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Recruits who do enlist with declared identities may, after one year's service, regularise their situations under their true identities. As of , legionnaires came from countries. The majority of enlisted men originate from outside France, while the majority of the officer corps consists of Frenchmen. Many recruits originate from Eastern Europe and Latin America. Neil Tweedie of The Daily Telegraph said that Germany traditionally provided many recruits, "somewhat ironically given the Legion's bloody role in two world wars.

Original nationalities of the Foreign Legion reflect the events in history at the time they join. Many former Wehrmacht personnel joined in the wake of World War II [] as many soldiers returning to civilian life found it hard to find reliable employment.

Bernard B. Fall , who was a supporter of the French government, writing in the context of the First Indochina War , questioned the notion that the Foreign Legion was mainly German at that time, calling it:. As a rule, and in order to prevent any particular nation from making the Foreign Legion into a Praetorian Guard , any particular national component is kept at about 25 percent of the total.

Even supposing and this was the case, of course that the French recruiters, in the eagerness for candidates would sign up Germans enlisting as Swiss, Austrian, Scandinavian and other nationalities of related ethnic background, it is unlikely that the number of Germans in the Foreign Legion ever exceeded 35 percent.

Thus, without making an allowance for losses, rotation, discharges, etc. As to the ex-Nazis, the early arrivals contained a number of them, none of whom were known to be war criminals. French intelligence saw to that. Since, in view of the rugged Indochinese climate, older men without previous tropical experience constituted more a liability than an asset, the average age of the Foreign Legion enlistees was about At the time of the battle of Dien Bien Phu, any legionnaire of that age group was at the worst, in his "Hitler Youth" shorts when the [Third] Reich collapsed.

The Foreign Legion accepts people enlisting under a nationality that is not their own. A proportion of the Swiss and Belgians are actually likely to be Frenchmen who wish to avoid detection. In the Commonwealth Realms, its collective provisions provide for nationals to commute between armies in training or other purposes. Moreover, this 'blanket provision' between member-states cannot exclude others for it would seem inappropriate to single out individual countries, that is, France in relation to the Legion.

For example, Australia and New Zealand may allow post-Legion enlistment providing the national has commonwealth citizenship. Britain allows post-Legion enlistment. Canada allows post-Legion enlistment in its ranks with a completed five-year contract. In the European Union framework, post Legion enlistment is less clear. Denmark, Norway, Germany and Portugal allow post-Legion enlistment while The Netherlands has constitutional articles that forbid it. The European Union twin threads seem to be recognized dual nationality status or restricting constitutional article.

One of the biggest national groups in the Legion are Poles. Polish law allows service in a foreign army, but only after written permission from the Ministry of National Defence. The Ever Victorious Army was the name given to a Chinese imperial army in the late 19th century. Commanded by Frederick Townsend Ward , the new force originally comprised about mostly European mercenaries, recruited in the Shanghai area from sailors, deserters and adventurers.

Many were dismissed in the summer of , but the remainder became the officers of the Chinese soldiers recruited mainly in and around Sungkiang Songjiang. The Chinese troops were increased to 3, by May , all equipped with Western firearms and equipment by the British authorities in Shanghai. Throughout its four-year existence the Ever Victorious Army was mainly to operate within a thirty-mile radius of Shanghai. It was disbanded in May with foreign officers and 2, Chinese soldiers being paid off. The bulk of the artillery and some infantry transferred to the Chinese Imperial forces.

It was the first Chinese army trained in European techniques, tactics, and strategy. The term originates with the approximately 4, both Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers who went to Israel to fight in the Arab—Israeli War including Aliyah Bet. Today, there is a program, Garin Tzabar , within the Israeli Ministry of Defense that administers the enlistment of non-Israeli citizens in the country's armed forces. Programs enable foreigners to join the Israel Defense Forces if they are of Jewish descent which is defined as at least one grandparent. It stopped being an army of foreigners around when recruitment was restricted to Dutch citizens and to the indigenous peoples of the Dutch East Indies.

