This is my 200th post on this blog (and there was much rejoicing!!) and as such I’m happy to be able to post a really neat article about the Foreign Legion that appeared in the French magazine L’Illustration almost 100 years ago. This piece has been quite elusive and I’ve been searching for it almost since I started this blog. Martin Windrow used several of the illustrations (and likely much of the information) from this article in his book “Our Friends Beneath the Sands”. One also sees the photographs used frequently in other books and articles about the Legion. As Mr. Windrow mentioned, it was written mainly to address lots of bad press that the Foreign Legion was getting particularly from the Germans and presumably from Erwin Rosen’s negative book about his short time in the Legion published in 1910. The article is in French but a somewhat condensed English version later appeared in 1914. I posted that one here.
When I first became aware of this article I tried to get permission to dig around on the archival web page for L’Illustration. However, being just a pissant blogger and not a professionnel de la presse I was not allowed access. I searched all over the internet but to no avail but did discover that old issues of this magazine were being uploaded into the Internet Archive. So I made sure to check there on a regular basis. Each time I noticed new issues posted I got excited, hoping to find the 19 July 13 issue but usually exiting disappointed. Eventually, late March it seems, this issue was finally posted and I found and downloaded it last month and saved it for my 200th post. Here is the link and thanks so much to the anonymous up-loader.
I put together a .pdf of the Legion Article and posted that below. (NOTE: The file is a bit large–weighing in at almost 10MB. If you want to look at the rest of the magazine or view the higher resolution image files you should go to the Internet Archive page and download from there.)