Book by Harry Luickx (RIP) about his time in the Legion 1954-1959 In Algeria
Translated from the same titled Dutch language book by J.van Raamt.
Final copy edited by Charles lovelace and Ted Crapnell.
The book is now also available on http://www.americastarbooks.net/ type in the search box Harry Luyckx
1a - cooper test
The Cooper test is now replaced with the Luc-Leger test (also called the beep test)
A minimum of seven levels is required for acceptance into the Legion
google it for more information
1 - Famous Legionaires
3 - Obstacle Course
4 - Pay in the Legion
5 - US Army Training Program
6 - Enlistment Requirements
7 - Where to Join the Legion
8 - Guidebook to the Legion
8a - Guidebook to the Legion2
9 - Legion Souvenirs
10 - Legion Items
11 - Legion Information Pamphlet (right click and open in new window for full view)
12 - What to expect when you join the Legion (translation is below article)
13 - Function of C.R.A.P. (Now called G.C.P.)
14 - Order form for Kepi Blanc Magazine (nov. 2003)
15 - The job of a Voltigeur ( translation is below article)
16 - General FFL Information (translation is below article)
17 - Webmaster of DienBienPhu.org Honored
18 - Some details about the Putsch/Rebellion 1961
19 - Pour Joindre La Legion Etrangere (translation is below article)
20 - The Most up to Date Pay Info and More
21 - A Chronology of the Algerian War
22 - Gulf War 1991
23 - Did You Know?
24 - The Contract
25 - Health
26 - How To Join
27 - Legionnaire Code of Honor
28 - Legion Trades
29 - DINOPS Qualification requirement
30 - A letter about recent selection process
31 - What to bring and what not to bring when joining
32 - minimum requirements.
33 -eyesight allowance.
34 -new joining info.
35 -Q+A post "reason why he did not make it"on forum.
36 - article by Legionnaire who just finished basic training
I included a link to a site i found that has more info on it than i could be bothered typing. Enjoy!!
Posted By: Paul (asi130323-3.gw.connect.com.au)
Date: Sunday, 27 July 2003, at 11:45 p.m.
Here's a brief overview of the cooper test...
Test designed to determine your VO2 Max, or your body's ability to take in/deliver and use oxygenated blood in 1 minute. A la Legion, you get yourself a 400m track, a stopwatch and someone who 'wants' to run. Start the timer, set em off running and then work out how far they ran in 12mins... the mind boggles... then you get a nice little score that you can taunt your missus/friends etc with because you can cane their asses on the jogging rink.
PS, don't spend to long on the linked site, it's preachiness and excessive cautionary notes/rants/convolution etc. are enough to anger any normal person...
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/vo2max.htm The Cooper Endurance VO2max Test
Go Straight To The VO2max Calculator!
The objective of The Cooper Endurance Test (Dr. Kenneth Cooper, author of "Aerobics") is to help you determine VO2-MAX with reasonable accuracy, and without the need of expensive equipment. A more accurate test might cost you hundreds of dollars, and this is good enough for the purpose of determining roughly in how good shape is your oxygen processing capacity.
VO2-Max is defined as the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can take in, deliver, and use in one minute. It is limited both by the amount of oxygenated blood the lungs and circulatory system can process, and by the amount of oxygen the muscles can extract from the blood. It is estimated that VO2-MAX goes DOWN about 1% per year. The fall in marathon performance is known to be about 13% per decade.
This makes VO2 Max a critical sign of aging, and it is one we can measure... and reverse somewhat with proper aerobic training. To do this, Dr. Cooper advises that you must raise your heart rate to between 65 and 85 percent of its maximum, through walking or running or swimming or bicycling or other aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes, three to five times a week.
CAUTION: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS TEST WITHOUT PREVIOUS PROPER TRAINING, AND PERHAPS SUPERVISION BY YOUR DOCTOR.
To Take This Test You Will Need:
* a 400 meter track - marked every 100 meters
* Stop Watch
The test consists of seeing how far you can run/walk in twelve minutes. Record the total distance covered to the nearest 100 meters.
The following table gives a rough grade of your result, according to how many 400 meter laps you ran in 12 minutes. One mile is about 1600 meters, or four laps... So to qualify merely as high as a 30 to 40 year old you would have to run 2 miles in 12 minutes, which is 10 miles per hour!!! That is running FAST for 12 minutes...
Notice too, that it is that last lap, from 8 to 9, that will put you in the class with the College Track Team...
Do not even attempt this test unless you have been running and training beforehand, and you know you can run 2 miles without stopping. Start by trying to walk 2 miles fast, then run 1 mile slow, then speed up, and increase the distance until you can, perhaps, run 2 miles slowly. Heart rate should not exceed 220 minus age.
Greater than 9 laps 3600 meters College Track Team, VO2 Max 70
8.5 to 9 laps, 3400 meters College Athlete, VO2 Max 67
8 to 8.5 laps, 3200 meters College Student, VO2 Max 62
7 to 8 laps, 2800 meters Excellent, VO2 Max 55
5 to 7 laps Good to Very Good... VO2 Max 45
4 or 5 laps Average... VO2 Max 30
The following formula will give you a reasonable and inexpensive approximation of your numerical Vo2 max. This formula was derived by correlating the actual VO2 MAX of athletes and the maximum distance which they could run in 12 minutes:
* (Distance covered in meters, minus 504.9) / 44.73
VO2 Max Calculator
Enter the total distance covered in meters in 12 minutes and then press the 'Calculate' button.
* 1600 meters = 1 mile
* 5280 feet = 1 mile
* 3 feet = 1 meter
VO2 Max mls/kg/min
Pictures Courtesy of Thierry de Cervens.
Aage of Denmark
Description: Prince of the royal family of Denmark, a mythic leader of the FFL.
Description: Lt-Col, real warrior, prince of Georgia, KIA in Libya, during the fights of Bir Hakeim (Oct. 1942)
Wrote: " We, foreigners, have only one way to prove to France our gratitude: to be killed ..."
Description: Captain, hero of the Camerone fight, KIA in April 1863.
Description: Colonel, leader of the 1st R.E.P. in Algeria KIA in 1958.
Description: General, called Father of the Legion, organizer of the modern Legion.
Description: Cdt, leader of the 1st B.E.P.
KIA during the Coc-Xa fights in 1950.
Pay in the Legion
A Legionnaire starts at 1033 Euros, see payscale for rank, certifications, time served and over sea duty on the official Legion web site. www.br-legion.com
US Army Training Program
this clarification was send in by Nick Fury
Hey Joe, That workout is actually the Warning Order(advance information so
: you can prepare yourself properly for a mission) for U.S. Navy BUD/S,
: otherwise known as selection and basic training for the US Navy Seals.
: That course of training is supposed to help you get ready for Seal
: training(thus all the swimming, something you wont find in Army
: training)...thought in reality you probably need to be doing even more
: than that. But it is a great basic all around workout. The full Warning
: Order also includes lots of information on the various Phases of Seal
: Training and the various tests you undergo. Dunno if you want to change
: the title on your site. There are several sites on the net that contain
: the full Warning order...it is like 10+ pages I think. Regards, Nick
SUGGESTED STUDENT PREPARATION
The following workouts are designed for two categories of people: Category I are those future BUD/S students that have never or have not recently been on a routine PT program. Category II is designed for high school and college athletes that have had a routine PT program. Usually athletes in sports that require a high level of cardiovascular activity are in Category II. Swimming, running, and wrestling are good examples of such sports.
WORKOUT FOR CATEGORY I
RUNNING: The majority of the physical activities you will be required to perform during your six months of training at BUD/S will involve running. The intense amount of running can lead to overstress injuries of the lower extremities in trainees who arrive not physically prepared to handle the activities. Swimming, bicycling, and lifting weights will prepare you for some of the activities at BUD/S, but ONLY running can prepare your lower extremities for the majority of the activities, You should also run in boots to prepare your legs for the everyday running in boots at BUD/S.
The goal of the category I student is to work up to 16 miles per week of running, After you have achieved that goal, then and only then should you continue on to the category II goal of 30 miles per week. Let me remind you that category I is a nine week buildup program. Follow the workout as best you can and you will be amazed at the progress you will make.
RUNNING SCHEDULE I
WEEKS #1, 2: 3 km/day, 8:30 pace, M/W/F (9 km/week)
WEEK #3: No running. High risk of stress fractures.
WEEK #4: 5 km/day, M/W/F (15 km/wk)
WEEKS #5, 6: 3/5/7/3 km, M/Tu/Th/F (18 km/wk)
WEEKS #7, 8: 5/7/8/3 km, M/Tu/Th/F (23 km/wk)
WEEK #9: same as #7, 8 (23 km/wk)
PHYSICAL TRAINING SCHEDULE I
SETS OF REPETITIONS SETS OF REPETITIONS
WEEK #1: 4 X15 PUSHUPS
4 X 20 SITUPS
3 X 3 PULLUPS
WEEKS #5&6: 6 X 25 PUSHUPS
6 X 25 SITUPS
2 X 8 PULLUPS
WEEK #2: 5 X 20 PUSHUPS
5 X 20 SITUPS
3 X 3 PULLUPS
WEEKS #7&8: 6 X 30 PUSHUPS
6 X 30 SITUPS
2 X 10 PULLUPS
WEEK #3 &4: 5 X 25 PUSHUPS
5 X 25 SITUPS
3 X 4 PULLUPS
WEEK #9: 6 X 30 PUSHUPS
6 X 30 SITUPS
3 X 10 PULLUPS
* Note: For best results, alternate exercises. Do a set of pushups, then a set of situps, followed by a set of pullups, immediately with no rest.
SWIMMING SCHEDULE I
(sidestroke with no fins 4-5 days a week)
WEEKS #1, 2: Swim continuously for 15 min.
WEEKS #3, 4: Swim continuously for 20 min.
WEEKS #5, 6: Swim continuously for 25 min.
WEEKS #7, 8: Swim continuously for 30 min.
WEEK #9: Swim continuously for 35 min.
* Note: If you have access to a pool, swim every day available. Four to five days a week and 200 meters in one session is your initial workup goal. Also, you want to develop your sidestroke on both the left and the right side. Try to swim 50 meters in one minute or less.
WORKOUT FOR CATEGORY II
Category II is a more intense workout designed for those who have been involved with a routine PT schedule or those who have completed the requirements of category I. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WORKOUT SCHEDULE UNLESS YOU CAN COMPLETE THE WEEK #9 LEVEL OF CATEGORY I WORKOUTS.
RUNNING SCHEDULE II
WEEKS #1, 2: (5/8/6/8/3) 30 km/week
WEEKS #3, 4: (6/8/10/6/5) 35 km/week
WEEK #5: (8/8/10/6/6) 38 km/week
WEEK #6: (8/10/10/10/6) 44 km/week
WEEK #7: (10/10/10/10/10) 50 km/week
*Note: For weeks #8-9 and beyond, it is not necessary to increase the distance of the runs; work on the speed of your.6-mile runs and try to get them down to 7:30 per mile or lower. If you wish to increase the distance of your runs, do it gradually: no more than one mile per day increase for every week beyond week #9.
PT SCHEDULE II
SETS OF REPETITIONS
WEEK #1, 2 : 6 X 30 PUSHUPS
6 X 35 SITUPS
3 X 10 PULLUPS
3 X 20 DIPS
WEEK #3, 4 : 10 X 20 PUSHUPS
10 X 25 SITUPS
4 X 10 PULLUPS
10 X 15 DIPS
WEEK #5: 15 X 20 PUSHUPS
15 X 25 SITUPS
4 X 12 PULLUPS
15 X 15 DIPS
WEEK #6: 20 X 20 PUSHUPS
25 X 25 SITUPS
5 X 12 PULLUPS
20 X 15 DIPS
These workouts are designed for long-distance muscle endurance. Muscle fatigue will gradually take a longer and longer time to develop doing high repetition workouts. For best results, alternate exercises each set, in order to rest that muscle group for a short time. The above exercises can get a bit boring after a while. Here are some more workouts you can use to break up the monotony.
You can do this with any exercise. The object is to slowly build up to a goal, then build back down to the beginning of the workout. For instance, pullups, situps, pushups and dips can be alternated as in the above workouts, but this time choose a number to be your goal and build up to that number. Each number counts as a set. Work your way up and down the pyramid. For example, say your goal is "5".
# Of REPETITIONS
PUSHUPS: 2,4,6,8,10,8,6,4,2 (2x #pullups)
SITUPS: 3,6,9,12,15,12,9,6,3 (3x #pullups)
DIPS: same as pushups
SWIMMING WORKOUTS II
WEEKS #1, 2: Swim continuously for 35 min.
WEEKS #3, 4: Swim continuously for 45 min. with fins.
WEEKS #5: Swim continuously for 60 min. with fins.
WEEKS #6: Swim continuously for 75 min. with fins.
*Note: At first, to reduce initial stress on your foot muscles when starting with fins, alternate swimming 1000 meters with fins and 1000 meters without them. Your goal should be to swim 50 meters in 45 seconds or less.
Since Mon/Wed/Fri are devoted to PT. it is wise to devote at least 20 minutes on Tue/Thu/Sat to stretching. You should always stretch for at least 15 minutes before any workout; however, just stretching the previously worked muscles will make you more flexible and less likely to get injured. A good way to start stretching is to start at the top and go to the bottom. Stretch to tightness, not to pain; hold for 10-15 seconds. DO NOT BOUNCE. Stretch every muscle in your body from the neck to the calves, concentrating on your thighs, hamstrings, chest, back and shoulders.
Proper nutrition is extremely important now and especially when you arrive at BUD/S. You must make sure you receive the necessary nutrients to obtain maximum performance output during exercise and to promote muscle/tissue growth and repair. The proper diet provides all the nutrients for the body's needs and supplies energy for exercise. It also promote growth and repair of tissue and regulates the body processes. The best source of energy for the BUD/S student is carbohydrates. The best source of complex carbohydrates are potatoes, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables. These types of foods are your best sources of energy.
Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the three energy nutrients. All three can provide energy, but carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy for physical activity. It takes at least 20 hours after exhaustive exercise to completely restore muscle energy, provided 600 grams of carbohydrates are consumed per day. During successive days of heavy training, like you will experience at BUD/s, energy stores prior to each training session become progressively lower. This is a situation in which a high carbohydrate diet can help maintain your energy.
The majority of carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrate foods that include bread, crackers, cereal, beans, peas, starchy vegetables, and other whole grain or enriched grain products. Fruits are also loaded with carbohydrates. During training, more than four servings of these food groups should be consumed daily.
Water is the most important nutrient you can put in your body. You should be consuming up to four quarts of water daily. It is very easy to become dehydrated at BUD/S, so it is extremely important to hydrate yourself. Drink water before you get thirsty!!! Substances such as alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco increase your body's need for water, so, if you are going to drink, do so in moderation! Too much of these substances will definitely harm your body and hinder your performance. Supplemental intake of vitamins, as well, has not been proven to be beneficial. If you are eating a well balanced diet, there is no need to take vitamins.
TRAINING TABLE CONCEPT
Carbohydrates 50-70% of calories
Protein 10-15% of calories
Fats 20-30% of calories
You want to reduce cholesterol intake, found in animal fats and even fish. You need at least 3500-4000 calories per day.
IN SERVICE CANDIDATES
Requirements and procedures for BUD/S training application.
1. Put in a "Special Request Chit" through your chain of command requesting BUD/S training.
2. Submit a "Personal Action Request" (Form 1306/7) to SPECWAR/Diver assignment.
Submit the following with your request: a. A certified copy of your ASVAB test scores b. Your physical screening test results c. Pressure and oxygen tolerance test results (if completed) d. Your completed diving physical (Form SF88-SF93) e. Certified copy of your latest performance evaluation report
Mail your package to:
Department of the Navy
Washington D.C. 20379
1. Pass a diving physical exam
2. Eye sight cannot be worse than 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other eye and must be correctable to 20/20 with no color blindness
3. Minimum ASVAB score: VE+AR=104, MC=50
4. Must be 28 years old or less
5. Only men are eligible. (Demi Moore need not apply)
You Must Be Able To Pass This Physical Screening Test:
1. 500 yard swim using breast and/or side stroke in 12:30
Ten minute rest
2. Perform minimum of 42 pushups in 2 minutes
Two minute rest
3. Perform minimum of 50 situps in 2 minutes
Two minute rest
4. Perform at least 6 pullups, no time limit
No time limit
5. Run 1.5 miles wearing boots and pants in 11:30
*As a reminder, there are no maximums on these physical tests. Prospective trainee should provide the best scores possible, i.e., give his best effort
ENLISTMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR FFL
Where to Join the Legion
WHERE TO JOIN THE FFL
Guidebook to the Legion by E.M.
copy of French Foreign Legion Life
Send me an e mail to obtain copy.
TOPguidebook to the Legion 2
La Legion Etrangere courtesy of "Krige"
some of the information is outdated (particularly the pay) and as time goes on, I will do some more editing
There are those in life that dream of doing things and those that turn dreams
The French Foreign Legion today, is alive and kicking and as
always, actively recruiting. It is an army surrounded by romance, myth and
intrigue, with over a hundred and fifty years of history and a reputation that's
a tough one to beat.
It is one of those things that most people only hear about
or had a friend of a friend who actually went and joined, but for some who
have bought this book - it will not be enough to just read it through and put
down. You will take it upon yourselves to make the dream become a reality.
may be that you are merely in search of adventure-perhaps you are trying to
escape your past, or maybe you feel that you are in some real danger.
people join the French Foreign Legion because they think they have a
problem and they come to the Legion to overcome that problem- it is up to
you to decide whether the Legion is the right solution to that particular
Sometimes, not an easy decision to make. And then there are those from the
former eastern block countries, or for that matter absolutely any country in the
world, who seek a new life in the western world accompanied by the French
passport (on completion of the first five year contract). For these people it is a
The Legion, if it does decide to take you into its fold, will provide you with a
new identity and will protect you from your past if necessary.
served with the Foreign Legion will certainly take you on many adventures.
From the moment you join, the Legion is your home and from then on it is
your family. (The Legion motto-"Legio Patria Nostra" means exactly that-
The Legion is our home).
There are Legionnaires who have served many years of service and have only
revisited their native country once or twice in all their years of service.
find that they are happier and more contented to spend their time in France.
One thing that should be said however is that it is an experience in life that
cannot be explained or learnt from tales recounted or books read- no matter
To understand the Foreign Legion-it has to be done. An ex-
Legionnaire with five years service could sit you down and talk to you for
five years and a similar Legionnaire with fifteen years service could sit you
down and talk to you for fifteen years- but you still would not really know
what it is like until you have actually been there and done it yourself.
book is no different in that respect, but what it tries to do, is to give you the
information required to get you into the French Foreign Legion, to equip you
with the knowledge of what to expect and what not to expect, how best
to get along and how to make the most of your time in the Legion.
Perhaps how to prepare you for some of the times ahead. This may lead
you to frustration for lack of understanding. It can be a bewildering
experience learning the ways of the Legion during the first year. More often
than not though, there is method in their madness.
The decision to join is rarely made on the spur of the moment - at
very least it has been in the back of the "engage volontaire« (recruit's)
mind for some time – if not many years.
The potential Legionnaire has
probably read books about the Legion and talked to people who have been
there and done it. If they do decide to join, they will experience adventures
which are second to none, meet friends that will last a lifetime.
travel all over the world and carry with them memories that will stay with
them till their last dying breath.
Make no mistake however, that serving five
years in the French Foreign Legion is not easy. Rest assured that all
Legionnaires at sometime during their contract feel at their wits end, they feel
like a prisoner in a cell, they sink to their deepest depths of depression and
It will not be easy - especially from the mental point of view. Few
who join the French Foreign Legion know what to expect - some find it so
hard mentally to adjust to their new way of life that they try to desert - and
some take it to even greater lengths and try to dispose of their life altogether.
The longer you serve in the Foreign Legion - the easier life becomes. With
promotion and time served comes it’s just rewards as it does in any army.
The one great advantage in the French Foreign Legion is that promotion can
come relatively quickly for those that are deserving.
History of the French Foreign Legion.
Formation: 9' March 1831.
The French Foreign Legion was formed on the 9 of March 1831. Its authority
was signed by Louis-Philippe -the King of France, His position as King
was weakening and the Legion was readily formed in order that Louis-
Philippe could maintain his position on the throne.
The officers were gathered
in from Napoleon's Grande Armee and the men were recruited from Italy,
Spain, Switzerland and other European countries.
There were also some
Frenchmen recruits who were trying to escape the attention of their local
Sebastopol 1853 - 1856.
It was the aim of France to assist Turkey in their fight to win over free
passage of the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
After a brief victory
the 1 ere and 2eme RE's final attempt to win the town of Sebastopol
ended in a blockade which lasted a year.
After suffering a year of
horrendous weather and illness, the Legion could wait no longer and
attempted to take the town but failed badly and took heavy casualties.
They tried again, but it was not until their third attempt on the 8
September 1855 that they succeeded.
On the 30 April 1863 the 3eme company of the RE in Mexico were given a
mission - to ensure the safe arrival of vital supplies down the road from
Vera Cruz to Puebla in Mexico.
This would assist in the blockade of Puebla.
Before they had time to arrive at their destination they were attacked by
nearly a two thousand Mexican troops. They had just stopped for a morning
coffee when they were attacked.
Capitaine Danjou started to reposition
his men in a derelict building they had passed only minutes earlier.
He knew this would afford them some cover from enemy fire.
could get there, the Mexican cavalry were charging. They staved off the attack
and continued towards the building.
They had barely arrived and a
second wave arrived. There were sixty five Legionnaires to fight the
ensuing hoards - numbered at nearly two thousand.
prepared a hasty defense and were greeted by a Mexican messenger
who offered them an honorable surrender. On top of the roof lay a
Polish legionnaire Sergent who told the Mexicans what they could do
with their surrender.
The cavalry charged once more, but the
Legionnaires beat them back yet again. Not without loss however - the
Capitaine Danjou had been badly injured. Before he died though, he made all
his men promise that they would never surrender.
By mid morning the Legionnaires were almost out of ammunition. They had
no food and no water. Again the Legionnaires refused to surrender.
that afternoon there were just twelve Legionnaires and no more ammunition
- It then turned to hand to hand fighting and soon there were just five
Legionnaires who remained to face two thousand. The Legionnaires
advanced towards the enemy.
Two of the five were shot down as they
advanced. At that point - the Mexican Colonel arrived and saw the situation -
he again offered surrender. The Legionnaires agreed - but only if they could
keep their weapons.
The Mexican Colonel agreed saying "I can refuse nothing
to men like you". The Legionnaires had indeed achieved their mission - they
had made safe the passage of supplies to Puebla by alerting nearby
troops of the hoarding Mexicans and had occupied the enemy for nearly
a full day.
Every year, on the 30 April, in every quarter of the French Foreign
Legion - this day is remembered and is known simply as Camerone Day.
It is celebrated with great zealousness and pride. At Aubagne, the wooden
hand of Capitaine Danjou is paraded before the Regiment and all its
The Legion continued fighting in Mexico for a further four years before being
ordered back to France to deal with more pressing matters at home.
Mexicans were now being backed by the Americans and there was little
chance of victory. Besides, France's security was threatened and that
was far more important than any foreign soil.
The Legion had however
made a name for them and so assured their own future existence -All was not
lost. Had it not been for the war in Mexico -perhaps the Legion would not be
Tonkin was a French Protectorate in Indo-China overrun by pirates.
The French Commander, Admiral Courbet attacked the Fort Son Tay
and Fort Bac Ninh and then had the task of defending the Fort Tuyen
For nearly two months the Legion held out against constant
attacks from the Chinese but eventually help arrived-The Legion had
however lost a third of its company strength.
To the North a battle was going
on but came swiftly to a close and a treaty was signed on 1" April 1885.
From thereon the Legion's role was to promote peace and tranquility and
rebuild the damage done.
Following a disagreement between the Queen of Madagascar and the
French Republic, an expeditionary force was sent to Dahomey and then
on to Madagascar.
The Legionnaires immediately started to build a road
from where they docked to the objective - a place called Tananarive. A
distance of 250 miles.
They built and fought their way to the objective
and when they finally arrived, after three and a half months, the enemy
gave up without a fight.
The 1" World War 1914-1918.
In 1914 the II/1" RE saw action at the battle of Artois where heavy losses
were taken. (nearly two thousand in all).
They were reformed and one
month later was again heavily defeated at Givenchy.
They were finally
defeated so badly that they had to be disbanded in September 1914. As a
result of this the RMLE was formed (French Foreign Legion Marching
regiment) whose job it was to precede any troops into battle.
The RMLE took part in many battles around France and took many
thousands of casualties.
Their most memorable was the skilful soldiering
which took place in the trenches of Reams.
They cleared over four
miles of enemy trenches, with just their rifles, bayonets and grenades.
next great feat was in the Verdun sector where the Legion succeeded in
its mission of recapturing many of its old positions. This they did in
double quick time and with few losses.
Swiftly, the Legion was shifted to
Amiens where they again took heavy casualties and were forced to
It was not long before they were again diverted to hold shut the
passageway to Paris. Again they succeeded - but only after much blood
letting of its own men.
In July 1918 the French made their offensive and
despite still further heavy losses, much progress was made.
two weeks the Legion battered, clawed and fought their way through the
For their efforts in the first world war the Legion had
become highly decorated.
