Mon Legionnaire Library Update

I finally got around to updating my Library page.  You can get there by clicking on the tab that says “Library” under Brian Donlevy (Sergeant Markoff) in my header.  I removed all of the .mobi and .epub links and replaced them with one to the Internet Archive (or other digital archive).  Then I restored the .pdf links which now download my modified versions of these books where the blank pages have been removed and some pictures and covers were added.  New additions to the library include Death Squads in Morocco by W. J. Blackledge and Lost Sheep by Vere Shortt.  In a a couple of days you should see the memoir In Order to Die by Henry Ainley (Indo-China, 1951-53), With the Foreign Legion at Narvik by CPT Pierre O. Lapie and Nothing To Lose by Colin John (another Indochina memoir).  Hopefully by the end of the week there will be five P. C. Wren books posted once I tidy up the pages and covers.  A bit later there will be section on World War I where several books on the American fighters in the Foreign Legion will be posted.  Also there will be another section that contains books on North Africa, the Sahara, Algeria, and Morocco.


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North African / Arab War Game Terrain Builds (from eBay)

Here is a post related to war gaming.  Over the years I’ve collected some pictures from various eBay listings for North African/Arab themed war game terrain.  Those posted today are mainly from two builders-sellers that make some really incredible builds–so much eye candy here that I felt they needed to be featured on this blog as inspiration for the scratch building readers and war gamers who visit this blog.  The two eBay sellers are wargamechris and smallworldgames.  The first two items shown below are from smallworldgames and the others are from wargamechris (all of which have been sold).  The gallery pictures are just some teasers as I’ve loaded the rest of the pictures from the listings for each build in the .pdf files below.  They were built for 28mm miniatures and are truly works of art.

Adobe Ruin     Afghan House    African House    Arab House    Arabian Walled Town   Colonial African Block    Desert Fort with Oasis    Downtown Hotel    Fortified Village Middle Eastern House

NOTE:  I hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes here as I shamelessly did not ask permission to use these pictures.  Please drop a comment if you are the owners and want me to remove them 9and I apologize in advance.)

Posted in Wargame Terrain | 1 Comment

Epic of the Foreign Legion (WWI)

Here is an article that I’ve had laying around for some time but had assumed it was already posted.  It is a chapter (page 27) from the book Deeds of Heroism and Bravery: The Book of Heroes and Personal Daring by Elwyn Alfred Barron which was published 1920.  In this book there are dozens of amazing stories of WWI combat and daring adventures featuring soldiers, airmen, sailors, spies, nurses, and ambulance men.  This article does a good job providing some first hand anecdotes of the early actions of the Foreign Legion as recounted by American legionnaire Edward Morlae.  The last chapters under the heading “Dare-Devil Fighters from the Paris Slums” address the Battalions D’Afrique / Joyeux and their heroic actions in the trenches.

Epic of the Foreign Legion

Here is another copy of this photograph from the August 1917 issue of Scribner’s magazine.

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Grit Gregson: Ambush in the Valley of the Moon

Camerone Day is coming up fast and I’m a bit flat footing on my celebratory blog postings so here is the very first Grit Gregson feature that appeared the U.K. comic Lion (#096 dated 19 December 1953).  Legionnaire Gregson appeared in Lion for less than a year ending in mid-1954.  I’m not sure how many total Grit Gregson pieces there are–my digital copies of Lion with Gregson end at #121 and my next copy is #137 which does not have the Gregson feature.  So my best guess is that there were between 25 to 35 Grit Gregson adventures.   (Thanks goes to the usenet poster who uploaded these comics so long ago).

Grit Gregson Ambush in Moon Valley

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Legion Pulp: Not in the Ritual

April’s Foreign Legion pulp story is from the pages of Adventure Magazine that first hit the streets way back on the 15th of March, 1931.  …another masterpiece from the master of Foreign Legion fiction–Georges Surdez.  It is about an intense rivalry between a hardened Legion NCO and a new recruit with a serious background problem and a death wish.

