Deserter from the Legion

Deserter from the LegionThis two-part article from Esquire Magazine appeared in their February and March issues of 1953.  It provides a short account of an American’s short-lived career in the Foreign Legion during the Rif War in the mid-1920’s.  The author identifies himself as George Seiters who was also known as Legionnaire 14,192.  A quick search on the web reveals that Legionnaire 14,192 also penned a short pamphlet (see picture below) of his time in the Legion entitled “The French Foreign Legion” which was published by The Enamelist (a trade publication for the Porcelain Enameling Field) in 1930.  It seems once he returned to America Mr. Seiters became an enameler in good standing.

Deserter from the Legion

Reading this article it seemed to be a very familiar story which now makes sense since the Enamelist pamphlet was one of my earliest additions to my Foreign Legion book collection and I’ve read it several times.  The author concisely covers just about every aspect and detail of Legion service that was also recounted in other memoirs written at around the same time such as those by Bennett Doty, John Harvey, and A. R. Cooper.  He rapidly relates his enlistment, training at Sidi Bel Abbes and service in Morocco against the Rif.  He is wounded in the fighting there and sent back to Algeria to convalesce but uses this time to make good his desertion via an English merchant ship.  This article and the pamphlet are the same except Esquire only published about 2/3 of the 36 page Enamelist pamphlet.  This is a shame because there was plenty of interesting detail they could have included if the serial was extended for just another month.  This might have made the article stand out as a more unique and personal memoir and not (as it seems to me) a condensed version of a generic Foreign Legion memoir.  On the other hand, I do like the highly exotic native dancer illustration found in the Esquire article better than the bland cover below.

You might want to check out the online archives of Esquire Magazine that recently came available.  It is a pay site ($4.99 a month) but the first month is free and I think you can cancel any time.

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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2 Responses to Deserter from the Legion

  1. Eugene says:

    Very interesting, Jack. One question. Why were they issued with CORK helmets for action in Morocco? Also his spelling is odd. “Legioneers” as in “Engineers”. and “Trailers” which should have been “Tiralieurs”.

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    • Jack Wagner says:

      I noticed the spelling issues as well and the same misspellings appear in the Enamelist phamplet he wrote. There were also some other items that didn’t make sense (the mounted attack by low-land rebels) and short details that seemed to be lifted straight from other memoirs but I decided not to quibble or nit pick the article. The cork helmets he refers to are the tropical canvas covered ones that look similar to the pith helmets worn by British troops in their colonies. They were made with cork to be lightweight and there was no intention of creating a protective helmet to stop bullets. Just the sun apparently.

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