Legion Pulp: Lady of the Legion (Part 1)

This month’s pulp comes from the March 1940 issue of Blue Book Magazine.  This publication was the Rolls Royce among pulps and featured, by far, the best story illustrations found in any magazine to include most of the slicks.  This is Part I of a two-part serial and I have the second installment ready for next month.  This story included a forward by Georges Surdez that lends context and background to this story so I’ve decided to include it below in lieu of my own introduction.  Surdez had many contacts in the Foreign Legion and the Hamilton he refers to below is Captain Edgar Hamilton, an American who commanded a company of the 4REI in Morocco.

About “Lady of the Legion*

     THERE is nothing at all fantastic in a Saharan war being fought over a girl.  While it may seem farfetched to have a young officer jeopardize his career and his life, risk the death of his men, anyone familiar with conditions out there knows similar cases.  The French lost Tafilelt for fifteen years because a captain had an affair with the daughter of a Caid.  From first to last, that situation must have cost several thousand lives.  As to the episodes of the siege, they are based on actual attacks, some in the Sahara, others in the Atlas, in the Riff.  As for Torval’s determination to blow up the dump, if that is not credible, Lieutenant Lapeyre and a half-dozen others were kidding when they did that exact thing.
     The aviation stuff is based on what pilots in North Africa told me, both in the Sahara and in Morocco. Even against villages, daylight raids were not profitable, as the natives would go out into the open and watch the show with some enjoyment.  Night raids are exceptional, I’ll grant. But there have been one or two, in emergencies.  The information about marriage, etc., is accurate—any curious reader can pick up the manuals and codes and check up to his satisfaction.
     Torval could have been an American, without going into the realm of romance. Captain Hamilton, the only American officer in the Legion, commanded Bou-Bernous, about the loneliest blockhouse in the Sahara, when he was a lieutenant.  I know Hamilton, of course, and like him, but I believe that he considers me like something that creeps under moist stones, because I write, about the Legion.  He has a phobia against Legion writers, which even established accuracy (I am a Member of Honor of Legion veterans, New York, Oran, etc., and honorary sergeant Saharan Company of the Draa, etc.) doesn’t melt.

—GEORGES SURDEZ

Lady of the Legion

NOTE:  This magnificent scan is from SAS-JVH.  I’m also still working on the second installment about French blockhouses in Indochina and that should be out very shortly as well as some of my long overdue book reviews.   

 

 

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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