Not in the Ritual

Not my scan so thank you very much to “jvh-sas” for the upload of this magazine.

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Lost Sheep by Captain Vere Dawson Shortt

Lost Sheep by Vere Shortt.  Published by John Lane, The Bodley Head, London.  January, 1914.  312 pages.

Here is a remarkable book and one of the best early French Foreign Legion novels I’ve ever read.  Lost Sheep has been my personal version of the “Great White Whale”–always very elusive when looking for a copy and in all cases way too expensive whenever one surfaced in the book market.  I waited for years but finally this March I was poised to purchase an expensive hard copy when I stumbled on the digital version of the book recently uploaded last October by The Library of Congress to the Internet Archive.   I was ecstatic then and by coincidence a month later another hard copy of the book popped up on eBay (and way more affordable too) which quickly became part of my library.  So I felt, after reading it, that I needed to share this gem with everyone.

Note that in a post here, back in July of 2012, I mentioned Lost Sheep and provided some information about the author and a couple of articles he wrote about the Foreign Legion.  The author has a very interesting background.  Captain Vere Dawson Shortt was born at Moorfield, Mountrath, Queen’s County, Ireland (now County Laois) in 1874.  Prior to WWI he had experience in South Africa as a cavalryman in the Cape Mounted Rifles and during the Boer War with “Steinacker’s Horse”.  He also began writing short fiction of the “weird” and “occult” variety that was popular at the time and had several pieces published in minor periodicals such as The Occult Reveiw.  In his articles on the Foreign Legion he said that he was himself a former “legionary” and wanted to set the record straight on some things relating to that corps.   If Vere Shortt was actually in the Foreign Legion it would have been sometime between 1902-1913 but his sister never mentions this service in a short biography she provided after his death to the editor of The Occult Review.  Because of his military background he was commissioned at the outbreak of WWI and went off to war in France as a Captain in August of 1915 and was subsequently killed in the Battle of Loos on 27 September 1915 while leading his men from the 7th Battalion of the Northhamptonshire Regiment.  He is memorialized at the Loos Memorial at Pas de Calais, France.

Lost Sheep is basically a longer-than-most pulp fiction story published in book format.  It must be noted that it was also published in the U.S. in an actual pulp magazine –the July 1915 issue of Short Stories (v84 #1 No. 302).  Because of the two column format of most pulps it was easy to squeeze the 312 pages of the book onto 77 pages of 7″ X 10″ pulp paper.  The book has no illustrations but I’m sure Short Stories provided their usual ink drawings for the story.

The plot begins with our English cavalryman, James (Jim) Lingard, barely holding on to his position in the 31st Hussars due to his financial (gambling) problems.  The remains of his small inheritance is literally rolled away on a one-night binge at a casino so he reluctantly resigns his commission.  Sulking around London he gets fed up with the society he is no longer a part of and impulsively flees to Paris.  Lingard is fluent in French (his mother was French) but his money does not last any longer in Paris and he makes the fateful decision to join the French Foreign Legion (about page 35).  This is when the author’s knowledge of the Foreign Legion really kicks in as he describes Lingard’s enlistment, travel to N. Africa, the Legion’s culture and customs and the various and odd legionnaires he meets.  Lingard quickly makes corporal and then is posted to the Mounted Section of the 2nd Company and made a Sergeant.  While stationed at the desert outpost of Ain Sefra he begins to feel a despair and carelessness that he quickly diagnoses as le cafard.  Seeking some remedy to his melancholy he seeks out trouble and mischief in the form of the bars of village negre and a mysterious house nearby.  Intruding inside the house he meets the mysterious and very alluring girl known as Amine but he is warned away by her bodyguard and threatened with death if he enters the house again.  Of course this does not stop Lingard and he visits a second time before heading off with the Legion to Douargala on an offensive operation near the Saharan desert (he is also promoted to adjutant).  At the oasis of El Rasa his unit is attacked by a hoard of mounted Senussi fanatics and Lingard and his commander, Lt. Morsec, are captured.  From page 188 onward the story leaves the Foreign Legion behind and becomes something you might read in a Weird Tales pulp with plenty of ancient magic and dark spirits.  The two captives are taken deep into the the Saharan desert and kept by the Senussi in a mysterious fortress nestled in the Hoggar (Ahaggar) Mountains.  Of course, Amine is there because she is actually a queen of the Senussi but she has fallen hard for “Jeem” Lingard and arranges for the escape of the two legionnaires (which they do after some narrow escapes and close quarters combat).