World War 1939-45
In June 1940 the 11 REI was almost entirely wiped out by a German
divis ion in Verdun. The remaining men were captured but nearly all of
them managed to escape to fight again.
The Regiment was however
disbanded. In the same year the 13DBLE was sent to Norway to
ultimately capture Narvik from the Germans. On the way to Narvik
they caused much damage and destruction to German forces and
Due to German advances towards Paris, the Legion had to
quickly re-deploy and assist in the defense of the Parisian quarter.
not long after the troubles had been quelled in the Parisian region, that the
Legion's services were again required. It was this time the Italians in
Eritrea, Africa who required their attention.
Thailand attempted a takeover of Cambodia in 1940 but were briefly
prevented from doing so by the Legion. The Legion's efforts were wasted
however, and as a result of conciliation Cambodia was handed over
There was really only one unit of the Legion that was now based
here, that being the 5REI. Again the Legion avoided combat in the
South, due to further negotiation - but this was not to be for long and the
Legionnaires based at the garrison at Ha Giang were soon massacred.
Two battalions remained and started a death march towards China.
Before arriving in China the war had ended but was quickly replaced
by another, this time with Ho Chi Minh and his communists. This war
would last nine years.
In 1945 the 5REI left to be replaced by a long line of
legion Regiments - The 2 REI, 13DBLE, 1 REC and the 3 REI. In the
meantime the 3REI remained to fight in other areas.
In 1948 they too
suffered heavy losses. In 1950 access to the border with Indo-China was
granted to the Chinese People's army.
In 1950 the 3 REI were ordered to
move location but were caught up in a massive ambush which almost
completely wiped out the French forces in the region.
had more luck however and saw many victories during 1951.
3REI which had also been reformed saw victory also in 1952 at
Soon afterwards the 1BEP jumped into Dien Bien Phu
and took the area and quickly installed a garrison. They were attacked and
despite support provided by the 2 BEP, were all but completely wiped out.
For the Legionnaires in Indo China the war was now over.
Algeria 1953 - 1961.
Before they could so much as go on Permission, they found themselves
back in Algieria, ready to fight another war.
This time against the
Algerian National Liberation Army. Although the Legion had deployed
nearly twenty thousand men to the region they were to come across little
more than enthusiastic skirmishes in the years that followed.
were to deteriorate to petty guerilla tactics after not too long.
by the politicians, the Legion were ordered home in 1962. There
losses amounted to little more than a thousand men. Feeling let down -
there was a mutiny and the 1 REP was, as a result disbanded.
As a result of an attempted takeover by Angolan Tiger Rebels, Kolwezi in
Zaire, was seized, they violated the town, raping and pillaging
wherever they pleased.
There were many Europeans caught up in the
crisis - some taken hostage. A distress signal was sent out requesting
help from Europe, to which the 2 REF was activated.
After a lightning
deployment, the 2 REP dropped in after only fifteen hours. After a
solid week of fighting and close quarter battles the Legionnaires had all
but wiped out the Tiger rebels and freed the petrified European hostages.
This was one of the Legion's most successful missions which earn them
recognition all over the world.
Lebanon 1982 - 1983.
It was again the 2REP who were chosen in this peacekeeping role,
accompanied later by the 2REI, 1RE and the 1 REC. Like many
peacekeeping roles it was not an easy job, but one which, as usual, the
Legion carried out meticulously and without complaint.
Gulf War 1991.
In September 1990 the 2REI, the 6REG and the 1 REC were sent to the
Gulf in anticipation of Saddam Hussein’s threats against the world.
six long months waiting and a build up of world forces which had not
been seen since World War Two, the war began.
The air offensive was
won first - this took four weeks, after which the coalition forces penetrated
deep into Iraq. It was referred to as a Blitzkrieg (Lightning war) and
only three Legionnaires died.
Al Salman airport was taken by the Legion
forces with little resistance. The Legion's task was then to safeguard any
retreat by the Republican Guard to the West.
Very light casualties were
taken and after one hundred hours fighting on the ground the war was over.
Mogadishu 4k, Bosnia 1992-96.
More recently the Legion was again asked to carry out peace keeping
roles in war torn areas of the globe.
Under the direction of the United
Nations, the 2 REP were kept on a tight leash in Mogadishu but the 2 REI
accompanied by the 1 REC managed to carry out various clandestine
operations in Bosnia in 1992-1995.
The Legion were able to make use of
the mother tongue of its men in such scenarios to great effect. Casualties
were light in both areas of conflict.
Joining the French Foreign Legion is a relatively simple task. In simple
terms all that is required is to present yourself in front of the gates of the
French Foreign Legion and inform the guard that you wish to enlist.
enter France from Great Britain there are ferry crossings from Plymouth,
Portsmouth and Dover. There are also of course the airports which
will connect you directly to France's main cities.
Some flights are extremely
cheap and it is worth shopping around when at the airport itself or nowadays
you can use the teletext service on television.
The routes into France and
the direction from which you come are many and varied, none of this
is any more a problem than it would be for an everyday tourist.
When you arrive at the gates of one of the recruiting centers (All of
which are listed towards the end of this book) most people, wherever they
come from, manage to mumble a few words to express a wish to join -
some of which include Legion Etrangere.
The Legionnaire on duty knows
exactly what you've come for - particularly if you've got a bag over
If you want to be more precise in your initial approach
you could say something like this:
"Bonjour! Je suis Anglais, Je suis venus pour join de La Legion
Pronounced as follows:
"Bonjoor, - Jer sweez Onglay, Jer swee venoo poor joo- wondre La Lejon
This little parole may initially work against you since they may assume that
you speak a reasonable level of French - and then you're all of a sudden,
going to go all quiet on them, but they will at least get the message loud and
clear that you want to join.
Once in France however there are 17 recruiting centers to choose from,
situated in most of the major cities.
For the most hassle free route into the
Legion you should make your way down to Aubagne near Marseille in
the south. This approach will cut out 2-3 days administration at one of the
other "sub recruiting centers".
If you are stuck for cash though, and want to
get in quickly, the northern most recruiting centre is Lille.
Some centers are
more difficult to find than others but the local Gendarme will help you if you
It is illegal for France to advertise a career in the Foreign
Legion in any other country than its own, but you will see posters all
over France saying "Regarde la Vie Autrement" promoting you to "Have
a look at the alternative life" - images of hardened Legionnaires stood
in their Tenue De Garde gazing across the desert sands.
When you first arrive they will take your details and kit you out with a
Apart from an initial medical and the signing of a provisional five
year contract there is little to do here.
Your time will be spent working on
the Quartier (Camp) doing any jobs that are in need of being done until a
reasonable number of engages volontaires have turned up.
Once you have
been at the sub-recruiting centre for a few days and there are enough
recruits ready, a Caporal Chef or a Sergent will accompany you down to
Aubagne itself to start the three week selection procedure. This journey is
nearly always taken by train.
The age limits are officially 18-40. Candidates over seventeen and one
day are accepted but must have a written consent from either parent,
made out in front of an official witness.
All expenses to get to France must
be paid for by you.
On arriving in France - Lille is the closest recruiting
office. Anybody who is ex-forces would be well advised to take a photocopy
of their certificate of discharge with them. (Any members of British forces
who are found to be still serving under HM are immediately refused
Although the recruiting ages will extend to forty years of age - they
will expect you to be in good shape if you are of that vintage. If the
Legion does not think that you look like you're going to be up to it - they can
turn you away without even giving you a crack at the first test.
Once you have walked through the Legion gates you are allowed no
further contact with the outside world - either by phone or by mail, for at
least three to four months.
Le Langage - The Language Problem.
There really is not a problem in this area - it is an area which most people
dread and feel will present the biggest problem of all.
It is true to say
that there is no requirement to speak any level of French at the time of
Having said that - any time spent learning the French language
prior to joining will pay dividends very quickly once you have arrived.
Even a basic knowledge of verbs, nouns and tenses will set you in good
stead with the rest of the Section.
It is certainly not something to worry about
however - Even if you don't have the time or are in a rush to join, the
language comes very quickly for most English speaking people.
who find it most difficult are undoubtedly the Japanese, the Chinese and
those who come from countries whose language is far removed from the
Initially there will be somebody of your own tongue to
help explain the contract and to fill in the forms during the first few
weeks at Aubagne.
Likewise the "Gestapo interview" is also carried
out by somebody of your own tongue. As mentioned previously, if
you take a small phrase book with a built in dictionary, it will speed up
the language learning process no end.
Mixing with the French and
talking French will also accelerate your learning curve.
The sooner you're speaking fluent French and are classed as a
"Francophone" (French speaking person) the sooner life becomes easier -
You don't have to rely on the French members of your Section or Groupe
to translate after every assembly.
It will also mean less press-ups and
running around because of misunderstood orders.
the top dogs during basic training are given a choice of which
Regiment they are sent to on completion of "L 'Instruction" (Basic
training). If you are deemed to be a good enough recruit they will probably
offer you a place as a Caporal (Corporal) at Castelnaudary.
assessment will depend very much on the standard of your
conversational French as well as your soldiering skills.
The written side
of the French language is not so important at this stage and will not
become really important until much later on in your career.
Aubugne and the Selection Procedure: Centre de
Selection et Incorporation - CSI
Aubagne is situated about an hour's train journey north of Marseille and it is
here that you will begin and end your service with the French Foreign
It is also the home of the ler REI and the Legion Band. The
guartier (Camp) is sometimes known as the Mother regiment of the
The Legion must now decide for sure whether or not to
take you into the fold.
It is here that they will find out about your past,
they will test you mentally, physically and psychologically. You will be
assessed and watched very closely. Any misconduct (Particularly
fighting and ill-discipline) will leave you standing on the outside of the
The Legion is not looking for nutters, psychopaths or
They will also attempt to find out any details about any crimes that you
have committed in the past.
They work very closely with Interpol and if
you happen to be on their wanted list you can expect little refuge in the
Legion, You will be handed straight over to the Gendarmes.
anybody found to be still serving with a foreign army will be denied
entry to the Foreign Legion. It is therefore advisable to carry your
discharge papers if you have recently left the forces and have the
appearance of having had a military background.
In days gone by the Legion used to accept almost anyone into their fold.
Today however, the story is a little different and they are much more
choosy as to who they accept.
About two thirds of those who arrive at
Aubagne will go on to commence basic training at Castelnaudary (The
centre for instruction for the French Foreign Legion). Although the Legion is
more choosy they are still keen to recruit and if you are in reasonable
shape, not wanted by Interpol and pass all the tests which are put before you
(None of which are extremely difficult) then the chances are that they will
snap you up.
Because there is so much mis-information about the Foreign
Legion there are sometimes men who resemble little more than beggars
who turn up at the Legion's gates to join - people whose teeth are rotting,
are grossly overweight or have vile infections - they are all turned away.
On arrival at Aubagne your belongings will be removed and deposited in
a plastic bag with a record of all its contents put on file.
If during the first
three weeks you decide to leave (And you are allowed to do this at any
time prior to "La Declaration"- a solemn declaration of fidelity to serve the
French Foreign Legion) or are deemed to be unsuitable for service with
the French Foreign Legion they will all be returned to you.
The only items
of kit that may be retained by you are toiletries, a watch, underwear and
socks and a French dictionary/phrase book.
If you are accepted
into the Legion, the clothing is lost forever - do not therefore wear expensive
clothing when you come to enlist.
Your passport will also be removed until
you either opt to leave within the three weeks selection or at the end of your
For these first three weeks you will assigned to duties around the
Quartier. They may be cleaning, gardening, and administration, loading or
unloading of vehicles or just helping in the stores.
In fact you can be
assigned to just about anything. Even here you are being watched and if a
bad attitude is shown it will be noted.
There will probably be up to about
fifty or sixty engages volontaires at Aubagne at any one time, all at
various stages of their three weeks selection.
A coach bus load of new
recruits arrives every couple of days and likewise, every day, some are
Once every couple of weeks a coach load of the successful
E.V's (Engages volontaires) are taken down to the train station to make
their way to Castelnaudary to begin their basic training.
During your first
few days you will be amazed at the diversity of nationalities that have
managed to get themselves all the way to France - people from China,
Japan, America, Africa, Iceland. In fact - any country in the world.
are approximately ninety to a hundred different nationalities serving in
the French Foreign Legion at any one time.
Officially however, there are
no Frenchmen in the Foreign Legion (Apart from the Officiers). Any
French people who join have their identity changed along with their
nationality to one of French Canadian or French Swiss for the purpose
of their records. They have no choice in this matter.
There are some people amongst you though, who have had a very
colorful life - some have been terrorists, drug traffickers, mercenaries - you
name it they've done it, but for all these people the same rule applies that
if they are wanted by Interpol - it's no go.
If for any reason you want your identity changed (now obligatory)and you are open and
honest with the interviewer, it is nowadays a very simple step to take
and probably 80% of Legionnaires choose to take this road.
it is a very serious business and if ever they have inadvertedly had their
picture taken by swarming journalists (As in the Gulf war) and are aware
of it they will very quickly see their Section Lieutenant to arrange a
quick change of identity.
(Normally if any journalists are known to be in
the area, the Legionnaires present are asked it they have a problem with
journalists - if they do - they are taken out of that area and kept well out of
the way until the media have left.
If, during your stay at Aubagne any
relatives come looking for you they will be kept at the main gates. You
will be asked if you wish to see them and if you do not they will be told
politely you are not in the Legion and asked to leave.
After a minimum of three years service in the Legion a legionnaire is
allowed to rectify his name - meaning to revert back to his original name
or to confirm that the name being used is correct.
Once this is done a
Legionnaire is allowed to wear any foreign medals earn in a previous
army, he may also leave the country during permission.
For the first week you will be in a track suit and thereby identifiable as
having just arrived.
During the second week you will be issued a set of
combats and will wear a green flash on the shoulders.
In the third week
you will wear the same combats but wearing a red flash on the
When you depart for Castelnaudary you will be wearing the
uniform that has officially been issued, which includes the Legion beret.
There are five main areas that you will be tested/assessed on during the three
weeks. They are as follows:
•?Psycho technical Test.
Physical Health. (Infirmier-Medicaux-Visite d'Incorporation-Bilan)
(Medical assistant-Doctors-Recruitment examination-Results)
You will pass before the doctors at Aubagne and given a full medical.
Tests will include good all round general health, bone structure, flexibility
of limbs and all bodily movements, heart and lungs, eyesight, hearing,
ear, nose throat inspection, drug tests, blood tests, urine tests.
Every area that is imaginable will be inspected. If there are any areas that
require further investigation, you will be taken to the Hospital in Toulon.
You will be asked various questions on your medical history with
someone of your own tongue. If your eyesight is only slightly defective
then you will probably still be allowed in and glasses will be provided
for you at Castelnaudary.
The glasses are specifically designed for
use with the NBC (Nucleaire, Biologique, et chimique) respirator.
Psycho technical Test. (Groupe D'Evaluation Psycho technique)
This is broken down into two parts. The two parts will examine the aptitude of
the candidate, the level of intelligence and the psychological stability.
Niveau General et Niveau Culturel.
These written tests will be taken in a classroom with other engages
volontaires. They are done to try and find out what you trade or skill
you might be suited to in the Foreign Legion.
You might be technically
minded or have a mechanical way of thinking.
The test will show
diagrams of pulleys or levers and you may be asked to work out which
one would be the most effective at carrying out the task illustrated in the
Another part of the test takes the standard form of mathematical
questions. This test of intelligence test is not particularly hard and most pass
without any real problem.
Some of the questions may be using shapes
and asking which one fits into the other or working out the next number in
A final written test done in the classroom are in your own tongue
and will pose questions of an opinionated nature - perhaps requiring some
form of self assessment. Your answers will be assessed by a specialist
Questions may seem bizarre to you - they could be something like: Do
you like nature? Are you considered to be a hard man in your home
town? Do you prefer male company to female?
This test will take about
twenty minutes. Depending on your score - you will be allowed entry into
the French Foreign Legion.
The scores achieved will also determine
whether or not you will be able to progress higher up the rank structure at a
later date. (The tests are repeated throughout you career however)
Security Clearance. (Beaureau Des Statistiques de la Legion
Etrangere - BSLE)
Here, it is up to the Legion to decide whether or not to accept you into their
fold from the security point of view.
They will make every effort to find
out every detail about you starting from the year dot. The information will be
gathered by means of a personal interview between yourself and someone
of your own tongue.
This is part of the French Foreign Legion Intelligence
service and they are very good at their job.
They are referred to as "Le
Gestapo" by the Legionnaires. Although the Legion will accept people
of various backgrounds they will not accept murderers or those they
consider to be of a dangerous nature.
They have in the past accepted
former terrorists and people caught up in the troubles of their country. For
these people it is a chance to escape any danger they might be in and to
start life again.
The interview will take about two hours and they will delve into every
minute detail of your life; your family, your schooling - your previous jobs
– why you want to join. They will ask you about your friends, where you
have been in the world.
If they feel they are not happy with your
story they will invite you back again for further interviews until they are
Your fingerprints will also be taken during this stage and held on
Physical Fitness. (La Forme Physique)
These tests are done to ensure that you are in a reasonable condition to take
on the tasks that lie ahead at Castelnaudary.
As well as various upper
body tests in the form of pull-ups and sit ups there is a 2800 meters run to
be completed in twelve minutes. If you take longer than the time allowed
then you will have failed selection. (this equates to just over a mile and three quarters
in 12 min or just over eight minute miles). Failures are allowed to re-apply
in three months time.
Interviews. (Les entrevues)
There will be a brief interview, probably with a Caporal Chef and a
second interview with the Major. Both interviews will take on a similar
line of questioning – Why do you want to join?
What have you done in
your previous life? Have you done much physical training in your life? Do
you know and understand what the contract means?
Soon after you have
had your second interview you will be informed of whether or not you
have been accepted into the French Foreign Legion.
At Aubagne the days will start early, probably at about 5.00am, firstly
with Le petit dejeuner (breakfast) - a bowl of hot coffee or chocolate
with some bread, butter and jam. The coffee will be served in a bowl
which you drink from.
This is France now and you will learn to do
everything the French way. As you become known to more and
more Legionnaires you will quickly learn that it is also customary to shake
hands first thing in the morning or for the first time you meet them during
the day. This happens every day.
There is much to do during the three weeks at Aubagne, so you will
quickly be marched back to the block to start cleaning. After this the days'
activities will begin.
It could be any one of the tests previously mentioned or
it could be something more mundane like cleaning or helping out in the
Throughout each day you will be working in one place or
another, getting called away to carry out another test or interview and then
returning to your present job.
If you're not doing either of these things then
you will be getting to know the other engages volontaires in a sort of
a recreational area at the back of the building.
Here there is a pull up bar
and trees to sit under and relax. The days are long and they can be tiring but
it is also an interesting time for you.
You are on the edge of an unknown
quantity - about to embark on a great adventure - with some fairly bizarre
and adventurous members of your planet.
You will probably come across
those that like to pull up a sandbag and tell tall stories - take the things you
hear with a pinch of salt. Especially when it comes to what lies ahead.
You are essentially now in the French Foreign Legion and it is a tough
army with a tough lifestyle. You must stand up for yourself and don't get
walked over. But be warned that if you are caught fighting and causing
trouble - then you will be turned away.
At Castelnaudary they will be
more lenient - and it is sometimes required in life, to earn some respect, not
least of all in the French Foreign Legion.
Here, however - if they see
you as a trouble maker then you will soon find yourself packing your
There will probably be two days out of the three weeks that will be spent
at one of two Legion camps helping out: Malmousqe and Puyoublier.
Malmousqe is a small Legion complex situated on the seafront close to
It is an idyllic setting and it's purpose is to provide for
Legionnaires who have no family or friends, a place for them to spend
their Permission (Holiday). They will go here or alternatively to "Fort De
Nogent" in Paris.
As an engage volontaire you will more than likely be taken here to
Malmousqe to carry out any jobs that are necessary - such as odd
jobbing or helping out in the kitchens.
There will probably be about ten
to fifteen Legionnaires there at any one time, all at various stages of their
contract. For them, during the weeks they spend there, life is easy and
they will probably be more than happy to tell you about life in the Legion
and what's in store for you.
The food is normally of a high standard as it is
on most Legion camps.
The other place that you, as an engage volontaire
will be likely to visit is Puyoublier. This is the home for the former
Legionnaires who have completed more than three contracts in the
In the Legion such men are known as "Les Anciens ". Most
of them have seen action on more than one occasion during their
careers. Some have seen a lot of action in some of the Legion's most
They are friendly people and only too happy to talk
to "Les Jeunes "(The in-experienced or latest to arrive).
the men make their own wine and work the land. There is livestock to
look after and even a crafts centre where they make souvenirs to sell to
It is their home - they eat well - have company they can relate to -
and they of course drink well. Puyoublier continues to give them a purpose in
Your job whilst there will again be to help out wherever needed. By this
stage you will be beginning to learn what hard work is all about.
During your time at Aubagne you will be getting paid a small amount
of money. This will amount to about F100 per week. With this money
you will be allowed, probably once a week, to go to the Foyer (A bar
with small shop attached - There is one on every quartier) - you will be
allowed an hour or so to have a beer or two and buy anything you need
such as razors, cigarettes etc.
It will be very noticeable how all the nationalities gather together in groups
of their own tongue - non more so than the British. With the "Brits",
will be Canadians, Australians, Scandinavians (who often speak English)
and Americans. Whenever the English speakers gather together they
are known as "La Mafia Anglaise " or sometimes if they are
British "Les Hooligans ". (Individually, you may find yourself
being called "Johnny" from time to time, particularly by Les Anciens).
You will notice the Spanish and Brazilians stick together, the
Eastern block countries will stick together. The French will be in their little
group and so on.
It is important to make an effort to mix - if not with the
other nationalities - at least with the French. It is after all, the French that
you will be relying on to learn the language and during the initial stages,
to translate what has been said by the Caporal or Sergent.
As well as various lectures and videos covering life in the French Foreign
Legion and the postings that exist, there will also be a visit to the
Legion Museum. Probably one of the most impressive to be seen. You will
be given about an hour to wander around during an afternoon and examine
some of the Legion's past.
At some time during the three weeks you will also be interviewed (albeit
it in a very casual manner) on the subject of music. That is whether or
not you play an instrument or have any inclination to become a musician
and any desire to play in the Legion band.
The Legion band is always
keen to recruit - any hint of interest and you will be encouraged all the way
in this direction.
No- one is ever forced to join the band however - but if
you are an experienced musician and definitely do not want to work in the
Legion band then it is probably better if you tell them you are destined to
be in the 2 REP and wouldn't know one end of a trumpet from the
There are some perks to the job of being a bandsman and the
Legion band does travel world wide every year. All bandsmen go
through French Foreign Legion basic training just the same as any other
After a long three weeks of cleaning, tests and interviews you will finally
be told whether you have passed the selection procedure or not.
successful ones will be issued with the Legion haircut and be taken down
to the stores to be kitted out with Le Paquetage.
This is the equipment
that you will take with you to Castelnaudary and last you through your
It will be contained within a large green sausage bag called a
Sac Marin. When you have been issued your paquetage you will
know that very soon you will commencing basic training with the French
At this stage there is only one more thing left to do – that is the solemn
declaration of honor and fidelity to serve the French Foreign Legion.
this you will be assembled in a large room which oozes tradition. Thirty to
forty of you will be assembled to form three sides of a square.
be a short speech by the Major declaring that you have been officially
accepted into the ranks of the Foreign Legion, with whom you will serve
for five years with honor and faithfulness.
The Major will then go up to
each engage volontaire, call his name out and hand him his contract.
The Legionnaire will acknowledge receipt of the contract by coming to
the gardez-vous position (attention position) and calling out "Present
At approx 5.00 am the next morning you will be assembled ready for
pick up by coach to be taken to the Aubagne train station.
There you will
board a train to take you to Castelnaudary. The Sergent and the Caporal
who escort you in the morning will be part of your training team during the
four months that lie ahead.
Castelnaudary - L 'Instruction - Basic Training.
"Quite singly the best way to get on during instruction is not to get
noticed, keep your head down, work hard, don't moan, mix with the
French and start learning the language.
It will come amazingly quickly
and if you can speak French, you'll get less hassle".
This is the real beginning of your time in the French Foreign Legion.
Everything so far has been merely selection. It is now that the real work
begins. You are brand spanking new to the system and are about to
embark on a very steep learning curve....
Basic training is not aimed at producing elite soldiers out of you. It is aimed
at bringing you all into a military way of thinking and to start instilling
some form of military discipline. Coupled with this, they must start getting
you to grips with learning the French language and conditioning
you physically to the rigors that lie ahead.
There is therefore a lot of work
to be done by both the training team and the recruits during the four
months basic training.
It is after basic training that soldiering skills are taught
in depth at the Regiment that you are posted to. That is not to say that you
are not taught military skills during basic training - only that the skills may
not be so in depth and so well honed at this stage.
Remember that there
are people from all over the world, Japanese, Chinese, Rumanians,
Czechs, Polish all with a totally different outlook on life.
world is naturally a very disciplined culture and one which adapts well to
a military environment - many other cultures around the world are not so
orderly in their thinking.
This four months basic training will also be teaching you one more thing -
and certainly the hardest element of all to an engage volontaire - and that
is the "Legion way of doing things". It may not be the most logical way
or the simplest way, it may seem like the most stupid, ridiculous method
in the world - but it is done that way and you are going to do it that way -
even if it takes all night and all the next day.
