The New Old Guard

The article below came from a New York Times collection of stories about “The European War”.  Written in late 1916 by John Joseph Casey (an illustrator and correspondent) who had joined the Legion in August of 1914, it offers a nice description of the “old” Foreign Legion as well as anecdotes about the “new” Foreign Legionnaires of the first World War.  Casey mentions several American volunteers among others from around the world who flooded the Legion to fight for France.  Assimilating all of these undisciplined (and very idealistic) volunteers was a traumatic event for the “Old Guard”.  Those vétéran Legionnaires from North Africa formed the cadre of these new units and formations and there are many accounts of some of the difficulties and problems encountered in forming an effective fighting force from this mass of humanity.  Eventually the Régiment de Marche de la Légion Etrangère (RMLE) fought on to became the most decorated French Regiment of the war.

The New Old Guard

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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