Legion Pulp: The Legion Takes the Field

CoverHere’s something different for this months Foreign Legion pulp fiction…a story by Warren Hastings Miller that appeared in the June, 1933, edition of The Blue Book Magazine.  Miller was a prolific author of adventure fiction but I’ve seemingly overlooked his contributions to the Foreign Legion genre.  His fiction usually appeared in Blue Book but he can also be found occasionally in Argosy, Adventure, Short Stories and other popular pulps.  Of note is Miller’s series called the “Hell’s Angels Squad” which consisted of 20+ tales of the Foreign Legion that ran in the monthly Blue Book from about 1928-1934.  He also wrote other Foreign Legion stories and adventure yarns set in North Africa, the Middle East and other exotic settings and is equally famous for his writing on the outdoors (he eventually became editor of Field & Stream Magazine) and his South Seas stories.

The Legion Takes the Field is one of Miller’s Hell’s Angels Squad stories.  I admit it’s the first time I’ve read one of these.  The Hell’s Angels in this story are a squad sized unit (seven men total) on horses equipped with two automatic rifles and mules functioning as ammo bearers.  The leader is Sergeant Ike, an American Legionnaire complete with a cowboy drawl.  The rest of the squad consists of Criswell (from Michigan), Anzac Bill (Australian), Di Piatti (Italian), Mora (Spanish), Rutli (Swiss), and Calamity Cyclops (a one eyed sharpshooter from who knows where?).  Working with the local French Intelligence officer and his 15 loyal tribesmen (goum) it’s up to the Hell’s Angels Squad to act as Advance Guard to a major French operation to pacify a local tribe.  Easier said than done.

The Legion Takes the Field

Other titles in Miller’s Hell’s Angels series consist of the following….(thanks Fiction Mags Index).  I’ve got to add these Blue Book issues to my wish list for the next Windy City Pulp Convention.

The Hell’s Angels Squad (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Aug 1928
Five Men of the Legion (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Dec 1928
Hell’s Angels Rebel (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Jan 1929
Hell’s Angels Set a Trap (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Mar 1929
Discreet Rescue (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Jul 1929
The Desperation of Mr. Dee (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Aug 1929
The Color-Guard (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Sep 1929
The Honor of the Legion (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Oct 1929
It Takes the Legion (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Nov 1929
Hell’s Angels Ride (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Dec 1929
Calamity Cyclops (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Jan 1930
Cyrano of the Legion (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Feb 1930
Hell’s Angels’ Mascot (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Mar 1930
The Arab Guns (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Jan 1932
Hell’s Angels on Horseback (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Feb 1932
All the Valiant Liars (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Mar 1932
A Route for the Guns (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Aug 1932
Haunted Mountains (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Oct 1932
The Battle of the Soap (ss) The Blue Book Magazine Dec 1934

 UPDATE: I recently read more about Warren Hastings Miller in the introduction to Raider of the Seas.  It seems this author was a technical writer before he began writing fiction.  He made a good living writing technical articles for various magazines and professional trade journals but turned to fiction during a trip to Europe.  His attention to detail comes out very strongly in his fiction writing as you can see in this story.  All the tribes names are correct, as are the place names and locations of French activity in the Sahara during this time after the war against the Rif in the mid 1920’s.  Even his description of the role of the French Intelligence Officer is accurate though the office is technically the Bureau of Native Affairs (aka bureau des affaires indigènes) and had very capable officers on their staff–all fluent in the dialects where they served.

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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5 Responses to Legion Pulp: The Legion Takes the Field

  1. Excellent, sir! I have a folder in which I keep the entire collection. Good work!

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  2. Joe Allegretti says:

    Altus Press or Black Dog Books, do you see this?

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  3. Eugene Olivier says:

    Good tale. Quick load & easy to read this time. The notion of no surrender without a token fight by the submissive tribe appealed to me. Miller’s writing has the ring of authenticity about it (abounding in Arab words, names, descriptions, etc.), but I always smile when I see expressions like ‘Golly!’ and ‘Gosh!’ specially coming from tough cowboy types, but then one has to think about censorship at the time. Legionnaires on horseback??? This was one of the main criticisms of DESERT LEGION starring Alan Ladd. And the waterfall? In the desert?

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    • Jack Wagner says:

      It seems Miller did a lot of research on the area, it’s people and the French.
      I am using a new technique for scanning the pulps. A Freeware program called Scan Tailor helped me out quite a bit. Some scanned pulps out there keep the original color of the paper (an orange-yellow grainy tint) but I prefer black and white and this little program did a much better and quicker job converting (from color) than the photo editor I had been using.

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