They may send one man to
do the job of ten or ten men to do the job of one. It will drive you to
insanity at the time but what it is doing is re-affirming military discipline
into your very new way of life.
If you can prepare yourself for this and
accept their way of getting the job done, then you're well on your way
to becoming a "Bon Legionnaire".
This is the part of Foreign Legion
life that is most difficult to adapt to.
Physically the Foreign Legion is not that hard - mentally it can crack you
down the middle - especially those from the Western world.
It may take
you the whole of your five year contract to become fully at home with
this mentality and the Legion way of doing things.
A "Section" consists of 40
men each broken down into 4 "Groupes". The Section is commanded by
a "Sergent-Chef" and is known as the "Chef de section" but is addressed us
Likewise the Groupe is commanded by a "Sergent" and is
known as the "Chef de Groupe" but addressed as "Sergent" by the
Vos Instructeurs - Your Instructors.
The training team is made up of four Caporaux (One man is referred to
as Le Caporal - more than one Caporal is referred to as Les Caporaux),
four Sergents, a Sergent Chef and a Lieutenant.
The Caporaux at
Castelnaudary will be made up of a combination of Caporaux from
other Regiments and what is known as "Fonctionnaire-Caporal"
(Shortened to Caporal Fut-Fut).
This is a term applied to a select few
Legionnaires who have been offered accelerated promotion due to
a good performance during their own in basic training - they therefore,
have only served a few months more than yourselves in the Legion.
may find that there is a Caporal or Sergent of the same nationality as
Often they will be more friendly to their own nationality and
keep you slightly more informed as to what is on the agenda during the
Tread carefully in this area however and assume nothing.
On arrival at Castelnaudary railway station you will be picked up by a
Legion coach and taken to the Quartier (guartier Capitaine Danjou).
will at all times be accompanied by the Caporaux or Sergents.
Having unloaded all the Sacs Moraines (Long sausage shaped green
bags) into the corridor, there will be a briefing by one of the Caporaux
telling you what is next on the agenda.
The first day will be spent
unpacking bags and getting you into the routines that will very quickly
become a way of life.
Depending on the training team - and they all have their own way of doing
things - your first day will probably be even more stressful than usual. In
most armies around the world there is a routine of traumatizing the recruits
during their first days - creating as big a shock for them as possible.
regiment in the British forces would make the recruits run for four miles
with the whole of their equipment immediately on getting off the coach
at the Depot, shouting and screaming at them all the way.
Likewise in the French Foreign Legion they must instill discipline into the
Section as soon as possible and this will be done by whatever means is
There will be silence in the corridors when lined up.
Feet will be exactly in line with the second row of floor tiles.
talking, whispering or behaving like a civilian will be reprimanded in the
most extreme manner probably in the form of a good dig to the body.
and eyes to the front and best you keep it that way. For those that come from
Eastern block countries this is not at all easy. They have come from
backgrounds far removed from the culture of the West.
inherently less disciplined and prone to being the target of the enthusiasm of
the Caporaux. You may well find yourself doing press- ups on account of
Throughout the day they will run you through what is known as the
"Appel". This is a routine of lining up in the corridor and calling out from left
to right a number. The number starts at one and continues up to however
many there are of you. You may all be lined up in a different order every
time you come out into the corridor, so it is important that you learn very
quickly how to count in French.
Whatever you are doing in the room -
it is dropped immediately and you must get out into the corridor and
line up against the wall before the Caporal has reached the count of four.
The Appel is always done first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but
initially you will do it perhaps twenty or thirty times in a day. This is purely
to teach you how to count and as a method of asserting discipline and
authority upon you.
In the 2eme REP based in Corsica, there are three
appels per day - one after lunch as well. At some time during basic training
there is sure to be a low count in the morning when a Legionnaire or
two have decided that they've had enough and tried to desert. They are
nearly always caught.
Les Numeraux - The Numbers.
Listed below are the numbers that you must learn: French number -
(Pronounced as) - English number
Un - (Urn) - One
Deux - (Durgh) - Two
Trois - (Twar) - Three
Quatre - (Cart) - Four
Cinq - (Sank) - Five
Six - (See) - Six
Sept - (Set) - Seven
Huit - (H'eet) - Eight
Neuf - (Nerf) - Nine
Dix - (Dees) - Ten
Onze - (Onz) - Eleven
Douze - (Dooz) - Twelve
Treize - (Trays) - Thirteen
Quatorze - (Catorz) - Fourteen
Quinze - (Canz) - Fifteen
Seize - (Says) - Sixteen
Dix-Sept - (Dees set) - Seventeen
Dix-Huit - (Dees weet) - Eighteen
Dix-neuf - (Dees nerf) - Nineteen
Vingt - (Van) - Twenty
Vingt et une - (Vant ay oon) - Twenty one
Vingt deux - (Van der) - Twenty two
Vingt trois - (Van twar) - Twenty three
Vingt quartre - (Van cart) - Twenty four
Vingt Cinq - (Van sank) - Twenty five
Vingt six - (Van see) - Twenty six
Vingt sept - (van set) - Twenty seven
Vingt huit - (Van weet) - Twenty eight
Vingt neuf - (van nerf) - Twenty nine
Trente - (Tron) - thirty
Trente et une - (Tront ay oon) - thirty one
Trent deux - (Tron der) - Thirty two
Trente trois - (Tron twar) - Thirty three
Trente Quatre - (Tron cart) - Thirty four
Trente cinq - (Tron sank) - Thirty five
Trente six - p'ron sees) - Thirty six
Trente sept - (Tron set) - Thirty seven
Trent huit - (Tron weet) - Thirty eight
Trente neuf - (Tron nerf) - Thirty nine
Quarante - (Carront) - Forty
Quarante et une - (Carront ay oon) - Forty one
Quarante deux - (Carront der) - Forty two
Quarante trois - (Carront twa) - Forty three
Quarante quatre - (Carront cart) - Forty four
Quarante Cinq - (Carront sank) - Forty five
Quarante six - (Carront sees) - Forty six
Quarante sept - (Carront set) - Forty seven
Quarante huit - (Carront weet) - Forty eight
Quarante neuf - (Carront nerf) - Forty nine
Cinquante- (Sankont) - Fifty
It will not obviously stop everybody else making mistakes and you will still
be going in and out of the room like a yo-yo, but at least you will get it right
and it's one less thing for you to have to learn.
When you later have to line
up for a Company parade you will have to learn the rest of the numbers in
French, but this is not worth worrying about at the moment
. There are two
other reasons for needing to learn the numbers as soon as possible.
Firstly; you will have been issued a service number and there will also be
a number for your FAMAS. Your service number is known as your
"Matricule" and is a six figure number. You must learn how to say it in
French and learn it by heart.
The number is not however read out as single
numerals but as follows:
Cent soixante trois, trois cent onze (One hundred and sixty three - three
hundred and eleven).
This is more difficult to commit to memory than simply learning: Unesix-
trois, trois-une-une. (One-six-three - three-one-one).
The Caporaux will teach it to you and you will be expected to know
it by heart after a week or two.
It will not be very long before you are
introduced to your FAMAS assault rifle - This number must also be
committed to memory. If you can learn these numbers quickly then you
will not be the one that feels the might of a size ten boot when the Sergent
has been calling out the weapon number six times at the armory doors (Le
Apart from learning your numbers there will be the allocation of beds
and lockers and a demonstration by one of the Caporaux on how to
arrange your Paquetage into the armoire (locker) in the correct way.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything in the Legion - if
the kit is not placed in the correct place it will soon end up on the floor.
is no food to be kept in the locker at any time and there is a very small
shelf which is allocated for personal belongings. (Of which you will
have very few).
As an engage volontaire you will be assigned to another - he will be
referred to as your "Binome". It is up to you to help each other. If he's
French - he can help you a lot, and he will be expected to.
"It goes without saying that as a recruit you must always carry a pen
and notepad. Carry three pens - One for yourself, one for when it stops
working and one for the binome next to you who has forgotten his"
For the first two weeks there are only a few items of kit that you have to
worry about. The first is the boots. These must be well polished and there is
plenty of opportunity to do that.
If nothing is happening - i.e. between
lectures, then the Legionnaires will gather downstairs and polish their
boots. You may well find yourself polishing the boots five, six or even
seven times a day.
The green combat uniform that is worn on a daily basis
is not ironed in the Legion. Neither is the Tenue de Sport (PT kit), but it
must be clean at all times.
There are no washing machines in basic
training so all the kit is cleaned by hand with a block of Savon Marseille
(Soap) in the wash basins, then hung out to dry on the clothes lines of
the balconies attached to each room. (The clothes lines are below balcony
level and therefore not visible from the outside of the building).
The beret that has been issued to you will last only two weeks before
being replaced with a smaller neater one which sits much more neatly on
The tassel at the back of the beret should lie directly down the
centre of the back of the head.
The Legion badge will then sit slightly to the
right of the right eye. Unlike some armies where a blue beret is issued until
training has been completed - in the Legion it is the Kepi that you earn.
beret issued in the Legion is green in color from day one. The flap being
folded down to the left. If you wish to shape the beret to your head, you can
make it wet and then squeeze it until damp, then put it on your head for
shaping to the exact shape and position required.
You will be paid approximately F1500 per month during L 'Instruction
(basic training) (About X200). This will be paid into your CNE account
which is held by the L 'Adjudant de Section.
When you are allowed to
go to the Foyer (Like canteen with a small shop attached) - you will
be given some money. This is not likely to happen very often during the
four months of Instruction.
Everything will be provided for you during
basic training, even down to your toothbrush, toothpaste, razors etc. At
some time during your Instruction you will be allowed to go into the town
for a few hours.
Here again you will be paid about F200-F300 to have a
beer and buy anything you need.
Once you have been posted to your
regiment, the foyer will become a regular watering hole - chosen in
preference to going through all the hassle of preparing your tenue to
exit the Quartier.
No formal dress need be worn in the Foyer - even
Tenue de sport is permitted.
Les Chants - The Songs.
It will not take long for the instructors to introduce you to the singing which
forms an integral part of the French Foreign Legion's tradition.
sings on the march, at the Gardez-vous (attention position), sometimes on
the run as a section, and around camp fires when on non-tactical exercises
at the end of a long day.
You will probably first be taught Le Boudin along
with Le Chant (de la) Companie plus Le Chant Du Regiment.
There may be
as many as fifteen or twenty songs learnt during the four months basic
training. How many you learn depends very much on you all as a
The more French speaking people there are in the Section, the
easier it is to learn, and so the more songs you will learn.
If there are only
a few Francophones (French speaking people) in the section the songs may
well be taught to you phonetically. What this means is that a German
will read out the words as they should sound in German and you will
write them down as they sound to you in your tongue.
Le Boudin is probably the most famous of all the Legion songs. It is also
the only song that must be sung at the Gardez vous position (at attention).
All the rest
may be sung on the march. Le Chant (de la) Compagnie will vary from
company to company and could be one of many songs.
The first verse of Le Boudin is often all that is sung, for example prior to
eating a meal. It goes like this:
Tiens. Voila du Boudin, voila du boudin, voila du boudin.
Pour les Alsaciens, les Suisses et les Lorrains.
Pour les Belges y en a plus, pour les Belges y en a plus.
Ce sont des tireurs au cul
Tireurs au cul.
There are many different understandings of the meaning behind the words but
here is a literal translation:
Well there's sausage, there's sausage, there's sausage,
For the Alsatians, the Swiss and the Lorrainers;
There's none left for the Belgians, there's none left for
They are malingerers;
There's none left for the Belgians, there's none left for
They are malingerers
You will undoubtedly hear of other versions whilst in the Legion.
The songs are not just sung in French but in many other languages such
as Yugoslavian, German and English.
The first few weeks singing will
undoubtedly result in some very sore arms. This will be through all the
press-ups that you will be doing in a bid to get you to sing in tune, deeper
(Plus has) and louder (Plus fort).
It may seem a pain singing hour after
hour, sometimes late into the night, but when a level of skill has been
achieved - it will look and sound very good.
There is nothing like the
sound of 40 plus Legionnaires (better still a company of 150) singing in
tune, on the march, with Kepis on their heads and red epaulettes on their
Songs will be sung initially in the classroom, and then later, when the
words have been learnt, on the march.
The songs that you will learn are
not what you are used to. They are sung slowly, in unison and in a deep
They have to be sung slowly in order to be in keeping with the pace
of the march. (In the French Foreign Legion the marching is done at
80 paces per minute as opposed to 120 in the British army).
There are a collection of Legion songs, most of which you will be expected
to learn during basic training, situated towards the back of the book in the
La Presentation - Presenting Yourself.
It is tradition in the Legion that when addressing someone of a senior rank
Le Presente is carried out. It is a form of recital and until you have
attained some rank yourself, this will initially mean saying it to everybody,
except the other "Engages" (recruits).
It is also said when you receive your
pay or when entering a room occupied by anyone of any senior rank.
Actions: Knock - wait - enter - salute - beret off....
"Engage Volontaire Antoine,
Deux mois de service,
Section de Lieutenant Souzla,
A vos ordres Caporal/Sergent/Sergent chef/etc. "
Two months service,
Lieutenant Souzla's section,
At your orders Corporal/Sergeant. "
The words in italics will have to be changed for whatever details are
applicable to you.
Once inside the room the Sergent or whoever that you are
talking to, will then say,
"Mets-toi au repos. "
Meaning - Put yourself into the position of "Repose". (A bit like the "Stand
at ease" position in the British army).
You must then reply,
"Je me-mets au repos a vos ordres Sergent".
Meaning: I go to the position of Repose as you order Sergent"
When the senior rank has finished with you he will say, "Tu peu dispose"
Meaning: "You may now leave"
You must then reply, "Je peu dispose, a vos orders Sergent".
Meaning: I am now leaving as you have ordered Sergent.
(Actions: Beret on - Salute - About turn - exit room).
This is carried on throughout your career in the Foreign Legion and holds
true even in war. It is said particularly when talking to ranks that are more
than one rank above you or if they are unfamiliar. After some time in the
Legion or in times of war the Le presente may be
"Legionnaire Antoine, a vos ordres Sergent" To which the sergent or whoever
would probably reply, "Oui, qu'es-ce que tu veux? (Yes, what do you want?)
Each room is responsible for its cleanliness. There is not an excessive
emphasis on the rooms but they are inspected on a daily basis.
also walked around at the end of the day by the Caporal Chef/Sergent who
is taking the evening Appel.
There is no smoking allowed in the building but engages will often try
to sneak one on the balcony.
Smoking is however allowed, but
downstairs and outside.
Everyday, first thing in the morning and after
lunch before being fell in there is the daily Corvet Quartier.
comprises of the Company forming a line and walking very slowly
around the building.
At each corner of the building the line is stopped and
reformed to face a new direction. Since the buildings at Castelnaudary are
in an "L-shape" there are six straight lines to form before progressing in
each new direction.
All the time you are looking for cigarette ends, litter or
rose petals that have fallen in the wind.
There are constant yells of
Silence by the Caporal du Jour which often fall on deaf ears and inevitably
ends up in everybody doing press-ups.
This ritual of Corvette Quartier will
continue until you have reached Caporal status or above. (About two
In each building there are two Sections of Legionnaires undergoing basic
training. The older Section will be able to socialize with you almost
everyday when downstairs polishing boots or smoking cigarettes.
you might expect they will try to fill you full of horror stories about what lies
ahead. They will more than likely exaggerate to the extreme.
anything you hear with a pinch of salt. Most of it will be rubbish.
Bel Air, La ferme - Bel Air, the farm
The big horror story you will undoubtedly hear about from day one is
Bel Air. This is a large farm building situated in the countryside about
ten miles from Castelnaudary.
All the Sections go to Bel Air about four
weeks for a period of three weeks. Whilst there you will undergo training
in weapons handling, (Particularly stripping and assembly of the
FAMAS), weapon cleaning, physical fitness, navigation (By compass
and by the stars), French language, an introduction to field craft (setting
up bivouacs, camouflage and concealment, target indication, first aid, fire
control orders, patrolling, ambushes), drill and arms drill, marching and
of course lots of singing.
As mentioned previously - they are not out to make you into elite soldiers
at this stage - more to get you into a military way of thinking, improve
your physical fitness and to try to get you talking in French.
soldiering skills are honed later on in your career.
There will be pressures placed upon you and these will take the form of
sleep deprivation, keeping you as stressed and traumatized as possible by
shouting and requiring everything to be done in double quick time.
Coupled with that there will be very little to eat. The days will be long and
you will become very, very tired. Still the pressure will be on you.
there will be many inspections of your equipment, your boots (Polish the
whole of the boot whilst at Bel Air - the underside as well). Also mark
them well, as they may be thrown out of the window with everyone
else's (even if yours are clean). Ideally, you will want the same pair back
when you go to recuperate them at the end of the night.
Each day at Bel Air will start early, at around 5.00 am and by six o'clock
you will be doing the morning Sport or Le Petit-footing. This will take
about an hour and because there are varying degrees of fitness amongst
you, the Section will normally be divided up into three groups of varying
You will all do the same training - just that you will all be pushed to
the maximum. There will be four to five mile runs, un-armed combat, situps,
press ups, pull ups, rope climbing (No legs allowed), fireman’s carry
and any other games the training team can devise to get the blood
Although the running will tend to get faster over the three
weeks the upper body strengthening exercises may not achieve as much
since the food intake is limited and the pull ups, press ups and rope
climbing exercises are carried out as much as two or three times a day.
Before each meal the Caporaux will gather you round and there will be
what is referred to as the L 'Aperitif - a series of three or four of the above
exercises which are carried out.
When so much work is placed on a
particular muscle group the muscles have little time to recover and benefit
from the work done.
Each day the kit worn will be washed by hand in the basins, then hung
out to dry for the next day. Make sure the kit is well marked.
The three weeks at Bel Air culminates in a fifty kilometer non tactical
march with Sac a Dos (Rucksack) and FAMAS. You have three days
to complete the march but it is normally done in two. This is the only test
before you receive your Kepi Blanc.
It is often argued by
Legionnaires that the Kepi Blanc should only be received after the Le Raid
at the end of basic training when a much longer march is carried out.
thirty miler is not hard and by this stage you will already have marched
many times from Bel Air back to the Quartier. If you have been a soldier in
any army prior to joining the Legion, you will have heard of many
methods of how to harden your feet.
Examples may be rubbing white
spirit into your feet, urinating on them, switching them from the hottest
water you can bear to the coldest water you can bear.
Most people find
that the best way to wear in your feet is to march a lot - and that, you will.
And preferably in boots that are well worn in. Legion boots generally are
not a bad fit anyway, even when new.
There may be some truth in the
notion that submersing bad fitting boots in water when new and going for a
couple of miles on a run will help wear them in quicker, but you are
unlikely to be in a position to put this method into practice in the Legion.
Feet do heal very quickly and there is always a foot and body inspection
after every march.
Do not, if you have the chance however rip the skin
off a blister to expose open flesh. Any insertion into a fluid filled blister
should be made with a sterilized needle merely to drain the fluid inside
the blister out. The foot should of course be cleaned before such action.
Do not bother with ointment or dressings unless it's really bad; just put
a clean pair of socks on. Before you know it you will have different set of
blisters to worry about.
La Remise Du Kepi Blanc - The Presentation of the
Throughout the weeks leading up to Bel Air and during your time
there, you will all be learning Le Code D 'Honneur.
This is - as it
sounds - a code of honor which is learnt be heart by all Legionnaires.
Together you must recite it in unison at the end of your three weeks at Bel
You will spend many hours, learning it, reciting it and then getting the
vocal synchronization together. It will be said by you at the Remise Du
Kepi Blanc (Presentation parade) prior to donning the famous white Kepi.
you can learn it by heart before you get there, you will be one very large
stride ahead. It goes as follows:
Le Code D'Honneur.
"Legionnaire, Tu ex un volontaire servant la France avec honor et
(Legionnaire, you are a volunteer serving France with honor and
"Chaque Legionnaire est ton frere d'arme, quelle que soit su nationalite,
sa race, sa religion. Tu lui manifestes toujours la solidarite etroite qui
doit unir les membres d'une meme famille. "
(Every Legionnaire is your brother in arms, regardless of nationality, race
or religion. You show him always the close solidarity which must unite
the members of the same family)
"Respectueux des traditions, attache a tes chefs, la discipline et la
camaraderie sont ta force, le courage et la loyaute tes vertus. "
(Respectful of the traditions held by your seniors, discipline and
camaraderie are your strength, courage and loyalty your virtues)
"Fier de ton etat de legionnaire, tu le montres dans ta tenue toujours
elegante, ton comportement toujours digne mais modeste, ton casernement
toujours net. "
(Proud to be a Legionnaire, you show this in your dress; it is always elegant,
you are always dignified but modest in the way that you behave and your
quarters are always in order)
Soldat d'elite, tu t'entruines avee rigueur, tu entretiens ton arme comme ton
bien le plus precieux, tu as le souci constant de ta horme physique. "
(As an elite soldier, you train with rigor, you look after your weapon as your
most precious possession, and you always take care of your physical fitness.)
"La mission est sacree, tu l'executes jusqu'au bout dans le respect des lois,
des coutumes de la guerre et des conventions internationales et, si besoin, au
peril de ta vie.
"Au combat, tu agis sans passion et sans haine, tu respects les ennemis
vaincus, tu n'abandonnes jamais, ni tes morts, ni tes blesses, ni ter armes. "
(In combat, you fight without passion and without hatred, you respect
the defeated enemy always, you never abandon your dead, nor your
wounded nor your weapons).
You are not actually at any time during instruction asked to translate the
Code D'Honneur into your own language, but it is included here for your
At the Remise Du Kepi Blanc there will be another Section from
Castelnaudary to act in a supporting role as part of the Remise.
Chef de Corps (Camp Commandant) will present the Legionnaires with
a small badge which signifies that they are now officially accepted as part of
the 4eme RE. He will pin that to each Legionnaire's chest.
formalities will be followed by big eats, some singing, and a photo
session by a photographer hired by the Legion for some formal group
Depending on how good or bad the singing is – will depend on
whether you march back to the Quartier or are taken back by camion
When handling the Kepi make sure that you touch only the black peak
and not the white parts. The white cloth stains very easily, and if you don't
handle it by the peak, you'll end up scrubbing it.
After Bel Air,
Castelnaudary will seem like a hotel. The camp was modernized in 1985
and is extremely plush considering the sort of images that most people
conjure up in their mind when they hear talk of the French Foreign
Legion. La Place D'Arme (The Parade square) is of an acre type
tarmac finish with roses all around the inside of its perimeter.
carefully maintained by the prisoners and any spare recruits. Any petals
that fall in the wind are swiftly picked up by the Corvet Quartier who
sweep around the building twice a day.
Once back at "Castel" (Abbreviated term for Castelnaudary) you
will soon be back into lectures, running and once every couple of
weeks a trip onto the terrain for some patrolling (Normally about 20 km or
so) and practice of field craft skills.
Temperatures can get up to a hundred
degrees in the summer and there are often reports in the local press of
locals dying whilst out in the heat of the day or over doing it.
has great experience of working in hot conditions and takes this sort
of weather very seriously. If the weather is too hot then certain exercises
may be cancelled or postponed until it is cooler.
Many of the recruits will
not be used to such weather - some may not have even acclimatized from
their native country yet.
You will quickly be taught that water should be
treated like gold in these conditions. When out on exercise the training
team will be watching very closely who has the discipline in them to
conserve water from their Bidon (water bottle).
If you take small sips of
water throughout the day, as opposed to great gulps - it will last you longer.
On top of that, the more you drink - the more you sweat.
If you want
to earn smart points - be the one with half a bottle of water left at the next
"Do not drink water from the rivers in France. If you do - it will make
you very ill For a week you will not know whether you're coming or
going. Even sterilizing tablets added to water are not safe in certain rivers. "
A Typical Day.
6.00 am: the Section assembles in line in the corridor for the morning
Appel. After a quick shave and a wash you will get into Tenue de Sport
The room must be tidied and the beds made.
The beds are not made in the normal way however. In the Legion the
bed is stripped every day and the blankets folded to an exact size and
placed one on top of another. These will sit at the end of the bed with the
Couverture (Top cover) underneath. The sheets are folded and rolled in an
exact manner to form a sort of tube. These are then laid diagonally across
each other on top of the blankets to form a cross.
This routine does not stop
at the end of basic training but continues for as long as you reside on a Legion
Quartier - regardless of rank.
6.20am: The Section will be either marched or doubled across to the
refectoir for Le Petit Dejeuner (Breakfast).
This consists of a glass bowl of black coffee or drinking chocolate. With this
you receive half a baguette each and some jam or marmalade. You will
always carry your issued Opinel (Pen-knife) which you use for breakfast.
You may only have ten minutes to eat this before being assembled outside
to return to the block. You may again either march or run back -
dependant upon what is on the agenda for the day and the schedule of
6.30am: Corvee Quartier is next on the agenda. (Straight line sweep around
the building done by the complete Company to pick up cigarette ends etc.)
At the same time as this, anybody wishing to go sick, reports to the Caporal
Chef down in the Company office.
If the rooms are not yet finished then
one or two Legionnaires per room will remain behind to finish them off.
There will also be a couple of Legionnaires left behind to carry out the
Corvee Chiot (Toilet cleaning duties).
