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Modern Wars & Warfare General discussion on war. Topics that are not covered in any of our sub-forums below. .

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  #16  
Old 17 Jan 09, 09:26
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Originally Posted by Captain General View Post
They are an elite infantry/Airborne force (they also have some light armor, artillery, support etc). Primarily used by the French as a quick reaction force and garrisons in the remnants of their colonial Empire. They do have some Special Forces type missions but more like American Rangers.
There is ONE elite battalion-the 2nd REP (Regiment Estranger Parachute). The rest is standard units-1-2 infantry battalions, a wheeled armored unit, an engineer battalion, etc.
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  #17  
Old 17 Jan 09, 15:38
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Originally Posted by UGLYGUTS View Post
I was a simple RN cook, fighting under a french flag would not be my first choice carreer.
A friend of my dads was in the Legion for over twenty years, that was in the sixties and seventies.
He seems to have really liked it, best years of his life infact and he got a really decent pension from them too.

I remember a few years back talking with a Scot who had spent 20 years in the Legion.....funniest thing was he talked English with a French accent......but then again I talk English with a Canadian accent...
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  #18  
Old 22 Jan 09, 23:41
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  #19  
Old 23 Jan 09, 01:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bow View Post
I remember a few years back talking with a Scot who had spent 20 years in the Legion.....funniest thing was he talked English with a French accent......but then again I talk English with a Canadian accent...
Yes it is a funny thing about the FRENCH foreign legion, most of them were from other countries apart from France! ( Or was that the French being smart??)
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  #20  
Old 23 Jan 09, 09:09
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Originally Posted by lcm1 View Post
Yes it is a funny thing about the FRENCH foreign legion, most of them were from other countries apart from France! ( Or was that the French being smart??)
That's because it's the French FOREIGN Legion.

It was created on the understanding, and this has never ever been in any way papered over in the French mythologisation and national cult of the Legion, that these men are there to die so that a Frenchman can live, for the interests and greater glory of "la Patrie".

Like general Négrier's speech to his troops prior to ordering the attack on Lang-Son (1950) during the Indochina war:
"You are Légionnaires in order to die, and I am sending you where one dies."

Or general Gallieni, who once acceped a posting with the comment:
"Give me 600 Légionnaires in order that I may die in a convenient fashion."

Or the poet Jean Valrey's 1972 poem "Képi blanc" (just the second stanza here):

Donne ta main, mom camarade (/Give me your hand, my comrade)
Car bon sang ne peut se renier (/For good blood cannot be disowned)
Venu de Berlin? De Belgrade? (/You came from Berlin? From Belgrade?)
Mais tu est mort, sans rechigner (/But without hesitation you have given your life)
Pour remplacer, seul et sans grade (/Alone and without rank, to take the place)
Un Français, qui n'est pas tombé. (/Of a Frenchman, who has not fallen.)


Heck, the Legion's history is packed wall-to-wall with so many Germans several of the traditional regimental songs are German "Soldatenlieder", sung in German to this day. Like "Anne Marie" of the 3d R.E.I.:
"Mein Name ist Anne Marie / Und jeder kennt mich schon / Ich bin ja die Tochter vom ganzen Batallion." etc.

During WWI there were enough Germans serving to allow the French government to split the Legion in the Germans detailed to keep the French colonial empire safe in Africa and elsewhere, hence not asked to shoot at their own countrymen, and everyone else sent to the trenches in France.
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Old 23 Jan 09, 09:27
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France used to have a number of foreign regiments in its Army. The most notable were regiments of Swiss, Irish, Scots and Germans. The French Revolution saw most of these regiments disbanded as they were Royalist institutions. Imperial France had a number of Belgian, Dutch, German, Italian and Illyrian regiments. Napoleon II decided to raise some Foreign troops for foreign service and got some units of mostly Swiss.

The Swiss are divided into French, Italian and German regions (and one small area called Romansch I think). French volunteers for the Legion can claim to be from Switzerland or Monaco.

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  #22  
Old 23 Jan 09, 10:13
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Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
France used to have a number of foreign regiments in its Army. The most notable were regiments of Swiss, Irish, Scots and Germans.
Everyone did it, raise regiments of foreign mercenaries that is, at this time.

Sweden had this Great Power period inaugurated by Gustavus Adolphus in the 30 Year War. At the start of it about 25% of the Swedish army was made up of Swedes and Finns, the "national" troops. Towards the end the figure was down at 12%. The rest was mostly made up of Germans and Scots. The Swedish infantry was colour-coded, the colours tended to follow the commander, but the "Green Brigade" was identifiably Scotish, while the "White Brigade" was made up of Germans, Pommeranians. The Yellow (Royal Guard) and Blue were mostly Swedes and Finns it seems, while the Red and Black where a mixed bunch, though probably mostly German.

And recruiting mercenaries it had been going on since high middle ages, the 12th c. at least, which afaik provided the first recorded instance of large numbers of professional mercenary troops becoming available in Europe. The northern French feudal military aristocracy hated these troops no end, usually massacring them outright when defeated, as they fought effectively but "ignobly" using pole-weapons and slim daggers to bring down and kill mounted knights. The Pope even forbade their use to the south French lords fighting the northeners in the Albigensian Crusade, not that anyone respected that.

The recruiting grounds where the contested border areas between powerful kingdoms, thus theaters of military operations, where the population also became militarised to higher or less degree. In France during the 12th and 13th c. the mercenaries typically came from the Basque countries and Flanders, "the men of Brabant".

I guess Switzerland is a little odd in that respect, as they started actively exporting mercenaries.

