The other day I decided to check out what could be found at The British Newspaper Archive. This site has a modest paywall for access and I purchased a single month. After spending several days browsing and searching I can say it was money very well spent. I’ve found numerous articles on the Foreign Legion as well as several fictional works that appeared in the weekly editions. There were several reviews of Foreign Legion books with titles that are new to me as well as many movie and theater reviews and factual news tidbits about the Legion fighting in Morocco or Indochina. One surprising theme that kept appearing were numerous articles featuring stories of various “escapes” from the Foreign Legion. Most of the deserters fled North Africa as stowaways on freighters while others made their way via cross country travel and then were assisted in their travel home by various British diplomatic offices.
The one page article below is dated 30 November 1929 and appeared in The Sphere Magazine which was an illustrated British newspaper that ran from 1900 to 1964. It is a nice example of the clear quality of the archive’s scans. Articles can be downloaded as .pdf files which are titled with date and page references. In this piece the pictures are clearly the highlight of the article. It is interesting to see legionnaires wearing their side caps (bonnet de police) undergoing machine gun training…and I wonder what the exceptionally tall deserter was thinking when he was told to pose for a group shot.