The Foreign Legion is a French
military detachment made up of volunteers, mostly foreigners,
founded by Louis Philippe, King of France, during the Algerian
conquest of 1831. For several years, the Legion fought on
Algerian soil, where it earned the reputation of a troop
with exceptionally tough soldiers, capable of braving the
most difficult situations.
10 octobre 1837 - Episode de la conquête de l'Algérie
Second siège de Constantine par le général Damrémont
Un bataillon de la Légion étrangère repousse une attaque
Horace Vernet - Château de Versailles
The Second Empire witnessed the Legion prove its worth;
first in Crimea, specifically in Sebastopol and Alma, then
subsequently in Italy - Magenta and Solferino.
From 1863 to 1867, the Legion was called up to serve in
Mexico , where during the Camaron (Villa Tejeda , Mexico ) battle
of 30 April 1863, it realized the most heroic and, of course,
the most remarkable exploit in its history. During that battle,
Captain Danjou and his 65-legionnaire company, in fulfilment
of their promise, fought to death against 2000 Mexican soldiers.
30 avril 1863 - Défense de Camerone par la Légion Etrangère
Derniers survivants de la 3e Cie du 3e Etranger, aux ordres du s/lt Naudet
Jean Baptiste Détaille - Musée de l'Armée, Paris
A few years later, during the 1870-1871 war, the Legion
fought against invaders on the national territory. Then,
from 1883, came the Tonkin conquest, during which General
de Négrier issued his famous challenge to legionnaires:
legionnaires, you are soldiers who fight to death ;
you to where death you'll find »
From 1892 to 1894, the Legion fought in Dahomey ( Benin
) and French Sudan ( Mali ).
During the First World War, 1914-1918, the Legion fought
to defend the French territory. Thanks to this participation,
the Legion regiment of Marche came to be the French military
regiment with the highest number of decorations. There was
also a Legion battalion based in the Dardanelles .
Legionnaires subsequently fought at several fronts, notably
in Morocco , Lebanon and Syria . When the Second World War
broke out in 1939 and to when it ended in 1945, legionnaires
were all along involved in extremely fierce fighting
in Norway, Eritrea and Cyrenaique (in the east of Libya),
and also during the Italian, Alsatian, German and Austrian
campaigns. The Tonkin campaign of 1946 against the Japanese
must not be left out.
From 1946 to 1954, during the Indochina War, the
Legion fought the bloodiest battles of its history, in which
it lost over 10 000 legionnaires.
From 1954, during the Algerian War, legionnaires were once
again in the heat of action. They were deployed everywhere
where fighting and operations were most intense and tough,
such as at the borders, in the Aurès (mountainous
region along the Saharan Atlas, Algeria ) or
in the Constantinois (in the east of Algeria ) .
In 1956, the Legion participated in the Suez expedition.
The Algerian independence of 1962, forced the Legion to bring
back the colours from Sidi Bel Abbès, which had been
its garrison town since 1863, and hoist them in Aubagne,
near Marseille. As for its units, they took base in France
itself and in French overseas territories as well as in Djibouti
and Madagascar .
Quartier Viénot, Sidi Bel Abbès.
La section d'honneur sort
pour un défilé -
La Légion défile à Alger -
Since the Algerian War till date, the Legion has always
been present at all overseas operations (OPEX) grounds, where
fighting is the rule. These include: Chad , Zaire , Lebanon
, the Gulf, Cambodia , Somalia , Rwanda , Central African
Republic , Congo , countries of former Yugoslavia , Ivory
A legionnaire’s outfit is still made up of the broad
blue belt and the green and red epaulettes as well as the
white kepi, which sometimes, depending on the circumstances,
is replaced by a green beret tilted to the right in French
style, as opposed to that of navy commandos. During military
ceremonies, the Legion which marches majestically
to the rhythm of a « roving » tune, symbol
of absolute cohesion and quiet might, always comes
in last. And, of all the forces, it is the only unit that
does not split up when skirting the VIP stand.
Les pionniers du 1er R.E.G. défilent, en tablier de buffle
14 juillet 2007 - Champs Elysées - Paris Collection PC FNCV
The Legion, a whole complete army of its own, has
The Infantry: The 1 st RE (regiment) and the
headquarters are both based in Aubagne, while the 4 th
RE and the 2 nd IRE are found respectively in Castelnaudary
The Cavalry: the 1 st CRE is based in Orange , Vaucluse.
The Engineers: the 1 st ERE is based in Laudun.
The Parachutists: the 2 nd PRE is based in Corse.
The 13 th DBLE: combined regiment is based in Djibouti.
Stage commando 2ème REP à Djibouti
With an air of superiority over all the other forces, proud
of their heroic past, « foreigners
who have become sons of France, not because of blood received
but because of blood spilled », cultivating
their glorious traditions, the Camaron spirit, the sense
of sacrifice and voluntary service, legionnaires, with the
35 000 of them who have died on the battlefield, incarnate
the most sublime military virtues which make France proud.
Les képis blancs du 4e RE - Devise: "Honneur et Fidélité"
14 juillet 2007 - Champs Elysées, Paris Collection PC FNCV