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

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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There were two main waves of Hungarian recruits to the Legion; the first due to adverse conditions and the imposition of Communist rule post WW2 and the second after the brutal crushing of the anti-Communist Hungarian revolution in 1956. Hungarian Legionnaires believed that they were striking back at the malign influence of Moscow by fighting against their proxies in both Indochina and Algeria.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Thanks Fantassin.
Would a palm only be awarded for wear on a campaign medal, or also on decorations ?
Is there an equivalent of a bar for second awards of gallantry decorations ?
 
Thanks Fantassin.
Would a palm only be awarded for wear on a campaign medal, or also on decorations ?
Is there an equivalent of a bar for second awards of gallantry decorations ?
The palms only go on Croix de guerre and croix de la valeur militaire. The various stars and palms denote second, third, fourth....attributions.

On campaign medals you only find clasps with the name of the territory for which the medal was awarded.

There was one exception to that rule regarding the "war wound medal" as this decoration was always in a limbo, some calling it a decoration, other an insignia, and there was a lack of official regulations regarding its award and order of precedence.

Normally, on the "war wound medal", you get this medal once, with a red star on the ribbon and then add one red star for each further wound. But it was not always the case and sometimes wounded soldiers just added a red star on the campaign medal such as the examples below:

1585044161420.png


It was also the case during the war in Algeria; as officially it wasn't a war because Algeria was French territory and you don't fight an undeclared war on your own territory but you carry out police operations, the conflict was called "law enforcement operations". Consequently, a "war wound medal" could not be awarded.
Frustrated because they could not be awarded the "war wound medal", wounded soldiers took to adding the red star of the "war wound medal" on the North African campaign medal; it was not regulation but it was tolerated.

On the picture below, you can see a Médaille commémorative des opérations en Afrique du Nord with 5 red stars indicating 5 different wounds. It belonged to a 1er and then 2°REP Légionnaire, named Herbert.

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Adjudant-chef Vandenberghe, from the Colonial infantry, who was KIA in Indochina on 5 January 1952 and was probably the most decorated NCO of that conflict, had the "war wound medal" with 8 stars as he was WIA on 8 different occasions (5 bullet wounds, 2 mine wounds, 1 grenade shrapnel wound).

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The palms only go on Croix de guerre and croix de la valeur militaire. The various stars and palms denote second, third, fourth....attributions.

On campaign medals you only find clasps with the name of the territory for which the medal was awarded.

There was one exception to that rule regarding the "war wound medal" as this decoration was always in a limbo, some calling it a decoration, other an insignia, and there was a lack of official regulations regarding its award and order of precedence.

Normally, on the "war wound medal", you get this medal once, with a red star on the ribbon and then add one red star for each further wound. But it was not always the case and sometimes wounded soldiers just added a red star on the campaign medal such as the examples below:

View attachment 459246

It was also the case during the war in Algeria; as officially it wasn't a war because Algeria was French territory and you don't fight an undeclared war on your own territory but you carry out police operations, the conflict was called "law enforcement operations". Consequently, a "war wound medal" could not be awarded.
Frustrated because they could not be awarded the "war wound medal", wounded soldiers took to adding the red star of the "war wound medal" on the North African campaign medal; it was not regulation but it was tolerated.

On the picture below, you can see a Médaille commémorative des opérations en Afrique du Nord with 5 red stars indicating 5 different wounds. It belonged to a 1er and then 2°REP Légionnaire, named Herbert.

View attachment 459248

Adjudant-chef Vandenberghe, from the Colonial infantry, who was KIA in Indochina on 5 January 1952 and was probably the most decorated NCO of that conflict, had the "war wound medal" with 8 stars as he was WIA on 8 different occasions (5 bullet wounds, 2 mine wounds, 1 grenade shrapnel wound).

View attachment 459244
Do you know if there are any online French resources that cite a citation or any other information about awarded medals?
My granddad received the medaille militaire and dad the legion d'honneur, would be great to know more.
 
Do you know if there are any online French resources that cite a citation or any other information about awarded medals?
My granddad received the medaille militaire and dad the legion d'honneur, would be great to know more.
It's possible that they were Gazetted, though many were not.

For the GF-if he was WWI?-it may be recorded on his Medal Index Card. For Father (WWII) it should be recorded on his Service Records.
 
