to evade the Legion’s street patrol. Making his way back to the barracks he promptly told the guards to arrest him. Part 2 picks up from there and off to the penal company goes impetuous Brandon. He miraculously took a light sentence of only two months but his anger and a touch of cafard tacked on another several weeks. He eventually returns to Sidi Bel Abbes a much leaner and stronger man and much more in control of his emotions. He puts in for a transfer to Morocco and finds himself serving in an isolated block house just south of the Spanish line in the Rif Mountains. Again Maddock becomes restless and casts his lot with eight fellow deserters.
Nine Picked Men Part 2
I like the long stories, usually serials, written by Surdez. He seems to not hold back on the details as much as he would have when working on a 10-20 page short story. Here we get rich backgrounds of the Legionnaires in this story that make each one very unique. The lead character becomes someone we care for and is often fallible and endearing. Also the lore of the Foreign Legion that Surdez writes about becomes richer and much more a part of the story than in his shorter works.
This month’s pulp story is a four-part serial from Georges Surdez. Nine Picked Men appeared in the May, June, July and August 1937, issues of Adventure. The first part says that this was to be a three part story but Surdez must have been writing this story on the fly and continued it on for another installment. So stay tuned, I’ll post the next part in a couple of days and the third and fourth parts shortly after.
The story features “Chesty” Maddock, an American who, because of his high standards and elitism, sets himself up for failure in both his college athletic career and the Foreign Legion which was supposed to have been his refuge. The story so far takes place in the garrison town of Sidi Bel Abbes where Maddock starts learning some hard lessons the hard way.
Nine Picked Men_Part 1
This month’s pulp fiction tale is by Georges Surdez again. This is a seven page short story from him which appeared in the 01 January 1933 issue of Adventure. This is a pretty grim tale of the sort that could have been re-published in Weird Tales. Nothing supernatural of course…just grim and a bit gory.
Member at Large
By the way….I finally got all of my hobbies squeezed into one room. Here are some pics. The shiny desk is a packing table my son built for me while he was home on leave from the Navy. The green desk will be a painting station for miniatures and across from that is my PC desk where I hope to spend more time blogging. The Foreign Legion and Canadian Mounties account for my decorating themes. My books are too numerous to fit into the office but they are just in the next room. The whole area remains a work in progress but I’m very pleased with how things are right now and can hardly express the quiet pleasures of working in a dedicated office. More to follow on this.
This month’s pulp story is from Adventure magazine published in September of 1933. It is another Georges Surdez story featuring another one of his unusual characters–this time a young French Lieutenant who is posted on the edge of the desert where he can’t get into gambling or woman trouble. He arrives at the post at Bir-Radir like a movie star to take command of his small detachment and quickly settles in to avoiding anything dangerous or threatening to his career. He is perfectly content to play cards, ride his horse and let the senior NCO take care of the legionnaires. In fact, Lt. De Monfort is not so much lazy as he is merely biding his time until his “inheritance” is assured which is contingent upon him staying an officer until age 30. It’s part of his father’s way to ensure his wayward son grows up and gets serious with life. Of course the legionnaires need some action and the restless tribesmen need to be punished for their raiding and stealing. De Monfort eventually gets up off his behind to show his men what he is made of.
Legionnaires Must Fight
Note: Sorry for the lack of posts over these past months. I’ve been sorting out a lot of things on the home front since there are now only two of us living at home. I’m soon to be quitting my job and joining the ranks of those who work at home (in my basement to be exact). This involves moving lots of things (furniture, boxes, etc.), getting rid of old possessions, building shelves, rewiring, and some other odd home repairs. It’s hard work building a man cave but very soon I will be back to the computer more often than ever before and I will get caught back up on Monlegionnaire.
…and thanks to the original scanner – sas.
This short story comes from Adventure and was found in the May 1st issue of 1933. The author, Pierre Mille, was a fairly well known French writer and journalist, born 1864 in Choisy-le-Roi, died January 12, 1941 in Paris. “His name remains attached to the Pierre Mille Award for Best Report, awarded by the Syndicate of the French Press of Overseas and intended to reward a journalist of the written or audiovisual French-speaking press.” Mille is also the author of several books and many stories featuring his fictional hero of the French colonial wars– Barnavaux of the Colonial Infantry (Troupes Coloniales, later known as the Troupes de Marine). Much in the same way that Legionnaire Thibaut Corday retold stories of his strange adventures for pulp writer Theodore Roscoe, Barnavaux is used to communicate Mille’s take on French colonial misadventures in foreign lands. He had many short stories published in Argosy, Adventure and other pulps but was mainly featured in the New York Tribune and magazines of the very early 1900’s such as The Smart Set, Century, and Ainslees. I’m not sure if Mille wrote directly for these publications or simply had a smart agent who was able to peddle translations of his stories to eager markets in New York where were always looking for stories of French origin to add sophistication to their fiction line-ups.
At lease two of his Barnavaux books have been translated into English and are available at the Internet Archive–Barnavaux (here) and Louise and Barnavaux (here). I read some stories from both books and found them interesting but not full of many military insights.