One pulp fiction author that has not been represented here too often is H. Bedford- Jones. Beford-Jones was a highly prolific writer who wrote just about every type of genre pulp fiction that was popular at the time. His specialty, if one had to choose, would simply be “adventure” with a hint of high seas. His contribution to Foreign Legion pulp fiction primarily consists of his stories under the collective name of “Warriors in Exile”. This series appeared monthly in Blue Book Magazine from June 1937 to October 1938 and consisted of the following stories. I previously posted Warriors in Exile “The King’s Pipe” (No. XIV) back in May of 2011. “Fighting Through” is number XII in the series and takes place in Tonkin during the 1884-1885 siege of Tuyên Quang–one of the Foreign Legion’s truly epic battles. Thanks to JvH for the scan and Urf for populating a copy to the usenet.
I. “We, About to Die”, The Blue Book Magazine Jun 1937
II. A Touch of Sun, The Blue Book Magazine Jul 1937
III. The Legion in Spain, The Blue Book Magazine Aug 1937
IV. The Grandson of Pompey, The Blue Book Magazine Sep 1937
V. Leather-Bellies in the Crimea, The Blue Book Magazine Oct 1937
VI. “Life, Not Courage, Left Them”, The Blue Book Magazine Nov 1937
VII. The First American to Fight in the Legion, The Blue Book Magazine Dec 1937
VIII. One Night in Magenta, The Blue Book Magazine Jan 1938
IX. Dust of Dead Souls, The Blue Book Magazine Feb 1938
X. A Crown Is Earned, The Blue Book Magazine Mar 1938
XI. The Crime of the Legion, The Blue Book Magazine Apr 1938
XII. Fighting Through, The Blue Book Magazine May 1938
XIII. Gentleman Royal, The Blue Book Magazine Jun 1938
XIV. The King’s Pipe, The Blue Book Magazine Jul 1938
XV. The Little Black God, The Blue Book Magazine Aug 1938
XVI. Reilly of the Legion, The Blue Book Magazine Sep 1938
XVII. A Devil in the Heart, The Blue Book Magazine Oct 1938
Warriors in Exile_Fighting Through
NOTE: Fixed the .pdf file above so that it prints better as of 16 Jan 2015.
Kepi Blanc is the official magazine of the French Foreign Legion. Kepi Blanc (KB) was first published in 1947 and continues to this day after 68 years with over 772 issues. It is somewhat the descendent of two other magazines, La Légion étrangère which began in 1912 and later changed it’s name to Vert et Rouge on July 1945. (Vert et Rouge continued to be published until 1959 with a total of about 115+ issues). There were also several other post-WWII periodicals published by the separate Regiments and it was eventually decided that one “good” magazine could make better use of scarce resources and provide information and boost morale to all legionnaires. So, KB was created in Sidi Bel Abbes by Colonel Gautier, the commandant of the Communal Depot of the Foreign Regiments (DRCE) at the time. KB is very similar to many other current armed forces publications; the U.S. Army has Soldiers Magazine, the UK Army has Soldier Magazine. KB‘s focus is, of course, on the French Foreign Legion and provides news and updates on the events for the various Legion units, current operations and exercises, history articles, book reviews, family events, travel tips, and for a while a cartoon section and regular feature on badges and unit crests. I personally like the historical articles that are often illustrated with rare photographs and illustrations from the Foreign Legion archives.
Over the years I’ve been lucky to find good prices on several small hoards of KB here in the U.S. Acquired bid by bid my collection now numbers over 250 issues. I created a spreadsheet to keep track of them (and so I don’t buy too many duplicates). On the MS Excel document below you can highlight the cells in different colors to indicate what you have in your collection. If you look at the legend at the very bottom you will note that I keep track of the digital copies of the covers, any digital copies/.pdf of KB magazines (
which I have never found) and my modest collection of about 251 hard copy magazines. The reference used to create this checklist was KB‘s own cover index. I’m not sure if anyone else who reads this blog collects KB magazines. If you live in the Americas and want to make significant inroads on collecting all 772+ magazines you will have to get used to bidding on Delcampe or eBay.fr. As I slowly improve my French Language skills (a 2015 News Year’s Resolution!) I hope to use KB more often in my future posts.
Kepi Blanc Magazine Checklist
Kepi Blanc Magazine Checklist
UPDATE: Juste sous mon nez! Thanks to AALEME (see comment below) for pointing out about 300 Kepi Blanc magazines (1947 to 1997) that are available for your online viewing at this link.
I also updated the two documents here as of 15 Jan 2014 by fixing the missing issues of 1958.
