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Foreign Legion (France): Colours

Part 2

Last modified: 2009-12-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: foreign legion | honneur et fidelite |
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  • 1er RE (1er Régiment étranger, First Foreign Regiment)
  • 4e RE (4e Régiment étranger, Fourth Foreign Regiment)
  • 1er REC (1er Régiment étranger de cavalerie, 1st Cavalry Foreign Regiment)
  • 1er REG (1er Régiment étranger de génie, 1st Engineers Foreign Regiment)

See also:


1er RE

The 1er RE (1er Régiment étranger, First Foreign Regiment) was founded on 1 January 1885 in Siddi-Bel-Abbès (Algeria) to replace the 1er RLE (1er Régiment de la Légion étrangère), itself founded in 1841. After the independence of Algeria (1962), the 1er RE was relocated to Aubagne; its barracks are named after Colonel Vienot, the Chief of Corps of the 1er RLE killed during the Siege of Sebastopol on 2 May 1855.
Today an administrative unit, the 1er RE runs the Administrative Services of the Legion, the Principal Band of the Legion (Musique principale de la Légion), the Legion Museum (Musée du souvenir), the Institute for the Disabled Veterans of the Foreign Legion (Institution des Invalides de la Légion étrangère, Puyloubier) and the Transit Company (Paris).
Peter Karađorđević (1844-1921), King of Serbia as Peter I (1903-1921), served in the 1er RE in 1870-1871. So did Prince Louis Napoléon (1914-1997, Head of the Imperial House in 1926) in 1939-1940 as "Louis Blanchard" (the law prevented him to join the "national" armed forces and he joined the Legion as "Planckaert", miswritten "Blanchard").

The colour of the 1er RE is decorated with the Legion of Honour, awarded in 1906, and the War Cross 1914-1918 (one palm).
The reverse of the colours bears nine battle awards:

SÉBASTOPOL 1855
KABYLIE 1857
MAGENTA 1859
CAMERONE 1863
EXTRÊME-ORIENT 1884-1885
DAHOMEY-MAROC 1892-1907-1925
MADAGASCAR 1898-1905
ORIENT 1915-1917
AFN 1952-1962

AFN stands for "Afrique du Nord", North Africa.

Ivan Sache, 25 October 2009


4e RE

The 4e RE (4e Régiment étranger, Fourth Foreign Regiment) was founded in 1920 in Marrakech (French Protectorate of Morocco). The lozengy badge of the 4e RE recalls its ancient nickname of "Morocco Regiment", showing the Koutoubia of Marrakech.
Renamed 4e REI (4e Régiment étranger d'infanterie, 4th Infantry Foreign Regiment) in 1922, disbanded in 1940, having subsequently experienced different name changes, the 4e RE was reestablished in 1946 and sent to Madagascar and Far East. Disbanded again in 1951, the 4e RE was recreated in 1955, sent to Algeria, and disbanded in 1964.
The RILE (Régiment d'Instruction de la Légion étrangère), founded in Castelnaudary in 1976, was renamed 4e RE in 1980.

On 1 September 1977, the RILE was granted the colour of the 4e RE. The colour is decorated with the War Cross 1939-1945 (one palm).
The reverse of the colour bears four awards:

CAMERONE 1863
MAROC 1914-1918 / 1921-1934
DJEBEL ZAGHOUAN 1943
AFN 1952-1962.

Granted on 11 November 1922 in Marrakech, the first colour of the 4e RE did not bear "CAMERONE 1863" as it should have done; the mistake was corrected only 12 years later, upon special order of General Rollet, Commander of the Legion.

The pennant of the 1e CIE E.V. (1e Compagnie d'engagés volontaires, First Company of Volunteers) is blue with the regiment's badge and a gilded writing, not readable on the source image.
The pennant of the C.C.S. (Compagnie de commandement et de service, Command and Service Company, nicknamed "The Colonel's Company"), is green with the regiment badge and a gilded writing, not readable on the source image.

Ivan Sache, 26 October 2009


1er REC

The 1er REC (1er Régiment étranger de cavalerie, 1st Cavalry Foreign Regiment), formed in Saîda (Algeria) in 1901, was officialized on 20 June 1922 with the inauguration of the regiment's barracks at Sousse (Tunisia). In 1925, more than 80% of the soldiers of the1er REC were White Russians, mostly Hussars. The 1er REC maintains the traditions of the Royal étranger de cavalerie, founded in 1635.
The only armoured regiment of the Legion, the 1er REC recently served in Chad, Lebanon, Iraq, Cambodia, Congo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Côte d'Ivoire, Afghanistan and Kosovo.

The colour of the 1er REC, granted on 2 December 1925 in Sousse, is decorated with the War Cross 1939-1945 (three palms), the War Cross TOE (foreign operations, seven palms) and with the fourragère (lanyard) of the two War Crosses.
The reverse of the colour bears eight awards:

CAMERONE 1863
LEVANT 1925-1926
MAROC 1925-1927 / 1930-1934
OUSSELTIA 1943
COLMAR 1945
STUTTGART 1945
INDOCHINE 1947-1954
AFN 1952-1962

The AFN award was granted in July 2005.