The plot is not as tight as A Soldier of the Legion ( by C. N. & A. M Williamson) which was also published in 1914 but the parts about the Foreign Legion more than make up for this (for me at least).  There were also several items that were left hanging in what seemed to be a rushed ending such as how did the emir of the Senussi happen to be an Englishman and did the French ever eliminate the massed Senussi forces.  I also didn’t like some of the unexplained supernatural events in the latter half of the book as they were a bit contrived and shallow.  Nevertheless, I’m sure readers will enjoy this book.  It’s tragic that Shortt’s life ended just when he started on a promising career as an author.  He might have become a prolific writer of Foreign Legion fiction like P. C. Wren or Georges Surdez.  NOTE:  the .pdf file below is from the Internet Archive and the text is a bit faded but fully readable on a tablet or PC. 

Lost Sheep

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Hodgepodge for March 2017

Another month gone…and good riddance to winter.   Here are some interesting Foreign Legion related links, pictures, articles and other tidbits.

1. Another Photo Album.  Posted by Simon F. at the Gentleman’s Military Interest Club was an interesting photo album entitled “French Foreign Legion Cambodia”.  This post was back in 2009 but I only discovered it recently.  There are 22 photographs of Legionnaires in various poses in the field as well as an award ceremony.  Good comments to read as well and the owner of the pictures was a former sailor from the German Kriegsmarine.

2. At the Edge of the World Review.  Here is a nice positive review of this recent book about the colonial era Foreign Legion.  Pretty short but to the point.  I saw no reviews yet on Amazon but that is probably due to the fact that it is not available until 4 April.  I did get an Advance Reading Copy last month and found parts I sampled were nicely balanced between “big picture” colonial history and ground level insights and anecdotes of the classic Legion.  More to follow on this book.  NOTE: My “reading” copy did not include maps or illustrations so don’t be tempted to pick up one of these because they are suddenly cheap.  Wait for the final edition.

3. Imperial War Museum’s Oral History: Edmund “Eddie” Murray.  This web page provides an embedded sound file of an interview conducted with former Foreign Legionnaire and one-time body guard for Winston Churchill (as well as the author of the above book).  It’s a bit hard to understand him at first (I turned the volume up pretty high) but once you get going his voice becomes very enchanting and he tells a wonderful series of stories about his Legion exploits.  The file actually consists of 33 parts which is quite a long interview.

The Object Description on the right side of this page lists Murray as …British légionnaire and NCO served with 1st (Headquarters) Regt French Foreign Legion in Algeria, 1937-1940; NCO served with 5th Regt French Foreign Legion in Indo-China and China, 1940-1945, including period in transit with Alessandri Column, 1945; officer served with Special Operations Executive Inter Service Liaison Department in India, 1945-1946; served with Metropolitan Police S Division in GB, 1948- 1949; served with Special Branch in GB, 1949-1965, including period as bodyguard to Winston Churchill, 1950-1965.    Below this is a lengthy Content Description that summarizes the entire interview and some highlights include “bars in Sidi Bel Abbès”, “journey from Sidi Bel Abbès, Algeria, to Saigon”, “story of Battle at Lang Son” and “survival skills learned from courtesan”.

4. Strelets Arab Revolt Figures.  Strelets has produced two new plastic soldier releases in 1:72 scale for the WWI Arab Revolt.  The first set was released as 115 Lawrence of Arabia.  PSR reviewed them hereThe second set is M127 Arab Revolt Foot Rebels and you can see the masters here.  These figures are going to be very popular for all sorts of colonial and pulp gaming.  Historical accuracy be damned–these figures are tailor made for launching frontal assaults on the Saharan clay forts of the Foreign Legion.