7.00am: Rassemblement (Assembly) by Section, or, if it is a Monday, it
will be as a complete Regiment (Reglementaire). The Caporal Du Jour
will hand you over to the Sergent and then if there is a senior rank
present you will be handed over to the most senior rank present.
here you will normally go for a run. Distance varying from four to
eight kilometres. (Incidentally, you will always talk in Kilometres in the
Legion. There are approximately 1.6kms to one mile. Or 0.6 miles to one
kilometer. Therefore, as an example; eight kilometres equals approx. five
Runs in the Legion never start very fast - a great emphasis is put on
warming up for at least the first kilometer or two, and then it gradually gets
At the end of the run there are usually exercises, rope climbing
(always without the use of your legs), pull ups and sit ups, followed by
Periodically the Sergent will have you all straightening each others
spines. The method used, does, for the first time sound like a very painful
process. It can be a little disconcerting when you hear your spinal
column cracking into line and the man doing it has only learnt the technique
thirty seconds previously. It is however a genuine technique which was
once used by osteopaths.
8.30am: Section arrives back at the block. The Senior rank will dismiss
you into the building where you can get showered and changed ready
for the Casse-scroute (Snack). This will be probably a quarter of a baguette
and some pate.
The Section will now be in Tenue verte (green combats) for
the rest of the day.
9.30am: There will now be a lecture on postings in the French Foreign
Legion. This may be taken by the Sergent, Sergent Chef or the Lieutenant.
The period will last about one hour. After which you will be allowed
outside for a cigarette break for fifteen minutes.
10.45am: A second lecture will follow on French language taken by the
12.00am: The boots will be taken downstairs for a quick polish before
lunch. There will also be time for a quick Aperitif before lunch.
12.30: The Section will assemble ready to be marched across to the
refectoir for lunch. The Section will almost always march and sing their
way across the Place D'arme (Parade square). There may well be other
Sections doing the same thing.
12.50: Feeding time in the Legion is a very well executed procedure. The
Legionnaires form a long line from the doorway up to the server with a
Caporal at the head of the queue controlling the passage of troops.
head Chef calls out the word "Quatre" - the next four Legionnaires walk past
the servers, picking up a dish of food each.
Since all the tables are laid
before the meal with plates and the entire cutlery, there remains only the
food to be collected. This makes for a very rapid feeding system.
space of only a few minutes literally hundreds of Legionnaires can be
seated and eating their food without the hassle of a fifteen minute queue.
At the end of the meal the plates are left on the tables to be cleared away
by the Legionnaires on Corvee. (Which will at sometime be you).
13.30: March back to Le Batiment (Building) to carry out the Corvee
Quartier once more. The rooms will also have to be cleaned once more
if they require it and the boots polished.
14.00: The Section will be assembled and the Sergent will brief you on
what is happening in the afternoon. Today it consists of being taken over
to the Infirmerie for some tests. These may be urine, blood, a chat with the
Medecin (Doctor), chest X-rays or whatever.
15.30: Lessons in drill. Droit droit (Right turn), Gauche gauche (Left
turn) and the demi-tour droit (About turn). There may also be further
lessons on La Presente.
16.50: The Compagnie will assemble together for the march across
for the Repas du soir (Evening meal) sometimes known as La Soupe.
Again you will sing. This may again be preceded by an Aperitif in the form
of pull- ups, press-ups and sit ups.
17.00: La Soupe. (Evening meal)
18.00: Les Chants de La Legion (Songs of the Legion). For several
hours you will be in a classroom singing and reciting Le Code
D'Honneur. There will be breaks every hour or so. For this you will
go out into the corridor/veranda outside and can smoke.
21.00: Appel du soir. This will be carried out by the Sergent. If he is
happy with the rooms and the turnout he will say Bonne Nuit (Good
night) which everyone shouts back in unison - Bonne nuit Sergent! You
can then get to bed.
Qaurtier Libre - Time off down the town.
At some time before the Section departs for a weeks training in the
Pyrenees there will be guartier Libre (Time off down the town) -
Assuming that is if the Section has performed reasonably well up till then.
For this you will be allowed four hours out down in the town of
Castelnaudary and you will be given about F200 francs to spend.
Section is transported in Tenue De Sortie (uniform for going out in) by
camion (Lorry) to the old Quartie -Quartier Lepasset, again in
Castelnaudary where basic training used to take place.
You are on your own whilst out in the town, but there are Police Militaire
(PM's) everywhere and the rules are strict. Nobody is to eat in public, drink
or be loud.
Most Legionnaires go to a bar and get drunk and then try their
best to act sober. Most of them do a pretty good job and the training team
does not really mind so long as the Legionnaires behave themselves.
is prime time to get ahead. Spend the first two hours sorting out your
admin - i.e. getting anything you need and making phone calls.
A paintbrush is worth buying. It can be used for weapon cleaning and is
invaluable as a cleaning tool for the likes of the magazines and the
bayonet. (There is a brush in the weapon cleaning kit but the bristles are too
A bottle of iodine is also worth getting, for sterilizing infections or
blisters). Most of the things that you need on a day to day basis are available
in the Foyer back at the Quartier, but there is always something you
might need and it may be some time before you're allowed out again.
This will also be your first opportunity to make a phone call. The number
to get out of France is 0044 followed by your area code minus the first
zero. For example, if the tel. no in England were 0171 123456 the whole
number from France would be dialed as follows: 0044 171 123456.
Trying to get help or advice from the French directory enquiries can give
you a major Mal a la tete (headache) so try and get a francophone to help
you if you have problems.
If you want them to ring you back they must dial 0033 to get out of
England, followed by the digit "4" for Castelnaudary and then the eight
figure digit marked on the telephone in the kiosk.
You may also find that
because there are forty Legionnaires all trying to get a telephone, there are
queues outside every phone kiosk. Try going to a hotel - if the people you
are ringing want to ring back, it will be easier for them to get the number
from international enquiries if they have any problems.
Lager is served in half pints in France and is referred to as "Demi " or
"Pression ". It is also quite expensive in France and especially so in the
nightclubs where the equivalent of a full pint would cost you F100.
Nightclubs however, will come later on in your career. The Camion will
meet you at a pre-arranged RV (Normally the old Legion quartier
in the town of Castelnaudary) to take you back to the Quartier.
left to your own devices for the next few hours and it is not unknown for
the Legion to allow you to sleep it off on arrival back at the guartier
Anybody fighting, getting rowdy or mouthing off goes straight
into the slammer for ten days. If there has not been too much trouble on the
first trip then a second trip may be allowed about a month or two later.
There is also a town called Carcassonne not very far away from
Castelnaudary which is the home town of the French Paras. The Legion
is reluctant to allow engages there due to the trouble that normally ensues.
When you arrive at your regiment you are allowed to leave the Quartier
in the evening work and stay out until six o'clock the next morning
assuming that everything is in order and ready for the next day.
You will pass
before the Bureau Compagnie who will inspect you. Then you must present
yourself before the Chef de Post at the main gate - who will decide whether
or not to let you out or not.
Quartier Libre in a Regiment refers to a thirty
six hour period over the week end. Not every weekend is Quartier libre
allocated. The same routine applies when it is granted however.
Shortly after having been on guartier Libre, there will be a trip into the
Pyrenees - a small village called Camurac. An idyllic farmhouse setting in
beautiful countryside where you will be continuing your training but in a
slightly more relaxed atmosphere.
There will be the usual Petit footing
(Running) at some time of the day but most of your time will be spent
marching in the Pyrenees. It may be tactical or non-tactical, depending on
the training team. There will be an introduction to climbing and abseiling
at some stage during the week's stay.
At least a few evenings will be spent in
the mountains drinking wine around the camp fire singing Legion songs.
(The fires that the Legion make are not small bonfires - but more like mini
Guy Fawkes nights). It is a slightly more relaxing time than usual - but as
always assume nothing.
On arrival back at Castelnaudary it will be back to business as usual and
this, if it hasn't happened already, could well take the form of the La Piste
De Combat (The assault course). This pleasure is experienced about once a
month and is located about five kilometres up the road from Castel. It
must be said that this is one of the hardest assault courses in the world and in
total, makes up a length of about five hundred meters; an internal circuit
followed by an external circuit. All the obstacles have a certain amount of
technique required and they will all be shown to you by the training
team. Although no equipment is worn it is very, very knackering, but it is
Now that the greater half of your training is completed there is now a
large proportion of training which comprises of Guarde and Corvee
around the Quartier. This is, in a way - a sort of training for what to expect
at your Regiment.
Every day, or for at least a few days of each week,
some or all of the Section will be involved in such tasks as corvee mess
officiers (Working in the Officers mess), corvee mess sous-officiers
Working in the Sergents and above mess), Le Garde (Guard duty on the
main gate) Corvee refectoire (Working in the Legionnaires mess)
or Corvee Foyer (working in the Foyer).
None of these jobs are
particularly hard, but it will certainly teach anybody who doesn't already
know what a good days work is all about. You will work long hard days -
and that is life in the French Foreign Legion.
If you are working in the
refectoire, mess officiers or mess sous-officiers you will have the bonus of
extra food during the day.
All this will be done when you arrive at your
regiment as there is always a Compagnie de Corvee responsible for the
chores and the guard to be done around the Quartier. Each company takes
it in turn to carry out these tasks.
Le Garde - The Guard Duty.
The one task that does require intensive preparation is Le Garde - this is a
privileged position of responsibility. Although under the direction of the
Sergent and the Caporal du Jour, you are the front line in the Quartier's
You will be armed with FAMAS and have live rounds in the
magazine. For the Guarde there will be six Legionnaires, a Caporal and a
Sergent. There will also be a "Clairon" (a buglar) allocated to your
The guard takes place from six in the morning until six o'clock
the following morning. The preparation is just as important as doing the
Guard duty itself.
The weather can vary enormously throughout the year
but in the summertime temperatures can reach up to a hundred degrees
Fahrenheit. The Tenue de Garde is worn, which in summertime means
fifteen creases in the shirt. If it is wintertime then the brown jacket and
trousers are worn. This is easier to iron and there is not the heat to contend
with. Whatever uniform is worn, the Epaulettes de Tradition are also worn
on the shoulders.
The FAMAS (Personal weapons) are drawn early in the morning and
wiped thoroughly to remove any excess oil. Even the slightest mark will
stain the summer shirt badly. Make sure you have a hanky with you.
There is normally an assistant attached to each group of six to assist in
tucking up the trousers under the elastics to make a neat finish and to fetch
and carry. They are basically there to perform any other tasks necessary
to ensure a smooth operation of the Garde.
Although the Legion does
not normally bother too much about bullshit and ironing of the normal
working uniform - in this area of turnout they really do excel themselves.
The boots are still not bulled however, but the ironing must be spot on.
is also here that you will wear the "Centurion Bleu" - the wide blue
band that is worn underneath the combat belt. Because the blue band is so
long (about six feet) it requires two people to put it on, one holds it out
straight and the other holds the start of the band to his side and turns his
body until it is wrapped tightly around his waist. The blue sash must
end with the tail at the front of the body in the centre, folding itself over
to form a neat finish.
The normal working day belt (Le centurion) is
the positioned over the top. This item is again worn whether it is
winter or summer. All the idiosyncrasies of getting it right are also the
responsibility of the Caporal and the Sergent in charge. (The Sergent is
referred to as the "Chef De Poste" on this day).
If there is one man whose
turnout is a mess, then it is not only he who will go to jail but also the
Caporal and the Sergent, since the culprit is their overall responsibility.
The duty starts at 6 am when you replace the previous night's guard
from another Section. This is in itself is a ceremonial procedure. It will
only take about ten minutes to do, but in this time the Chef Du Corps
will have had brief words with everyone taking up the new shift.
nearly always has a friendly disposition and is a likeable character. He
will ask you questions like, What did you do before the Legion? Are
you enjoying the Legion? What did you do in training this week? and
Are you in good spirits? These questions obviously are all asked in
French but he is not un-used to encountering communication
By the time you are doing a stint of guard in the Legion you
will probably have no problems in understanding and answering
any of these questions in French.
Once the Chef Du Corps has had
his say, the Garde commences, two men on duty at a time. The shift
works on a two hours on, four hours off basis, but the four hours off is
not totally relaxed since it is forbidden to sit down (In case it creases the
trousers), coffee may be drunk but woe betide the man who spills it on his
There are usually magazines to read in the guard room. The
Sergent may let you sit on two stools one on top of another with a blanket
on top. (To lessen the chances of creases appearing on the trousers).
meals are brought to you by the current prisoners, who will also take away
your dirty plates etc.
For the two that are on guard it is a long two hours. One of the two guards
has a FAMAS slung across the front of the chest in the traditional manner.
Although it is not a particularly heavy weapon it does become that way
after two hours standing motionless. The only movement permitted by
him is to come to the "Gardez-vous" and to "Presente arme" when a
Sergent or senior rank passes or drives through the gates of the camp.
man facing him and who operates the barrier does not have a weapon, and
has the luxury of being able to move slightly more often.
During the shift you are not allowed to wear a watch and there are no
clocks in view. For two hours you are not permitted to move a muscle.
You are on show for the French Foreign Legion and must show absolute
The time passes hideously slowly. The ability to judge the two
hours does come after a fashion, but there are times when you're out there
and you're certain without a shadow of a doubt that your relief is late. They
The other duties of the Guard are to raise and lower the flag on
the Place D'arme in time with the Clairon. This happens at the beginning
and at the end of each day. The flag must be lowered in exact time with
the Clairon's tune. The lowering starts when the tune starts and should end
when the tune ends.
There are numerous threats on route to the flagpole by
the Sergent to shoot you if you mis-time the procedure - but it rarely
As evening approaches you are allowed back to the block to get changed
into Tenue de Combat (Normal working green uniform). This is worn
from 2000Hrs onwards and comes as a great relief for everyone. From
hereon you patrol the area in front of the gates with a riot baton in hand.
Check peoples ID cards as they come in and get the Chef de Poste out of
the guard room if there are any problems.
In the morning the guard goes through the same ceremonial changeover
with the next shift and you return to your Section. There is no time off for
working through the night - you go straight into the next day. It is the
Section's responsibility to collect your petit dejeuner.
Whilst you have been doing the guard duty there will have been another
Groupe that will have been acting as a "Force d'Intervention Rapide" to
react to any potential threat to the Quartier. They however have a much
cushier time and apart from a practice run for a call-out they spend most of
their time resting, watching TV or reading. Their shift starts at the same time
as yours but they will wear Tenue de Combat at all times.
La Legion c'est Dur - Mais Gamelle c'est sur (The
Legion is hard - but food is for sure)
The quality of food in the Legion varies considerably from Quartier to
Quartier (camp to camp). In some, the food is of an exceptionally high
standard, probably as good as you would eat in many a restaurant. In other
camps the food is of a much lower standard.
If you have any ideas of eating
anything really disgusting - don't worry, none of it is that bad. What the
different camps do have in common is the fact that there is rarely enough to
eat; leaving the Refectoir feeling really full is a rare experience.
Castelnaudary the food is of the highest standard I have ever seen on a
military camp anywhere in the world - but again there was not enough to
feel completely full.
Most people would probably agree that they would
rather leave the refectoir having enjoyed the meal and slightly hungry than
full to the brim of some sludge that the duty cook has thrown together in a
pot out the back. Food is after all, a morale booster and you will always
look forward to in the Legion.
The feeling of hunger however is one you will become accustomed to
during basic training. It is, if you like; a feeling which goes hand in hand
with being an Engage volontaire.
It is worth remembering that when in the field and rations are issued, it is
vital that you eat the food hot. The difference between eating hot and cold
food can mean the difference between passing and failing a march or run.
Likewise, chocolate and cakes will not give you the stamina and energy
that a full meal in the refectoir will. Do not therefore pack your Sac a
Dos with Mars bars thinking that this will carry you through Raid Marche.
There really is enough food supplied by the refectoir and the ration packs
during your training to get you through, but when you join your Regiment
and you are able to miss a meal and slope off to the Foyer, remember that
proper hot food will serve your body better.
Before making ready for Le Raid there will be a few days spent at one of
the French army camps towards the centre of France. Here you will undergo
training in the firing of a variety of APILAS (Armor Piercing Infantry
Light Armor Systems) and various small arms. The weapons fired include
the RAC112, the LRAC89, the FAMAS rifle grenade and the two inch
There will of course be various shoots done using your personal
weapon - the FAMAS, one of which will be a night shoot. There will
also be an introduction to explosives as well - how to put together a charge
and each Legionnaire will experience firing a small charge in a
You may also be given the chance to throw a
grenade, of which there are two types - Offensive and Defensive. The
Defensive grenade is the more powerful of the two. The trip will last
about five days and you will be staying in French army accommodation.
There will of course be Le petit footing done in the morning or when
time permits during the stay.
In the lead up to Raid Marche there will be further lectures on the
differences between the Regiments and what to expect in the line of
Regimental roles and the lifestyle to be expected after basic training.
regards the system for allocating which recruits go where, it works on the
basis that those that perform to the highest standard during L 'Instruction
are given the first choice as to which Regiment want to serve in.
anybody is deemed to be good enough they may be offered a position as
Caporal Fut Fut. (To achieve this - a reasonable command of the French
language is important).
Le Raid - Raid March.
The final week of basic training is when Le Raid takes place and the
Section will be taken up into the mountains and dropped off at Perpignan
near the coast to start their long march back to Quartier Capitaine
Danjou. The Section marches about 150 km in three days and
culminates in a series of tests which will certify you as fully trained
This final test is known as the CTE/00. The test will examine
your ability at voice procedure on the radio (Le PPLL), first aid, field craft
and personal weapon handling. The march is tactical and apart from
crossing open areas of ground in a tactical manner, hard targeting
(Moving quickly) and pepper potting (One covers - one moves), you can
expect to be ambushed at any time.
You will pass through villages and
small holdings in the country which must likewise be approached and
negotiated as if in combat.
The Caporaux and Sergents will map read
during the week. Evenings however will take a non-tactical line and there
will be the customary wine drinking and singing of Legion songs in front of
a camp fire.
The route is very hilly to start with but as the Section nears Castelnaudary
it begins to level out more. This will be the longest march that you will
have done in the Legion.
If you are hoping to go to the 2REP
(Regiment Etranger Parachutistes) then this will be taste of things to come. (it
is tradition in this Regiment to march across the island of Corsica, where
they are based once every year - a distance of over two hundred
By the time that you do Le Raid your feet will be well
used to marching and the boots will be well worn in. The night before the
Section is due to re-enter the Quartier the Capitaine Compagnie will join
you and there will be plenty to eat and drink.
The following day the Section continues the remainder of the march
straight back in through the camp gates, where you will be looked upon
by any other passing Sections with envy and respect. This is the point at
which most Legionnaires believe that the Kepi Blanc should be issued -
when the job is done.
However hard you might have found the march, the lack of sleep, the
sudden ambushes - there is still more work to be done before you can
relax. It is a tradition of the Foreign Legion to prepare the equipment for
return to the stores immediately on return to the quartier after the final
Since this is the end of your basic training, ALL the equipment
must be immaculate. Tables are brought outside into the morning sun,
all the Section weapons are cleaned to the extent that there is no trace of oil,
grease or dirt anywhere. You may well be using pure alcohol to remove
all such traces.
Likewise the Le Brouillage (The webbing) is scrubbed,
scrubbed and scrubbed again. The Section will be cleaning, scrubbing
and polishing for the following twenty four hours non-stop after arriving
back at the Quartier.
Your feet will be blistered and bleeding - you will be
so tired that you are delirious. Only once the work has been done can you
start to relax. This is undoubtedly the hardest part of L 'Instruction, and you
will by now be looking forward to your first posting more than ever.
There are always foot and body inspections after every march or exercise
in the Legion. If it is just a matter of minor blisters or ailments then one of
the Caporals in the training team will see to you.
Anything more serious
and you will become a subject for the Infirmiers who are undergoing
their training at Castelnaudary to deal with.
Castelnaudary is also where
the "Infirmiers" (Medics) undertake their training and who better to
practice their new found art on than a Section of EV's.
Within a few days Chef De Corps will have you all assembled on La
Place D'Arme for a final talk before sending you back to Aubagne for
As mentioned previously - the priority of choice goes to
those that worked and performed best during basic training. It will also
depend on whether or not there are the spaces available at the Regiment
that have been requested. The most popular choices are the 2eme
REP, 13 DBLE Djibouti and the 3eme REI in French Guyana. (See
section on Regiment postings).
There is various paperwork to be done at
Aubagne, and it is here that anyone wishing to leave the Legion has the
right to do so. (They can give notice that they wish to leave but cannot
actually get out of the Legion until the end of the sixth month.
remaining time waiting for the leaving date would be spent carrying our
menial tasks around the Quartier)
Passing French Foreign Legion training is within the capability of most
men in a reasonably fit condition - (in mind and in body). Physical training
in the Foreign Legion is taken at a gradual pace and, like basic training in
many armies, will be governed somewhat by the overall ability of the
Section under instruction.
The hardest part of training that you will
experience, from the physical side of things will be the Piste de Combat and
Le Raid. From a mental point of view, the Legion does apply considerable
pressure on recruits.
Whatever your expectations are when you walk
through the gates of the Foreign Legion for the first time - you can be
guaranteed that it will not be what you expect. Things will be sometimes
done in a way which seems illogical and unnecessary. If you can
accept that it is being for a reason, then you will not have a problem.
In order to instill military discipline into a batch of raw recruits from a wide
variety of cultures - it is necessary that they learn not to question authority,
but to obey it - no matter what they might think of the concept or method.
It is unlikely that you will find the physical side of things your greatest
obstacle in becoming a "Bon Legionnaire ".
Yes, the Legion can be a violent place, but as time goes by, the Legion is
finding itself coming more and more into line with the French army and
with it, French military law. The cases of violence subjected on recruits
are nothing like they were even ten or fifteen years ago.
brutality you will hear about will probably be on your ears at the
Selection centre where you will be bombarded with "War stories" by
other Legionnaires or "engages volontaires" (Raw recruits) in the
Aubagne sick bay. Don't listen to stories; most of it is rubbish.
guy will get a beating, but he will probably have deserved it. It may not be
by an instructor, it could well be by one of the other Legionnaires in the
Standard corporal punishment consists of a "Stick" - which is the
palm of the hand (normally fairly large) smacked against the back of
your shaven head with as much force as possible. This example
however, is a sort of controlled brutality if you like and is dished out as a
formal punishment (Not really in a sinister way either). It is not as if the
recipient is being beaten to a pulp through uncontrollable rage. A "Stick"
will sometimes makes you feel momentarily dizzy but rarely does it knock
you out. It just stings a bit.
The other punishment which is ritually dished
out in a formal manner is the "Marche (en) Canard". For this the
individual or group responsible for their crime will march a distance in the
squatting position, with or without equipment with their hands on top of
their heads. It is a little uncomfortable but that is all.
The people who
receive most of the physical abuse in basic training are the Eastern
block engages - a large proportion of whom have joined ultimately for
a passport, good food and a wage.
Since the Berlin wall came down the
Legion has been inundated with Eastern block recruits. Most of them are
quite open and honest about why they are there. For this, they tend to
stick more togheter at Castelnaudary.
Sooner or later there will come a time in the Legion when you must stand
up for yourself. If you are weak - then you will be walked over.
Legion is a tough army and you must abide by it's unwritten rules. Respect
is earned, not only as a soldier, but also as an individual - as in all walks of
Le Contrat - The Contract.
The contract in the Legion is commonly thought to be for a fixed five
years. In actual fact there is a probationary six month period.
Legion decides that you are not suitable to be a Legionnaire then they will
discharge you. Likewise, you too have a choice, but not until the end of the
six month period. If at the end of the six months you no longer wish to be
in the Legion you have the option to leave.
At the end of the six months
the Legion has the option, if it so desires - to add a further six month
probationary period to the contract. This will only be done if they consider
you are still not quite up to the grade in all areas. (This is almost unheard
Anybody who is deemed unfit to be a Legionnaire is
normally extracted before the end of the three weeks selection, and if not
then - during the four months at Castelnaudary.
Bear in mind that after
three weeks at Aubagne and a further four months at Castelnaudary you
will then have one month to go before signing the final binding contract.
is the case however that after basic training everybody is sent back to
Aubagne before departing for their respective Regiments.
Here you are
asked which Regiment you would like to join and it is also here that you have
the option to leave the Legion. But not for another five weeks or so. If you
decide to get out, then there will be five weeks of menial tasks and
corvee found for you to do around the guartier.
When it comes to signing your contract you will not have the paper work in
front of you translated. You will be told that the contract is for five years and
given the paper to sign. There is little time for questions and answers and
neither will it be written in your mother tongue.
You do however have the
option to leave at any time during your first three weeks at Aubagne
The Legion will normally donate F500 towards any
travel expenses to get you home. (Same amount applies for whichever
country you have come from).
Below is a translated example of what
will be presented before you when you sign at the end of the three weeks
ACT OF ENGAGEMENT
in the name of (1) JONES David as a foreigner in the Foreign Legion
In the year nineteen hundred and ninety five, the eighteenth of May at 1000Hrs,
presenting himself before us was(2):
Mr JONES David aged: 23 years professional in the trade of: carpentry living in Bath
District of Avon in the Country(3) Great Britain. Son of(4) Steven and of(4) Janine
Smith living in Leeds .
