The Demon Caravan by Georges Surdez

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 Lincoln MacVeagh/The Dial Press, 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 then 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.

The Demon Caravan


Posted in Books, Pulp Fiction Stories | 2 Comments

Joyeux Camerone 2018!

It’s that time of year again.  Tomorrow is 30 April–the most revered day in the history of the French Foreign Legion that commemorates that famous last-stand battle in 1863 that pitted 65 legionnaires against 3,000 Mexican cavalry and infantry.  The theme for this year’s 155th anniversary of the battle is Tu n’abandonnes jamais…ni tes morts, ni tes blesses… (you never abandon your dead nor your wounded).  This comes from the last part of the Foreign Legion’s Code of Honor where it mentions “In combat, you act without passion and without hate, you respect defeated enemies, and you never abandon your dead, your wounded, or your arms.”

For the ceremony on 30 April in Aubagne, the designated carrier of the “hand of Captain Danjou”, the “le porteur de la main du capitaine Danjou” will be Chief Medical Officer Jean-Louis Rondy.  In this way the Legion will honor the French Army Health Service and the way in which it cares for wounded soldiers and legionnaires. 

At 17, in 1943, Jean-Louis Rondy participated in the liberation of Paris and served in the ranks of the Leclerc Division (French 2nd Armored Division) in the campaign of France and Germany.  After the war, he resumed his studies and was admitted into the French Naval School of Medicine (the Santé Navale a civil-military medical school).  Appointed doctor-lieutenant in 1952, assigned to 1BEP (1st Foreign Parachute Battalion) of the Foreign Legion, he joined the fight in Tonkin. He participated in operations in the Delta and made the fateful jump onto Dien Bien Phu on November 21/22 1953.  He is wounded and captured on May 8, 1954 and held prisoner for four months until he was repatriated and then hospitalized for almost a year. He served again in the Foreign Legion, as medical officer at 3REI (1965 – 1967) in Madagascar, during the events in the Comoros.

–There will be a press booklet released soon for the 2018 Camerone Day but as of now I cannot find a copy online.  Here is the annual information booklet on the Foreign Legion.  Legion Etrangere 2018

–This year you can watch the ceremony live on the official Foreign Legion Facebook page.  …and be sure to check out the page for Miss Kepi Blanc 2018 (2REG).  (Note that there are several Miss Kepi Blanc events–one of each regiment it seems.)

–Another veteran who will be present at the ceremony will be 91 year old Frencis Ruiz.  A former member of the Foreign Legion who joined when he was 16 years old in 1944.  In 1950 he was sent to Indochina to serve as a Sergeant-Chef in the 1BEP.  He fought in the battle for RC4 (Colonial Route 4) in October 1950 and was captured by the Viet Minh and held prisoner until 1952.

Note:  More to follow this week.



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Legion Pulp: Outguessed

Here is a pretty short story from the pulp Thrilling Adventures dated July, 1936.  This one appeared last week on the wonderful page called PulpGen.  It was written by Ralph Milne Farley which was a pen name for Roger Sherman Hoar who was a prolific Science Fiction writer for the pulps as well as a State Senator in Massachusetts.  Not much say about this story other than it pays to plan your desertion from the Foreign Legion in extensive detail.


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Hodgepodge – Spring 2018

I used to post a monthly wrap up of new Foreign Legion related articles and items (a hodgepodge) found on the “inter-webs”.  I stopped these posts last year because it seemed like I was reaching too hard for relevant material each month.  But, since it has been a while since the last “Hodgepodge” there are many interesting things you may have missed.  So here is a Springtime Hodgepodge…

1. Warriors in Exile by H. Bedford-Jones.  This is a new book from Altus Press which contains seventeen pulp stories about the French Foreign Legion.  “Collected for the first time is author H. Bedford-Jones’ 17-part saga of the French Foreign Legion… the fascinating series based on the records of the most famous and picturesque fighting force of modern times. Featuring stories of the Foreign Legions in Crimea, Italy, Formosa, Tonkin, Siam, Dahomey, Sudan, Madagascar, the Sahara, with Maximilian of Austria in Mexico, war-torn Spain in 1835, and the Franco-Prussian War.”  The soft cover is $24.95 which is a bargain at any price since the only alternative is to find and purchase 17 issues of the old and crumbly yet expensive actual Blue Book Magazine to read each of the stories.  This volume measures in at 384 pages which would make this one of the finest collection of Foreign Legion pulp fiction ever published between two covers.   Here is the list of stories included in this collection.

