Many of us have seen films about the French Foreign Legion, this mysterious army of men who are trained in the art of warfare and I was intrigued to find out more about the origin of this French elite special force. I was surprised to learn that they had first been formed around two centuries ago.
The French Foreign Legion was first created back in 1831 by King Louis Philippe. This army was made up of volunteers all of whom were men ranging from the young age of eighteen up to the age of forty. These volunteers did not have to have any form of identification to enrol into the army that was being formed, there were no questions asked. As soon as the legion was large enough they were sent to fight for France in the troubled country of North Africa, Algeria.
A second legion was then formed to fight for a second time in Algeria as well as in the Crimea in 1855. This was followed by another campaign in Italy and then in Mexico, where these legionnaires were sent to fight for their country against the Mexicans. It was here that the French Foreign Legion won their reputation of hard men of war with a battle that took place that was to go down in the annals of war history. With only 3 officers and 62 legionnaires they held off two thousand Mexicans soldiers. These legionnaires and their officers stood their ground fighting heroically until the last five men fixed their bayonets onto their rifles and charged straight at the Mexican army. This very battle is commemorated on every Legion flag and it is the symbol of every mission the French Foreign Legion carries out for its country and that is right to the bitter end.
All through time the French Foreign Legion has fought in campaigns far and wide always standing their ground and fighting heroically for their country. By 1870 they welcomed foreigners to join their ranks of legionnaires when they fought in France. This was to happen again both in 1914 during the First World War and 1939 for the Second World War.
In 1945 on the eve of the Armistice, one of the French Foreign Legion regiments, the 11th refused to retreat in front of the enemy. The regiment was decimated by their adversaries but they had shown the sheer courage, determination and bravery these men had in the hearts and their souls when it came to defending their country.
Since the French Foreign Legion was first formed back in 1831 by the French king to wage a campaign in North Africa, this army of elite men have served France in many other campaigns all over the globe and have paid very dearly with their lives when they had to. Nine hundred and two officers, 3,176 NCOs and more that 30,000 legionnaires have fought and died bravely for their country, France. It is widely believed that though some of these men may not be French by birth, they as legionnaires become Frenchmen by the blood they spill when they bravely give their lives in defence of France.