Hair: Chestnut brown Eyes: Brown Eyebrows: Heavy joined
Chin: Divided Nose: Concave Teeth: CM90%
Face: Oval Additional Features: Scar r. arm, L. leg
Height: 1m 94 Weight: 91Kgs
Any additional marks: Tattoo r.upper arm,
who has declared his wish to serve as a foreigner in the Foreign Legion, and to this
effect has presented us with:
l. A certificate dated on this day 18.05. 95 by(5) the French Army Doctor
BUCHENNET, Doctor in charge of the 1 ere RE, Aubange.
and certifies that the applicant suffers no disability and has reached all the physical and
height requirements for service in the Foreign Legion.
2.His birth certificate and proof of identity(3) certifying that he was born on
19.08.72 in London (GREAT BRITAIN) and is of British Nationality.
3.Authorization has been received from his legal representative(6).
4. (7) After having verified the documents presented before us, he has read articles
(8) 6,7 and 13 on Decree No. 77-789 as on 1st July 1977 relating to foreign military
The applicant has been informed that:
1.His services are effective as of the date of his signing this present contract.
2. The present contract carries a probationary period of six months eventually renewable
one time (une fois) by the military authorities. The probationary period takes effect
from the date of signature on this present contract.
THIS CONTRACT DOES NOT BECOME DEFINITIVE UNTIL THE END OF THE
3.During the initial probationary period the contract can be terminated:
3.1 Either at the request of the recruit as agreed by the military authorities for reasons of
a personal or social nature or as a result of serious difficulties in adapting to the Foreign
Legion during the first four months of service. In this case the final decision must have
been notified by the military authorities before the end of the probationary period.
Or at any time, by the military authorities because of:
- a pre-existing condition prior to engagement.
- an inability to adjust to work which the job entails or to serve in the ranks of the Foreign
- an inability to adjust to a military way of life.
4. During the renewed probationary period this contract can be terminated by the
military authorities for reasons of unsuitability for work or any inability to adjust to a
military way of life.
5. At any time during the service the contract can be terminated according to the
conditions laid down in article 32 of FLM no. 2500/DEF/PMAT/EG/B as modified on
4 July 1978 - notably:
- on the request of the recruit for reasons of a justifiable and urgent nature, the details of
which have occurred since the date on which the contract was signed:
- by reason of physical inability, by the military authorities regarding insufficient
professionalism or as a disciplinary measure.
- Considering these details the candidate has agreed to serve with honor and
faithfulness for a period of five years as of this day and undertakes in the course of this
contract not to take advantage of French services or qualifications previously held.
The recruit has promised equally to serve within the ranks of the Foreign Legion
wherever the government might deem it necessary to send him, and after having read the
present act has enjoined his signature;
Signature of the administration
Officer of the French Army or the Deputy Administrator.
Probationary period renewable on for a period of six months starting from the date of
confirmation as decided by the Commanding Officer of the Foreign Legion.
If you feel that the French Foreign Legion way of life is for you, further
contracts can be signed with the Legion after the initial five years. These
can be for either six months, one year, eighteen months, two years, three
years, four years or five years. Whether or not the Legion accepts you
for further service is dependant on your conduct during the previous
La Vie En Tolle - Life in Jail.
As a Legionnaire it is unlikely that you will experience a stretch jail during
your basic training. Once you have been posted to your respective
regiments however, you will find that it does not take any great crime
against humanity to be sentenced to ten days in jail (The statutory period for
minor offences is a ten day period).
Offences which might earn you a ten
day spell in the slammer might be arriving late on camp after a night on the
town, failing to top up the electrolyte in the vehicle batteries, being badly
turned out for guard duty.
For more serious misdeeds, the period of
time becomes longer, up to a maximum period of forty days. Desertion
carries the maximum Legion penalty of forty days but if the crime were
really serious, then you would do the forty days followed by a period in
a French civilian jail. This could be many years - if the crime were serious
Initially you would be paraded in front of the Chef Du Corps, who will
be examining your case. It is up to him to decide whether or not your are
to go to jail.
He may decide that a period of "Consignes" is more
appropriate in the case. (A period of time, normally between three and ten
days, when extra corvee duties are allocated during your spare time and
you are restricted to the Quartier - apart from that you would work a
normal day like the rest of the section.
This might be awarded for having
dirt on your weapon during an inspection, generally speaking more
If the Chef Du Corps decides that you are going to jail then all of your kit
issued, and all of your personal kit is listed, item by item and put away
ready for your release.
During the period in jail, you will wear overalls
and a day glow orange waistcoat, and a forage cap. This identifies you as
a prisoner to everyone on and around the Quartier.
The laces from your
boots will be removed. (To prevent you from injuring yourself) Every
morning there will be some form of physical training done - to the tune of
a five kilometer run with Sac a Dos around the quartier.
The rest of the
day will be doing corvee or painting curb stones, gardening around
the quartier, sweeping leaves and waiting on the Legionnaires that are
doing the guard duty.
It is tradition in the Legion that your medals are pinned to the door of your
cell. Whatever medals you have been awarded during your years of
service in the Legion - they must also have been awarded to the inspecting
For example, if the medal is of a some valor; such as the Legion
D'Honneur - then the inspecting officer must also hold that medal - even
if it means coming from another Quartier.
In days gone by the Legion jail was the last hell on earth. Legionnaires
would break rocks in a quarry all day - or march through the jungle for
one year solid in a straight line cutting and thrashing their way through
dense jungle, always under the direction of the Gardes de Tolle.
would sleep on concrete slabs with no roof over their heads. Even ten
years ago it was a brutal place to be. Prisoners would be beaten on a
regular basis and lived in fear of the Garde de tolle.
Today it is still not a fun
place to be. The days start at 5.00 am and end at 8.00pm and they are
long and hard. Prisoners are not allowed to smoke, work like dogs and
are kept on tenterhooks until the day of their release.
Camerone - Camerone Day.
On the 30 April every year the Legion celebrates Camerone Day. It
was on this day in 1863 that the Legion's show of bravery was
marked down in history forever.
Battle weary and with their numbers
being cut down until there were only ten men left, no ammunition and in
a foreign country, a handful of Legionnaires refused surrender against
odds of nearly two thousand marauding Mexicans.
Danjou had made them promise not to surrender, shortly before dying
himself. The men were slowly being killed one by one until there were
only three Legionnaires left.
They faced the enemy with bayonets and
prepared themselves to die with honor. The Mexicans did not kill
them but persuaded surrender under the Legionnaires terms.
It is as a result of this bravery that the 30th April is celebrated with such
enthusiasm every year. Camerone is as important as Le Noel - if not more
so. It matters not, wherever the Legion is in the world - the 30 of April is
The preparation for the festivities begins months in
advance. Stands are built, games are devised, marquees erected.
is not just for Legionnaires but also for a select number of family and friends
of the Legion. It is the one day of the year that the Legion opens its doors to
Only the very leanest and meanest looking Legionnaires will
have the honor of being on guard on this day. Their uniforms being
prepared with even more care and attention than usual.
The day begins with the roles reversed in every section of the Quartier. Le
Legionnaire le plus jeune (The most recent legionnaire to join the
section) becomes the Caporal du Jour for the day.
It is he who allocates
the corvee duties, and marches the section onto La Place D 'Arme. And it
is the Sous officiers and the Officiers who do the corvee. They will clean the
toilets, the showers, the corridors - every job normally allocated to the
The day will initially start with the Sous officiers bringing the
Petit dejeuner to the Legionnaires in their rooms. They will serve the
Legionnaires their cafe and bring them their croissants (pastries).
which they will start the corvee as directed by the Caporal du jour. The
tradition is warmly welcomed by the Legionnaires and no-one is offended.
Each Regiment may run the day differently according to the wishes of the
respective Chef Du Corps. It may start with a run, ending with whiskey
and black pudding and Legion songs.
On returning to the Quartier there is
a parade by the Legionnaires in full Tenue de Parade, followed by the
festivities which have been so carefully prepared. Much wine is drunk and
food consumed. It is a relaxed day and enjoyed by all.
At Aubagne the
Legion's Anciens (Former members) come to relive their past and to pay
hommage to their family. On this day every year the wooden hand of
Capitaine Danjou is on display, paraded before the Legion and its
This act epitomizes the spirit of the French Foreign Legion.
If you are unlucky enough to find yourself in jail towards the end of April -
you could be in for a reprieve.
It is tradition in the Legion that if less than
ten days are remaining on your sentence on Camerone Day, then you are
released as a form of amnesty in remembrance of all the Legionnaires who
died at Camerone in Mexico.
There are many rules that apply in the Legion which have been carried on
from tradition. Below are listed but a few:
1. As a Legionnaire you are not allowed to leave the "Quartier" in civilian
clothing except when going on "Permission".
2. Marriage is only permitted when the rank of Sergent is achieved.
3. Legionnaires are not permitted to live off camp (although some do).
They go home in the evening and return by 6.00am. It is normally the
Caporaux who do this since Legionnaires generally don't earn enough money,
especially in France.
4. You are not allowed to own a car or a motorbike. You may own a push
bike if you join the Legion Cycle club. If you do this you may only exit the
camp wearing the correct Legion cycle wear. These rules do not apply to
Caporaux chefs, Sergents or above.
5. You are not allowed to own a bank account or to borrow money off others.
6. Legionnaires should be addressed by their Surnames not their Christian
7. If allowed out for the evening - you must be back by 6.00am the
following morning. If you are late; the punishment is a statutory 10 days in
8. During the first 3 years you are not allowed to leave the country during
permission. (Legionnaires do however go abroad using only their "Carte
O'Identite" (ID card) and their "Titres de Permission" (Leave papers).
An extra rule applies to the "Deuxieme REP" (2nd REP) at Corsica: they
are not allowed to leave the island for the first year of their first tour at
Calvi where they are based -tradition.
The Regiment Postings in the Legion.
There are eight Regiments in the French Foreign Legion plus half a
brigade based in Djibouti, Africa. On top of this there are other detachments
situated around the world. At present the Legion strength amounts to
approximately ten thousand men.
1 REC (1er Regiment Etranger de Cavalerie) ORANGE - France.
This is situated next to a beautiful town in S. Eastern France. It is a Regt
for those who like a slightly easier life.
Their role is to service and maintain
the tanks - the AMX 10's. They were used extensively during the Gulf
war and proved extremely reliable. Operating in three man teams, a less
stressful life is to be had in this Regiment.
There is a more relaxed
atmosphere here plus there is the advantage of actually being able to see a
bit of France - which for some people never happens in the whole
contract due to the hectic schedule of their regiment.
The 1 REC forms part
of France's Force d'Action Rapide along with the 2 REI and the 6 REG.
4eme Regiment (Regiment D'Instruction) CASTELNAUDARY. Near
Toulouse - France.
This is where you will carry out your basic training. A small town situated
close to Toulouse. Not that you would see a lot of it during your first stay
here. A railway track runs through the centre of the town and that is where
you will arrive before being picked up by a coach to take you to the quartier.
There are two quartiers in Castelnaudary- the new Quartier was built
around 1985 and is very plush.
The old camp in Castelnaudary (Quartier
Lepasset) is where many of the Legion courses take place.
The Caporaux courses (CT1), the Sergents courses (CT2)etc.
Quartier Capitaine Danjou there are three companies of E.V's and one
company for trained ranks who are undertaking courses in the
technical trades, mechanical trades and signals. It should be noted that the
medics who do their training here will be practicing their new found skills
on you, should you become injured. (Not advisable).
The camp is one of
the most modernized of all the Legion quartiers and is an impressive set-up.
It is also situated near a town called Carcassonne, home of the French
Paras where there is sometimes a ban on visitation due to the trouble
that has ensued between the Legionnaires and the Paras over the years.
The food at Castelnaudary is of a very high standard.
1ere Regiment. (Regiment De Selection et d'administration) AUBAGNE.
This is the Mother Regiment of the Legion. You will start your time in the
Legion here and you will end it here. This regiment deals predominantly
with administration and support as well as personnel movements and
maintaining all aspects of the Legion's contact with the outside world.
also the home of the Legion Band and the museum. The Quartier
(guartier Vienot) is close to Marseilles so there is a fair bit to see and do if
you have the time.
A large proportion of the community in Marseille are
Arabs who have immigrated from Tunisia, N.Africa.
Again the same
sort of pay as Castelnaudary but unlikely that this would be a first posting
for a "non Francophone." (Someone who does not speak French). On
entering the Legion the Band is always keen to recruit new blood
especially anyone with a musical background - so if you have played a
musical instrument but don't want to be in the band keep quiet about your
2 REP. (2 eme Regiment Etranger des Parachutists) CALVI - Corsica
This is the most prestigious and most professional of all the Regiments.
The only Regt in the Legion to have an Airborne capability. It is here that
you will also find "Les Groupe de Commandos Paracutistes (Formerly Les
C.R.A.P 's - Commandos de Recherche et D 'Action dans la Profondeur).
This is the crème de la crème of the Legion - A sort of recce troop
specializing in a wide range of special forces ops. They have a reputation
for being the best in the Legion.
The REP is made up to a large extent of
Brits and Germans. With this built in cultural discipline there is firm
ground for quality soldiering to be built upon. For their professionalism
and their parachuting capability they are paid one of the highest salaries in
frequent fracas with the locals and plenty of good looking German and
Italian talent on the beaches in the summertime.
This is also the Regiment most renowned for bullshit. In the 2eme REP
there are three "Appels" per day. First thing in the morning, after lunch and at
9.00pm in the evening. The island is however a very beautiful one and if
you're into physical training then maybe this is the Regiment for you.
with the relatively high pay, the prestige and the emphasis on sport - this
is a popular choice for Legionnaires leaving Castelnaudary.
sports the Deuxieme REP cap badge (The winged dagger) and the
Fourragere (Lanyard) is red. This all adds to the attraction of the 2eme
The contract will last probably 2 yrs before being posted, but
many opt to stay longer. This particular Regt is frequently away on
detachments; normally for four months at a time. Places such as Djibouti,
Central Africa. French Guyana S.America. Promotion is slow and courses are
harder since the competition is tougher.
If you are out to be the best then the 2eme REP has a lot to offer. On
arriving at Camp Rafalli in Corsica - the initial four months or so are spent
on further training and doing the "Jumps course" - until you have
completed this you cannot be effected to a fighting company and are
consequently not regarded as a trained rank.
Indeed you will probably
feel exactly the same as if you were still under instruction. Further field
craft training and combat experience will be gained during your first
Only after then can you consider yourself to have taken your place
properly in the 2 REP. Once in "The REP" there is much emphasis on
physical training and there are plenty of clubs on camp, Kick boxing,
Cycling, Clay pigeon shooting etc.
It is tradition in this regiment to be confined to the island for the first year of
the first posting there. It is also tradition for the whole regiment to march
across the island from one side to the other once a year - a distance of
about 200kms (Very hilly, barren and rugged country).
3 REI. ( 3eme Regiment Etranger D'Infanterie). F. GUYANE - S.America
This Regiment is either loved or hated. Based in Kourou, French Guyana,
it is a unique world of action and adventure. The pay is not the
greatest in the world but there are plenty of stories to be told after a two
year tour here.
A lot of the Legion's work here is run from boats hollowed
out of trees known as "pirogues", as are used by the natives of the country.
The role of the Legion in this area is to protect the rocket site "Ariane",
to man the surveillance posts between Brazil and Surinam and to ensure
the safety of the regional headquarters at Martinique.
There has been
a war going on in nearby Suriname for some years and every now and
again a body is seen floating down the river as a result of mercenary
operations that go on.
French Guyana consists of hundreds of square miles of tropical jungle
and is extremely hot and humid. You are permanently wet and fungal
infections are rife.
The jungle is full of natural dangers and whether it is
animal or vegetable it will either bite you or sting you.
The constant noise
of birdsong can also drive you to insanity. The hardest part of jungle
training is often considered to be the assault course which has to be one of
the toughest in the world.
The beer is cheap and there was, until recently a brothel run by the Legion
on camp (this was the last Regiment to run its own brothel). There were
four local girls who were changed once every couple of months.
13 DBLE (13eme Demi-Brigade de la Legion Etrangere) DJBOUTI - NE
This unit is re-inforced by a rotating company of the 2eme REP or the
2eme REI. It's duties are to guarantee the defence, territorial integrity
and independence of the Republic of Djibouti.
Geographically the 13
DBLE is situated in a very strategic position - It has instant access to the
Indian ocean and is close enough to facilitate control of the Red Sea
and the Suez canal.
As a Legionnaire posted in Djibouti you can
expect to be on bush tours and nomadisation exercises as well as
amphibious training. Soldiering in Djibouti can be tense and tribal
friction is commonplace.
There are constant patrols along the northern
frontier of the Ethiopian and Eritrean borders. Normally Legionnaires are
posted to Quartier Gabode after several years of service.
This is the only
regiment where there is a lot of money to be made. Not only do you earn a
lot more money here but you have little to spend it on, everything is cheap in
this part of the world and you have no Permission during your time in
Djibouti (You do have a big back-log of permission after the tour though -
so you can end up with several thousand pounds in cash plus three months
leave after a two year stint in Djibouti - even as a Legionnaire.)
On top of that every legionnaire receives a bounty of twenty thousand
Francs at the end of his tour.
A Sergent can be putting away many
thousands of Francs away each week whilst in Djibouti. On
completion of his two years posting he will have accrued a lot of money.
There are normally about one or two places allowed per Section after basic
training - if you are good enough in basic training, you could be sent here
directly after Castelnaudary. Prostitution is rife in the towns and the beer is
cheap. In fact everything is cheap and anything can be bought. Life is a
little more relaxed in Djibouti since there are very few that are fresh out of
Since the area is of Muslim faith the Legion also pays heed to the
local traditions and work is done on Saturday and Sunday whilst Thursday
and Friday takes the form of a weekend.
5 RE (5eme Regiment Etranger) Mururoa - Tahiti, S.Pacific (not operational)
This was where the Legion was responsible for overseeing the nuclear testing
grounds and for representing France in the furthest corner of French
It is a very small detachment made up of the Legionnaires
of some experience. The money is not particularly great and there are long
journeys at sea as well as isolation and little to occupy yourselves.
concern themselves mainly with building and road construction, security of
the test site, maintaining a clean water supply and good communications link.
DLEM (Detachement De La Legion Etrangere De Mayotte) Mayotte – Indian
This small detachment’s main duties are in construction, supply and
security. It is run and maintained by Les Anciens (Legionnaires with
many years service under their belt).
It is for those who have done plenty of
service and can enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle.
6 REG (6eme Regiment Etranger Genie) Avignon - France.
This regiment is based in another beautiful area of France and their job is
that of engineering, bridge building, mine clearance and demolition.
were used extensively during the Gulf war to deal with mines and booby
traps. They have been involved in almost every theatre of conflict that
the Legion has been assigned to in recent years
. The 6 REG forms part of
France's Force d'Action Rapide along with the 2 REI and the 1 REC.
2 REI (2eme Regiment Etranger D'Infanterie) Nimes - France.
A large proportion of this regiment is made up of French men. Life in the 2
REI is hectic, it is commomplace for detachments to go away for four months at a time (Either in French Guyana, Djibouti or as has more recently
been the case on longer operations around the world.
This regiment was
used extensively in the Gulf war, Bosnia and in Africa. The troops are
supported by the vehicle known as the VAB (Vehicule avant Blindee -
meaning vehicle that goes in front of the armored vehicles) A superb
wheeled vehicle which carries ten men.
With the 6 REG and the 1 REC
this regiment forms part of France's "Force d'Action Rapide".
Les Métiers de la Legion - Trades of the Legion.
Once basic training has been completed a period of time is normally spent as
a combat soldier before specializing in any trade or even taking up further
soldiering skills. Listed below are some of the trades that can be taken up,
normally after some years in the Legion.
Administration: secretary, typist, accountant, storekeeper,
Signals: Radio operator, radio mechanic, exchange operator, teletypist,
Transport: Drivers of light vehicles, lorries, buses and tracked vehicles,
Engineers: Heavy equipment operator, designer,
Building: Bricklayer, plumber, electrician, carpenter, painter etc.
Maintenance: Engine mechanic, vehicle electrician, welder, small arms repair,
Miscellaneous: Musician, medic, cook, photographer, cartoon designer, sports
instructor, computer operator, Military Police, any trade in connection with
the printing business.
Other specialist skills can be learned whilst still operating as a combat soldier
which will not alter the normal soldiering life.
As a Legionnaire you may
specialize as a Tireur D'elite, Milan, Mortiers, Conducteur, Infirmier and
Commando. These short courses are known as "Stages ".
La Tenue et L 'Equipement - Dress and equipment.
Normal working uniform is not ironed in the Legion, not even in basic
training. The only uniform that is ironed is the "Tenue de Garde"
(Uniform worn on guard duty), "Tenue de sortie". (Uniform worn
when allowed into the town) and the "Tenue De Parade" (Uniform
worn when on parade).
The ironing of these items of clothing appears
daunting at first but once it has been done a few times it is really not too
bad. The reason being is that there are fifteen creases to be ironed into the
shirt; three above each top pocket, two down each arm, two across the top
of the back and three more which run vertically down the back.
Trousers are ironed in the more conventional manner. The first time you
iron your shirt - it will probably take you a good hour, but once the creases
are in, it is a fairly simple process to run over them again. (Even after the
shirt has been washed the creases lines are evident).
This makes it all the
more important to make sure the creases are in the correct place to start
Shoes are polished but not bulled - footwear is never bulled in the
Legion (unless you want to of course).
If it is winter then Tenue D'Hiver (brown jacket and trousers) are
worn. These are pressed in the conventional way. There will probably
only be one iron for every ten men during basic training though, so bear
that in mind - If the iron is free don't go and have a shower.
It should be
noted that once you have been issued your kit, any damaged or worn
sports clothing must be replaced by you. Likewise the Kepi and your
beret is your responsibility. These can all be bought from the Foyer.
There are two variations of color that the beret comes in. Both are green
but one is slightly lighter. Both are acceptable unless your Chef De Section
Le Kepi Blanc - The White hat
The Kepi Blanc is the identifying symbol unique to the Legion. Many other
Regiments wear Kepis too but not white. Similarly not all Legionnaires
wear white Kepis; Sergents and above wear black with a red top. As
do Caporal Chefs with more than 10 years service.
All the ranks can be
distinguished by subtle changes in their Kepi (apart from legionnaires and
Caporaux). But only in the Legion is there a "Grenade a Sept
Flammes" - An exploding grenade with SEVEN flames.
The rest of
the French Army have only six. The Kepi is worn most of the time
except during exercises and active working engagements.
Many Legionnaires carry pictures of girlfriends or offspring in the
inside base of the Kepi - this is accepted as part of the Legion tradition and is
not frowned upon.
Most of the Legionnaires also carry packets of cigarettes or a wallet inside
the Kepi - resting on the head. Basically you can keep whatever you like in
there so long as it does not affect your external appearance.
When a Legionnaire is paid it is always in a set manner. This is in the
form of La Presente. The money - always cash, is paid onto a table where it
is swept off the table by the palm of your hand and into your Kepi, the Kepi
is then swung up onto the head in one fluid movement - followed by a
salute. Although it does get dirty easily; it is also easy to clean, using
"Savon Marseille" (A lump of soap) and a scrubbing brush. There is also
a monthly magazine issued to all serving Legionnaires known as the "Kepi
Blanc" which has details of what is going on in the Legion around the
The magazine can also be sent to you after you have left the Legion
for an annual fee.
Le Foulard - Company shoulder signature cloth.
This is a shaped piece of cloth which sits on the left shoulder. It's color
identifies each Legionnaire as to which company he belongs to. The
colors remain the same throughout the various Regiments and are as
1er Companie - Blue.
2eme Companie -Red.
3eme Companie -Yellow.
4eme Companie -Green.
Le Companie de Commandement et des Services (CCS) -Grey.
Le Companie d'Eclarage et d'Appui (CEA) - Black.
La Fourragere - The Regimental Lanyard.
This is a lanyard which is worn on the left shoulder with the Tenue de
Guarde, Tenue de Sortie and Tenue de Parade. A different color
the citations won by that particular regiment.
Le Beret - Beret.
The beret you are issued with at Aubagne will be green - you do not earn
the beret as you do in some of the British forces; it is the Kepi that you earn.
The first beret issued to you will be quite large but after three or four weeks
you will be issued with a smaller one which has a much smarter appearance.
They can also be bought from the "Foyer" (Like American PX store).
There are two very subtle color alternatives available - people wear both.
La Tenue De Combat Vert - Uniform
Before you leave Aubagne your measurements are taken and kit is
issued to your exact size by the store men. Watch your kit like a hawk,
name it and rename it when the ink is wearing out. If you can mark it in
some subtle way so that you can recognize it from the outside - then do it.
That way, if anyone steals it, you can wander around the Section quietly and
find the culprit.
Strange though as it seems, the Legion pays little attention to
personal turnout of normal daily uniform in basic training. The uniform is
not ironed during basic training and any inspection is very cursory.
be picked up for dirty clothing and the boots must be highly polished at all
times. The training team will not tolerate any slackness in these areas.
Les Rangers - The Boots.
The Boots issued in the Legion are very good, fitting well in most cases.
The only drawback is the buckle arrangement which makes loud
"Chinking" sounds as you walk.
These are normally quietened by
either threading the buckle back through itself or securing it with tape.
boots are an item of clothing which receive a lot of attention in basic
training. They are always polished downstairs and probably three or more
times a day.
Le Sac a Dos - The Rucksack.
