How does the 2 REP (FFL) compare to the British Paras?

Just found this pic while browsing t'interweb:
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This appears to have been taken around about my time in the Regiment., the early to mid-eighties.
 
With the "Pull Atomic" green sweater which was specific to the 2°REP and 1er REC and was initially introduced in Algeria...
 
With the "Pull Atomic" green sweater which was specific to the 2°REP and 1er REC and was initially introduced in Algeria...
Actually as I recall, the "Pull (and pantalons) Atomic" were the sweatshirt and long-johns type thermal underwear of the time. What you are referring to is the zip-up "Pull Vert" which was non-issue and we all had to buy from the "Foyer" on arrrival in Calvi (together with a shed-load of other stuff which was non-issue but de-riguer in the regiment in order to have a bit better and more operational kit than was standard in the French Armed Forces at the time). The issue kit is so much better now. Btw - for those not in the know "pull" is a french abbreviation for pullover.
 
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@fantassin
Any idea what this badge is? I found it just now for sale on ebay as a 2 REP badge (it isn't), but whereas it has some elements of the 1 REP insignia, it isn't either, nor any other of the more short lived Legion airborne units.
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It is the wings and the Legion grenade and "flamme" (without the little winged sword) that I recall as being on the official 2 REP T-shirts when I first arrived in Calvi.
 
@fantassin
Any idea what this badge is? I found it just now for sale on ebay as a 2 REP badge (it isn't), but whereas it has some elements of the 1 REP insignia, it isn't either, nor any other of the more short lived Legion airborne units.
View attachment 458234
It is the wings and the Legion grenade and "flamme" (without the little winged sword) that I recall as being on the official 2 REP T-shirts when I first arrived in Calvi.
For me it's a fake. Very likely an individual or a small company which has decided to create an insignia and then put it on eBay claiming it's a "limited run" or "locally made".

It happens all the time with the insignias of most prestigious French units because there is a lot of money to be made with gullible collectors who have no contacts within the units. Some years ago it was a non existent "section commando" of the 13°RDP. The insignias were actually made in the USA...
 
Not quite. Here are some comments:

Post WW2 and during the Cold War, the French Army used to be divided into a mainly conscript force for the defence of France and a mainly professional volunteer force for external operations. However the former "Troupes Coloniales" now "Troupes de Marine" were not the only professional units (and they had conscript units as well) and the "Troupes de Metropole" were not wholly conscript units.

It is true that professional units carried out most of the combat operations in Indochina and Algeria, but this was not just the "Troupes Coloniales" or "Troupes de Marine". I believe that the Foreign Legion was about 30,000 strong in the Fifties and there were also professional units from the Metropole involved in combat operations.

The only Legion regiment disbanded due to the Algerian Putsch was 1 REP. 2 REC was cut in the downsizing of the French Army at the end of the Algerian War, it's colours are carried by the DLEM (Detachment de la Legion Etrangere a Mayotte), the smallest Legion unit. If the French Army would need another armoured regiment, 2 REC could be recreated.

I understand that Piaf dedicated her rendition of the song "Non, je ne regrette rien" to the Foreign Legion (as a whole) in 1960, before the putsch. 1 REP subsequently adopted it as topical after the putsch and sang it when being marched out of their barracks for the last time before disbandment. The Officers of 1 REP were then imprisoned at the Fort de Nogent (on the outskirts of Paris) awaiting Courts Martial. There they recorded an album called "Souvenirs de Fort de Nogent" or "Chants d’Honneur et de Fidélité" which included the song. It was later renamed "L'Honneur d'un Regiment".

As far as I know, the only 1 REP officer to be executed was Roger Degueldre, who had deserted prior to his intended arrest and joined the anti-Gaullist OAS. He was implicated in several terror attacks.

It should also be noted that the book and film "The Day of the Jackal" are fiction based on fact and should not be seen as definitive.
Roger Degueldre's decorations

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The film below does not show an FFL unit but it is very interesting because it is of very good quality and shows the VBCI, (which is used by the 2°REI and 13°DBLE) in action in an African urban environment, using both its 25 mm automatic cannon and 7,62 mm MG. There are also some APAV 40 mm rifle grenades being fired as well as an AT4CS rocket and other infantry weapons and the evacuation of 3 French WIAs.