And then there's the case of the British Isles, where England in succession defeated and incorporated the Welsh, Irish and Scots, using the newly defeated to fight the next target, including the French, viz. the Welsh archers at Agincourt, who were the same Welsh archers, the survivors at least, Henry V had defeated just a few years earlier putting down the Glyndwr/Glendover uprising.

Which brings us to the Irish: Used by England to the point where an official comission in the 1850's trying to work out the composition by nationality of the British army put the percentage of Irishmen in to around 40%.

And prior to that there was the "Wild Geese" phenomenon, which means by French reconning between 1700 and 1789, 400 000 Irishmen served in the armies of His Most Catholic Majesty, the King of France. Very useful to send in if a battle against the English was hanging in the balance...

The equally Catholic Habsburg Emperors of Austria also recuited Irishmen by the regiment at the same time. The Russians used them too.

Stuff like this is why one of the most decorated generals of French military history is Marie Edme Patrice Maurice de MacMahon (1808-1893), Marshall of France, Duke of Magenta. The family originally came from County Clare in the late 17th c.
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  #23  
Old 23 Jan 09, 10:59
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Seems wrong not to mention the various foreign forces fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, too.
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  #24  
Old 23 Jan 09, 12:10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Banér View Post
E
And then there's the case of the British Isles, where England in succession defeated and incorporated the Welsh, Irish and Scots, using the newly defeated to fight the next target, including the French, viz. the Welsh archers at Agincourt, who were the same Welsh archers, the survivors at least, Henry V had defeated just a few years earlier putting down the Glyndwr/Glendover uprising.
Whoa there! Them English never defeated the Scots and absorbed them into their forces - (although you are right with the other two).The Scots and English armed forces were integrated after the two parliaments merged in 1707. Highland regiments were partly formed from defeated rebels after the unsuccessful Jacobite rising of 1745, but as many Scots fought against that rising as for it as part of the British army.

A small matter, but us small countries have strong backs from carrying these chips on our shoulders.

What was regarded as the oldest fighting unit in the world, the Royal Scots was a repatriated Scottish mercenary regiment formed to under French colours. They were know as Pontius Pilot's Bodyguard due to their great history. Not sure that since the last amalgamations they can still be said to exist a separate unit now.
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  #25  
Old 24 Jan 09, 12:32
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The real French Foreign Legion

Hi Guys.

Ok I'm new on here and I have joined up to help set the record straight.
I'm an ex Legionnaire with 11 years service in the 2eme REP (Parachute Regiment based in Corsica)

If any of you want to know more about the Legion then visit my web page.
It will tell you all about how, where and what you have to do to join, about the training, the regiments and what the Legion are involved in today.

There is too much to go into in a post so If you want to know more pay it a visit.

The page can be found at http://www.troon-promotions.com/ntd.htm
It is a sub page of my business site but only deals with the Legion.
If anyone wants to know more they will find links to ask me.
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  #26  
Old 24 Jan 09, 13:29
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Welcome to the Forums and thanks for the info. I'm sure there will be plenty of questions forthcoming.

I have no intention of joining the Legion. I was just curious if anyone on the forums had served with the Legion.

Hopefully you'll stick around and participate in one the best sites on the web!
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  #27  
Old 24 Jan 09, 17:03
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Don't ever desert from the Legion, because they will track you down and return you to service. A Canadian Pal of mine knew of a guy who deserted the Legion, returned to Canada and resumed his former life only to be grabbed by French Intelligence officials and extradited back to the Legion.
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Old 24 Jan 09, 18:52
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That's interesting! I never knew anything about the French Foriegn Legion before. Thanks for the link.
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Old 24 Jan 09, 22:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billscottmorri View Post
Whoa there! Them English never defeated the Scots and absorbed them into their forces - (although you are right with the other two).The Scots and English armed forces were integrated after the two parliaments merged in 1707. Highland regiments were partly formed from defeated rebels after the unsuccessful Jacobite rising of 1745, but as many Scots fought against that rising as for it as part of the British army.

A small matter, but us small countries have strong backs from carrying these chips on our shoulders.
Oh, right, apologies.

It wasn't my intention to somehow indirectly convey any message of some kind of English pwnage of Scotland.

The point is rather, and it's valid whether Scotland successfully defended its independence, as it did, or not, that these smaller nations surrounding England experienced a substantial militarisation as a result of the conflicts with the larger neighbour, becoming exporters of mercenaries in the process.

You got Welshmen offering their services in France at least as early as in the 12th c. In the 17th c. the Catholic monarchs of Europe hired Irishmen en bloc, while the Protestant Swedes were hiring in particular Lowland Scots. And all the while the English had been hiring all three, often to fight each other.

I mean, typically the great rebel leader and Welsh national hero, Owain Glyndwr, prior to his rebellion allowed himself to be hired by the Earl of Arundel to go and fight the Scots on behalf of the English.

Eventually the British army sucked up this "martial tradition" the wars had created, including ideas like forming "ethnic" regiments of Highlanders, in the 18th and 19th c. As I'm sure you're perfectly aware that the Welsh, Scots and, especially, the Irish were overrepresented, in view of their numbers, in the British army of the Victorian era.
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Old 25 Jan 09, 06:42
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Johan,

If you think the Irish were over represented in number of regiments, you should check the rolls of any regiment that was stationed in Ireland for a period of time! They enrolled Irish in their regiments! The Irish also went to England and Scotland to enlist! Some "English" regiments were at least 25% Irish! Even Highland regiments were notorious for non-Scottish names on the rolls.

Later on the "Highland Regiments" were given a town (Glasgow or Edinborough say) to help their recruiting base in the rural areas. For instance, the Gordon Highlanders also recruited in Glasgow.

The Irish and Scots kept the marital spirit longer than most of the English counties.

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