There is little carrying capacity and no waist support straps to take the
load on the hips rather than on the shoulders.
There are two straps which
hang down the front and are very handy when on non-tactical operations to
slip the nose and but end of the weapon through.
The weapon then hangs
down in front of your chest. Apart from that the Sac a Dos is really pretty
much as it's name suggests - a sack hanging from your back. It is not
waterproof so anything inside should first be placed in a large plastic bag.
As you might have guessed wet weather is not such a problem in the
French Foreign Legion.
S3P - Nuclear Biological and Chemical warfare disposeable clothing.
Standard carbon filled clothing for protection against Biological and
Chemical agents. Like all NBC suits there are patches for placement of
biological and chemical detector paper.
ANP - Respirator.
For those that don't know a respirator is an airtight face mask fitted with a
canister which facilitates safe breathing in a hazardous air environment.
"ANP" is for use in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare
This item of kit was issued during the Gulf war and sits
normally in a haversack on the left thigh secured by a long strap, which goes
around the leg and hooks back onto itself by means of two quick release
Thankfully it was not put to the test during the Gulf war, except
during training exercises. Canisters and accessories are also supplied
with the respirator and are replaced by the Chef de Groupe when
required. Make sure yours is not damaged or dented.
Le Noel - Christmas Time.
All Legionnaires regardless of rank must be on the quartier on
Christmas day - even if you have just returned from war.
is your home and that is where you should be on Christmas day - with
your family. This applies to all ranks including Sergents and above who
may be married.
The wives of the Sous officiers and above understand the
traditions of the Legion. As is often the case in the Legion, there is
much emphasis on preparation.
This will include things like "La Crèche" -
A model type scenario of a scene made out of paper mache, wood and
plastic - whatever.
There may be backdrops and lighting used to enhance
the effects. The scene may depict a combination of biblical and Legion
history intertwined, accompanied by a voice over made by one of the
Legionnaires in the Section.
There then follows a competition to see
which Section has made and created the best Crèche.
The day is relaxed and there is plenty of food and drink.
receive a present, presented to them by the Capitaine de Compagnie. The
presentation is made after a feast of food and wine on Christmas Eve.
The present may be something like a watch, a walkman, a radio or a
tracksuit. A Legion tracksuit that is - no one may wear civilian tracksuits.
Sometimes there is a gift given to a Legionnaire which is worth more than
any other - that is the right to wear civilian clothes when out on the town.
This would only be a gift to a Legionnaire since Caporaux with over five
years service and ranks above Caporal already have the right.
It is rarely
given and if ever, it will only be to one Legionnaire per Regiment.
will then follow a round of jokes told by all ranks followed up closely by
Legion songs and Christmas carols. Well known carols such as Silent
Night may be sung in up to ten different languages that evening.
There is always some form of sporting competition held during the
Christmas period, this is known as Le Jour Du Sport.
It comprises of
inter-company sports events such as the one and the four hundred
meters sprint, volleyball, football, swimming, netball and boxing.
also always the Regimental run which every Legionnaire takes part
in on Christmas day - normally about 10 kilometres, with Sac a Dos.
The Chef du Corps makes it his job to see in person every Legionnaire in
his Regiment at Christmas time.
As each Legionnaire passes before the
Chef Du Corps, he will be asked how his career is going, if he is happy
and a bit about his aspirations within the Legion, e.g. courses he would like
to do etc.
Format of a Regiment
Here follows a typical format of a Legion regiment - in this case the
2eme REP. The Legion regiments consist of six compagnies;
- One Compagnie de Commandement et des services.
- One Compagnie d'eclairage et d'appuis. (CEA)
- Four Compagnies de combat.
Each company consists of four "Sections" of approximately forty
men divided into four "Groupes" of ten men.
La Companie De Commandement et des services. (Known as the "CCS")
This company supplies the Chef du Corps with the means of regimental
command, administration, the running of the regiments services such as
the Foyer and the mess and acts as rear party to the camp when the
regiment is away.
La Compagnie d'Eclairage et d'Appui. (Known as the "CEA ")
This company comprises of two sections of Milan anti- tank, one section
of 20 mm anti-aircraft guns, one section of 81mm and 120mm mortar and
a recce section working from jeeps. These Legionnaires receive specialist
training in all types of combat up to the highest level.
Les Compagnies de Combat.
(Known as the "Premiere, Deuxieme, Troisieme and Quatrieme
Compagnies de Combat). Apart from their basic training as airborne
infantry soldiers each and every soldier has an important role to play in the
heart of the regiment.
The Premiere Compagnie specializes in anti tank roles, fighting at night, in
built up areas and combating snipers.
The Deuxieme Compagnie specializes in mountain and arctic warfare
and in crossing obstacles and clearance problems.
The Troisieme Compagnie works in the area of amphibious ops
and all the techniques employed in that area of soldiering.
The Quatrieme Compagnie concerns itself with clandestine type
operations such as explosives, demolition and sniping.
These specializations are not rigid but move with the times, with the
introduction of new equipment and tactics learnt through experience on the
ground and in combat.
There also exists within the 2eme REP - "Le Groupe de Commandos
Parachutistes) formally "Les C.R.A.P." (Les commandos de
Recherche ET D’action dans le Profondeur).
Le Groupe de Commando Parachutistes (Para- Commandos)
These legionnaires take a prestigious place in the heart of the 2eme REP.
They are the elite of the French Foreign Legion and are specialized in all
aspects of combat training from amphibious ops to mountain warfare
to HALO parachuting (High altitude Low Opening parachuting
where oxygen is required to facilitate the jump).
An extremely high
standard of fitness is a pre- requisite for a position within this unit. Their
title, incidentally is due to be changed in the near future.
Les Armes de la Legion - weapons Of the Legion.
Le FAMAS - 5.56 caliber personal assault rifle. (Fusil D'Assault Manufacture
The weapons training that is received in basic training will enable you to
strip the weapon down, name the parts of the weapon, load, unload and
make-safe the weapon.
You will initially rely on the instructors to clear any
Incident de tir (Stoppages). These skills will be taught at a later date. The
personal weapon is the FA MAS. This is a 5.56mm short range assault
This is not a weapon that you can throw down in the mud, cock and
fire - like the Russian Kalashnikov. It's soldiering application requires
a high standard of maintenance - which is exactly what it gets in the
It is a favorite skill practiced by the Legion to fire from the hip
and is practiced frequently during basic training. This is known as
"Position au genou" - it is very difficult to master and to begin with
results in much wasted ammunition. The weapon also has the
capability to fire rifle grenades. There are two methods of firing a rifle
grenade form the FAMAS and both are practiced in basic training
sometimes at some expense and danger to the Legion and its men.
More suited to urban close quarter battle than anything else, the weapon
does not foul badly but stoppages will occur in sandy or dusty
conditions, such as the Gulf.
Possibly the main design fault is the fact that
the piece of plastic which guides the empty case out of the chamber
known as the "Appui joue" is held in place by a "clip on - clip off action".
If this piece of plastic is lost or drops off - the weapon cannot be fired
without risk of injury to the shooter. The clip on - off action of the Appuijoue
is used along with an adjustment to the extractor to facilitate left or
right handed firing. A process which takes just a few minutes.
The sling has various applications - not just in stabilizing the steadiness
during firing but also in various carrying methods.
In the base of the hand
grip for the trigger hand there exists a compartment for cleaning materials.
It is a favorite of the instructors to emphasize the importance of
weapon cleaning. When the weapons are cleaned they are each
cleaned for about seven or eight hours.
In basic training you will not
be allowed to sit down whilst cleaning the weapon. There then follows
an hour long inspection at the "Position Gardez -Vous" (The attention
position). At the end of the "Le Raid" - after marching over a hundred miles
through the Pyrenees, the weapons and equipment are cleaned in just such
a manner. Nobody goes to bed that night.
The weapons are at this
stage cleaned with pure alcohol to de-grease every working part. Most of
this attention to detail is a little un-necessary but continues to instill
This method of cleaning continues even when at your
Regiment. It is not unknown for a Section of Legionnaires to strip down
their weapons, load them onto a plastic palette and send them through the
dishwasher in the kitchen a few times to remove the worst of the
dirt from the working parts.
This is done prior to commencing the more
conventional cleaning methods. Some would say a good example of
modern soldiering initiative.
LRAC89mm. (Lance Rocket Anti-Char)
Other weapons that you will be introduced to are the 89mm - Lance Rocket
Anti-Char (Medium Anti Tank Weapon) referred to as the LRAC 89. A
simply constructed yet efficient weapon, simple to fire and accurate up
The targets you will be firing at normally will probably be at
300m. Most of the problems of accuracy lie in the correct judgment of
distance between yourself and the target. If the correct distance is obtained
it is actually quite hard to miss.
The LRAC89 can fire up to 130
rockets through its barrel before a replacement is required.
RAC112mm. (Rocket Anti-Char)
A larger weapon for these same application is the RAC 112mm (Rocket
Anti-Char). A beast of a weapon, which knocks your socks off when
you fire it.
These too are simple and accurate to fire, and devastatingly
effective at ranges up to 500 meters. An excellent piece of equipment.
weapon however, unlike the LRAC89, can only be used once before
being discarded. There is therefore a limit to the amount of firepower
such a weapon can muster within the Section.
If the appropriate clothing
is not worn then small particles of cordite will pepper the hands and face
when the weapon is fired.
There is a built in mask on the RAC112
It should be noted that this weapon cannot be fired with a
rucksack on your back in the lying down position. The sight should
also be removed after firing and kept aside.
This is a computer controlled wire guided missile system giving a ninety
five per cent chance of a direct hit up to 3000 meters.
Used within all the
infantry regiments, but you are not trained in these weapons until after
basic training and only then if you are assigned to the Compagnie
D'Appui. (Unlikely in the early stages of your contract).
Le AA52 - "Le Ciaquante-Deux"
A belt fed 7.5mm machine gun, normally issued one per groupe. It is a fairly
inaccurate weapon but is still used in the Legion today.
Because of the
inaccuracy of the weapon, it can pepper-spread a large area to the front -
a useful application in certain scenarios.
The weapon weighs 9.75kgs,
it is simple and sturdy in construction, stripping and assembly is not a
problem but the weapon is antiquated.
It is supplied with a bipod and
sling for carrying.
This is the 7.5mm sniper rifle assigned to the Legion. A bolt action
weapon which is capable of impressive results in the right pair of hands.
Fitted with a bipod and different size butt plates a killing range of 600
meters can be achieved with accuracy. There is normally one Tireur
d'elite per groupe.
This is not officially a sniper but still a trained sharp
shooter. The weapon is fitted with telescopic sights for daylight use and a
night sight may be fitted for use in darkness.
20mm CANON - "Le Canon Vingt".
A heavy machine gun normally mounted on light transport vehicles which
can be used to bring down aircraft. Ammunition comes in the form
of armor piercing, explosive or standard ball.
The gunner sits in a seat and can
change direction by rotating the whole assembly in any direction at speed
by means of a powered motor.
12.7MM BRO G - "Le Douz Sept". (.50 CAL)
An automatic machine gun normally mounted on the top of the VAB's
Due to the size of the rounds - great stopping power is available to
lay down on an advancing enemy. This weapon was used considerably
during the Gulf war.
HOT ANTI -CHAR
An optically guided tubular missile system which can be fitted to vehicles.
This will penetrate 800 mm of armor and will be effective at ranges up to 4
Le Paye - Pay In the Legion.
The pay during your five years can vary from F50 a week to tens of
thousands of Francs per month. It will vary depending upon which
Regiment you have been posted to and where it is situated in the world at
Length of service and rank will also have a strong bearing on the
amount of pay.
As an engage in your first three weeks at Aubagne you
will be paid F50 per week. During basic training you receive a pay raise
which goes up to about F1300 per month. This pay is the same for
everyone regardless of age.
After basic training the pay will depend very
much on where you are located.
If your first Regiment is in Metropole France then your wages will be
somewhat less. The Regiments in France are the 2eme REI, the 6eme
REG and the 1ere REC. Based at Nimes, Avignon and Orange
All these regiments will pay about F2500 per month to a
Legionnaire in his first year. This first year as a Legionnaire you are
ranked as a Legionnaire 2eme Classe.
On completion of one year service
(Service starts from the day you sign the Contract into the Legion) you
automatically become a Legionnaire 1 ere Classe. There was a time when
the advance in rank was only given to those who had been seen to have
progressed in all areas of soldiering, language and attitude.
Today it is an
automatic advance after one year's service.
Some nationalities would remain on a lower pay scale for longer because
they found the language more difficult - e.g. the Japanese or the Chinese.
Because of such cases it was thought unfair and the system was changed.
Once the rank of Legionnaire 1ere classe has been attained the pay goes
up to F4000 per month in Metropole France.
A Caporal will draw about
F5500 per month in France. All of these wages will increase if the Regiment
is posted overseas for even a few months, and more again if the period
extends over six months.
The 2eme REF pay is higher than those in
Metropole France because they receive "Jump Pay". They can draw
about F4000 per month as a 2eme classe and F6000 as a 1ere classe.
These figures will increase when in Africa or on operations.
The 3REI based in French Guyana are a little better off than those in
France and a 2eme clase can expect to get around F3000 per month as a
first years pay. 1 ere classe will get about F4300 per month.
The 13 DBLE based in Djibouti, North East Africa are the big earners
of the Foreign Legion. (It is unlikely that many Legionnaires will get
posted there straight after basic training. It is normally a posting that
Legionnaires receive after at least a year's service.
There may, if you're lucky
be 2 or 3 places available from the section of 40 guys at the end of basic
training - if you are good enough you will have first chance to get it.
A Legionnaire 2eme classe in Djibouti will take home about F8000 a
month. A 1ere classe nearer F9500. A Caporal may easily be getting
F14000 per month. It is not normally possible to get more than one
overseas posting abroad during the first five year contract, but then people
don't join the French Foreign Legion to earn large amounts of money.
A sergent in Djibouti can expect to be saving a lot of money during his
stay, and because the cost of living is cheap in Djibouti there could be
much money saved at the end of the two years posting there.
with that, there is little or no permission given during the posting. For that
reason when a Legionnaire is sent to his next Regiment he has a backlog
of permission and a large amount of money to spend.
accrue to several thousand pounds.
During your time in the Legion a proportion of your kit is purchased by
you. Once the kit has been issued, it is then up to you to maintain or
replace it. The kit is bought from the Foyer or from the Maitre Tailleur -
The tailor. During the first year of service in particular, when the pay is at its
lowest, it can make things very tight.
In addition to this the Legion holds back a proportion of your pay in an
account held by the Legion itself. This account is known throughout the
Legion as the CNE. Even during your first four months of basic training
there is an amount of your pay which is held back from your monthly
It is not critical at this stage of training to have money and you
rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to spend it. The pay is held back for
a good reason however. The money is kept aside for you when you leave
for your first Regiment.
Here, you will be expected to buy a pair of
trainers in accordance with those worn by your regiment. (Each Regiment
tends to wear a different type of trainers to the other).
There will be
other items of equipment and kit which must be purchased; badges, a
spare Kepi, a Fourragere (Lanyard) etc. This money will be given to
you before arriving at the Regiment you are posted to.
Once in the Regiment some of your pay is still kept back. When you are
sent on permission, some of the money is again kept back as a form of
cushioning to support you, should you return from permission having spent
From time to time, a proportion of this money can be taken
out of the CNE, but only if your reasons for requiring it are worthy
enough to convince the Capitaine du Compagnie.
Les Rangs - The Ranks.
Below are listed the ranks of the Legion that you will come across. The
rank structure does go higher, and you may in time meet some of them,
but these are the ones that are most important you learn first:
Hommes Du Rang:
Legionnaire (Premiere classe - After one years service)
Legionnaire (Deuxieme classe - After presentation of the Kepi Blanc)
Caporal Chef" - This is a rank that is particular to the French Forces. It is a
unique rank whereby the soldier can progress no further in the rank
structure once he has reached the position of Caporal Chef.
Legionnaires wish to proceed in this direction - some prefer to wait until
they are deemed ready for the Sergents course.
If a Caporal Chef later
decides that he wants to progress further then he must revert to Caporal
and then recontinue. The rank of Caporal Chef is not normally achieved
before at least eight to ten years service.
The attraction is a more laid back
lifestyle with few of the responsibilities of a Sergent but with some of the
It is highly unusual for Legionnaires to come into contact with anyone over
the rank of Colonel and ninety per cent of the time your contact will be
with ranks below Major.
Ranks from Adjudant and above are addressed
starting with the word - "Mon "meaning "My". Therefore a Capitaine
would be - Mon Capitaine, a colonel would be Mon Colonel and so on.
La Permission - Leave/Holidays.
It will probably be nearly a year before you will have the chance to
experience any permission, but when you do you will more than likely
have a reasonable amount of money to take with you.
If you are in the 2eme REP
then you will not be allowed to leave the island during the first year.
are based at any of the other regiments in Metropole France you may go
just about wherever you please.
Despite the fact that your passport has been taken away you will still be
able to travel abroad. By using your Carte D 'Identite (Legion ID card)
and the Titre De Permission (Leave pass)
you will be allowed to leave the
country by any of the airports. The Legion states that you are officially
not allowed to leave the country for the first three years of the contract - but
most Legionnaires do.
You will, as always be paid in cash and if a large payout is due they will
often offer to send the money to a pre-arranged address given by you
(obviously not a UK address).
This is done to combat the risk of
Legionnaires being mugged by the locals - who know full well when the
permission starts, and that you will be carrying large amounts of cash.
The length of permission will depend on many things: how long you
have been away, if you have been in combat and whether or not there
are any forthcoming events or dates that you must be back for, e.g. Noel
Normally it will be about two weeks. This is the only
time in the Legion when you are allowed to leave the guartier in civilian
clothing as a Legionnaire.
If you do not have any civilian clothing and noone
has any that you can borrow, then it must be Tenue De Sortie,
not Tenue De Sport. You may also return in civvies.
If you have no friends or relatives staying in France then you must state
your address as being either Fort De Nogent in Paris or Malmousqe
near Marseille or any other private address in France - even a hotel is
Both Malmousqe and Fort De Nogent allow you to stay as a
Legionnaire guest. There is a room for you for which you pay ten Francs
per day for the room and the food and wine is free.
It is not run like a
normal quartier, although there are Legionnaires posted there to keep the
place up and running. There is a role call in the morning, really just to find
out how many mouths there are to feed at le dejeuner. - Apart from
that you can come and go as you please.
It is very relaxed and not a bad
way to spend your leave. Malmousqe being positioned on the coast
near Marseille and Fort De Nogent right in the centre of Paris. Despite
having put your, one of these locations down as your leave address you
are really free to go wherever you please.
Paris airport is very small and does not take long to nip around to all the
desks and find out which one is offering the best deals. A flight to the UK is
normally pretty cheap and you will often find other Legionnaires there to
socialize with prior to departure.
One of the benefits of the Legion is the
discount available to them on the trains. All Legionnaires are entitled to a
seventy five per cent discount on all rail fares in France on showing an ID
The French trains provide an excellent service but the ticket
collectors can come across as being a little arrogant at times.
If you are late back from leave - you will have the same punishment as
you would if you were late back from a night out on the town; the
statutory ten days in jail.
Some Legionnaires pass via Paris on their way to
the airport - but find they're having such a good time that they spend the
whole of the permission in Paris. If this happens, it is not a problem to
make your way down to Fort De Nogent and book yourself in there for
the duration of the permission. Assuming there is a room vacant you
will be allowed to stay.
One of the greatest things about the French Foreign Legion is that you
will always have a good time off - firstly you work hard - you play hard,
and secondly the Legion always makes sure you have money for the
period of the permission. Often it is a considerable sum for the amount of
time that you have off
Such a book on the French Foreign Legion would not be complete without
some mention of desertion.
It happens, and it happens a lot. And the people who desert have to live
with it for the rest of their lives. What makes people desert? And what
makes them stay when they want to desert? For some, they have no
choice. For others, whatever drew them to the Legion in the first place
was not enough to make them stay when it got tough.
They are the
unlucky ones if you like - they have options open to them. The "search
for adventure" all of a sudden seems like a very weak reason for joining
the French Foreign Legion.
They compare what they've got and what
they could have. And then they think about living with the truth and how
people back home will react to the truth. They think about their image.
Then they'll probably think about how much time is there left to do
before they've finished the contract. Then...then, they make a momentous
decision. And that decision they must live with.
It is better to finish the contract with pride, knowing that so many have
deserted before your eyes during the time that you have been in.
join expecting life as a Legionnaire to be all adventure, high adrenalin
rushes and constant action. Expect to be bored, disappointed and at your
wits end from time to time. Expect a hard time physically and
mentally and you will not be disappointed.
If you think whilst you are
reading this, that you could one day desert - then don't even join in the
first place. Remember that the longer you are in, the easier it gets. Five
years goes very quickly and you'll glad you stayed if you do.
If a Legionnaire has made a break for it then for the first few days he is
noted down as "Absent". There are sometimes reasons why Legionnaires
are late back on camp. E.g. after a night out on the town. After seven
days absence you are declared a "Deserteur". This carries a standard
sentence of 40 days. Assuming they haven't deserted on the brink of
war or whilst at war when they could face up to two years in a French
civilian jail after having done the forty days in the Legion jail
Legionnaire deserts with a weapon, the search will take a much more
sinister form with many men involved. The prospects for such a deserter
are not pleasant.
Some of the more commonly used phrases used in the French Foreign Legion
almost every day...
•?Tu (te) demerde - Get yourself out of the shit.
•?Demerdez- vous - Get yourselves out of the shit.
•?Casse(-moi) pas les couilles - Don't break my balls.
•?J'en ai vraiment plein les couilles - I've really had a balls full of this.
•?Tu te fous de ma gueule ou quoi? - Are you taking the piss or what?
•?Tu rigoles ou quoi? - You must be joking.
•?Arrete ta connery - Stop fucking about.
•?C'est meme pas la peine - It doesn't even bear thinking about.
•?C'est pas la peine - There's no use.
•?C'est pas vrai? - It can't be true/ No I don't believe it.
•?C'est pas possible - It's not possible.
•?Ferme ta geuele - Shut your face.
•?J'ai pas compris - I don't understand.
•?Qu 'est- ce que pa veut dire - What does that mean?
•?Comment on dit?.... - How do you say?
•?Oh Putain! - Oh Whore (Used as: Oh Shit).
•?Putain de Merde! - Whore of shit (Used as: Fucking Hell)
•?Merde! - Shit.
A few helpful words:
•?Abdominaux - Sit ups
•?Anciens (Les) - The guys that have been in a long time
•?Appel - Role call
•?Bagarre - To scrap/fight
•?Batiment - Building
•?Binome - Buddy/Partner
•?Brouillage – Webbing
•?Camion - Lorry
•?Caporal - Corporal
•?Caporal Fut fut - Corporal on the accelerated promotion.
•?Casse-croute - Snack-break
•?Centurion - Belt
•?Centurion Bleu - Wide blue sash worn under belt.
•?Chants - Songs
•?Chaussettes - Socks
•?Chef de Corps - Officer in charge of the Quartier
•?Chemise - Shirt
•?Clairon - Bugler
•?Corvee - Cleaning Duties
•?Consignes - Extra duties and consignment to the Quartier
•?Date de Naissance - Date of birth
•?Dehors - (Get) Outside!
•?Demi(une) or Une Pression - Lager (in half pints)
•?Engage Volontaire (E. V.)- Recruit
•?En couloir - (Get) into the corridor
•?En position - (Get) into the position (For press ups)
•?En Bas - Go down
•?Epaulettes de Tradition - Red epaulettes worn for guard or parade
•?Foyer - Small bar with shop attached
•?Fusil – Rifle
•?Haut - Go up
•?Hommes du rang - Lower ranks
•?Infirmiers - Medics
•?Incidents de tir - Weapon stoppages
•?Jeunes (Les) - The most inexperienced to have joined.
•?Legia Patria Nostra - The Legion is Our Home.
•?Matricule - Service number
•?Magazin – Armory
•?Medecin - Doctor
•?Pantalon - Trousers
•?Paquetage - All your kit
•?Pays - Country
•?Permission - Leave/Holiday/Vacation
•?Petit footing (Le) - Running (As a sport)
•?Piste de Combat - Assault course
•?Place D 'Arme - Parade square.
•?Presente (Le) - The Presentation.
•?Quartier - Camp
•?Quartier Libre - Time off
•?Rassemblernent - Assembly
•?Rangers - Boots
•?Refectoire - Eating hall (for Legionnaires).
•?Slips - Pants
•?Sous officiers - NCOs
•?Sous-vetement - Track suit
•?Sergent - Sergeant
•?Stages - Courses
•?Stick - Stinging slap on the back of the neck
•?Tenue - Uniform
•?Toile – Jail
•?Veste de Combat -Combat jacket
Recruiting Centers in France. (Poste Information de la
There are sixteen recruiting centers plus Aubagne itself where you can go
directly if you want to save a few days hassle. All of these centers are open
24 hours a day.