I really don’t want to make off-topic political posts on this blog but the despicable mass murders carried out by Muslim cowards in Paris on Wednesday really got to me. With the French military (and the Foreign Legion) again on the domestic front lines – pulling security at train stations, landmarks, and other public places, as well as hunting and killing the Al–Qaeda dégénérés all over the northern Sahara, I just wanted it known that what happened will not be forgotten here and to express my sincere condolences to the victim’s family, friends and loved ones and may God speed the full recovery of those wounded.
I can never understand how so many in the Muslim community will view the perpetrators as some sort of heroic martyrs. To me they were nothing but brain dead simpletons–the by-products of a sick cult of death. They killed unarmed civilians over some cartoons poking fun of their religion for crying out loud! Nothing can justify this. What brave men! Ha! …so glad the cops shot them dead.
Happy New Year! There was too much celebration yesterday at my house to get this posted in 2014. So, despite a hangover, I’ve finally assembled the odds and ends I found about the Foreign Legion the past month.
1. The Mysterious Lure of the French Foreign Legion. An interesting article here about Americans who have recently joined the Foreign Legion. It seems 2LT Lawrence J. Franks Jr. of the U.S. Army was looking for more action and challenges and found them in the Legion after deserting from the Army in 2009. The article has two videos as well as several links to associated articles. The video of the Legion’s Mayotte detachment is well done too as is an article about Simon Bennett, a Georgia man who got cut from the Foreign Legion selection process. Another Vice article describes the misadventures of a Canadian in the Foreign Legion. (New York Times article had this picture below of Franks in Mali with has back against the wall).
It should be noted that Franks completed his five year Legion enlistment. He did well and served as part of the Personal Security Team (PST) for French General Laurent Kolodziej the commander of Operation Serval. Franks told a military court that he had been struggling with suicidal urges and that the arduous regimen of the legion was the only way to escape his crippling depression, the Times wrote. “I needed to be wet and cold and hungry, I needed the grueling life I could only find in a place like the legion.” There are plenty of online news stories about Franks and I really like reading the comments at this article. I can really sympathize with Franks. It must have been a let down of sorts to graduate from West Point during the Global War on Terror and then given command of a medical platoon. That would probably have branched him Medical Corps which from my experience those units have some of the worst discipline problems, cry-babies and malcontents than any other unit in the Army. It’s no wonder he chose to abandon it all for the test and challenge of the Foreign Legion.
2. Reddit\Foreign Legion. If you want to read more about the Foreign Legion you can always go to this Reddit page. Be warned however that Reddit is a notorious time sink. You can literally spend a couple days browsing this topic and others.
3. Tom Gunn Foreign Legion Figures. I’ve mentioned these high-end 54mm scale figures before. They seem to keep making more of them and I can’t really keep up with how many they have. The pictures of a couple of new figures are shown below. See them all for yourself here.
4. Foreign Legion Memoirs. I stumbled upon this page written by a Wisconsin college student attending (or who attended) Loyola University of Chicago. It contains some of his reviews of some classic Foreign Legion memoirs to include G. Ward Price’s In Morocco with the Legion, Christian Jennings’ Mouthful of Rocks, Soldier of the Legion by George Mannington and Hell in the Foreign Legion by Ernst Löhndorff among others. It seems to be a student’s chronicle of his research as part of an internship with his Professor who is working on a greater project based on written memoirs of men who served in the Foreign Legion. Of course the focus of college research nowadays is always some left wing flavored contrivance and it appears this project is not different….”The overarching goal of my research is to focus on the stark contrast of the extreme violence done by and undergone by French Foreign Legionnaires, in addition to the everyday mundane activities in the glorious process of building a French Empire overseas.” Whatever. I’m sure the professor’s work will be published one day in some obscure irrelevant academic journal that nobody but other academics will ever read.
Admin Note: During the last two months I really went overboard on purchasing books and Foreign Legion related publications. There were some great finds on ebay and Abe Books and I’ve also mastered making purchases directly from eBay France. I’ve subscribed to Kepi Blanc and also have made some buys from DelCampe. I hope to review these books in 2015. There should be some interesting things happening to the layout as well. So keep following this blog.
Here is another installment of the Grit Gregson: Fighter in the Foreign Legion series that appeared in the UK comic Lion. This one in the 20 Feb 1954 issue. This two pager features the classic snitch character common to military fiction. In this story he is Corporal Snitz. In Beau Geste the snitch was Boldini. Actually, I think every military organization in the world from around 2,000 B.C. to 2014 has had a snitch. When I was in Army basic training, back in 1984, there were two hillbillies from Georgia who thought they had a special connection/relation to the Drill Sergeant from the same state. They were suspected of getting special treatment because of their shared “southern” heritage. Unfortunately for them our drill didn’t tolerate the “good ole boy” racist comments they made about other recruits and the last I saw of the Georgia boys was them starting basic training all over again in another company.