5. Press Releases.  Here are a couple of press releases from the Foreign Legion.  One is about a Change of Command of the 13DBLE (with some history and notes on the recent transition of the unit) and the other is a 2016 Bastille Day Parade item.  I come across these types of modern Legion publications every now and then and thought some folks might be interested.  In addition to the Kepi Blanc magazine some of the Legion regiments publish their own magazines and I’ve collected several digital versions of these.  As I sort them out I’ll post them here as well.


Dossier De Presse 14 Juillet 2016



Posted in Books, Famous Legionnaires, History, Hodgepodge, Miniatures, Photographs | 1 Comment

New Photo Album: Foreign Legion in Indochina 1949-1952

It took a little time but I finally scanned over 50 original photographs of the Foreign Legion that I purchased on eBay.  They are from a collection of pictures that belonged to a Legion Sergeant Major Simone Jacques (LM 25913) and were taken in various locations in French Indochina from 1949 to 1952.  There is little other information I have right now but once I figure out what the writing on the back says on some of these I’ll add my comments to the pictures posted to this album on Flickr.  I do know that several of these were taken in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and in one picture you can see the 2/2 unit designation on one of the “lawn ornaments” (decorative landscaping the Legion is known for).  There are no combat snapshots and most seem to be taken in a garrison environment–just the spot for a Sergeant Major.  Thanks to the seller for explaining that the acronyms on the that reads “B.P.M. 409” is Boite Postale Militaire 409 and “T.O.E.” stands for Territory Extreme Orient.  If by chance you have any insight on these pics please let me know.

I’m pleased with the way most of these very small prints (some were slightly bigger than a postage stamp) were able to be scanned into some nice crisp images.  Some were blurry and I’ll have to re-scan & re-upload some other pictures that somehow had the right side cropped out.  I’m also happy that these are now available to the general viewing public where previously they were wrapped up in an envelope for perhaps many years.

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Legion Pulp: Efficiency Expert

Technically this is not a story from what would be considered a “pulp” magazine but it was written by the master Foreign Legion pulp fictioneer Georges Surdez.  It appeared in Elks Magazine (of all places), in their September 1939 issue.  The Elks are a fraternal order founded in 1868 that eventually grew large and popular enough that they began publication of a magazine in 1922.  From the beginning, this publication had some fiction that appeared in it’s content and there were a couple of good stories of wilderness adventure, war, historical fiction, and a couple of gems from Surdez.  This story is only two pages long and reminds me of the other “short-short” stories by Surdez that appeared in Collier’s Magazine (which you can find on this blog).  As far as the story goes, all I can say is that Captain Talifer has balls of steel.

Efficiency Expert


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My Visit to the Foreign Legion by COL P. T. Etherton

Here is an article that appeared in the 20 June 1931 issue of the UK’s Pictorial Weekly (formerly The Penny Pictorial Magazine).  It was written by Colonel P. T. Etherton which was a nom-de-plume for the well known travel writer Percy Thomas (1879–1963).  Thomas was one of the hundreds of reporters and guests of the Legion who descended on the Legion’s home at Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria for the 100th Anniversary of the Foreign Legion’s founding which was held on Camerone Day, April 30, 1931.  This event was very well publicized and there were several similar reports filed by other journalists, writers and reporters.  They all seemed to cover their meeting with the Commander of the Foreign Legion which was likely Colonel Paul-Frédéric Rollet, a bit of history, some face time with lower ranking Legionnaires, and a tour of the barracks, the salle d’honneur, the canteen and/or the mess.  Thomas meets some English Legionnaires and finishes with a somewhat negative assessment.

This article was well illustrated on the cover and I would guess that it was eye catching enough to push sales.  The colorist undoubtedly got carried away and gave the figure a red sash instead of the traditional blue one and an odd red-banded white kepi.

My Visit to the Foreign Legion

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