The unit is the 16 Bataillon de Chasseurs à Pied (16°BCP), the setting is Bangui in CAR and the date is 20 August 2014, during Op Sangaris when TICs were a daily occurence there.

 
Currently the most citations are, no surprise there, to be found in SF units such as 1er RPIMa, Commando Hubert or CPA10; AFAIK, 7 citations on the VM plus a couple more on the Def Nat is the current record....

Of course, that is without taking into consideration Général Puga, ex-CO 2°REP who still is currently the serving soldier with the most VM (8 !); the below pic shows his rack; French medals stop on the middle of the third row; the palm on a red-black background in the middle is the "Croix de la bravoure zaïroise" awarded by Mobutu to all the participants to the Kolwézi jump.

From row #5 these are foreign awards given for diplomatic reasons

This post was 5 five years ago....currently, the most highly decorated is a LTN of the 1er RPIMa, a former enlisted who went up through the rank. He has been in this unit all his career as a HALO specialist.

He has 13 citations on his croix de la valeur militaire...there are other NCOs in the 1er RPIMa with over 6 citations and generally speaking, the SF now concentrate all the most highly decorated active French servicemen.


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The film below does not show an FFL unit but it is very interesting because it is of very good quality and shows the VBCI, (which is used by the 2°REI and 13°DBLE) in action in an African urban environment, using both its 25 mm automatic cannon and 7,62 mm MG. There are also some APAV 40 mm rifle grenades being fired as well as an AT4CS rocket and other infantry weapons and the evacuation of 3 French WIAs.

The unit is the 16 Bataillon de Chasseurs à Pied (16°BCP), the setting is Bangui in CAR and the date is 20 August 2014, during Op Sangaris when TICs were a daily occurence there.

I take it that these lads (and at least one lass, judging by the voice) are regulars?
 
I take it that these lads (and at least one lass, judging by the voice) are regulars?
Yes the French army has been all regulars for almost 20 years now. The girl is a doctor, as quite often the case.
The same unit, 16 BCP, was in Mali a few month ago, again with its VBCIs.

The specialists will note he has a US M3 knife on his chest, the traditional combat knife of the French army since WW2...

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Yes the French army has been all regulars for almost 20 years now. The girl is a doctor, as quite often the case.
The same unit, 16 BCP, was in Mali a few month ago, again with its VBCIs.

The specialists will note he has a US M3 knife on his chest, the traditional combat knife of the French army since WW2...

View attachment 458520
I know that NS has finished in France, but I didn't know that it been as long as twenty years.
As an aside then, I remember seeing the French in Bosnia in the nineties. Would they have been regulars?
 
I know that NS has finished in France, but I didn't know that it been as long as twenty years.
As an aside then, I remember seeing the French in Bosnia in the nineties. Would they have been regulars?
I was announced in 1996 and the last conscripts left in 2001.

In Bosnia there were some conscripts but they had to volunteer for overseas duties. Some extended the duration of their national service by adding 2 to 14 months to the regulation 10 months in order to fit one, or even two Operational tours in their national service. It was quite common with national servicemen coming from French overseas possessions like New Caledonia and Tahiti. In my platoon, I had guys who did a UNPROFOR tour in Sarajevo (shelling, snipers and all) and then a 4 months tour in French Guyana during their national service.
 
I was announced in 1996 and the last conscripts left in 2001.

In Bosnia there were some conscripts but they had to volunteer for overseas duties. Some extended the duration of their national service by adding 2 to 14 months to the regulation 10 months in order to fit one, or even two Operational tours in their national service. It was quite common with national servicemen coming from French overseas possessions like New Caledonia and Tahiti. In my platoon, I had guys who did a UNPROFOR tour in Sarajevo (shelling, snipers and all) and then a 4 months tour in French Guyana during their national service.
That is interesting. The lads I saw, l think were marines. Dark blue berets and I'm sure the capbadge was an anchor or similar. It was twenty five or so years ago though, I've slept and drunk beer since. We worked with the Dutch quite a lot out there. All of them were regulars as (they told us themselves) their conscripts couldn't be trusted.
 
