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Foreign Legion (Regiment, France)

Légion Etrangère

Last modified: 2003-01-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: foreign legion | legion etrangere |
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History of the Foreign Legion

The Foreign Legion was created by King Louis-Philippe (Decree of 10 March 1831) and stationed in Algeria. This is a regiment of light infantry constituted of foreign soldiers.

The Legion participated to several war actions, including:

  • 1835: Spanish Civil War between Isabel II and the Carlists.
  • 1835: Conquest of Algeria
  • 1854: Crimean War (battle of Alma and siege of Sebastopol)
  • 1859: Italian War
  • 1863-1867: Mexico
  • 1870: War against Prussia
  • 1883: Conquest of Tonkin (now in Viet Nam)
  • 1892: Conquest of Dahomey (now Benin)
  • 1896: Conquest of Madagascar
  • 1914: Conquest and pacification of Morocco - First World War
  • 1922: Pacification of Syria
  • 1926: Rif War (Morocco) against Abd-el-Krim
  • 1940: Norwegian front
  • 1941: Protection of Cambodia
  • 1942: Dakar, Erythrea, Lebanon, Libya (Bir-Hakeim), Syria
  • 1943: Liberation of France and Italy
  • 1945-1954: War of Indochina (Diên-Biên-Phu)
  • 1954-1962 Algeria
  • 1979: Kolwezi campaign in Katanga (then in Zaire)
  • 1991: Gulf War

Since the independence of Algeria (1962), the Foreign Legion has been stationed in Aubagne, between Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence.

The Foreign Legion was, especially between the two World Wars, the source of a rich mythology, associated to exotism and colonialism.

The Legion is still a cherished unit in France, probably because of the exotic uniform (The légionnaires bear the axe and the shovel), their 'rolling' step (slower than usual), and their band (the only one in the French Army to include the exotic "Chinese hat" [a kind of jingling Johnny]).

Ivan Sache, 8 August 2001

Pennant of the Foreign Legion

[Pennant of the Foreign Legion]by Ivan Sache

The Institution for the Disabled Exservicemen of the French Foreign Legion (Institution des Invalides de la Légion Etrangère) is located in the small village of Puyloubier, near Aix-en-Provence and the Sainte-Victoire mountain, widely popularized by the painter Paul Cézanne.

The French Tricolore flag flies on a pole in the Institution square. On the same pole, below the French flag, a horizontally divided green-red (the colours of the Legion) pennant is hoisted.

The Institution is named after Captain Danjou, the hero of Camerone. On 30 April 1864, 64 soldiers of the Legion commanded by Captain Danjou resisted for more than nine hours to more than 2,000 Mexican soldiers.
Since then, 30 April is Legion Day. On this Day, the youngest officer of the Legion reads the account of Camerone fight facing all the soldiers standing to attention. The four survivors of Camerone spent the rest of their carrier in the Legion in looking after their brother-in-arms and were at the origin of the present Institution.

Ivan Sache, 8 August 2001