The pulp story for August is another tale written by J. D. Newsom and appeared in the 21 April 1934 issue of Argosy. This story takes place mainly in Indochina and features a disgruntled legionnaire named Murray who has spent more of his three years of service to France in the disciplinary company than in a Legion infantry unit. He is assigned to a small company posting led by a maverick lieutenant who is determined to make a fighting legionnaire out Murray. Conspiring against both are the bandits, the humid rot and cesspool of corruption of the French colonial administration and an old “friend” of Murray’s from his prison days.
I believe the cover illustration was meant to go with this story although you could mistake the uniforms for those of some other army. I do enjoy these rare stories about the Legion that are set in Indochina. There was continuous low level conflict in French Indochina ever since the French forces landed in 1893 and until they left in 1954. It would make for a great action movie–a small garrison of the Legion pulling duty in the thick of the jungle and rice paddies besieged by bandits, tigers, the heat, disease and the population.
Jack, I agree with you about the cover art being for the climax scene in the story. However, it does not quite match up with the story. In the cover art, the handgun is clearly a revolver as you can see the cylinders with the bullet in it. However, during the story, Legionairre Murray before this scene take the handgun and ejects the magazine to check the rounds. Finding 8 rounds with dum dum bullets, he puts the magazine back in. This clearly makes the handgun a pistol, not the revolver pictured above.
Good catch Shawn. I’ve read how most of the artists commissioned to do pulp covers would often get the story to read in advance so they could convey the most exciting or compelling scene. It looks like this artist might have missed this detail. With Western pulps it was pretty easy to get a decent cover to match the story since many were boilerplate gunfight-girl-indian-cowpuncher and I have no doubt most of those covers could be used over and over for different stories. Historical fiction however, like a Foreign Legion tale, would often open up the door to criticism from the letter writers noting that a uniform was wrong, the number of masts on a ship was off, or that the Indian looked too much like a Mohawk to be an Apache. I don’t often read those letters-to-the-editor columns in the pulps but what I have read showed a very keen interest in details and story continuity. FYI the stories in this issue were…
One Man’s Meat · J. D. Newsom · nv
A Matter of Accounting · Erle Stanley Gardner · nv
Fast Inside · Anson Hatch · ss
Woman of Daring · Stookie Allen · ia
No Rest for the Wicked · Howard Ellis Davis · ss
The Devil and the Deep [Part 2 of 5] · Fred MacIsaac · sl
The Fatal Alarm [Part 3 of 5] · Karl Detzer · sl
Brother of the Cheyennes [Part 6 of 6; Rusty Sabin] · Max Brand · sl