“Legion of Strangers”

The link below is for a small article about an Englishman–Gunner Stevenson of the Royal Regiment of Artillery–who decided one day (after a bar fight against three Scotsmen and two years of boring barracks life in a British tropical garrison) to desert and stowaway on a liner headed for the French Colonies in Indochina.  Upon arrival in Saigon he promptly enlisted in the Foreign Legion which he dubbed to the author of this piece “The Legion of Strangers”.  This story appeared in the magazine “The Living Age” dated 1902.  It was also eventually published together with other stories from the same author in 1913.  This book was called Malayan Monochromes by Sir Hugh Clifford, K.C.M.G.  which has several interesting “Colonial” stories featured of which “Legion of Strangers” is one.  Gunner Stevenson’s account touches on a couple of points about chivalry and “fistfight etiquette” in the Foreign Legion as well as some of the cliques that form around the different nationalities that comprised the legion’s soldiers. He claims to be the only Englishman in the Foreign Legion forces posted to Tonkin at this time and he initially got along well with the others until news about the Boer War caused some animosity toward him from the Dutch/Boer sympathizers.  He eventually had enough of the Legion, deserted, and reported back to his old battery where he had no problems rejoining.

The Legion of Strangers

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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