The official Camerone 2018 ceremonies are now over in most of the Legion’s garrisons and regimental posts but I’m sure the celebrations (and libations) will last well into the early hours of Tuesday. I will have my bottle of Kronenburg tonight after work and some red wine during dinner and here on this blog I usually make several posts to commemorate Camerone Day and this week will no different.
I will start off by sharing one of the three Georges Surdez fiction stories to appear in book form (the others being the 1928 Swords of the Soudan, L. Harper Allen Co. and the 1931 They March From Yesterday by W. Collins, Sons & Co). The Demon Caravan was published in 1927 by Dell, reprinted in 1929 by A.L. Burt (a serial re-printer), published in the U.K. in 1931 by W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., and again in 1951 by Dell as a map-back paperback (see below). I’m not sure why more of Surdez’s work did not make the jump to book form or at least to paperback. Many of his serials could have easily reached the 120-200 page length of what was an average paperback of the time so could have easily filled up hardback. (Note that the hardback copy has 245 pages of story and the Dell paperback has 222.) Swords of the Soudan originally appeared as a four part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly (1923 Jan 27, Feb 03, Feb 10, Feb 17). It also appeared serialized in certain newspapers in 1940.
The Demon Caravan is not 100% Foreign Legion as the protagonist, Paul Lartal, is an officer in charge of a company of the Saharan Camel Corps. One of his NCO’s is a former legionnaire and the Legion is mentioned several times. The Demon Caravan was made into a movie in 1953 called The Desert Legion and the switch was made by casting Alan Ladd as Paul Lartal of the Foreign Legion.
The copy that I added to the Monlegionnaire Library came from the Digital Library of India via the Internet Archive and is the 1931 UK edition. The version I downloaded from there was pretty poorly scanned so I spent some time fixing it up, adding covers, and inserting an illustration of an Algerian girl that I thought appropriate. So here is a nice readable copy of The Demon Caravan.