There were also NS volunteers in some Troupes de Marine units sent to Bosnia. One unit which sent volunteer NS soldiers was the RMT (Régiment de Marche du Tchad) an armoured infantry unit. It was in 1995 IIRC.
For some it was just an adventure but I saw at least one conscript who had volunteered for Sarajevo return completely shaken by the experience. He kept silent on his return, avoiding anybody's company until he completed his NS; there were not many mentions of PTSD at the time....
 
These are depicting the Kolwezi Operation (Op Bonite) in 1978.

The man on the left in the photograph is the best officer I have had the honour to serve with. He was my first Company Commander at Third Company 2 REP in early 1982. He was an outstanding leader of men and a very difficult act to follow, though his successor did quite well and led the company on Ops Epaulard and Manta. His successor in turn (in my opinion and based on my observations) was, most unfortunately, a Legion anomaly; whose "by the book" pettifogging, lack of charisma and underwhelming physical presence led to a serious crash in Company morale. His successor, in turn, thankfully proved that "Fat Peter" had been the exception which proved the rule that the Officers in 2 REP were/are, in general, exceptionally capable and confident leaders in the best traditions of the French Officer Corps.

The face of the man on the right in the colour plate (carrying the FR-F1 sharpshooter rifle) is modelled on a northern Italian who was the other "Chef d'Equipe" (Team Leader) in the "Groupe" (UK military parlance = Section), where I was the Caporal, "Chef d'Equipe Feu" (Fire Team Leader) during Op Manta in Chad in 1984. "Gigi" was a little older than me and a great JNCO to be working alongside, who had an unshakeably cheerful disposition.

The bottom figure in the colour plate is interesting as it shows the red "foulard de compagnie" (Company kerchief) of 2 REP's 2nd Coy. Such coloured kerchiefs together with the coloured triangles stencilled on the back of the helmets were tactical recognition/identification devices. The number in the triangle denoted the platoon ("Section" in French) within the company. In a small error (as it's not shown in the picture) these were complemented by a little "plaquette en bois" (wooden tag) painted the same company colour and attached to the D-ring at the top of the "Sac Ops" (the Ops Pack) or small tactical rucksac as worn in the picture. On one side of the tag the platoon number was painted. On the other side, was the name rank and number of the individual to whom it belonged as well as the details of his platoon, company and regiment. Such tags were also attached to all deployable items of baggage and made for a uniform and easy identification process. The weapon he is using (though there are some errors of detail in the picture) is a MAS 49/56 FSA (Fusil Semi-Automatique or semi-automatic rifle) with rifle grenade attached. These excellent weapons had, by and large, been replaced by the (equally excellent) FAMAS by the time I arrived in the Regiment in 1982. However one was retained in each "Groupe" for added fire support as it could launch bigger and heavier rifle grenades to a longer distance than the FAMAS. This was now the weapon of the "Chef d'Equipe Feu" and as such was my personal weapon in Chad - and I loved it. Even with a barrel pitted by the firing of countless rifle grenades, I could achieve a lovely little grouping at 400m (over iron sights). The old French 7.5x54mm round was (is) an excellent round, more powerful than 7.62x51mm (NATO Standard). It was used at the time in the FSA, the FR-F1 and the AA-52 machine gun.
 
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The decorations of Adjudant-chef Tasnady, one of the three highly decorated Hungarian NCOs who were killed in a short period of time during the war in Algeria. They had all joined in 1945 and together had 34 citations including 15 à l'ordre de l'Armée, 3 Médailles militaires, 2 chevalier and one officier de la Légion d'Honneur (Tasnady, rosette on the Légion d'honneur) and 8 wounds.
Tasnady was KIA on 14 May 1959 in the Ouarsenis region.

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ADC TASNADY.jpg
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Could you explain about the medals and devices please ?
Also I thought French medals were mounted in rows of three, what's the story here ?
 
Could you explain about the medals and devices please ?
Also I thought French medals were mounted in rows of three, what's the story here ?
The explanation of stars and palms can be found here:


Regarding the number of medals per row, it quite depends on how many medals the individual has. The most highly decorated tend to stack them in four.

The current FRA ChOD, a Marine Infantry type who has a lot of Ops experience goes for 4 to a row.

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Same for his deputy for Ops, an SF type

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He has 12 foreign and NATO decorations, that takes quite a lot of room...

On the other hand, the FRA CGS, a FFL airborne type, goes for 3 to a row....but at this level, they pretty much do what they want !

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