Legion Pulp: Ten Years with the Legion of Hell

_CoverGI deserter, flesh-peddler, black marketeer–at 41, a man without a country.

Here is a tale of the Foreign Legion from the sultry pages of the February 1958 issue of Stag men’s magazine It was written by Richard F. Gallagher (who I believe is the author of Women Without Morals, an Avon paperback book featuring five of his other sleazy short stories) and reprinted with the permission of Lion Books.  The illustrations were by the renowned magazine artist Charles Copeland.  The story is about Alfred Becker (an alias), an American G.I. who gets mixed up in the black market in the final days of WWII and deserts his unit to avoid arrest and digs himself deeper into the French underground world of back alleys and pimping.  Eventually the law catches up to him and he joins the Legion to make good his escape.  The Legion gives him a rough welcome but Becker fits in well. Pretty soon he is consumed in the fighting and is promoted to Sergeant.  This gives him more power and freedoms which he uses in playing off both sides during the FLN insurgency in Algeria.

I was a bit concerned about this story when, in the first paragraph, the author describes two of Becker’s companions as former German Wehrmacht paratroopers.  Of course everyone knows paratroops belonged to the Luftwaffe.  The photographs used in the article were from a news pool with at least one from a Foreign Legion movie.  I also think I read the leading action, a Bedouin ambush on Becker’s jeep, in some other book.  Alas, besides some other nit-picking items the story is still very good and I think it accurately depicts the Legion and the situation in Algeria in the late 1950’s.  I’m not sure there ever was a real Alfred Becker or if the story was based on any real memoir of the Foreign Legion (as I can’t seem to find any Lion paperback/book on the Foreign Legion).  Perhaps it was one of the author’s short stories that Lion couldn’t fit in any of their other books and sold it to Stag.

Ten Years with the Legion of Hell

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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