The Legion Sneak
Here’s an interesting article that appeared in the long running U.K. publication The Spectator in August of 1940–the dark days of early World War II. I’m not sure who P.O. Lapis was but he apparently served as an officer of the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion (13e DBLE) during the campaign in Norway (9 April and 10 June 1940) and took the time to write about some things he learned about the Foreign Legion. What I took from the article was what I have felt since I started this blog–that the French Foreign Legion is mainly composed of men who are professional combat soldiers, an elite. Always has been and always will be. It is one of the few remaining military organizations that allows for one to be unashamedly looking for a fight. A corps that has not yet been neutered by political correctness and the nonsensical mambo-jumbo of multicultural social engineers and moral relativists. The Foreign Legion remains what it has been for almost 200 years. An organization of tough, well led, hard-bitten, experienced soldiers who are depended upon to do the dirty work of France.
THE SPIRIT OF THE FOREIGN LEGION By P. O. Lapis
Who is left but the Foreign Legion? The U.S. Marines maybe plus the Army Rangers and Special Forces and the host of other special operators we have in our military services here in America. But not for long. The regular U.S. Army is nothing like what it used to be just 15 or 20 years ago. It’s now risk adverse and led by zero-defect officers who are nothing but shameless politically correct sellouts. No smoking or drinking allowed. No tattoos. No dirty magazines, blue jokes or swearing allowed. Pink slips for any seasoned combat veteran who is discovered to have a minor infraction on their record from years previous. Diversity classes and sensitivity training until you can’t stand it any more. Bending the standards to make them fit the gentler sex. The Navy and Air Force went down that road years ago and now are nothing but an equal opportunity, gender neutral, jobs and welfare program. Abroad the Canadian paratroop Regiment was disbanded because of typical north-of-the-border over reaction to the criminal actions of some regimental members. The German Army is beset with the most idiotic accusations of recruit abuse and racism. The UK military is similarly dealing with sexual assault scandals and “torture” accusations that never seem to go away. The Russians?–give me a break; what scumbags they turned out to be in the Ukraine.
We live in challenging times. The threat of Islamic extremism looms large and future combat operations against them seem more and more likely–the French are still in Mali trying to root out islamist terrorists and it’s been almost a year. Yet it seems there are also forces actively seeking sap the morale and fighting spirit of our men and woman serving in the Armed Forces. You hear absolutely nothing of what is happening in Afghanistan right now. If you looked for news about current military operations your browser will fill up with stories of homeless veterans, PTSD, sexual assault in the ranks, gays and gay veterans, problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and never ending stories of our wounded warriors struggling to cope in a seemingly heartless America. There seems to be no warrior spirit left anymore in this increasingly litigious society. One false move will have you behind bars for abusing a prisoner or for hate crimes against a religion. It’s a sorry state of military affairs focused only on the idiotic things and not the pertinent issues we need to be prepared for.
Thank God for the French Foreign Legion and the handful of other organizations out there that still have what it takes to shoot hadji in the face in the morning, tell stories about it in the canteen that evening and quietly scratch another notch on the wall were the informal body count is kept before sleeping soundly.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année.
Here is the last Foreign Legion pulp story for this year. It’s written by Georges Surdez and was featured as a “Foreign Legion Novelette” in the August 1939 issue of Adventure. I’ve not read it yet but will do so tonight and comment on the story later on. It weighs in at a hefty 22MB (34 pages and five graphics). I prefer the black and white appearance of these stories as they are usually easier to read so I tried out a new program called Scan Tailor. There were some “incompetent user” issues with selecting the content of each page and also some problems getting the size of the .tif’s down to a manageable level. You might want to right-click-save-as to your desktop before opening.
Man at Arms
Notes: I think Man at Arms is one of the best of Georges Surdez’s Foreign Legion tales. He really developed and breathed extra life into his characters especially Guarnec–the lumbering Breton and closest friend (and bad influence) of Sergent Fremont. The generic backdrop of conflict in this story is North Africa after WWI with the French pitted against non-specific Berber enemies. It’s an ideal setting for any classic Foreign Legion story and Surdez does not let himself get bogged down with any historical facts and details but at the same time he is accurate in his description of terrain, tactics, weapons, and the Foreign Legion. His approach to writing about the Foreign Legion (and to be fair, so is that of Robert Carse but to a lesser degree J. D. Newsom and Ted Roscoe) is similar to the good writers of westerns. Western fans enjoy the cowboy lingo, accurate descriptions of weapons, horses, Indians and the old West and don’t care too much about exactly what year such and such event occurred. Fans of the Foreign Legion genre enjoy the varied backgrounds and quirks of each character, rich examples about the Legion’s traditions and toughness on and off the battlefield, a bit of French, Arabic and maybe German lingo thrown into the dialog for spice, and the exotic settings of conflict such as the Sahara desert, the Rif Mountains or the jungles of Tonkin. What’s important in both genres is a compelling story and lots of action and Surdez delivers the goods here in large quantities but he also clearly understands the Foreign Legion like no other fiction writer. In fact, it is certain Foreign Legion traditions and their concepts of harsh but fair discipline that play a big role in this tale.
