Well another year has passed and tomorrow, 30 April, Legionnaires past and present will celebrate the famous Bataille de Camerone which took place 157 years ago in Veracruz, Mexico. It’s hard to imagine how this commemoration will be celebrated given this godforsaken Chinese curse that lays upon the land. It’s probably for the best that the crowds are kept small and the old-timers stay at home and watch on the computer or tablet. Indeed, the celebration has been officially curtailed with this announcement on 27 April…
This year, the crisis situation in which we find ourselves leads us to celebrate Camerone differently. First on several fronts! This Camerone 2020 will indeed be, for many legionaries, a Camerone “in operation”: in the Sahel, elsewhere in the world, on the national territory within the framework of the Sentinel and Resilience operations. Second, because the context requires us to be focused, vigilant, to preserve our full operational capacity over time; but also to save our worried families, our elders, our brothers in arms and our friends, from any health risk.
This is why the 157th commemoration of the fight of Camerone will be held without audience and in strict compliance with the barrier gestures: the great gathering of the Mother House, the regimental ceremonies, the tight order, the corps mess and the fairs won’t do. In Aubagne, the bearer of the hand, the ex-Chief Warrant Officer Ende and the escorts, the ex-Sergeant Veress, the ex-Legionary Tepass, Major Deutschmann, and the Master Corporals Milinkovic and Rayapin will not be present.
But, we don’t want this Camerone 2020 to look like the one in 1961; the only year since 1947 when the hand was not presented to the Troops. We do not want our elders, confined to their homes, far from their comrades, to have the feeling of being forgotten, they who wrote the pages of glory of the Foreign Legion. Finally, we do not want our families, our friends, present with us for years, not to be able to attend this beautiful liturgy of courage and loyalty.
Also, we have ordered a sober commemoration, brief but full of dignity, so that the hand of Captain DANJOU is presented to the legionaries, as tradition dictates.
We wanted the gesture of this heroic fight, led by foreigners in the service of France, to be transmitted like a torch. That the legacy, forging the soul of the Legion be exalted despite the context, around the cardinal values that define the Institution: the sacred nature of the mission, fidelity to the word given, the community of destiny chosen and accepted by all, and also solidarity. Because, far beyond the grand military ceremonial, we have the strength of our virtues to offer.
Symbolically, on April 30, 2020, in the early session of the Viénot district, 03 officers, 05 non-commissioned officers and 57 legionaries will be present on the sacred way. They will discuss the exact effective order of battle of the 3rd company of the foreign regiment, under the orders of Captain Danjou in 1863–the one who honored the mission until the supreme sacrifice, with fidelity. Major Balanzat, president of the non-commissioned officers of the Foreign Legion, will present the hand of Captain Danjou to this very symbolic company. He will go up the sacred way with the rhythm of a drum which will recall the drum of Legionnaire Lai, left for dead during the fight of Camerone. The story of the fight will be told by Lieutenant Vagner, in memory of Lieutenant Francois who read it for the first time in 1906, in the isolated post of Ta-Lung in Indochina.
We will broadcast the filmed account of this sober and very brief commemoration at noon: the hour at which Captain Danjou fell in the hacienda of Camarón de Tejeda, Mexico, on April 30, 1863.
Never forget this fight of a handful of brave men who freely took the oath to carry out a desperate mission to the end and who kept this word until death, heroically, in the service of France
We share with you this Camerone 2020 “otherwise” on our social networks, from April 28, through several publications. You can, right now, write your comments on our Facebook page or our Facebook event and join us on Twitter at # Camerone2020.
NOTE: Illustrations were borrowed from an old Kepi Blanc cover and a 1958 book commemorating Camerone published by the 1REI at Side Bel Abbes.