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

2.  Foreign Legion Wargame at Hamburger Tactica.  This popular wargame convention featured a Foreign Legion game billed as “Sons of the Desert”.  It used the Triumph & Tragedy game rules to resolve a large skirmish between France’s legionnaires and massed forces of marauding Arab tribesmen.  The table was top-notch and featured a Hudson & Allen Fort Zinderneuf desert fort as the center piece of terrain.  Pictures and a recap of the game are here and a description of how the game table was assembled is here.  I see other photographs of this game on various AAR’s from the Tactica event–too numerous to post here but just look for AAR’s from the convention and you will find them.  Also note that there were several desert themed boards (Dune, Battle of Hattin, Afghanistan, Benghazi, etc.) there and the Turkish Fort I spotted would double for a good French one.  A video of the convention is here (with the Legion board making a cameo at 13:57) and another one here (at 14:03).

3.  Thomas Gast–The Foreign Legion – First Hand Tips.  If you have not been to this webpage before you are in for a real treat.  Mr. Gast, a Legion veteran (of 17 years!) provides his passionate insights into how to join and survive in this famous unit.  In numerous videos he also discusses some history of the Legion and talks about his experiences from 1985-2002 where he served in the 2nd Parachute Regiment (2REP).  The links may be a bit confusing but you can access all of his videos on YouTube here.

4.  Fremdenlegion in Indochina.  Here is another set of vintage photographs of the Legion in Indochina that appeared on the Flickr page of Hans-Michael Tappen.  They are clearly not all taken in Indochina as several are definitely from North Africa (and include some odd, unrelated portraiture as well).  Additional random pictures of the Foreign Legion were added to this album as well as to this album.  The picture above seemed to have slipped into yet another album of Mr. Tappen’s that had no other Legion photographs.  It seems to show some Legionnaires from the 1st BN, 5th Regiment playing around by the kitchen doors.  It appears that second man on the right might have just been promoted to “caporal” and is being ribbed by the guy on the far left.

5.  Americans in the Foreign Legion.  Here is an article from Stars and Stripes that addresses this subject directly.  There are several pictures to this one as well and the comments are enjoyable too (including my own).

6.  Random Photographs.  I’m always “hoovering” the internet of photographs related to the Foreign Legion.  Here some of the more interesting items I’ve found these last several months…

  • Rif War Aerial Photographs.  These pictures appeared recently on Gallica and show a bird’s eye view of several French bases and outposts used during their fighting against the Rif in the mid 1920’s.  The small blockhouses perched on the high ground are very interesting to look at if you zoom in.  You can see how hastily they were constructed with rock walls, ammo boxes filled with earth, wire obstacles, and outer trench-works.
  • North Africa.  These pictures came from this French website where you can search by location for pictures in their database.  It is a poor interface but I found that some key words were able to bring up many military related photographs.  Most of these photographs were taken circa 1915-1916 in Morocco where the Legion was engaged in operations against various rebel and bandit groups while the Great War was being fought in Europe.  Events include awards ceremonies, campaign maneuvers, groups shots, etc.


7. Drinking to Forget.  This article is a somewhat humorous take on what has often been called the curse of the French Foreign Legion–Drink.  The author treads lightly on what could realistically be a seriously long, scholarly article but does a nice job of covering Legion history and the drink preferences of the Legionnaire.  There are also some nice quotations including this gem: “The legionnaires drink to forget – but they seldom forget to drink.”  

This article also allows me to post one of my favorite postcards of the classic Foreign Legion in their garrison town of Sidi Bel Abbes.  The scene above depicts two legionnaires under armed escort leaving the Arab quarter of the city (the village negre).  The caption says: Arrestation de Legionnaires en goguette – Arrest of Legionnaires on the run (deserters).  However, I would point out the two men did not get very far from town and seem to be in a very happy mood. Perhaps the caption should say “Arrest of Drunken Legionnaires” as they most likely became deserters by staying out way too long after curfew and were recovered by the armed patrol in a no-go area sometime in the bright morning hours.  If this was the case, the offenders might only get two weeks in the post brig and/or a month on restriction because while desertion is frowned upon and punished severely being drunk and stupid is just not the same thing.

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Legion Pulp: Lady of the Legion (Part 2 & 3)

OK.  This is now fixed.  The links below will take you to parts 2 and 3 of this story. 