Addresses of Recruiting Centers:
94120 Fontenay-sous-Bois (1)
Fort De Nogent
O: 0033 1 48 77 49 68
59000 Lille (2)
R: 0033 3 20 55 40 13
76038 Rouen cedex (3)
Rue du Colonel-Trupel
R: 0033 2 35 70 68 78
86000 Poitiers (4)
R: 0033 5 49 41 31 16
44000 Nantes (5)
R: 0033 2 40 74 39 32
57000 Metz (6)
Quartier de- Lattre-de-Tassigny
R: 0033 3 87 66 57 12
21000 Dijon (7)
Caserne Junot - 66
Avenue du Drapeau
R: 0033 3 80 30 02 10
67000 Strasbourg (8)
R: 0033 3 88 61 53 33
51000 Reims (9)
32 bis Avenue de la Paix
R:0033 3 26 88 42 50
13007 Marseille (10)
La Malmousque - Chemin du Genie
R: 0033 4 91 31 85 10
13400 Aubagne (1 1)
R: 0033 4 42 03 38 79
64100 Bayonne (12)
R: 00 33 5 59 25 66 70
33000 Bordeaux (13)
260 rue Pelleport
R: 0033 5 56 92 99 64
69007 Lyon (14)
37 bis, rue de Repos
R: 0033 4 78 58 40 21
06300 Nice (15)
Rue des Diables-Bleus
R: 0033 4 93 56 32 76
66020 Perpignan (16)
8 Rue Francois-Rabelais
R: 0033 4 68 35 05 38
31000 Toulouse (17)
R: 0033 5 61 54 21 95
Although telephone numbers are listed above - no information will
normally be given over the phone. You may also write in English to the
following address for information on joining the Foreign Legion:
Bureau de Recrutement de la Legion Etrangere,
R: 0033 4 42 84 97 66 You may have more luck with this number.
Aubagne and what to expect...
Ok, here are some pointers that should help. First of all, you CAN join
directly at Aubagne. Unless you are too poor to afford the bus/train tickets it is
definitely the way to go as it will save you at least a week of time. Simply get
yourself to Marseille via plane or Train or Bus and then take the bus line
'Bouches de Rhone' ligne #68A leaving from Marseille along the Avenue Del
Prado in Marseille. It is about 2.50€ and go to Aubagne's 'Pole De Exchanges'.
Alternatively, and in my opinion better, is to take the train, or metro, to the
same destination from the station 'Gare de St Charles' in Marseille.
Aubagne, you simply ask where the Legion Museum is. However, rather than
go to the museum by turning right, you continue straight to the gates of
Aubagne (1/4 mile).
It is about a 15 minute walk from Pole de Exchanges and
there is a McDonalds more or less on the way in which to get a last meal (ha
ha). As well as about half way there there is a pub called the Red Lion where
you can get a last beer.
I would highly recommend going on a Sunday afternoon around 4pm (1600 in
France). This way you will be processed and then delivered at 5 when the
You will spend one night in Aubagne with the new guys.
Expect half a dozen or so of you to sit around and do nothing but watch videos
and read books except for meals which are served in the cafeteria with other
legionaires and wanna-be's.
On Monday, you SHOULD be delivered over to the selection cadre where you
will receive both shorts and a t-shirt (summer) or a track suit (winter) along
with a toiletries kit and a little backpack and assigned to a room of about 16
Get used to, and I am dead serious here, timed 1 minute showers
enforced by the rouge guys. With practice it is amazing what you can do!
HINT, wet your hair and pits and soap up first. The water is cold part time so
Absolutely do buzz cut your hair before you come to Aubagne and
cut ALL facial hair. DO NOT shave your head as my friend the German did to
facilitate things several days in and the adjutant booted him same day,
probably because he thought that he was a skinhead.
Same holds true if you have racist tattoos.
Some hard facts...if you have glasses, cavities, tooth aches, prior knee surgery,
any deformity, etc. DO NOT GO AS THEY WILL CATCH YOU.
work like a pig for several days, maybe as a 'yard boy' for a Caporal Chef who
looks remarkably like Santa Claus, except he farts and swears and asks you if
you are homosexual, etc.
Or you are 'kitchen bitch' at Aubagne for a fat Polish
Caporal who WILL smack you in the head if you are not on the ball.
go to Malmousqe in Aubagne to work and if you do, pray you get the Kitchen
as the cook likes Americans he treats all his helpers really well. Caporal Claus
as I called him is very funny and fair.
The key to all the work details is to
work hard and smart. They do pay attention and slackers are noticed whether
you think so or not.
DO scrounge things like Toilet paper, napkins, and band aids (from first aid
kits) as they will be helpful to you. You get ONE roll of TP and it goes fast.
You will get a chance at the Foyer to buy candy bars, sodas and Marlboro
Red's and Lights almost every day.
You get 28€ on your first day or so plus
the up to about 40€ you can bring in from the outside. Any additional will be
kept for you until after Castel.
DO NOT bring photos, diaries, books etc. If you have these items the Gestapo
will use them to dig into your life. No problem if you have nothing to hide and
a simple life, but why make it easy.
I took a license, a passport and that was it.
About 6-8 times a day a siren will go off which is your signal to haul ass to
the formation ground where you are assembled to go eat, go to foyer, go to
tests, work details, or sometimes just because they can.
HINT, try and get in
the middle as you will never be last for a meal. If you gamble and try to be
first you MIGHT be first, or you might be last depending on which column
they start with. This leaves no time to eat so be safe and go column three (of
Breakfast is coffee or cocoa (their choice) and a small baguette served around
7am. You are normally wakened at 5am except on holidays or weekends
where it MIGHT be 6am. HINT. Set your watch and get up half an hour early
so you can leisurely shave, wash hair, shit, etc avoiding the mad scramble at
wake up. It is worth it.
You will do laundry by hand in the sink. You will have night inspections prior
to lights out 9:30-10pm where you can then strip down your newly made bed
and brush teeth, laundry, etc. For toiletries, bring good razors blades and razor
or you will get shitty ones .
bring a BIG towel or you will get stuck with a shitty one. HINT DO bring
good running shoes that are broken in well or you will get some really shitty
There are push up bars, pull up bars, and sit up stations and 'dip' bars as
well as a small 200 yard track to run on in yard.
HINT; DO work out as you will rapidly lose fitness. Does it first thing in the
AM so you have time as otherwise you might end up working and cannot do
The temptation is to sit around and smoke and BS, but unless you are in
GREAT shape, you will probably blow your Cooper test by losing your fitness condition.
The yard is big, perhaps three acres and has trees etc. The track you test on will
NOT be the nice red track as seen in videos, but will be a shitty dirt track of 200 meters.
You got to get 14 laps or you will go civil. No ands, ifs or buts.
with the Gestapo will be three interviews and if you are half way sane and not a
complete criminal or liar, that is no big deal.
HINT, DO try and act like a
soldier for the cadre and then joke with your buds on your own time. You will
be amazed at how many undisciplined a--wipes there are that talk in
The cadre can and WILL belt you if you deserve it. I saw kicks and punches
administered with regularity. They do not beat you to a pulp, but they will not
hesitate smacking you if you are a dumbass,don't be one. I never got touched.
There are assloads of Eastern Europeans (Romania, Poland, Bulgarian etc)
and so on.
They and French guys are very much undisciplined , but the
misfits are quickly sorted out.
In my group of Anglophone Mafia- we had a German, me, a South African, a
Brit, an Aussie, a Norwegian and a Dane. You will band together largely by
language but try and get around a bit if you can.
I joked with another dozen
nationalities and it helps allot because you are not always able to be with your
If you have prejudices that you cannot forget, I would suggest
thinking of another job as you never know who you will be with. My
bunkmate was an Afghani and I worked frequently with a Tunisian. One of
my joking friends was an Algerian so you can see there is ample room for
tension if you wanted.
Basically, everyone gets along unless you are one of these real 'macho' type
tough guy. You know the
type as you see them post real dogmatic and
challenging posts here. The real legionnaires and other guys are not like that
and if they are, they do not last as they get along with no one.
The cadre will
notice and they will go civil. The average age is somewhere around 23 but my
friend the Aussie was 37 and went rouge.
PS - I made it through tests, but failed hearing. They let me continue other
tests and then rechecked hearing at end.
The cold that EVERYONE got went
to my ears from continual nose blowing
and they were plugged up sort of like when you might get if you go
swimming underwater. Anyway, I failed it and so they said come back.
day where I could have gone rouge (I passed all tests no problem)instead I saw
myself going civil with a bunch of guys, most of whom were slackers and idiots
who did not want or deserve to be in legion.
That may be why the Caporals
went out of there way to help me, but I got a lot of Bonn Chances and invites
back along with hand shakes from some, so... they do notice if you try hard
and are serious. Ok, later.
Fr those who want a list of Legion souvenirs, request the
catalogue from :Institution des invalides de la legion Etrangere, Domain
Capitaine Danjoe, 13114 Puyloubier France
This is the address of a company who sells a lot of various items related
to La Legion Etrangere, it includes igsignias, t shirts,cd's and tapes of
Legion songs,medals,clothing,souvenir items,badges,etc. for more
info.Mailing address: Roland Schafer, Kaiserstrasse 53, 66459 Kirkel,
Germany telephone = Country code = 49. 68 - 49 - 99 - 15 - 86
Fax = Country code = 49. 68 - 49 - 99 - 15 - 87
Website URL http://www.buyffl.com
Legion Information Pamphlet
Click here to view an actual pamphlet that you would get if you write to the legion for information.
What to expect when you join the Legion (translation is below article)
Dit is het eerste deel, de eerste weken die ik doorbracht eerst in Lille
daarna Parijs en tenslotte Aubagne.
Ik ben in Lille op 24 april maandagavond binnengegaan.
Ik stapte in een bureau, ik moest mijn pas afgeven en me helemaal
tot in mijn slip. Alles, mijn persoonlijke spullen, werden
had een sportzak bij met kledij en toiletgerief)Mijn bus deodorant en
identiteitskaart werden afgenomen. De rest mocht ik toen nog bijhouden.
moest onmiddelijk een blauw trainingspak aandoen, zoals de rest van de
kandidaten die daar al waren.
In een klein zaaltje naast de eetzaal was een televisie.
Het voornaamste dat ik gedurende deze 3 dagen gedaan heb is vuile
opknappen, zoals vuilbakken sorteren, kuisen, in de tuin werken,…
De 2e dag waren er medische testen met 3 andere mannen. De testen
uit een oppervlakkig onderzoek van oren, ogen, gebit enz…
Een iemand werd afgekeurd wegens een carie. Hij werd direct weggestuurd.
De 3e dag heeft de adjudant-chef ons (ik een Fransman en een Ier) naar
Parijs gebracht.Toen moesten we onze blauwe training terug uit doen en
moesten we onze eigen kledij aandoen. Het was een lange reis en tijdens
rit zijn we gestopt in een wegrestaurant, waar de adjudant-chef ons
getrakteerd heeft op een koffie.
In Parijs, in Fort de Nogent, moesten we bij de andere mannen van het
rekruteringscentrum gaan zitten. Daar was een caporal-chef die
verantwoordelijk was over ons. Die caporal-chef was heel streng en die
direct te roepen, met als gevolg dat die Fransman en Ier onmiddelijk
vertrekken. Toen werden ze nog harder uitgemaakt en daarna zijn ze
vertrokken. Daar heb ik dan 3 dagen gezeten, weeral moest we kuisen en
We moesten na die 3 dagen onze training opnieuw uitdoen en in onze eigen
kledij met de trein naar Aubagne. Die reis heeft 8 uur geduurd, we waren
mannen en 1 caporal en 1 chef. Van die 12 zijn er slechts 3
Aangekomen in Aubagne ( 1 mei 's morgens vroeg )mochten we eerst
Dan moesten we naar het gebouw van de 'Gestapo' en daar trokken ze
van ons gezicht en van eventuele tatoeages. Dan moesten we naar een
gebouw en daar moesten we al onze persoonlijke spullen (buiten
toiletgerief, geld en sigaretten)afgeven.
We kregen een short, t-shirt, trainigsvest en wie geen sportschoenen had
kreeg slechte goedkope shoenen. Dan kregen we ook een rugzak met extra
toiletgerief, ondergoed, 1 handdoek, toiletpapier, scheergerei. Dan
we opnieuw bijgevoegd bij andere kandidaten, in totaal zo'n honderd.
Opnieuw moesten we medische testen ondergaan, deze keer grondiger. Onze
urine werd onderzocht. Opnieuw werden onze oren en ogen
Er waren er die geen sport beoefenden en die moesten op een hometrainer
fietsen en dan werd de hartsag nagekeken.
Als je erdoor was kreeg je een spuit in je arm, ik weet niet waarvoor
diende, waarschijnlijk een vaccinatie ofzo…
Onmiddellijk werden we al gestraft omdat we aan het praten waren.
De uren dat we niks te doen hadden moesten we kuisen.
De 2e dag in Aubagne moesten we de coopertest lopen, 2800 m in 12
Ik had 3000 m in 12 minuten (op het einde van mijn opleiding deed ik
in 12 min.) Opnieuw waren er velen niet geslaagd.
In de namiddag was het psycho-technische test. Dat waren testen i.v.m.
Opnieuw vielen er mannen weg.
De 3e dag Gestapo-test, dit was de moeilijkste test.
We moesten aan een chef heel ons leven vertellen, dit duurde wel 3 uur!
Je moest van te voren goed selecteren en onthouden wat je ging zeggen,
de dag erna werden we weer ondervraagd en als ze verschillen in je
opmerkten vloog je gewoon buiten. Er was iemand die iets verzwegen had
die hebben ze onverbiddelijk buitengesmeten. Deze test ging over een
van 4 dagen, omdat natuurlijk iedereen verschillende uren werd
Ikzelf werd 5 keer ondervraagd.
Er waren er een stuk of 30 die deze testen gedaan hadden, en daar worden
dan 12 uitgekozen, ik was er uiteraard bij. Dit gebeurt altijd op een
Toen moesten we naar een ruimte waar al onze maten genomen werden, zodat
dan onze uniformen op juiste maat kregen(zonder Képi Blanc natuurlijk)
Normaal ga je dan na het weekend naar het tehuis voor oud-legionnaires,
omdat ik gestoken was door een insect, heb ik enkele dagen in het
gelegen en daarom ben ik nog een week langer gebleven.
(Tijdens deze testen van de Gestapo was ik barman in het
rekruteringscentrum, dit was nog een zeer goede job, in vergelijking met
hetgeen de anderen moesten doen.)
This is the first part, the first weeks I spend in Lille , Paris and finally Aubagne.
I arrived in Lille April-24 on a monday night. I entered an office were
I had to hand in everything. I had to undress to my underwear and all my
belongings were searched. ( I had a sports duffel bag with my clothes
and toiletries). my deodorant and identity card was taken away and the
rest i was allowed to keep for the time being. I was given a blue track
suit like all the others who were already there.
In a small room besides the dining room was a television set.
The majority of things I did during those three days was doing the dirty
jobs like cleaning garbage cans, toilets and work in the garden.
The second day there were some medical test along with three other guys.
The tests consisted of a cursory check of eyes, hearing and teeth. One
got rejected right away for having cavities.
The 3rd. day the adjudant chef took us (a Frenchman and a Irishman and
myself) to Paris. There we had to change back to our civilian clothes.
The trip was long and during the trip we stopped at a restaurant were
the adjudant chef bought us a coffee.
In Paris, in Fort de Nogent we had to change back in the track suits and
join the other men from the recruitment center. There was a Caporal chef
who was responsible for us. He was very strict and yelled a lot so that
the Frenchman and the Irishman wanted to quit. the result was that it
was made a lot harder for them and after that they left. During the next
three days it was some more dirty jobs to be done.
After those three days, we had to change back into our civilian clothes
and went on the train to Aubagne. The trip took 8 hours and we were with
12 men, caporal and a chef. From the 12 men, only three were left over
by the time we arrived in Aubagne.
On arrival we were allowed to have breakfast and then we were send to
the gestapo office were they took pictures of us and our tattoos. Then
we were send to another building were all our personal stuff was taken
except for toiletries, underwear, money and cigarettes.
They gave us a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, a track vest and whoever did
not have running shoes, got a pair of really poor running shoes. Then we
got a backpack, extra toiletries, towel, underwear and toilet paper.
Then we were added to the other candidates, in total a hundred or so.
Again we went for medical tests, but this time more intense. Urine
tests, eyesight, hearing. a heart rate test was done with those who had
never done any sports, after riding a stationary bike. Once the you
passed those tests, you got i vaccination, but I do not know what it was
Everyone was punished because we were talking and we spent every hour
that there was nothing else to do, with doing the dirty jobs
The second day in Aubagne we had to run the cooper test, 2800 meters in
12 minutes. I did the 3000 meters in 12 minutes.(at the end of basic
training, I did 3400 meters in 12 minutes). Again, a lot of guys failed.
In the after noon were the pchyco-technical tests, those were tests
related to IQ, again a lot of men failed.
The third day were the gestapo tests, these were the most difficult, we
had to tell our whole life story and it took about three hours. You had
to make sure that you remembered what you had said before, because you
were asked the next day again and if there was a discrepancy with your
previous story, you were out the door. There was one who had not
disclosed something the previous time and he got immediately kicked out.
This questioning went on over a four day period, i was questioned 5
times on different occasions.
There were about thirty guys who did these tests and there were only 12
left. This happened on a friday and then we were send for fitting our
uniforms (without the Kepi Blanc of course). Normally you would then
visit the institute of the invalids, but because i was stung by an
insect i stayed for a few days in the hospital. Because of that, I
stayed a week longer in Aubagne.
During the interviews with the gestapo, I was a the barman in the
recruitment center, this was a nice job in comparison what the other
guys had to do.
Function of C.R.A.P. (Now called G.C.P.)
Be aware that the acronym C.R.A.P. (which used to stand for
Commandos de Recherche et d'Action dans la Profondeur) is no longer in use since
a couple of years now and has been replaced by G.C.P. (Groupement de Commandos
There's one G.C.P. team (about 20 members) in each regiment of the 11th Airborne
Brigade (whether Legion or not).
These teams can operate as standalone units or jointly altogether. G.C.P. are part
of the COS (Commandement des Opérations Spéciales) and are commanded by a
Lt-Col, member of the 11th ABB HQ. Each single team is commanded by a Lt or
Capt. All their members have the minimum rank of Caporal-Chef and are qualified
for HALO/HAHO jumps (they hold a special para patch, called "Brevet de Chuteur
Order form for Kepi Blanc Magazine
for a proper view of the form, right click on form, then on this frame, then open in new window
Click here to view the
order for for Kepi Blanc Magazine.
The job of a Voltigeur
Fonctions de base à la Force terrestre
Eclaireur - Voltigeur
Les voltigeurs sont employés au sein du peloton de
reconnaissance des bataillons d'infanterie, de troupes
blindées et de reconnaissance de la Force terrestre. Ils
opèrent en sections de 7 collègues et sont transportés
en véhicules blindés (le CVR-T Spartan).
Description de la fonction
Les principales activités de l'éclaireur-voltigeur sont les suivantes:
appliquer la tactique individuelle au sein de la section tant à pied qu'avec les véhicules
utilisés au sein du peloton
franchir, dégager ou créer des obstacles
trouver son chemin à l'aide d'une carte et d'une boussole
donner les premiers soins à un camarade blessé
entretenir les armes collectives et l'équipement
aider lors de l'entretien des véhicules du peloton
La plupart des déplacements s'effectuent en véhicules blindés mais certaines missions sont
effectuées à pied. Pour accomplir sa mission, il emploie:
son arme individuelle et ses munitions
des armes collectives et leurs munitions de la section
les radios de sa section
le CVR-T Spartan
L'éclaireur-voltigeur peut être amené à participer à des opérations de type ONU, OTAN, ...
La formation comprend:
une instruction militaire individuelle de 15
semaines dans une compagnie d'instruction de la
7ème Brigade Mécanisée, à Marche-en-Famenne
une formation professionnelle spécialisée de 4
semaines en unité
une évaluation au sein de son unité d'affectation
translation: Translation Job of Voltigeur.
The basic function of a scout in the land based forces.
The scouts are used in the reconnaissance platoons of infantry and armored battalions.
They operate in groups of seven and are transported in armored vehicles. ( the CVR-T Spartan).
The main job of the scout is as follows:.
To apply individual tactics within the section on foot as well with the vehicles used within the group, to cross, release or create obstacles, to find its objective using a chart and compass, to give first aid to a wounded comrade, to maintain the collective weapons and equipment, to help with the vehicle maintenance of the group..
Most of the transportation is by armored vehicle, but certain missions are done on foot.
To achieve its mission, he uses: his individual weapon and ammunition, the collective weapons and the ammunition of the section, the radios of section and the CVR-T Spartan.
The scout can be used to take part in operations of the type UNO, NATO....
The training includes: 15 weeks of individual training in a training company of the 7th Mechanized Brigade, at Marche-in-Famenne 4 weeks a specialized professional training in his assigned unit and evaluation within his assigned unit..
General FFL Information (will translate upon request)
QUELQUES INFORMATIONS "CONFIDENTIELLES" AVANT VOTRE ENGAGEMENT
1------A cause de la crise économique actuelle, un candidat a une chance sur huit d'être
accepté (une sur quatre en 1980). Le nombre de candidats français augmente, ainsi que
les ressortissants des pays du leste, les japonais et les chinois (1998 et 1999 Selon les
Services des Statistiques).------------
2-----Avec le programme de la professionnalisation des Armées et la réduction des
effectifs ( en 1996 le Président Jacques Chirac avait envisagé de dissoudre la 13DBLE
actuellement au Djibouti) en an 2002, la Légion va passer de 8.500 hommes aujourd'hui, à
3-----En 1999 il y avait 132 nationalités dans les rangs.
4-----Si un engagé demande a être sous anonymat, il n'aura pas le droit d'avoir un
compte en banque, de posséder une voiture, de se marier et de s'absenter du pays avant
la rectification de son nom.A par- tir de la troisième année il peut demander la nationalité
française ou à défaut, la carte de résident..
5----15 à 20% des recrues, échouent durant l'instruction.Ils peuvent casser le contrat
après un an de ser-vices et quitter la Légion (pour éviter les désertions).
6----Au-delà de 36 heures d'absence illégale, le légionnaire est considéré déserteur.
7----Les épreuves de sélection sont assez poussés. Examens médicaux, testes
physiques, analyse psychiatrique, testes psychotechniques (150 questions environ).
L'instruction dure quatre mois.
8----La moyenne d'âge est de 23 ans. 1000 hommes par an s'engagent dans la Légion
(entre 8.000 à 9.000 qui se présentent aux postes de recrutement en toute la France .
30% de français.
9----LE CODE D'HONNEUR DU LEGIONNAIRE a été introduit par le commandement en 1984.
10--Bien que la Légion accepte les candidats de 17 à 40 ans, celui qui dépasse les 35 ans
n'a que peu de chances d'être engagé (l'offre est supérieure à la demande).
11---La solde actuelle (Dec 1999) est la suivante
translation number 16.
Some information before you join.
because of the current economic crisis, a candidate has one in eight chances to be accepted (in 1980 it was one in four). The number of French candidates increased, as well Japanese and Chinese nationals ( according to the statistics services, 1998 and 1999).
With the program to professionalize the armed forces and the reduction of manpower in the year 2002 (in 1996 President Jacques Chirac had actually planned to dissolve the 13DBLE in Djibouti). The Legion will reduce to 7.800 men from the 8.500 men today.
In 1999 there were 132 nationalities among its ranks.
If a volunteer asked for anonymity, he would not have the right to have a bank account, marry, to have a car, or go on vacation outside the country unless he has received his own identity back. After the third year he can apply for French citizenship, failing that he could apply for a residents permit.
15% to 20% of the recruits fail the instruction and can apply to dissolve the contract and leave the Legion (to avoid desertions).
After 36 hours of absence without leave, the Legionnaire will be considered a deserter.
The selection procedure is fairly thorough, medical tests, physical tests, psychiatric analysis, psycho technical tests (approximately 150 questions). The basic training is four months.
The average age is 23 years. Out of the 8.000 to 9.000 men who go to all the recruitment stations in France, +/-1000 get accepted. 30 % are French.
The Legion Code of Honor was introduced by the command in 1984.
Although the Legion accepts the candidates from 17 to 40 years, those past 35 years of age have little chance to be accepted (supply and demand).
Pay currently Dec. 1999 is as follows: Legionnaire.See official Legion web site for updated info about pay: For overseas duty (French territory like Thaiti, Guyanne, Martinique etc.) the pay can double with the extra premiums. For duty in foreign countries (Djibouti etc.) the pay can triple with the premiums.
Webmaster of DienBienPhu.org honored
Click here to view more information about the citation.
Some details about the Putsch/Rebellion 1961
Here are a few other details about the putsch and the units which took part, actively or had made their choice
1erREP: the lead unit, disbanded 30th April 1961.
2eREP: left the base in Philippeville and went to Algiers.
5eREI: the president of AALEC Montreal is an "ancien", I shall ask him.
1erREC: active, 1 escadron at least at Algiers airport?
2eREC: remained in Djelfa but was ready to move.
Quite a few supportive help from other regiments, but not as a whole unit.
From la Reguliere:
14eRCP, 18eRCP: very active, disbanded on 30th April 1961.
Commandos de l'Air: very active, disbanded same date.
GCP(Paracommandos): very active, disbanded also.
13eRDP: active in Constantine and Telergma. Chep de corps arrested, several officers and no coms were tried. Regiment
was affected to police duties in Constantine.
This list is non exhaustive and drawn from memory.
The 10th DP (Airborne) was also disbanded on 30th April, as well as several of its units, like for instance
the 20eGAP(Airborne Artillery).