The KNIL was finally disbanded on 26 July , seven months after the Netherlands formally recognised Indonesia as a sovereign state, and almost five years after Indonesia declared its independence. During the Rhodesian Bush War of the s and s, the Rhodesian Security Forces enlisted volunteers from overseas on the same pay and conditions of service as locally based regulars. And like the Foreign Legion, once in the ranks, a man's past was irrelevant. Many of them were professional soldiers, attracted by the regiment's reputation—mostly former British soldiers , or Vietnam veterans from the United States , Australian and New Zealand forces—and these became a key part of the unit.

After the Rhodesians' overseas recruiting campaign for English-speakers, started in , proved successful, they began recruiting French-speakers as well, in These francophone recruits were placed in their own unit, 7 Independent Company , Rhodesia Regiment , which was commanded by French-speaking officers and operated entirely in French. The experiment was not generally considered a success by the Rhodesian commanders, however, and the company was disbanded in early In the service conditions of the Russian Military have been changed.

The actual term "Russian Foreign Legion" is a colloquial expression without any official recognition. Under the plan, foreigners without dual citizenship are able to sign up for five-year contracts and will be eligible for Russian citizenship after serving three years. Experts say the change opens the way for Commonwealth of Independent States citizens to get fast-track Russian citizenship, and counter the effects of Russia's demographic crisis on its army recruitment. The Spanish Foreign Legion was created in , in emulation of the French one, and had a significant role in Spain's colonial wars in Morocco and in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side.

It is now called the Spanish Legion and only recruits Spanish nationals. Beyond its reputation as an elite unit often engaged in serious fighting, the recruitment practices of the French Foreign Legion have also led to a somewhat romanticised view of it being a place for disgraced or "wronged" men looking to leave behind their old lives and start new ones. This view of the legion is common in literature, and has been used for dramatic effect in many films, not the least of which are the several versions of Beau Geste.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about a French military unit. For other uses, see French Foreign Legion disambiguation. For other uses, see Legionnaire disambiguation.


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The Foreign Legion's grenade emblem and colours. Metropolitan France :. Main article: Origins of the French Foreign Legion. Main article: Crimean War. Main article: Second Italian War of Independence. Main article: Second Franco-Dahomean War. Main article: Second Madagascar expedition.

Voices from the French Foreign Legion

Main article: Mandingo Wars. Main article: Alsace-Lorraine. Main article: Foreign Legion Command. Main article: List of French paratrooper units. Previously, Major had been an independent rank positioned between NCOs and commissioned officers. It is an executive position within a regiment or demi-brigade having responsibility for administrative and disciplinary issues. Further information: Modern equipment and uniform of the French Army.

French Foreign Legion headquarters in Aubagne. Main article: French Foreign Legion in popular culture. Military history of France portal War portal France portal. Foreign Legion Info.


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Legion Etrangere in French. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 4 April CQ Press. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 March Military History Online. Retrieved 26 February Curtin 28 May Cambridge University Press. E , Editorial of C. And I to my pledged word am true, I shall not fail that rendezvous. San Jose: R. James Bender. HarperCollins Canada, Limited. The companies could be described as Motorized Saharan Companies of the Legion; however their strict French limitation to motorized only in terms of translation and function would be incorrect as they should be referred to as "Mounted" which would apply for both Motorized or mounting other means.

Legion of the Lost. NBC Nightly News.

What ever happened to the French Foreign Legion?

Retrieved 7 December He's one of 27 nationalities here with the French Foreign Legion. In the context word in reference, the use of "Anciens" plural form, singular form being "Ancien" is referring to that which is old and senior. Retrieved 4 April Retrieved 14 January Retrieved 15 July Uniforms of the French Foreign Legion — Read online at archive. French Army French Foreign Legion The Independent.

Why young men queue up to die in the French Foreign Legion | Aeon Essays

Lepage 28 January Fall Stackpole Books. Archived from the original on 22 November Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books. Modern African Wars: Rhodesia, — Oxford: Osprey Publishing. Micheletti, Eric ed. Paris: Histoire et Collections 16 : 16— Paris: Histoire et Collections 17 : 28— The Moscow News. Archived from the original on 5 April Retrieved 17 July MR Tony Geraghty Evan McGorman 1 January Hellgate Press. Douglas Porch Harper Perennial.

