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Foreign Legion (France): Colours

Part 3

Last modified: 2012-10-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: foreign legion | honneur et fidelite |
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  • 2e REG (2e Régiment étranger de génie, 2nd Engineers Foreign Regiment)
  • 2e REI (2e Régiment étranger d'infanterie, 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment)
  • 2e REP (2e Régiment étranger de parachutistes, 2nd Paratroopers Foreign Regiment)
  • 3e REI (3e Régiment étranger d'infanterie, 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment)
  • 13e DBLE (13e Demi-brigade de Légion étrangère, 13th Half- Brigade of Foreign Legion)
  • DLEM (Détachement de Légion étrangère de Mayotte, Detachment of the Foreign Legion at Mayotte)

See also:


2e REG

The 2e REG (2e Régiment étranger de génie, 2nd Engineers Foreign Regiment) was created on 1 July 1999 on the grounds of the Air Force Base of Saint-Christol. Located on the Plateau d'Albion, the base housed the 1er GMS (Groupement de missiles stratégiques, Group of strategic missiles), which was disbanded on 16 September 1996; the base was closed on 16 June 1999.
Specifically trained to mountain operations, the regiment has served in Djibouti, Afghanistan, Côte d'Ivoire and the Balkan.

Granted on 30 September 1999, the colour of the 2e REG is similar, mutatis mutandis, to the colour of the 1er REG.

The march song of the First Company of the 2e REG alludes to the flag of the Legion as follows:
[...]
En tête de not' colonne
Un drapeau claque au vent
C'est celui de la Légion
Qui flotte dans le vent
[...]

(At the head of our column
A flag flutters in the wind
The flag of the Legion
Flutters in the wind.)

The march song of the CAS (Compagnie d'administration et de soutien, Administration and Support Company) of the 2e REG alludes to the colours of the Legion as follows:
[...]
La rue appartient au drapeau des képis blancs
[...]
Honneur, Fidélité sur nos drapeaux
[...]

(The streets belong to the flag of the white kepis
Honour, Loyalty on our flags.)
The white kepi is a characteristic element of the legionnaires' uniform.

The pennant of the CAS is inscribed with the company motto, "D'un bloc !" (Join forces!).

Ivan Sache, 30 October 2009


2e REI

The 2e REI (2e Régiment étranger d'infanterie, 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment) was created on 3 April 1841 in Bône (Algeria) as the 2e Régiment de la Légion étrangère (2nd Regiment of the Foreign Legion). Made of three battalions stationed at Bône, Bougie and Djidjelli, the regiment contributed to the "pacification" of Algeria (1841-1857) and served during the Crimean War.
The 2e REI was founded in 1922, disbanded in 1943 and reestablished on 1 January 1946. It served in Indochina, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Allocated to the Command of the Military Sites of Sahara in 1962, the regiment was disbanded on 1 January 1968.
The 2e RE was reestablished in Corsica in 1972 and eventually renamed 2e REI on 1 July 1980; on 11 November 1983, the regiment was relocated to Nîmes. It served in Chad, Lebanon, Gabon, Iraq, Zaire, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Centrafrican Republic, Kosovo, Macedonia, Côte d'Ivoire and Afghanistan.

The first colour of the 2e RE was awarded in 1844, upon request by its commander, the Duke of Aumale (1822-1897), who was the fifth son of King Louis-Philippe.
The reverse of the colour bears eight battle awards:

CONSTANTINE 1837
MOSTAGANEM 1839
MOUZAIA 1840
COLEAH 1841
DJIDJELLI 1842
ZAATCHA 1849
FEDJ-MENAZEL 1851
ALMA 1854

The colour of the 2e REI is decorated with the War Cross TOE (service in foreign countries) with two palms and with the Golden Medal of the town of Milan. On 11 November 1955, the colour was awarded the fourragère (lanyard) of the War Cross.
The reverse of the colour bears ten battle awards:

(In the white stripe)
SEBASTOPOL 1855
KABYLIE 1857
MAGENTA 1859
CAMERONE 1863
EXTREME-ORIENT 1884-1885
DAHOMEY 1892
MADAGASCAR 1898-1905
MAROC 1907-1913 1921-1934
(In the red stripe)
INDOCHINE 1946-1954
AFN 1952-1962

Several pennants of the 2e REI are shown in the Hall of Fame of the regiment.