Do you know if there are any online French resources that cite a citation or any other information about awarded medals?
My granddad received the medaille militaire and dad the legion d'honneur, would be great to know more.
I have never researched medals but I doubt there is such a resource like the National Archives where you can get the text of the citations.

France has always awarded a lot more medals that the UK (I think something like 92,000 living members of the LH are allowed for example with, on average, 2800 new members every year, including 320 foreigners) and there were more than a million croix de guerre during WW1. Today, there are still quite a lot of awards for bravery that would not guarantee a MiD in the UK.

As I wrote before, I once discussed the issue with a military psychiatrist and he told me that this liberal approach to awards was partly based on the recommendations of mental health specialists; if you get an award, you are less likely to wonder if what you did was worthwhile and less likely to question it and further down the line, to develop PTSD.
 
I have never researched medals but I doubt there is such a resource like the National Archives where you can get the text of the citations.

France has always awarded a lot more medals that the UK (I think something like 92,000 living members of the LH are allowed for example with, on average, 2800 new members every year, including 320 foreigners) and there were more than a million croix de guerre during WW1. Today, there are still quite a lot of awards for bravery that would not guarantee a MiD in the UK.

As I wrote before, I once discussed the issue with a military psychiatrist and he told me that this liberal approach to awards was partly based on the recommendations of mental health specialists; if you get an award, you are less likely to wonder if what you did was worthwhile and less likely to question it and further down the line, to develop PTSD.
Wasn't it Napoleon that said:
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I wonder if recruiting would be as good if there were lots of online pictures and you tube videos of Legionnaires doing all the crap "corvees" (i.e. block jobs) and filling much of their (so called) spare time in the first year with cleaning, sweeping, mopping, polishing, painting, raking, picking up fag butts (cigarette ends), washing clothes (by hand), precision ironing, locker layouts (and them being turfed out), endless inspections (and failing them), petty humiliations, refused permissions (local evening/overnight leaves); and regular kitchen duties, mess duties, guard duties etc. etc. etc. :)
Ha ha ha
I also think that videos posted of the recruitment team working the plage in Cannes with a nice booth must be pretty scary to the ordinary French man. Look at the size of him, the tattoos, and the shaven head. They must shit themselves just him saying 'hello"
 
One of the most unusual among the unusual characters who served in the FFL: Nicolas Roumiantzoff, DSO, MC, US DSC


Born in Russia in 1906 the son of a Russian noble, he entered the Saint Cyr Academy in 1924 as an apatride; he was naturalized in 1939.

He started his career in the 1er REC, à titre étranger, fighting in Syria from 1926, then Tunisia in 1927, then the Lebanon, Morocco, Irak etc. in various units, both FFL and North African cavalry (Spahis) until 1939.

In 1940, he fought on horseback as part of the FFL's 97°GRDI, the CO of which, LTC Paul Lacombe de La Tour, who had been awarded no less than 12 citations between WW1 and the beginning of WW2, was KIA. Roumiantzoff got his DSO during the battle of France, one of the rare WW2 French DSO not awarded to a Free French.

He then returned to French North Africa, got arrested by the Spanish police while trying to reach Gibraltar to join the Free French. In separate incidents, he killed no less than 3 Spanish policemen, including one while handcuffed, and finally managed to escape. In January 1942, he reached London and joined the Free French forces.

he fought the rest of the war mostly with the Moroccan Spahis (light cavalry); from octobre 1943, he was the CO of the Reece element of the Free French 2nd AD. (2°DB), the RMSM, equipped with M-5 Stuart light tanks and M-8 Armoured Cars. He fought in Normandy, Paris, Alsace, Germany.

After the war, he did two tours in Indochina and one in Algeria but not with the FFL.

He retired a Brigadier, still speaking a terrible French. He was married to a model nicknamed Pâquerette who was of course much younger than him.

He died in 1988; from the day he retired, he lunched every day at the same table of the exclusive Le Fouquet's restaurant, on the Champs Elysées. He had table N°22, which was the number of "titres de guerre" (citations and wounds) he had received during his career. He came with his dog, who was also fed by the restaurant, with a full boned chicken presented on a napkin. Le Fouquet's even introduced a specific dish for him on the menu, "La petite marmite du Général Roumiantzoff".

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And that is why I love France and the way it is with its soldiers and people who led from the front through desperate days. A man I would have stood in front of and 'ne bouge pas' at attention until he had signalled to relax and sit with him over a glass of wine.
 
