I Was a Legionnaire

TaliesHere is an article from the October 9, 1953, issue of The Outspan–a South African weekly publication that ran from 1927 to 1957.  It was sent to me a couple of years ago by a generous reader of this blog who painstakingly taped several photo copies together to make one large complete spread (thanks again Oliver).  I tried to scan it and reassemble it in some readable format but the results did not look too good so I grabbed the text and recreated the article in MS Word.   The .pdf is below.

I found the article an interesting take on the Foreign Legion and the conflict in Indo-China.  It repeats many of the common Legion legends of horror and brutality and tall tales of combat one usually finds in the American men’s adventure magazines.  This may be because the magazine, The Outspan, was a mostly fiction based magazine that included many adventure and war stories over it’s long run.

I Was a Legionnaire_Basil Talies

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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5 Responses to I Was a Legionnaire

  1. ricky44nz says:

    Really brilliant Jack. Thank you very much. I shared it with the Legion sites linking back to you and our ex paratrooper site in South Africa.


    • Jack Wagner says:

      Ricky, I figured you would appreciate that article most of all. I imagine there were many more SA legionnaires to follow Basil Tailes. Stay tuned–I finally found an article on the WWII era 5th Regiment in Indochina and how they dealt with the Japanese. I should have that article posted by Friday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ricky44nz says:

        Hi Jack. I am still writing the third in the series about the 5 R.E.I in Indochina in the series. We lived in Cape Town and my first memories of the Legion was when at my 11th birthday party my best friend gave me a box of the old Air fix Foreign Legion soldiers and my Dad had hired the movie on the projector and screen at that time which was “The Last Command” with Anthony Quinn. How the hell was I to know all that would add up to me joining up? I must add that in the first few days in Mogadishu I was a Corporal and lead a team of mixed Legion and U.S Marines through the street at night. I still feel the warm air and smell the spices etc from the markets in the air. We made a good combination your Marines and us.


      • Jack Wagner says:

        I have memories as well of playing with the old German and American figures on my neighbor’s front porch. I couldn’t put them down and copped a couple figures to show my Dad what I wanted for my birthday/Christmas. This led to reading non-fiction which eventually led to the military. I think Airfix plastic soldiers have probably caused thousands of youngsters to pursue a military career. I was in Mogadishu for a couple of months in the spring of 1993. They attached me to the Support Command HQ G-2. The job was a joke but I do have fond memories of watching the Italians swimming by the airport about 100-200m from a huge pool of sharks that were swarming nearer to the rocks. You could look down from the higher points and see the sharks through the crystal clear water. We swam for a bit too but never further than 10 feet from the shore knowing that the sharks were nearby. The water felt so good. The smell I remember most was burning trash–common to most third world cities. We took a trip to a plantation that was bursting with bananas, coconuts, watermelon, mangoes, and other fruits. All grown for export–none for the famine stricken areas. As for the Marines, even us Army guys will admit they are pretty damn good.

        Liked by 1 person

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