Lady of the Legion Part 2

Lady of the Legion Part 3

Lady of the Legion is a fine story that takes place in a small isolated desert post (Poste Moziba) manned by 30 legionnaires and Lieutenant Torval.  The fort and the men inside become caught between a vengeful Arab agha and his amassed warriors who seeks to redeem his honor be recapturing his runaway bride-to-be and their higher HQ who order the Torval to return the mysterious Louise Souvain to her tribe.  Louise sought shelter with the French after escaping her arranged marriage but the Legionnaires vow to fight to the death in order to protect her because to give her over to the Arab chieftain means certain death at the hands of her spurned groom.  It is the only way to regain his lost honor.  However, is Louise telling the truth that she was captured as a small girl from a French merchant family and raised in the tribe as one of their own?  Or is she really a part Maltese-Berber maiden who does not want to be sold off into a marriage she doesn’t want and is pretending to be French.  Eventually the besieging tribesman attack the fort but are beaten back time and time again. Can the Legionnaires hold out and why should they even risk their lives over a girl who may not be who she says she is?

NOTE: This scan is not in color like the first part which was done by another, very good, scanner (SAS).  I scan in color but convert the final into black and white so I can print it out for reading and to then save in my collection.

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French Blockhouses – Part 2: Indochina 1946-1954

NOTE:  This is the second part of my take on French blockhouses.  It utilizes two primary sources: Rand Memorandum 5271-PR A Translation From the French: Lessons of the War in Indochina VOL 2 (page 116 “Fortifications”) and an online version of a book called La Guerre D’Indochine by Maurice de Poitevin (Chapter VII, The War of the Posts). 

After the Japanese surrender in 1945, when the French moved swiftly to regain control of their far-flung colonial possessions, we see an almost immediate resurgence of guerilla warfare in Indochina.  By 1948 the level of Viet Minh insurgent activity is rapidly escalating and for the first time the tactic of watch towers and blockhouses becomes central to the French strategy in controlling their so called “pacified” areas.  Promoted by General De La Tour, this tactic was started in the south (Cochinchina) and later utilized in Annam (the center of modern Vietnam) by 1950.

“The watch towers were field works manned by several men (five to six auxiliaries) established along the length of a road (generally within sight of one another, and at an interval of approximately 1 km) in order to:

  • Prevent the cutting of the road, protect local facilities, observe movements, and insure free access
  • Assist vehicles and contribute to their protection in case of attack

Certain towers, called “mother towers,” were provided with larger forces and increased fire power,  in the case of an ambush on a convoy, personnel from these positions sounded the alarm and halted all traffic while mobile elements from specified military posts quickly moved into the area.  This procedure yielded excellent results at the beginning, but it quickly became ineffective.  

From 1950 on the Viet Minh in Central Vietnam began using shaped-charge projectiles fired from weapons delivered to them by China.  Masonry was unable to stand up under such fire, and the small garrisons of these field works would often avoid sounding the alarm, preferring to abandon their position rather than to expose themselves to certain destruction.

Another limiting factor of the “poste kilométrique” tactic is that it did not work in the stronghold areas of the Viet Minh which were the heavily forested northern and western highlands that run along the border of Laos and Cambodia and China to the north.  Here the French had limited visibility along their lines of communication so watch towers were ineffective.  The French had to establish much larger bases and launch mobile operations against their elusive enemy.

Starting late 1950 the French began a serious effort in the north to protect the Red River Delta region from encroaching Communist efforts.  A fortification line extending south from Tien Yen in the extreme north and that curved west to encircle Hanoi and then back east to the coast was built.  This was nicknamed The De Lattre Line, after General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, and consisted of a line of concrete fortifications (towers, pillboxes, bunkers) obstacles, and weapons installations constructed to guard the essential lines of communication between the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong and to provide security for the densely populated and economically important Delta area against attacks by both the Viet Minh and any potential invasion from Communist China.  The De Lattre fortifications more often resembled the reinforced concrete pillboxes and bunkers used by the German along their defensive lines on the Western Front in WWII.

The De Lattre Line was to comprise 1200 separate concrete blockhouses able to withstand 155mm artillery.  They were grouped in 250 clusters of 3-6 blockhouses for mutual fire support over a span of 235 miles (378 km).  Each blockhouse was to hold a minimum of 10 men.  In addition a defensive redoubt was to be constructed around a 22 miles (35 km) radius from the port of Haiphong ensuring its safety from artillery attack.  All these new defensive lines were to be connected by roads capable of bearing 30-ton tanks.  Construction commenced in late 1950 and was mostly complete (913 fortifications) by the end of 1953.  The picture below shows one of the types of bases that would have several towers in the immediate sector that it would be responsible for manning and for relief if attacked.

Ultimately the fate of French Indochina would be determined by the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and the towers and blockhouses that dotted the entire region had little to no effect on this final act of a 67 year drama.