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I helped in building this fort in 86 with the 1°Company of the 2 REI. At the time, the tower on the right ( G N for Gendarmerie Nationale, Tchadien) was just one floor level and left tower wasn't built yet. We were replaced by the 2° company who finished the job and it is probally them you can see parading (orde serré)
Note the date on the képi blanc mag
Can you imagine how the Legionnaires in this photo felt having to get dressed up and march through this gate? They must have spitting feathers at the end of the day.
 
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.
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.
I always thought this was the best bit of French kit going. Take out a corner of a house, through a window and just 'take that you b..'
 
Based on the principle that an idle Légionnaire is bound to do something stupid, keeping Légionnaires busy is a constant preoccupation of the officers and NCO. Ironing a parade uniform in the middle of nowhere is a good way to fill a day....
 

LepetitCaporal

Old-Salt
I remember once, in Chad, my groupe, Milan, being selected by our captain company, to get dressed up for Mess...
The army Champlain, le pere Lammand (SP) did not have enougth flock amongst us pagans / heathens to hold a Catherine, so our captain decided it was my group!
Ironing my uniform in the middle of nowhere...we were living in tents, ffs
Weaseled my way out of it by hiding behind the tent that was used for the chapel
Captain was, is a staunch Catholic
He was before joining my régiment , section leader of the CRAPs, 2REP
After his time in my lot...
He became their Chef de Corps
Colonel Prévost, now Général 4*.
When we were back in France...a couple of times, i made bananes (out of town)
When i went in front of him on rapport for punishiment...
He asks me, 'do i belive in Jésus?'...
Me thinks, ' i' ve heard this before'...and replied, ' do not know but i would like to'
He was ever so forgiving...if you played it right
334.jpg
 
Yes the officer corps of the REP is known to be a hotbed of "Cathos tradi" with very large families. Not all 2°REP officers are like that but those who are tend to congregate there if they can.

The Chaplain you mentioned, Père Lallemand, is now 82 and has retired into prayers. Before being a priest, he was an officer in the "Commandos de Chasse", hunting the FLN guerrillas during the war in Algeria during which his brother, an officer, was KIA.
Père Lallemand was made Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur in 2012 which is very rare for a chaplain. He has over 900 parachute jumps.

1585177655637.png
 
One of the most unusual among the unusual characters who served in the FFL: Nicolas Roumiantzoff, DSO, MC, US DSC


Born in Russia in 1906 the son of a Russian noble, he entered the Saint Cyr Academy in 1924 as an apatride; he was naturalized in 1939.

He started his career in the 1er REC, à titre étranger, fighting in Syria from 1926, then Tunisia in 1927, then the Lebanon, Morocco, Irak etc. in various units, both FFL and North African cavalry (Spahis) until 1939.

In 1940, he fought on horseback as part of the FFL's 97°GRDI, the CO of which, LTC Paul Lacombe de La Tour, who had been awarded no less than 12 citations between WW1 and the beginning of WW2, was KIA. Roumiantzoff got his DSO during the battle of France, one of the rare WW2 French DSO not awarded to a Free French.

He then returned to French North Africa, got arrested by the Spanish police while trying to reach Gibraltar to join the Free French. In separate incidents, he killed no less than 3 Spanish policemen, including one while handcuffed, and finally managed to escape. In January 1942, he reached London and joined the Free French forces.

he fought the rest of the war mostly with the Moroccan Spahis (light cavalry); from octobre 1943, he was the CO of the Reece element of the Free French 2nd AD. (2°DB), the RMSM, equipped with M-5 Stuart light tanks and M-8 Armoured Cars. He fought in Normandy, Paris, Alsace, Germany.

After the war, he did two tours in Indochina and one in Algeria but not with the FFL.

He retired a Brigadier, still speaking a terrible French. He was married to a model nicknamed Pâquerette who was of course much younger than him.

He died in 1988; from the day he retired, he lunched every day at the same table of the exclusive Le Fouquet's restaurant, on the Champs Elysées. He had table N°22, which was the number of "titres de guerre" (citations and wounds) he had received during his career. He came with his dog, who was also fed by the restaurant, with a full boned chicken presented on a napkin. Le Fouquet's even introduced a specific dish for him on the menu, "La petite marmite du Général Roumiantzoff".

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Is it possible to elaborate on the incidents with the Spanish Policemen?
 

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