By Martin Windrow, Peter Dennis

Following the shut of the Franco-Prussian warfare (1870-1871) and the institution of the 3rd Republic, France embarked upon a brand new wave of colonialism, buying addition territories in Southeast Asia, together with Tonkin and Annam which, including Cambodia and Cochinchina, shaped French Indochina. In North Africa their impact elevated, with Tunisia got as a protectorate in 1881, until eventually via the flip of the century a lot of North, West and primary Africa used to be lower than their keep an eye on. France wanted and armed forces to police those new territories, and one in every of then most crucial components in their colonial institution used to be the French international Legion. initially based in 1830, the Legion observed a few its best hours in North Africa and Indochina within the past due nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it really is this era of the legions' heritage that has been immortalized in pop culture in works corresponding to Beau Geste. Drawing on memoirs and different interval assets, this e-book covers a variety of environments and kinds of motion and may be a necessary connection with any pupil of the legionnaires.

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THE EXPERIENCE OF BATTLE Tonkin: cross-section of part of the defences of the rebel fort at Hu Thué, sketched by a 2nd Brigade intelligence officer named Brezzin after its final capture in January 1891. ) high. (From Manington) 50 Typically of this period, when soldierly manliness demanded a certain restraint in self-expression, Legion rankers’ memoirs may reveal men’s feelings about the fatigue of marching, the misery of bad-weather bivouacs, the ordeals of wounds and disease, or even their terror of tigers – but not about actual combat.

West of the flat track were a line of low hillocks, and to the east some sand dunes and an invisible gulley. As the first camel-train was just catching up with the halted escort, the Shaamba who had been waiting in ambush at exactly that spot opened a heavy fire from the gulley. Some then rushed westwards across the track north of the two Legion platoons, cutting them off from the camels that were the raiders’ main target. Under close-range fire from two sides on open ground, the légionnaires formed skirmish lines facing east and north; Lt.

In barracks the légionnaire only risked the same scale of punishments as any other French soldier, but these were awarded more freely. They began with confinement to barracks and extra fatigues. The next step was salle de police – normal daily duties, but spending the nights in full kit on a plank platform in the guardhouse. ‘Ordinary’ arrest was a good deal harsher: at least eight days and nights in a bare cell, with six hours’ exhausting punishment drill daily. ) Cellule was even worse: solitary confinement day and night in a dark cell on punishment rations, for up to a month at a time.

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