Ivan Sache, 31 October 2009


2e REP

The 2e REP (2e Régiment étranger de parachutistes, 2nd Paratroopers Foreign Regiment) originates in the 2e BEP (2e Bataillon étranger de parachutistes), founded on 2 October 1948 and immediatly sent to Indochina. Involved in all the fightings of the War of Indochina, including the Battle of Diên-Biên-Phu (March-May 1954), the battalion lost more than 1,500 men. Repatriated to Algeria, the 2e BEP was renamed 2e REP on 1 December 1955.
Transferred to Calvi (Corsica) in 1967, the 2e REP was involved in several operations, for instance in Chad, Djibouti, Zaire (Kolwezi), Gabon, Rwanda, Iraq, former Yugoslavia and Congo.
The 2e REP is the only paratroopers unit of the Legion; the 1er REP, founded on 1 September 1955, was disbanded on 30 April 1961 after his officers and soldiers had massively supported the attempt of coup by the generals Challe, Jouhaud, Salan and Zeller on 23 April 1961.
The 3e REP, founded on 1 September 1955, was merged into the 2e REP on 1 December 1955.

The colour of the 2e REP is decorated with the Cross of War TOE (foreign operations, seven palms) and of the fourragère (lanyard) of the Legion of Honour.
The reverse of the colour bears three awards:

CAMERONE 1863
INDOCHINE 1947-1954
AFN 1952-1962

The colour of the 1er REP, kept in the Legion Museum at Aubagne bears on its reverse three battle awards:

CAMERONE 1863
INDOCHINE 1949-1954
AFN 1952-1962

The pennant of the 1er BEP follows the Legion model with the paratroopers' badge on the reverse. It is decorated with the War Cross TOE (foreign operations, five palms) and with the fourragère (lanyard) of the Military Medal.
The pennant of the 2e BEP follows the model of the pennant of the 1er BEP.

The pennant of the 6th Company of the 2e BEP is, on the obverse, of the Legion model with number "2" in the grenade, and, on the reverse, red with the grenade surmounting the gilded writing "6EME COMPAGNIE".
The pennant of the 8th Company of the 2e BEP, is on the obverse, on the Legion model with number "2" in the grenade and a French tricolor flag in canton, and, on the reverse, green with the grenade surmounting the gilded writing "8EME COMPAGNIE".

Ivan Sache, 31 October 2009


3e REI

The 3e REI (3e Régiment étranger d'infanterie, 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment) is the follower of the glorious RMLE (Régiment de marche de la Légion étrangère, March Regiment of the Foreign Legion).
Founded in 1915, the RMLE significantly contributed to the seizure of Belloy-en-Santerre on 4 July 1916 and to the breakdown of the Hindenburg Line on 14 September 1918. Transferred to Fez (Morocco) on 11 November 1920, the RMLE was renamed 3e REI.
The regiment was disbanded after the German attack on Tunisia on 19 January 1943; the RMLE was reestablished and served during the campaign of France in 1944-1945, as part of the 5th Armoured Division. Reestablished after the war, the 3e REI served in Indochina; after the independece of Algeria, the regiment was relocated to Diego-Suarez (Madagascar) on 28 August 1962. The 3e REI was eventually transferred to Kourou (French Guiana) in 1973.

The colour of the 3e REI is one of the most decorated colours of the French army. It is decorated with the Legion of Honour, the Military Medal, the War Cross 1914-1918 (nine palms), the War Cross 1939-1945 (two palms), the War Cross TOE (foreign operations, 5 palms), the fourragère (lanyard) of the Military Medal and the double fourragère of the War Cross and of the Legion of Honour, specially designed for the RMLE.
The reverse of the colour bears twelve battle awards:

(In the white stripe)
CAMERONE 1863
ARTOIS 1915
CHAMPAGNE 1915
LA SOMME 1916
LES MONTS-VERDUN 1917
PICARDIE-SOISSONNAIS 1918
VAUXAILLON 1918
MAROC 1921-1924
(In the red stripe)
DJEBEL MANSOUR 1943
ALSACE 1944-1945
(In the blue stripe)
STUTTGART 1945
INDOCHINE 1945-1964

In 1943, the colour of the 3e REI was inadvertently abandoned in the headquarters of the regiment. Two French found the colour in a German car parked in a garage in Tunis and brought it back to the Legion; they were awarded the War Cross with palm.
On 14 February 1950, the 3e REI was awarded the "Distinguished Unit Citation" by the President of the USA; as a tribute to the contribution of the RMLE to the campaigns of France and Germany. A special pennant bearing "Rhin - Alpes - Bavarian" was granted to the regiment, and attached to the sash of the colour of the regiment when stationed in Indochina.

The pennant of the Paratroopers Company of the 3e REI (1948-1949) follows the Legion model; on the obverse, the grenade is replaced by the paratroopers' badge argent, surmounting the gilded writing "HONNEUR - ET - FIDELITE"; on the reverse, the grenade charged with number "3" surmounts the gilded writing "COMPAGNIE - PARACHUTISTE".
The pennant of the 2nd Battalion of the 3e REI, kept by the Legion Museum at Aubagne, is, on the reverse, red with the grenade without number and the gilded writing "2eme / Bon".