Here are the pictures I’ve collected on this topic.  These were literally collected from a multitude of various places on the internet over the course of several years and it would be impossible to go back and provide attribution and I apologize for not annotating them properly or giving credit to any original content.  I hope that this post makes up for my lack of courtesy regarding the images.  The images were cropped in two MS Powerpoint presentations (one in landscape and the other portrait).  They were joined in Adobe PDF.  

French Blockhouses Indochina-Part Two


Posted in Photographs, Tonkin, Wargame Terrain | 7 Comments

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.


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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French Blockhouses – Part 1: Indochina 1880-1945

Note: This post and two others that follow will attempt to give some insight into the French use of blockhouses.  Since I’m not an expert on the topic I won’t go too far into the weeds of the technical aspects of French defensive tactics (for fear of drowning) and also because this is a blog and not a book or scholarly article.  The main purpose of this post is to provide some reference graphics to those who might be interested in the topic and/or for use in making war game terrain.  There will be three .pdf downloads that will consolidate the many and various pictures I have on this subject.   I’ll follow this post up with another that focuses on the blockhouses used in the First Indochina War 1945-1954 and another on the more familiar blockhouses found in North Africa.

INTRODUCTION:  I’ve always been intrigued by the French Army’s employment of blockhouses in their various colonial adventures.   They seem to have placed an inordinate trust in this tactic and the ability of these isolated small scale outposts (usually located within line of sight to each other) to provide security to the logistical road networks and populated areas and provide early warning and information of enemy movements and activities.  A trust that lasted longer than those of other armies.  Looking back in history, I’m not sure it worked quite as well as they thought it did, yet this tactic (first used in large numbers in colonial North America) became a trademark of French occupation tactics and colonial warfare.  Blockhouses were built by Napoleon’s armies in Germany, Russia and Spain and would appear throughout Algeria starting with the French invasion of Algiers in 1830.  Fortlets and blockhouses were built along major road networks during the Mexican debacle and then again in Madagascar, Dahomey and especially Indochina.   These structures would proliferate throughout western Algeria along the indeterminate border with Morocco and later within Morocco itself.  In the 1920’s, several dozen blockhouses were hastily built along the French defensive lines north of Fez during the Rif War.  Many of these fell to Rif assaults and their garrisons were wiped out to a man.

After WWII the French in Indochina continued to rely on the vast existing network of these blockhouses and mini-forts in fighting against the Viet Minh and began to build more and more of these (of various construction) to better control pacified areas.  Towards the latter years of that conflict the French doubled down on a major static defense plan for the north and created what was to be an interlocking belt of over 1,200 (900 were actually built) of these forts informally named the De Lattre Line.  Many of the De Lattre fortifications were constructed to withstand heavy enemy fire and resembled concrete pillboxes.

SpainOther countries used blockhouses too.  Britain was successful using them to secure road and rail networks, bridges, garrisons and camps, and to cordon off large areas from Boer guerillas in South Africa.  The Spanish had blockhouses throughout Cuba and the Philippines during their prolonged struggle against insurgents in both countries.  These were somewhat effective as strong points against the Americans in 1898 outside of Santiago and Manila.  The Spanish would also erect blockhouses along their defensive lines in northern Morocco at Cueta and Melilla.

My problem with blockhouses and other static defensive strong points is that they cede too much territory and maneuver space to the enemy and their garrisons become complacent and/or ineffective in their patrolling and offensive operations.  They were often manned with ill trained local militia / security troops.  Blockhouses may work well during the day in securing supply networks but at night individual forts quickly become targets of opportunity for an aggressive and agile enemy (that more often finds and exploits gaps between them vs. attacking them directly).  In the Indochina War French blockhouses quite often became merely range markers for recoilless rifle and mortar teams and secondary targets attacked by the Viet Minh only to lure relief forces into ambushes.  Blockhouses built by the French during that conflict would increasingly be made out of concrete and tied to other stronger supporting defenses.  The De Lattre Line would group several of these towers and strong points into a cluster where all could be supported by a main base providing artillery support and quick reaction forces backed by armor.  Nevertheless, many of these were simply low-hanging fruit for the communists.

Indochina 1880-1945

There were many types of defensive structures used during the French occupation of Indochina.  Major indigenous structures most often consisted of very large earthen mounds that formed a high wall around key towns, garrisons and royal palaces.  Among these were the citadels at Hanoi (Thăng Long), Hue, Saigon, Lang Son, and Son Tay.  Smaller populated areas and even villages had smaller versions of an earthen mound, sometimes topped by a bamboo wall, to protect it from the depredations of Chinese bandits (pirates known as the Black Flags).  These perimeters would be surrounded by a palisade of bamboo poles and immense piles of cleared bush.  Diagrams made by the French show that the infamous “punji-stick” traps were a common tactic well before the Americans showed up.  The fortified towns would have one main entrance that would be closed and closely guarded at night.  The road leading to this gate was often flanked by rice paddies for several hundred feet which severely limited the frontage of an attacking enemy.

