The Green Grenade


The Green Grenade is a short story that appeared in Collier’s Magazine 8 September, 1928.   Written by Arthur Mills it is billed in the magazine as “The story of an indiscretion which was to have been a farewell to all indiscretions”.  I think it was a pretty bold story in regards to what young Marilyan got up to one night in the Port of Columbo with a dashing Foreign Legion officer.  There is a lot left to the reader’s imagination in this story and I was left wondering if the young woman would be true to her middle aged fiancee or to her new beau.  You find out in the end that “A middle-aged bachelor who wanted a safe wife had to be careful“.

The Green Grenade

I was also a bit perplexed by the reference to the green grenade as the insignia of the Foreign Legion.  The grenade surely is but I’m not sure about the color.  I supposed that a green grenade might have been used as an insignia of the Foreign Legion at one time but I usually see the grenade in gold, white or red.  Green shows up on some enlisted shoulder boards and collar insignia but I don’t see it on officers when looking through my reference books.  Nonetheless, it’s fiction.

Admin Note:  I’ve been away for a while on vacation–hence the lack of posts to this blog.  I spent time in the wonderful city of Toronto visiting relatives.  It was not the first time in that city or in Canada but I must note that it really hit me during this trip just how beautiful it really is up there.  Everywhere was clean, neat, trimmed and orderly.  I cannot recall seeing a dumpy area at all–even in some of the congested areas of Toronto.  Even their urban sprawl (strip malls) was not offensive or over done.  A day trip we took to Port Perry (a touristy lake town 30 minutes northeast of Toronto) was a highlight and I enjoyed just driving around the side streets looking at the beautiful houses and expertly landscaped yards.  Kudo’s to Canadians for showing us all how rural and urban living spaces can be maintained so well.

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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7 Responses to The Green Grenade

  1. jhnshep says:

    Hi, someone shared you’re blog and I’m just reading through it, nice work.
    Having served in the Legion I thought I’d add a little about the rank markings, the green grenade with the outer flames turned down denotes the rank and file as opposed the French regulars that have a red one and the gendarmes a silver one, NCOs and officers have gold grenades on their rank markings and kepis, all Legion ranks have three green chevrons marking them as troupe d’elite as the large number of French regiments have two red chevrons.
    these are what today’s look like.

    but in the stories that you post about here the uniform would have been different, it would have been what our ceremonial dress is like now with the rank worn the sleeve or stitched to the jacket,

    for pre-wwII information you should look up General Rollet,

    for complete information you could try emailing the museum in Aubagne.

    Sorry a lot of gibbering in this reply, i hope you find it at least interesting if not useful.


    • Jack Wagner says:

      I certainly appreciate the reply and the clarification on the uniforms. In this story the Legionnaire was an officer so I thought that it was odd for the author to single out a green grenade as the symbol of the Legion. Glad you like this blog and I hope you find what I’ve posted interesting.


  2. Louis says:

    Green grenades are for all enlisted men in the foreign legion (caporaux and legionnaires). The gold ones are for caporaux-chef, or veteran enlisted men, NCOs and officers in infantry and engineers regiments. They are silver in cavalry regiments (1er REC and 13e DBLE, which keeps cavalry traditions). The legion grenades all have 7 flames, as opposed to 9 for regular French troops. The three chevrons denote units of the former African armies, as opposed to metropolitan armies stationed on French soil, and not elite units.


  3. Louis says:

    Also, the grenades are sewn with a machine for enlisted men and NCOs, and hand-sewn for officers, who are required to pay the extra cost for them.


    • Jack Wagner says:

      Great information Louis. I really appreciate great comments like this from readers. I’ve been asked several times about the grenade by folks who think they have an old Foreign Legion Kepi. All l could tell them was look for the seven flames as you said. Also the metal buttons used should have the words Légion Etrangère on them which was standard as far back as 1900. IIRC


      • Louis says:

        Hi, thanks. I’m glad to help where I can. As for the buttons, it actually goes back to 1831, as they are the oldest symbol of the Legion’s uniform still in use today. An officer having served in the Legion and dispatched to another unit can even request to keep a legion button as the top button on his parade uniform jacket (the decision belongs to the commander of his new unit).
        The best sources for information on the Legion are in French :
        – Recueil des traditions de la Légion Étrangère by General Dary, former commander of the Foreign Legion
        – Monsieur Légionnaire, by General Hallo.
        Any specific question about the Legion today, don’t hesitate to ask.


      • Jack Wagner says:

        After we discussed buttons and flames I happened to notice my background for this blog had some odd flaming grenade without the distinct seven flames of the Foreign Legion. So I found a better one. Hope you like it and I hope to hear from you often.


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