The archives of the 1er REC keep the historical pennants of the regiment and of its squadrons.
The regiment's pennant follows the Legion model with the writing "1er REGIMENT ETRANGER / DE CAVALERIE" and number "1" in the grenade. In his book La Légion étrangère (1933), the writer Pierre Mac Orlan (1882-1970) writes:

The pennant of the 1st Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Regiment is charged with an embroidered leopard, the pennant of the 2nd Squadron has a grenade placed on a red and black background, the pennant of the 3rd Squadron is green with a boar, the 4th Squadron [...] bears on a blue background the War Cross of the TOE [foreign operations]. The Off-rank Squadron has adopted a blue-white-red pennant. The 5th Squadron's pennant bears the Seal of Solomon, the 6th Squadron's pennant bears a horseshoe. The Depot Squadron, stationed a few kilometers from Sousse, marches under a yellow and green pennant.

Formed on 30 July 1921, the 4th Squadron was granted the Cross of War TOE (one palm) after the Battle of Messafré (Syria), 17 September 1925. Its pennant is, on the obverse, blue with four white triangles in the four angles, the colour being reverted on the reverse. The obverse bears the writing "1er ETRANGER DE CAVALERIE / 4e ESCADRON", number "1" in the grenade, and the War Cross, as described by Mac Orlan, and number "4" in each white triangle; the reverse bears three battle awards, MESSIFRE, RACHAYA (on 20 November 1926, 3,000 Druzes attacked the citadel, defended for four days by the Landriau Squadron) and SUD MAROCAIN, and a grenade with number "1" in each blue triangle.

The fighting squadrons of the 1er REC have a square pennant charged with the regiment badge surmonted by the silver name of the squadron ("1ER, 2E, 3E, 4E, 5E ESCADRON", respectively). The respective colours of the squadron pennants are blue, red, green, light blue, and dark blue.

The 2e REC, that existed in 1939-1940 and 1946-1962, maintained the traditions of the Dauphin étranger, itself founded in 1666. The colour of the 1er REC has been transferred to the DLEM, stationed in Mayotte.

Ivan Sache, 26 October 2009


1er REG

The 1er REG (1er Régiment étranger de génie, 1st Engineers Foreign Regiment) is the follower of the 6e REI (6e Régiment étranger d'infanterie, 6th Infantry Foreign Regiment). The 6e REI existed from 1939 to 1942 in Levant (Syria and Lebanon), where it was also known as the "Eastern Mediterranean Sea Regiment". Reestablished in Tunisia in 1949, the 6e REI was sent to Indochina, where its 3rd Battalion became the 1st Battalion of the 5e REI. The 6e REI was disbanded again on 30 June 1955 when the Foreign Legion, back from Indochina, was reorganized.
The 1er REG was created on 1 July 1984 as the 6e REG (6e Régiment étranger de génie, 6th Engineers Foreign Regiment). It has served in Chad, Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Centrafrican Republic, Italy, Macedonia, Côte d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Lebanon. On 1 July 1999, the creation of a second Engineers Foreign Regiment (2e REG) required the adoption of the name of 1er REG by the former 6e REG.

Following the tradition of the Legion, the 1er REG, beside its own colour, is in charge of the colours of the 6e REI and of the 6e REG. These colours follow the model of the colours of the French army.
Granted on 6 October 1984, the colour of the 6e REG was the first Legion colour to bear the word "GENIE" (Engineers). Incidentally, the writing used on the colour obverse is not consistent. "ETRANGER" and "GENIE" should have been "ÉTRANGER" and "GÉNIE", respectively; "RÉPUBLIQUE" and "RÉGIMENT" are written correctly, as are all the words on the colour of the 6e REI. The writing is not consistent either on the colour reverse, with "FIDELITE" instead of "FIDÉLITÉ".
The reverse of the two colours bears three awards:

CAMERONE 1863
MUSSEIFRÉ 1925
SYRIE 1925-1926

Granted on 3 December 1999 (St. Barbara's Day), the colour of the 1er REG seems to have correct writing, except "ETRANGER" instead of "ÉTRANGER". The only award shown on the reverse is "CAMERONE 1863". The colour has two sashes, its own and the sash of the former 6e REG.

The pennant of the 1er REG follows the Legion model, with the writing "1er REGIMENT ETRANGER / DE GENIE" and number "1" inside the grenade.

The march song of the 1er REG alludes to the pennant of the regiment, as follows:
Le fanion claque et s'élève
au-dessus du pont romain.
[...]
Quand le vert et rouge de ton fanion surgit
C'est la débandade dans les rangs ennemis.
[...]

(The pennant flutters and rises
Above the Roman bridge.
When the green and red colours of your pennant emerges
The enemy ranks break up.)

The pennant of the CCL (Compagnie de Commandement et de Logistique, Command and Logistics Company) is diagonally divided grey-white with the regiment badge in the middle and the gilded writing "COMPAGNIE DE COMMANDEMENT / ET DE LOGISTIQUE". The regiment's badge, designed after the badge of the 6e REI (Lebanon), shows an armour and the Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard, located not far from the regiment headquarters (and another symbol of the engineers' skills).
The pennant of the CAS (Compagnie d'Administration et de Soutien, Administration and Support Company) is white with the regiment's badge in the middle and the gilded writing "COMPAGNIE D'ADMINISTRATION / ET DE SOUTIEN".
The pennant of the 1e CIE (Première compagnie de combat, First Fighting Company) is blue with the regiment's emblem in the middle and the gilded writing "1ere COMPAGNIE" (instead of the correct "1e").
The pennants of the CA (Compagnie d'appui, Support Company, 2e CIE, 3e CIE and 5e CIE are not shown on the regiment's website.

Ivan Sache, 29 October 2009

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