The 2eREC was transferred from south Algerois to the south Constantinois, that is from Djelfa to Biskra, Ferkane, Negrine in February 1962.
On 31st July of the same year the Dauphin was disbanded and its remnants transferred to your 1stREC.
The French Army did not need 2 Legion armoured calvalry regiments. But I was already gone at that time.
I have no pictures of that era, only my berets and the regimental badges of the two units I served with. But I have quite a lot of memories!
There are quite a few books about this time but most are in French.
Sorry to hear La Chapelle died, he must have been of a ripe old age, but still it is a loss. Another one of the old guard gone! By the way he was close to Colonel Argoud one of the leaders of the OAS.
Lieutenant-colonel de Coatgoureden de Kerjean who was "chef de corps" of the 2eREC did not hide his feelings for l'Algerie francaise, as did also several
officers and non-coms.
I was on leave for two weeks before the 22nd April in Algiers and was there contacted by my former comrades from the 13e to go along with them. At the time the 13eRDP was in operation in the Djidjelli area. The 10thDP was in that sector
and under the command of Colonel Ceccaldi.
On the morning if the 22nd, the 13e move towards Constantine with its "chef de corps", Lieutenant-colonel du Serech de Saint Avit. We narrowly missed capturing Mr Joxe, one of De Gaulle's minister and General Ollie.
As far as I know the 2eREC in Djelfa did not move but was ready to go.
I also know that Lieutenant-colonel de La Chapelle was tried with several other officers and sentenced to 7 years in prison. He was
incarcerated in Tulles and was reprieved in 1966 or 1967. Lieutenant-colonel Coatgoureden was removed from command and replaced by a loyalist officer, and so was Ltn-colonel de Saint Avit.
General Jouhaud confirms the 1erREC role in the Putsch and the presence of one of its "escadron" in Algiers.
Hope this will partly answer your question.
Pour Joindre La Legion Etrangere (will translate upon request)
Formalités d'engagement :
Se présenter sur le territoire métropolitain français dans un poste de recrutement, frais de voyage et formalités d'accès au territoire français à la charge du candidat, satisfaire aux tests de sélection médico-physiques, psychotechniques et de motivation.
Le contrat :
le contrat initial est de 5 ans, le légionnaire s'engage à servir partout où la Légion
décidera de l'employer, les affectations, la formation, la promotion, la spécialisation et la
poursuite des services se font en fonction des aptitudes, de la manière de servir et des
besoins de la Légion étrangère.
BUREAUX D'INFORMATION ET DE RECRUTEMENT
tranlation number 19.
To join the French Foreign Legion.
Present yourself in metropolitan France at any of the recruitment stations, cost for the trip and visa requirements are the responsibility of the candidate.
Passing all the medical, physical, pscycho technical tests and prove your motivation.
The initial contract is for five years, the Legionnaire will serve where ever the Legion decides to send him according to his training, aptitude promotion, and needs of the Legion.
Gulf War 1991
The French ground contribution to the Coalition, designated
Division Daguet, was essentially the 6eme DLB much
reinforced. The first to arrive at Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, in
September of 1990 the 2nd REI, the 1st REC, and most of
the 6eme REG provided, with the 1er Spahis.
The western axis of the division’s advance into Iraq with US
XVIII Airborne Corps units were sent to the Gulf in
anticipation of Saddam Hussein’s threats against the world.
The 24th February 1991 (3eme Cie./6eme Reg was with the
eastern axis, largely of Marine units) arrived and after nearly
six months of waiting the war began.
After the air offensive which took four weeks the ground
troops penetrated Iraq. The Legions mission was to
safeguard any reprisal by the Republican Guarde. Al Salman
airport was captured by the three Legion Regiments.
In fact men of the 2eme REI and 6eme REG had penetrated 5
Km into Iraq on the night of 22nd February to take "Natchez"
an Iraqi post dominating their line of advance up an
escarpment. Legionnaire Sappers and the US 1/27th
Engineers built a track up the escarpment on the 23rd.
The French columns-the most westerly, screening the
Coalition left flank-punched through the Iraqi 45th Division
with considerable ease, and took their objective, the town
and airfield of AS Salman by morning of the 26th, some 3,000
Iraqi prisoners were taken. Just over a hundred hours of
ground warfare, the Gulf War was won. The Legion suffered
Did You Know?
1.Through its history some 670,000 Legionnaires have
served within its ranks, so if you where to take a figure
of thirty successful candidates out of every five
hundred, which would mean a sox percent success
rate then 10833333.00 have tried to join.
2.Legionnaires are addressed by surname only.
3.The "Kepi Blanc" was first seen in public in Paris on the
14th July 1939.
4.The Legion marches at 88 paces per minute.
5.There are no Frenchmen in the Foreign Legion.(To allow Frenchmen to join the Legion they are given a different nationality.)
6.The most common things associated with the Legion
are Beau Geste, Laurel & Hardy, Kepi
Blanc, the desert.
The contract in the Legion is commonly thought to be for a
fixed five years. In actual fact there is a probationary
six-month period. If the Legion decides that you are not
suitable to be a Legionnaire then you will be discharged.
Likewise, you too have a choice, but not until the end of the
six-month period. If at the end of the six months you no
longer wish to be in the Legion you have the option to leave.
At the end of the six months the Legion has the option, to
add a further six-month probationary period to the contract.
At the end of the 4 months training you will be asked which
regiment you would like to join it is at this point that you have
the option to leave the Legion, which will take a least five
weeks at Aubagne before you are released.
The contract will be translated into your native language. You
will be told that the contract is for five years and handed the
paper to sign. The contract is written in French. You do
however have the option to leave at any time during your first
three weeks at Aubagne without obligation. The Legion will
normally donate F500 towards any travel expenses to get you
home. Below is a translated example of what will be presented
before you when you sign at the end of the three weeks
If you feel that the French Foreign Legion way of life is for
you; further contracts can be signed with the Legion after the
initial five years. These can be for either six months, one
year, eighteen months, two years, three years, four years or
five years. Whether or not the Legion accepts you for further
service is dependent on your conduct during the previous
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please note that the contract below
was correct at the time of
30th March 2000. This is not the format of the contract; we
have stated it here for wording only. The Names and signing
dates are fictional.
ACT OF ENGAGEMENT
in the name of (1) Hampson Denis
as a foreigner in the Foreign Legion
In the year nineteen hundred and ninety nine, the first of
January at 1100Hrs, presenting himself before us was (2):
1.Mr HAMPSON Denis aged: 21 years professional in the
trade of: builder living in Bromley District of Kent in the
Country (3) Great Britain. Son of (1) Steven and of (1)
Jane nee Brown living in Liverpool.
Hair: Blonde blue Eyes: Blonde Eyebrows: Lightly joined
Chin: Shape Nose: Convex Teeth: CM80% Face: Oval
Additional Features: Scar l. arm, L. Leg Height: 1m 89
Weight: 94Kgs Any additional marks: Tattoo l. upper arm
Who has declared his wish to serve as a foreigner in the
Foreign Legion, and to this effect has presented us with
l. A certificate dated on this day 18.04. 00 by (5) the
French Army Doctor Du BOSK, Doctor in charge of the 1
ere RE, Aubagne and certifies that the applicant suffers
no disability and has reached all the physical and height
requirements for service in the Foreign Legion.
2.His birth certificate and proof of identity (3) certifying
that he was born on 22.09.69 in Liverpool (GREAT
BRITAIN) and is of British Nationality.
3.Authorization have been received from his legal
4.(7) After having verified the documents presented
before us, he has read article (8) 6,7 and 13 on Decree
No. 77-789 as on 1st July 1977 relates to foreign
The applicant has been informed that:
1.His services are effective as of the date of his signing
this present contract.
2.The present contract carries a probationary period of six
months eventually renewable one time (une fois) by the
military authorities. The probationary period takes effect
from the date of signature on this present contract.
THIS CONTRACT DOES NOT BECOME DEFINITIVE UNTIL
THE END OF THE PROBATIONARY PERIOD.
3.During the initial probationary period the contract can
4.Either at the request of the recruit as agreed by the
military authorities for reasons of a personal or social
nature or as a result of serious difficulties in adapting to
the Foreign Legion during the first four months of
service. In this case the military authorities must have
notified the final decision before the end of the
Or at any time, by the military authorities because of: -
a pre-existing condition prior to engagement. - an
inability to adjust to work which the job entails or to
serve in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. - an inability to
adjust to a military way of life.
During the renewed probationary period this contract
can be terminated by the military authorities for reasons
of unsuitability for work or any inability to adjust to a
military way of life.
5.At any time during the service the contract can be
terminated according to the conditions laid down in
article 32 of FLM no. 2500/DEF/PMAT/EG/B as modified
on 4 July 1978 - notably: - on the request of the recruit
for reasons of a justifiable and urgent nature, the
details of which have occurred since the date on which
the contract was signed:
By reason of physical inability, by the military authorities
regarding insufficient Professionalism or as a disciplinary
Considering these details the candidate has agreed to serve
with honour and faithfulness for a period of five Years as of
this day and undertakes in the course of this Contract not to
take advantage of French services or Qualifications previously
The recruit has promised equally to serve within the ranks of
the Foreign Legion wherever the government might deem it
necessary to send him, and after having read the present act
has enjoined his signature;
Signature Of the administration Officer
Signature Of the French Army or the Deputy Administrator.
Probationary period renewable on for a period of six months
starting from the date of confirmation as Decided by the
Commanding Officer of the Foreign Legion.
Contract: annulled - terminated - cancelled (3) - as decided
By (9) on 2000 Contract became effective on 2000 (3)
Signature Of ChiefAdministration Officer for the French Army
or the Deputy Administrator.
(1) Name and surname of recruit.
(2) Name of the commissioner of army ground forces or his
acting local representative.
(3) Delete as appropriate.
(4) Once the details are known.
(5) Name rank and position of the officer signing the contract.
(6) If the recruit id less than 18 years old.
(7) If the recruit is French and is not yet satisfied of his legal
obligations, the ministry authorises engagement under a
(8) If the recruit does not speak French, he will be given a
reading in his language on the clauses in this act.
(9) Indicate the reason.
about health before a new recruit
may consider joining. Listed below are the most popular
questions asked about health:
As a Legionnaire, he must be
Glasses / Vision:
Are permitted within the Legion,
however depending on one’s vision
will depend on passing selection.
We all have the same color blood!
There is no recorded information of
any new recruit not being selected
due to eczema.
This will certainly affect the
selection process for a new recruit,
if successful, it is highly unlikely
that the recruit will be able to join
the parachute regiment.
This may pose a problem when
joining, however should a
Legionnaire become a diabetic after
joining, then there will be no
A Legionnaire is not required to fly
airplanes, however it is very unlikely
that a recruit with color blindness
would be able to join the Parachute
Many Legionnaires have tattoos
and as long as there not on the
face or are of an offensive nature.
Recruits are tested for drugs, if a
Legionnaire is caught with drugs,
then he will pay the price.
35% of Legionnaires smoke
There are no recorded height
How To Join
READ ALL OF THIS SECTION CAREFULLY
If you decide to take the first step, there is no point in
writing or telephoning the Legions Headquarters or the
Recruitment Offices, as the answers given are very basic. If
however you wish to write or telephone, then you should
address your questions to:
Chef du Bureau de Recrutement
de la Legion Etrangere
13400 Aubagne France
Tel: France (0033) 4 42 18 82 57
Click here to view a copy of the letter that you will receive
from the Legion:
Once the recruit has decided to join, then they should tell
someone that they intend to join, as the Legion will not
release any information about the recruit without prior
consent from that recruit.
What should I take with me?
1.Identification Papers: - Passport, Driving License,
Identity Card / Papers, Military Discharge Certificates.
2.A little money, phone cards, and enough to buy
3.A good pair of running shoes.
The 16 other recruitment office’s situated around France
(See Recruitment Offices, France being the only place that a
recruit can join from), to join what is known as the
"Selection Procedure" at the "Center de Selection et
Incorporation or CSI", which is stationed at the headquarters
at Aubagne. Your passport will also be removed until a
recruit decides to leave within the three weeks selection
procedure and once after signing the contract will only be
returned on completion of the five-year contract.
(For British Citizens-Lillie is the nearest office).
Should a potential candidate decide to go to Aubagne
directly then it will cut out 2-3 days administration at one of
the " recruiting centres". A recruit may well stay up to a
week at a recruitment office before being moved to
Aubagne. Once at Aubagne the recruit will be known as an
Engage Volontaire (EV’s).
The potential candidate is now walking into the unknown for
this process raises the eyebrows of the raw recruit.
There are detailed security checks by
the BSLE (unofficially named "Gestapo")
and medical examinations, along with a
psycho-technical exam. This process
can take anything up three to five
weeks, personal items, passports,
clothes are taken away. Only returnable if the candidate is
unsuccessful. For the period spent at Aubagne there are
many duties to be undertaken. The Legion is now very
selective, long gone are the days when you would hear "if
you’re a criminal you get in". 15 to 30 candidates out of 500
For the first week a new recruit ("Engage Volontaire") will be
issued with a tracksuit, (the only items of kit that may be
retained by a recruit are toiletries, a watch, underwear and
socks and a French dictionary / phrasebook), which identifies
him as just, arrived. During the second week a recruit will be
issued with combats and will wear a green flash on the
shoulder. At the third week stage an Engage Volontaire will
wear the same combats changing the green flash to red flash
on the epaulettes.
An Engage Volontaire is assigned a partner known as your
"Binome". There is a routine of lining up in the Corridor and
calling out from left to right a number. The number starts at
one end of the line and continues up to however many there
are in your group this is known as the "Apel". The Apel is
undertaken twice a day once in the morning and once again
a night. A Legionnaire’s service number is known as a
"Matricule" a six figure number, which will be the issue
number of the weapon ("FAMAS") issued.
Normally there are between forty to sixty Engages
Volontaires at Aubagne, at various stages of the three-week
When an Engage Volontaire departs for Castelnaudary he will
wear the uniform that has officially been issued, which
includes the Legion Green Beret.
From the moment a recruit arrives at one of the recruitment
offices, he is paid (See Pay). A recruit will undergo a week
with his future instructors at Aubagne.
1.Aged between 17 and 40 years. (Mostly new recruits
are between 17 to 25).
2.Hold a valid official identity card (i.e. Passport).
3.Be physically fit.
1.Present yourself at one of the recruiting offices listed
on the "Recruitment Offices" section of this database.
2.You will receive a psycho technical and a physical
health test and another full medical. (Which Includes
3.A full security background check will be carried out
(Including Interpol). Your fingerprints will also be taken
during this stage and held on record.
4.The Candidate will receive two interviews at Aubagne.
5.Run 7 laps on a 400-meter track in less than 12
6.If you are successful (30 in 500) then.
7.The minimum first contact is Five years, if you are
successful you are required to sign an unconditional
contract (see the Contract). (The actual length of
service is about five and a half years).
8.After preliminary checks a recruit will be transferred to
Aubagne for selection if he enlists at a recruitment
office rather than the headquarters.
9.15 to 17 weeks are spent training at the 4th Regiment
10.The "Kepi Blanc" will be gained at the 4th Regiment.
(See "Kepi Blanc").
11.After completion of the training the Legionnaire will be
posted to his regiment.
Note: Once a Recruit has completed his training, unless due
to medical grounds, he CANNOT buy himself out at anytime
during the remaining period of his contract.
A Recruit can leave anytime before signing the 5 year
contract (known as "La Declaration") whilst at Aubagne or at
the end of the training period. Service starts from the date
of signing the Contract at Aubagne.
What to Expect:
Once the "Engage Volontaire" has been selected he will be
issued with his equipment, which contains all the items
required such as the uniform. This is the first stage over
with, now the hard work starts; the recruit has taken his
first step to becoming a Legionnaire. He will be moved to the
4th Regiment at Castelnaudary, for a four-month grueling
Legionnaire Code of Honor
("Le Code D'Honneur")
1.Legionnaire: you are a volunteer serving France
faithfully and with honor.
"Legionnaire, Tu ex un volontaire servant la France
avec honheur et fidelite".
2.Every Legionnaire is your brother at arms, irrespective
of hiss nationality, race or creed. You will demonstrate
this by an unwavering and straightforward solidarity,
which must always bind together members of the same
"Chaque Legionnaire est ton frere d'arme, quelle que
soit su nationalite, sa race, sa religion. Tu
luimanifestes toujours la solidarite etroite qui doit unir
les membres d'une meme famille. "
3.Respectful of the Legion’s traditions, honoring your
superiors, discipline and comradeship are your
strength, courage and loyalty your virtues.
"Respectueux des traditions, attache a tes chefs, la
discipline et la camaraderie sont ta force, le courage
et la loyaute tes vertus. "
4.Proud of your status as a Legionnaire, you will display
this pride, by your turnout, always impeccable, your
behavior, ever worthy, though modest, you
living-quarters, always tidy.
"Fier de ton etat de legionnaire, tu le montres dans
tatenue toujours elegante, ton comportement
toujoursdigne mais modeste, ton casernement
toujours net. "
5.An elite soldier: you will train vigorously, you will
maintain your weapons as if it was your most precious
possession, and you will keep your body in the peak of
condition, always fit.
"Soldat d'elite, tu t'entruines avee rigeur, tu entretiens
ton arme comme ton bien le plus precieux, tu as le
souci constant de ta horme physique. "
6.A mission once given to you becomes sacred to you;
you will accomplish it to the end and at all costs.
"La mission est sacree, tu l’executes jusqu’au but, a
tout prix. "
7.In combat you will act without relish of your tasks, or
hatred, you will respect the vanquished enemy and will
never abandon neither your wounded nor your dead,
nor will you under any circumstances surrender your
"Au combat, tu agis sans passion et sans haine, tu
respects les ennemis vaincus, tu n’abandonnes jamais,
ni tes morts, ni tes blesses, ni ter armes. "
Ci-dessous, la version modifiée en juin 2006 par le général Bruno Dary, commandant la Légion étrangère
Article 1 : Légionnaire, tu es un volontaire servant la France avec honneur et fidélité.
Article 2 : Chaque légionnaire est ton frère d’arme quelle que soit sa nationalité, sa race ou sa religion. Tu lui manifestes toujours la solidarité étroite qui doit unir les membres d’une même famille.
Article 3 : Respectueux des traditions, attaché à tes chefs, la discipline et la camaraderie sont ta force, le courage et la loyauté tes vertus.
Article 4 : Fier de ton état de légionnaire, tu le montres dans ta tenue toujours élégante, ton comportement toujours digne mais modeste, ton casernement toujours net.
Article 5 : Soldat d’élite, tu t’entraînes avec rigueur, tu entretiens ton arme comme ton bien le plus précieux, tu as le souci constant de ta forme physique.
Article 6 : La mission est sacrée, tu l'exécutes jusqu'au bout, et s'il le faut, en opération, au péril de ta vie.
(Ancienne version : La mission est sacrée, tu l’exécutes jusqu’au bout dans le respect des lois, des coutumes de la guerre et des conventions internationales et, si besoin, au péril de ta vie.)
Article 7 : Au combat, tu agis sans passion et sans haine, tu respectes les ennemis vaincus, tu n’abandonnes jamais ni tes morts, ni tes blessés, ni tes armes.
A Legionnaire is not required at anytime to translate the
"Code D'Honneur" into his own native language; it is included
here for information only.
With basic training completed some time is spent as a
combat soldier before specialising in any trade or even taking
up further soldiering skills.
Administration, Building, Communications, Cook, Diver,
Driving, Engineer, Marksman, Mechanic, Musician,
Paratrooper, Photographer, Plumbers, Signals, Under-Water
Administration: Secretary, typist, accountant,
Building: Bricklayer, Carpenter, Electrician,
Painter, and Plumber
Engineers: Designer, Heavy Equipment Operator
Electrical: Exchange Operator, Radio Mechanic,
Radio Operator, Tele typist
Maintenance: Engine Mechanic, Vehicle
Electrician, Welder, Small Arms Repair.
Miscellaneous: Cartoon Designer, Computer
Operator, Cook, Medic, Military Police, Musician,
Photographer, Printing, and Sport’s Instructor.
Transport: Drivers of Light vehicles, Lorries,
Buses and Tracked Vehicles
There are many courses that can be taken whilst serving in
the Legion these are known as "Stages ", they are:
Tireur D’elite, Milan, Mortiers, Conducteur, Infirmier,
Other specialist skills can be learnt whilst still operating as a
combat soldier which will not alter the normal soldiering life.
A Legionnaire may specialise in a number of trades.
DINOPS Qualification Requirement
Posted By: Tango-Golf (66-2-44-66-nj-01.cvx.algx.net)
Date: Tuesday, 15 January 2002, at 10:39 p.m.
In Response To: Re: IT NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE ME! (peter)
You must become a SAF member before moving onto DINOPS. It is invitation only,
and must be approved by copany and section command. If you're any good, SAF
will hear and find you. You must also be a corporal in the Legion (2-3 years
experience after Castel). Needless to say, only those in combat companies need
be interested, although SAF actually hides within the HQ comany of the REG
(CCS). You and the other hopefuls will spend some time with the SAF; SAF is a
tight family, even tighter than the Legion combat companies, so personal
chemistry is a must. Among various "tests" will be the following:
-50 meter pool swim in 45 seconds or less.
-25 meter swim underwater minimum (50 is preferred).
-500 meter swim in 15 minutes or less.
-800 meter fin-swim in 14 minutes or less.
-Climb a 6-7(?) meter rope twice, no touching the ground or using legs.
-100 meter sprint with a heavy sandbag. Just like at Aubagne/Castel.
-1500 meter commando run with pack in 8 min or less, with the standard 8km TAP
to follow immediately after in 40 min. or less (same pack).
Making minimum times is not enough, as there are are others competing with you
to get in. You may make all the min. requirements, but be rejected. There are no
set slots to fill, the seniors can pick all, or none. The physical tests are a bastard,
done in the infamous Legion way! If you are accepted to this point, 4-5 months of
probation will be filled with various stages, including jump school. Some guys
aren't smart enough to absorb all the technicals, or find out they can't jump from
an airplane (very intimidating for the first-timer, esp in freefall).
This was as of June 1995, but I doubt it has gotten any easier. LOTS of
Legionnaires who talk about CRAP/DINOPS going to Aubagne, but those who
survive Castel may have come to the decision that the REI/REG/REP is quite cool
after all. So the probability of going SAF is next to zero, especially those who
frequent this board. If you can use the Internet, you already place in the top 2%
intellectually of all Legionnaires, and intellectuals usually can't hack the harder
stuff. My observations after 5 in the Legion, all in the REG. Incidentally, the REG
must be the most highly deployed Legion regiment of the last 10 years. Iraq,
Saudi and Kuwait during the Gulf War; Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia and
Afghanistan. Yes, the REG is there, but in small numbers.
A letter about recent selection process
Posted By: anonymous (AC878809.ipt.aol.com)
Date: Tuesday, 5 March 2002, at 4:20 p.m.
In Response To: Re: selection (Joe van Raamt)
Ok, here's the info...I went to Fort de Nogent. I recommend going directly to
Aubagne. It costs about 77 Euros for the TGV to Marseilles. I was at Fort de
Nogent about a week. If your short of cash this is the route. If not go directly
south and save several days of sitting around. (a lot of people have colds and
they spread) You will sign your contract and then be sent to Aubagne on the TGV
in civilian clothes. Upon arrival we were taken to a first floor room and our civilian
clothes taken and track suits were issued (same size for everyone). Photos were
taken. we were then sent as new volunteers to the kitchen for work detail. Later
we returned to get our musette bags and were given a shaving and shower kit.
The processing takes about three to four working days. The majority of our group
(21) was sent home after the initial psychological exams taken in the morning.
After lunch they were gone. You will line up in formation with your belongings and
names will be called on a daily basis and these individuals will be sent home. It
is an extremely fast process. Then we were sent to take our physicals the next
day. Half of my group did not finish the physical. They already seem to know who
will make it or not. The rest of us recieved a shot in the arm (probably to keep us
in better health with all the sick people around with teir colds). There are several
interrogations starting with a caporal, sergeant chef and a major during the
physical. Same questions for the most part. The next day bright and early at 8
a.m. they take you in a group to take the run test. It is done by running around
two buildings, including the Kepi Blanc building. Most don't make the seven laps.
A couple will and one in each group will run eight or more. The last 70 meters of
each lap curves to the left and starts out at a steep incline and levels out at the
finish line. You won't notice it until the later laps, but be forwarned it will get you
if not prepared. Then you go about your day on working parties and await the
afternoon cut. You will be in a group of 60 or more and then notice that only 30
are left. It happens fast. After that you will be interviewed twice (gestapo). Then
you will be on working parties for about a week until your are notified you made
rouge. The new group of rouges are sent each Friday to Castel and another group
is selected to take their place. They are the only ones wearing camo utilities,
everyone else wears the blue track suits. After rouge you remain there for another
week before being sent to Castel. I takes about three weeks for the entire
process. I saw guys that had glasses get released. The word is out and many
volunteers show up daily. Make sure you can run the seven laps to make sure you
have a chance. The legion did take guys that only ran six, but no information was
given as to why they were chosen. It can be done, just keep your mouth shut,
head down and do the work they give you. Mr. Van Rammt feel free to use this as
you wish. I could go on and on, so, if you have any further questions feel free to
post them and I will respond as soon as possible.
What to bring and what not to bring when joining