Terrain also played a key roll in determining location of French bases.  Commanding positions along major rivers were established and there are several pictures depicting garrisons perched on precipitous spurs and outcroppings.  Blockhouses would often dominate the key terrain around French bases and were necessary for maintaining line of sight communications in the era before wireless.

The French, during the conquest of Tonkin, began to consolidate their gains by taking over existing fortresses and towns and then reinforcing them in a typical European fashion.  Fields of fire were cleared, parapets reinforced, and artillery placements were surveyed and laid.  Construction of numerous western style barracks, stores, stables and magazines were completed as well as building the inevitable blockhouses.  These were built to provide the main defensive lines with a final fall back position–a fort within a fort.  Outside the main bases blockhouses were also erected on hilltops for maximum observation as well as on defensible terrain that tied into securing the extended area.  During the Siege of Tuyên Quang (Nov 1894-Mar 1895) the blockhouse established on the west side of the perimeter, until it was evacuated, served to foil several Chinese attempts on the outpost.

The early blockhouses erected in Indochina were larger and more commanding than those structures the French built there after WWII.  Blockhouses were three or four stories high and rectangular in shape with an open air top floor covered by a thatch or tile roof.  As mentioned their construction were often tied into an existing defensive perimeter and often functioned as a gate house at the main (and only) entrance into the garrison town.  Eventually these blockhouses would be established along key lines of communication at 1 kilometer intervals and would be known as poste kilométrique.

French Blockhouses_Part 1

NOTE: The first picture in this post is an amazing recreation of a French watchtower used for the 2002 film The Quiet American.  (I found it at this page).  It is well weathered with falling plaster so I thought it would be a good representation of one of the older blockhouses built before WWII.  The Quiet American is a novel written by Graham Green in 1955.  The story has a scene where the two protagonists get trapped in the tower by the Viet Minh.  The book also mentions the Foreign Legion several times so I’ve added this to my read pile.  The Quiet American was first made into a movie in 1958 but I have not been able to see if they had a similar watch tower made.  

Posted in Legion Forts, Tonkin, Wargame Terrain | 4 Comments

Legion Pulp: To Hell for the Devil

This month’s pulp is written by Richard E. Wormser who was an American pulp writer who wrote fiction in just about all genres from the early 1930’s until his death in 1977.  When the pulps died out in the 1940’s Wormser kept writing and to his credit has over 200 pulp stories including seventeen early Nick Carter stories and several award winning western novels and novelizations of movies and television shows.  This story appeared in the 01 December, 1934, issue of Argosy and was also included in the first issue (1940) of the short run pulp title Foreign Legion Stories

The story is an oft-repeated one that has the long arm of American law enforcement, in this case Detective Cafferty of New York, reaching into the Legion to solve a cold case mystery.

To Hell for the Devil

(Not my scan but thanks to the original scanner to put this out on the web whose name I do not know.)


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Wargames Illustrated Foreign Legion Articles

I’ve been a big fan of Wargames Illustrated since it started appearing in my Barnes and Noble bookstore several years ago.  Hard copy is pretty pricey so I only bought the magazine when it had interesting articles on terrain building or colonial adventures.  However, several months ago I became a Wargames Illustrated “Prime” member which allowed me to access “the Vault” which contains digital versions of 350+ back issues of the magazine.  This was really a great bargain just to be able to access these old issues.  I’ve kept my monthly subscription current as it seems the magazine keeps growing and getting better over time.  If you do go the digital route for your Wargames Illustrated, to make your search easier, there are several articles about the Foreign Legion.

#023 Carche ou Crève! What was it really like to March of Die under the blazing Saharan sun? By Greg Foster.

#144 Death in the Sand. Simple rules for wargaming the French Foreign Legion in North Africa by Peter Helm.

#293 Legionnaires in the Dark Continent. The French Foreign Legion south of the Sahara by Chris Peers

#300 “The Legion May Die, But Never Surreners”. The last stand of the Foreign Legion in exotic Mexico–the Battle of Camerone, 1863 by Paul Davies.  Includes instructions for building the hacienda.

#329 Project Showcase: March or Die!  Creating a force for Death in the Dark Continent by Tim Harris.

#334 Theme: Trading Their Kepis for Jump Helmets. Legion Paras in Indochina by Matt Moran.

#350 The Battle of Messifre 1925.  Post WWI colonial action in Syria by Robert Giglio.

Posted in War Games & Rules | 2 Comments