It seems the theme for this post is buying and avaricious collecting of stuff.
1. The Lost Remake of Beau Geste. I’m a little late on the gun in announcing this but Frank Thompson’s documentary “The Lost Remake of Beau Geste” is finally available. Go to this page to learn more and order your copy. For those who may not remember the story behind this film you can learn more here. I just ordered mine. I’m looking forward to seeing different angles and depictions taken in the parody film of the famous Foreign Legion post Fort Zinderneuf (the one in the desert by Yuma). The DVD actually has the documentary by Mr. Thompson as well as the old student film.
2. Captain Walter Karig USN, Foreign Legionnaire and Author. Walter Karig (1898–1956) was a prolific American author, who also served as a U.S. Navy Captain during World War II and for several years as a journalist. He wrote many books on the history of Allied naval operations and for the television series Victory at Sea and also contributed to several juvenile fiction series (Nancy Drew among others). Karig was also a popular fiction novelist in his own right and an artist who often illustrated his own books. There is a good bio on him at Wikipedia. and at the Naval History and Heritage page.
Walter Karig also served in the French Foreign Legion during World War I and there are references that he spent time in North Africa with the Legion but that is difficult to confirm–UNLESS I shell out a ton of money for a very, very hard to find book written (and illustrated) by Karig based on his time in the Foreign Legion during the war. It’s called “Hungry Crawford” -Legionnaire. It was published in 1929 and the rank of Captain probably refers to the rank Karig held when he left war service with the Free Polish Legion. Interestingly, Captain Karig passed away this day, 57 years ago, in 1956.
3. Americans in the WWI Foreign Legion. I came across an interesting page devoted to the American volunteers who served in the French Foreign Legion during the early years of World War I. It’s particularly interesting to me because the bibliography page lists many of the books written by these men during and after the war and provides pictures of the book covers. Some of these books can be found on Google Books or The Internet Archive but others are more hard to get (like Captain Karig’s book). If you are a WWI buff they also have a great list of related Great War books here.
4. New books on Amazon Kindle. I was informed by Paul, a reader of this blog, about a new book available entitled Legionnaire From Texas: A Foreign Legion Adventure written by Gordon Holmes Landsborough (1913-1983) who was a successful English publisher and novelist who wrote a wide array of popular genre fiction (to include westerns, thrillers and several works featuring the Foreign Legion) in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. I had never heard of this author but I quickly found out that there are other Foreign Legion works by him–that I will need to track down and acquire. At least two I know of are called Back To The Legion and The Spahis. Looking at Amazon it appears the publishers are re-releasing these old works in ebook format. I look forward to reading this one when it starts getting colder. Thanks again Paul.
Another recent purchase of mine was the 2nd Volume of Collected Short Stories of Percival Christopher Wren (P. C. Wren) edited by John L. Espley. Unlike Volume 1, this is a collection of Wren’s Foreign Legion short stories only. There are eighteen short stories and two non-fiction articles originally published between 1928 and 1933. Twelve of the eighteen stories come from the collection, Good Gestes (1929), and the remaining six from Flawed Blades (1933). One of the articles was originally published in a fiction magazine, Soldiers of Fortune (December 1931), and the other article first appeared as a BBC radio broadcast. All of the titles below from Volume 2 are Foreign Legion related tales….
What’s in a Name
If Wishes were Horses . . .
A Gentleman of Colour
David an his Incredible Jonathan
The McSnorrt Reminiscent
Mad Murphy’s Miracle
The Devil and Digby Geste
Dreams Come True
The Romantic Regiment: The Story of the French Foreign Legion
Twenty-Four Hours in the Foreign Legion
A Little True Tale
An Unflawed Blade
One Good Turn
Referring to the Landsbourough novel…..As a teen-ager I avidly devoured anything by way of Foreign Legion books. I had over 100 paper-backs by writers like John Robb, Alex Stamper, Bruno Schwarz, etc, all of whom wrote for Hamilton & Panther books. Among them were LEGIONNAIRE FROM TEXAS, THE SPAHIS, and BACK TO THE LEGION. I still have last-mentioned, which was written in 1953. I must point out, however, that they all appeared as works by MIKE M’CRACKEN. Nowhere do I see a connection to Lanndsborough. Yet these three tales must surely be his. They deal with the hunt for a Captain Sturmer, former Nazi General in the desert war of North Africa, who is wanted for war atrocities. I can’t remember if Legionnaire Tex & his friends joined up for the purpose of tracking him down, or whether they just found him in the Legion by accident, or whether they brought him to justice in the end. They lug him along with them as their prisoner, and are further encumbered with a girl, Nicky. Part of their adventure deals with their sojourn in a city of salt, and a “Brotherhood Of Tormented Men”! Yes I would love to read them again, but I would be happy if you could establish what the correct order is.
I would love to find some of those oldies myself. Especially the Bruno Schwarz ones as there are several by him on the Legion. You are right with the Mike M’Cracken alias. I came across that as the author on The Spahis too. Also on many westerns with the Panther label. Getting Landsbourough’s work and Schwarz’s (not to mention Stamper and Robb) in order will be a challenge. I appreciate the names you provided because it helps in my searches for long lost legion literature.
A further reponse to your “Hodgepodge” comes from a most unexpected quarter….. ALASKA !
It refers indirectly to Americans in the F F L in WWI. Recently I was fortunate enough to be taken on a cruise to Alaska on a luxury liner. As a result I became very interested in the Klondike Gold Rush. and Robert Service, who was one of the few who made a fortune from that mad stampede of 1897. Why? because he wrote about it. Poetry. I’m sure many of us recall THE SHOOTING OF DAN MCGREW. His poems are brilliant works, mostly ballads. They tell a story and gallop along in perfect rhyme and meter. You can’t wait to get to the end, and there is often a twist in the tale. Humour too. They are every bit as good as Kipling’s gem GUNGA DIN.. Service was also an ambulance driver in WWI, and wrote a lot of trench-type of verses. So he rubbed shoulders, so to speak, with colleagues like Allan Seeger & Cole Porter, both of whom were legionnaires. On a seperate e-mail I am attaching the words of his KELLY OF THE LEGION.
Coincidentally, I recently starting reading works of Robert Service too. I have been looking into stories related to the Royal Canadian Northwest/Royal Mounted Police and I found Robert Service was a big influence on “northern” literature. His poems are wonderful to read–definitely for the average man, which made them so popular. More to follow.
I agree. Service’s poems are great. Academics may sing the praises of Keats & Byron etc, but those ballads are my kind of poetry. If you are interested in the R C M P too you will enjoy his CLANCY OF THE MOUNTED POLICE with their “little crimson manual”. . The R C M P also come into his FRIENDS & another one I just can’t find. True, a poem of this sort must be properly read, and that young emotionless voice at the start of that Western was most un-inspiring. ,