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French Foreign Legion. Categories : French Foreign Legion Military units and formations established in establishments in France. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Most can't take the life and desert, for it is not a life of guns and glory, you'll spend more time behind a mop then behind a rifle.

And in response to the common misperception that the Legion will accept all sorts of criminals and miscreants, that is not true at all. At least, not anymore. A full background check is made on you, including a full check by Interpol so if your some deranged axe murderer they'll find you, then they'll turn you over to the police. If you do join up, you'll either serve in mainland France or if you become a paratrooper in Corsica. Serving in the Legion means serving overseas, and you'll see Africa from the eyes of Djibouti and Algeria. If France is involved in a foreign war its the Legion that gets sent first.

The French Foreign Legion does not cater to criminals, so if your a psychotic axe-murderer you won't be let in, instead you'll be detained and sent to the police. They do perform a full background check on you, one that runs through Interpol and the largest police agency from your home country. So if your from America like me, the FBI will be contacted. The July Revolution of had resuscitated the French Revolutionary concept of a citizen army and led to disbandment of the Swiss Guards and other foreign formations that had enforced Bourbon mastery of such uprisings.

To address the resulting coagulation of refugees in French cities, King Louis-Philippe on March 9, , signed into law an act creating a ghetto foreign force within a citizen army. But the corps conceived as a mere historical footnote adhered to France like a sticky, finger-clinging sweet. Alien males continued to trespass, only to be repackaged and dispatched. Few survived, but replacements were plentiful and expendable. Even French regular soldiers questioned the value of legionnaires whose conduct hovered somewhere between sullen recalcitrance and incipient mutiny.

On April 30, , 62 legionnaires under Captain Jean Danjou— a Crimean War veteran with a wooden prosthetic hand — defended a walled farm called Hacienda de la Trinidad against hundreds of Mexican insurgents. At the end of the day, their ammunition exhausted, the five surviving legionnaires — Lieutenant Clement Maudet, Corporal Louis Maine and Privates Catteau, Constantin and a Prussian named Wenzel — fixed bayonets, fired a valedictory volley and plunged to their deaths in a tsunami of sombreros.

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Sign up for the Early Bird Brief - a daily roundup of military and defense news stories from around the globe. By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. Paul Rollet worried that high casualties and a dearth of replacements would fold the legion on the Western Front — fortunately, the Hindenburg Line caved before the RMLE ran short of rifles.

After the war, Rollet, now inspector general of the legion, fretted that the old legion had died on Vimy Ridge, in Champagne and Verdun and on the Chemin des Dames.

Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1: French Foreign Legion Merchandise

When French officers who had spent time as prisoners in Germany were sent to the legion to acquire command time for promotion, they so abused German legionnaires that many opted to desert. Doubts about legion discipline, solidity and adaptability made some commanders reluctant to commit them to combat in North Africa and Syria in Rollet was distressed to the point of distraction by what he viewed as assaults on the legion by novelists, filmmakers and even in the sensationalist memoirs of alleged ex-legionnaires, tales that inevitably culminated, as in Beau Geste , in dramatic desertion.

This would, he reasoned, legitimize the legion in the eyes of recruits, instill a sense of continuity with past generations and inculcate values and standards of behavior by making legionnaires custodians of supposedly hallowed practices. The date became a celebration of regimental legitimization, a behavioral model that provided a link across the World War I chasm between the old and new legions, a grasp at perpetuity for an accidental, transitory unit. But legion exceptionalism and tradition could not guarantee survival. During the —62 Algerian War, negotiators floated the idea of partitioning Algeria between Muslims and European Pieds-noirs , leaving the legion to defend the latter.

That was, of course, before April , when legion units spearheaded the failed putsch against French President Charles de Gaulle. The answer is that despite endemic desertion and indiscipline, even flirtations with sedition, the legion has bestowed France with incontestable benefits. The legion amalgamates immigration responsibilities with those of a national probation department.