Here is a small collection of news items I’ve collected from the web about the Foreign Legion. These clippings are often very interesting and frequently serve as a launching point for further research into the names and events mentioned. For example the short article on Frederick Farrar’s redeeming his reputation in the First World War is about the former domestic chaplain (at Sandringham) to King George who fled England in late 1911 after a scandal over another woman (immorality) and instances of drunkenness. They actually put out a warrant for his arrest but he was one step ahead of the coppers. One wonders where he hid for those years from late 1911 until he popped up on the battlefields of France as a decorated legionnaire in 1916? Rumors had him in Northwest Canada or hiding underground in London. A more reliable article indicated he left for Austria with his wife but after the scandal broke, his newly wed American wife, Nora Davis, returned to the United States with her well known brother Richard Harding Davis but there was never any mention of Farrar following after her. I would like to believe that when he fled to Europe and possible France, as one newspaper speculated, he actually went and joined the French Foreign Legion to bury his indiscretions and start anew. Also, the mention of George Ullard in his role of trench line troubadour in “Strenuous Life in Foreign Legion” (page 9) is confirmed in several other contemporary articles. He seemed to enchant the Germans in the opposing trenches with his singing on several occasions prior to his death.
I hope you enjoy reading these as well as I did.
Legion News Clippings 2
I was away for much of the weekend so this post is a day later than usual but here are some of the interesting Foreign Legion related items I found on the web during the last month.
1. France’s North African Empire II. Here is an interesting article I found about France’s recent operations in North Africa. It’s not entirely about the Foreign Legion but it is about their old stomping ground in the western Sahara. (My ¢ .02: Like many other former colonies around the world it seems most of these north African countries (Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Mauritania, Chad, Libya and Niger) are destined to become failed states beset by corruption, ethnic disputes and the ever-retarding influence of radical Islam. The big 1960’s socialist-led push for Western powers to jettison their colonial possessions prematurely is finally revealed for the failure it was then and is now. No politically correct mantra can say these countries are better off now than they would have been if they were kept under administrative and military control of their colonial power.)
2. Forlorn Hope Soldiers. Michel, a reader of this blog, recently pointed me to his Facebook page and pictures of his 54mm desert fort (below). It’s a very nice construction and must take up half his dinner table at that scale. The next steps I would recommend would be a flagpole with the tricolor and some interior furniture such as water barrels, a bench or two, and some ladders.
3. Foreign Legion Fort at Bou Denib. Here is a super awesome desert fort W.I.P. of the Bou Denib blockhouse. It appears to be made with the intention of creating resin copies for use with the ever developing line of 28mm Foreign Legion Miniatures at Unfeasibly Miniatures. More pics here.
4. Triumph & Tragedy in northern Africa. This 2008 after action report from the Hamburger Tactica show somehow eluded me these these last years. It shows a really nice table complete with a Beau Geste type desert fort and a neighboring village and lots of action.
5. Foreign Legion “Twin Machine Guns” Arcade Game. I know this game has nothing to do with history, war gaming, miniatures or literature but it’s still an interesting example of how the Foreign Legion had permeated various nooks and cranny’s of our popular culture over the years. It was made in 1971 when even the Men’s Adventure pulps were dying off and six years before The Last Remake of Beau Geste. Go here for more information.
6. French Foreign Legion: 3e REI & 2e RE. Here is a video on the modern Foreign Legion that is pretty interesting. I’m surprised at how many legionnaires from the UK and Commonwealth countries are in the Foreign Legion. The reputation of these English speakers is that they are more likely to desert than other nationalities but the ones that stay in make the best legionnaires.
It’s Saturday morning here in cold and gloomy Wisconsin. The time of week formerly reserved for kids to get up early and sit before the TV in their pajamas to watch cartoons and adventure shows. So, in the spirit of Saturday mornings long past, here is a bit of juvenile fun from the British comic Lion (15 May 1954). Lesson learned–don’t mess with a Legionnaire’s food.
Grit Gregson_Trouble at the Barracks
(NOTE: These Lion comics were posted to the usenet comic newsgroups a couple years ago so many thanks goes to the original up-loaders.)