Ivan Sache, 31 October 2009


13e DBLE

The 13e DBLE (13e Demi-brigade de Légion étrangère, 13th Half- Brigade of Foreign Legion) was founded on 1 March 1940. Trained in Finland, the regiment contributed to the seizure of Narvik (Norway) on 28 May 1940. After the armistice, the regiment was sent to Trentham (England); some troops went back to North Africa while other joined De Gaulle's Free French Forces. They embarked to Congo on 30 August 1940 and fought all over Africa, contributing to the victory of Bir-Hakeim (26 May-1 June 1942) over Rommel's Afrikakorps. Lieutenant-Colonel Alimakvari, commander of the 13e DBLE, was killed in the battle of El-Alamein on 24 October 1942. The 13e DBLE took part of the Provence landing on 16 August 1944, contributing to the liberation of Toulon, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Lyon, Dijon and Colmar.
Sent to Indochina, the 13e DBLE lost 330 men in the Battle of Diên-Biên-Phu (March-May 1954). The last French unit to leave Tonkin, the 13e DBLE was repatriated to North Africa and involved in the Algerian Indepedence War. After the independence, the regiment was sent to Djibouti, then the capital of the Côte française des Somalis, where it remained after the independence of Djibouti.

The colour of the 13e DBLE part of the 1st French Free Division, granted in October 1941 in Homs (Syria), bears on the reverse eight battle awards:

CAMERONE 1863
LYBIE - BIR-HAKEIM 1942
BJERWIK 1940
TUNISIE 1943
NARWIK 1940
ITALIE 1944
KEREN 1941
MASSAOUA 1941

The modern colour of the 13e DBLE is decorated with the Cross of Liberation (awarded by General de Gaulle on 6 April 1945), the fourragère (lanyard) with the colours of the Military Medal (awarded in September 1946), and the black and green cordon of the Compagnons de la Libération (awarded on 16 June 1998).
The reverse of the colour bears ten battle awards:

(In the white stripe)
CAMERONE 1863
BJERVIK - NARVIK 1940
KEREN - MASSAOUAH 1941
BIR-HAKEIM 1942
EL-ALAMEIN 1942
ROME 1944
COLMAR 1945
AUTHION 1945
(In the red stripe)
INDOCHINE 1944-1954
AFN 1952-1962

The pennant of the 13e DBLE follows the Legion model, with appropriate writing and number "13" written in the grenade.

The march song of the 13e DBLE alludes to the flag as follows:
[...]
Une phalange magnifique
A fait flotter nos étendards
[...]
Son drapeau celui de la France
Est un emblème des plus glorieux
[...]

(A wonderful phalanx
Flew our standards
Its flag, the flag of France
Ranks among the most glorious emblems.)

Ivan Sache, 1 November 2009


DLEM

The DLEM (Détachement de Légion étrangère de Mayotte, Detachment of the Foreign Legion at Mayotte) is the follower of the 4th Company (renamed 2nd Company in 1965) of the 3e REI. In 1956, one of the battalions of the 3e REI, then stationed in Algeria, was relocated to Madagascar and renamed Bataillon de Légion étrangère de Madagascar (Battalion of the Foreign Legion at Madagascar). After the independence of Algeria, the whole 3e REI was relocated to Madagascar, at the base of Diégo-Suarez.
In July 1967, the 2nd Company of the 3e REI was permanently relocated to the Comoros. In 1973, the 3e REI left Madagascar for French Guyana, but the 2nd Company, renamed DLEC (Détachement de Légion étrangère aux Comores) on 2 August 1973, stayed. In 1976, the Comoros, except Mayotte, became independent, and the DLEC was relocated to Mayotte and renamed DLEM, accordingly.
On 3 October, the DLEM set up on Grand Comoro the Azalée operation to expel a group of mercenaries, commanded by Bob Denard, who had attempted to take the power in Comoros.

In July 1984, the DLEM was granted the colour of the former 2e REC. The reverse of the colour bears the battle honour "CAMERONE 1863".

The pennant of the 2nd Company of the DLEM is purple with the gilded writing "2E COMPAGNIE" surmounted by a white rectangle panel bearing the emblem of the 3e REI, surmounted by "LEGIO / PATRIA NOSTRA" and surmounting "3e R.E.I." both writings being in black letters.

The pennant of the DLEC, kept at the Legion Museum at Aubagne, follows the Legion model with the gilded writing "D.L.E.C." and no number in the grenade. The pennant of the DLEM follows the same pattern.

Ivan Sache, 1 November 2009

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