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

Oyibo

LE
That's probably only because there's so few Brits (of all flavours) in the Legion at present. When there were loads of Brits serving (probably from about the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties), the general consensus among French Officers was that although the Brits were great soldiers in the field, in garrison they were the worst pissheads and trouble-makers, always up for a scrap. I was actually told this first hand by my Company Commander at my leaving do in the 3rd Company's club in late 1986. In his words "If I went to war I wouldn't mind having a whole company of "Brits" (he actually said "Anglais" but as is the norm on the continent, the word is often used to mean all the British to the chagrin of the other nations). But in camp you are a nightmare."

As for the tight trousers, the combats are now a much looser fit. Even then (1980's) we often tried to have baggier ones for the field. The summer walking out dress (khaki trousers and shirt) was always a snug fit. It was a great uniform to pull the tourist birds in Calvi.
I did drop in to Calvi in the '90s with 1 PARA. We weren't allowed to fraternise - a shame really as both 2 REP and 1 PARA were really keen to meet each other.

(Of course many people in 1 PARA managed to escape from the large hangers at the back of the camp, despite the eagle eyes of the hierarchy that were looking the other way.)
 
I did drop in to Calvi in the '90s with 1 PARA. We weren't allowed to fraternise - a shame really as both 2 REP and 1 PARA were really keen to meet each other.

(Of course many people in 1 PARA managed to escape from the large hangers at the back of the camp, despite the eagle eyes of the hierarchy that were looking the other way.)
I believe that more recently with all the cross-training between the British and the French, the restrictions imposed on visiting units have been much reduced. Happy to be corrected.

I understand the Toms being kept apart, but during your visit was there any connection between the Messes? Were the Officers invited up to the 2 REP Officers' Mess in Calvi Citadel and likewise for the Sergeants to the 2 REP Sous-Offs' Mess to the north-east of Camp Raffalli?
 
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Oyibo

LE
I believe that more recently with all the cross-training between the British and the Frecnh, the restrictions imposed on visiting units have been much reduced. Happy to be corrected.

I understand the Toms being kept apart, but during your visit was there any connection between the Messes? Were the Officers invited up to the 2 REP Officers' Mess in Calvi Citadel and likewise for the Sergeants to the 2 REP Sous-Offs' Mess to the north-east of Camp Raffalli?
Sadly not - It was a blanket ban on fraternising when we got to Camp Raffalli at endex. At the time I thought it was the bellend of a CO we had at the time, but I have been told by ex French Legionaires in tight trousers that a few exchange trips to Calvi (prior to ours) had ended in visits to the hospital, and a bit of paperwork with the Gendarmes and Police. So on balance, it seems the 2 REP CO did not want us spreading the love of British Airborness.

By contrast, the first trip to Camp de Souge (1ere RCP) near Bordeaux was f*cking carnage. We (a company) rocked up and the officers whisked us (officers, CSM, and SNCOs) away to the mess for lunch, telling us "do not worry about your soldiers - they can wait". We were worried. Very worried.

A couple of hours later a panicky French JNCO came into the mess to declare that they had broken out the 'war dogs' because the British paratroopers were destroying the place.
 
................. We (a company) rocked up and the officers whisked us (officers, CSM, and SNCOs) away to the mess for lunch, telling us "do not worry about your soldiers - they can wait". We we worried. Very worried. ...........
That sounds very French and very similar to the old ways in the UK. There was (and it was especially visible when I served in the early eighties) great class stratification in the French Armed Forces. This was something I did not expect to see given the influence of the French Revolution, the abolition of the Monarchy and the historical disestablishment of the landed gentry. However Officers were treated as a social class apart from everyone else and retained great privilege. SNCOs aped the Officers and mirrored their institutions and affectations. The rank and file were treated as minions and potential servant labour. This was all very visible in the greater part of the French conscripted forces and also existed to a degree in the professionalised units, where at least there was a greater degree of trying to look after your troops properly. It was here that you could really differentiate the good officers from the indifferent and the bad, in the way they ensured that the basic creature comforts of their troops were met. In general Legion Officers were pretty reasonable in this. But from what I saw of the French Regular Army, there was quite some discrepancy.

I am led to understand that with the professionalisation of the French Army the situation has improved.
 

Oyibo

LE
That sounds very French and very similar to the old ways in the UK. There was (and it was especially visible when I served in the early eighties) great class stratification in the French Armed Forces. This was something I did not expect to see given the influence of the French Revolution, the abolition of the Monarchy and the historical disestablishment of the landed gentry. However Officers were treated as a social class apart from everyone else and retained great privilege. SNCOs aped the Officers and mirrored their institutions and affectations. The rank and file were treated as minions and potential servant labour. This was all very visible in the greater part of the French conscripted forces and also existed to a degree in the professionalised units, where at least there was a greater degree of trying to look after your troops properly. It was here that you could really differentiate the good officers from the indifferent and the bad, in the way they ensured that the basic creature comforts of their troops were met. In general Legion Officers were pretty reasonable in this. But from what I saw of the French Regular Army, there was quite some discrepancy.

I am led to understand that with the professionalisation of the French Army the situation has improved.
There was a similar 'French military' incident in Corsica. Bit of a boring exercise to be honest - As the duty French speaker I interrogated a 2 REP prisoner who wasn't playing the game and told me everything I wanted to know.

Endex was called on top of a big hill above Calvi, and as the French trucks were driving us down the hill we stopped for a lone legionnaire sat on his pack by the side of the road. I climbed out of the truck to do my usual franglais.

The bloke was ex Light Infantry.

I told him to get on the truck so we could take him to Camp Rafalli, but he said that his Pl Comd had told him to wait where he was. He went on to say that if he caught a lift with us he would be disobeying an order and be jailed.

So to the title of the thread, if a British Paratrooper had done that (not used his initiative) he'd get beasted within inches of his life. The French Army (at the time) relied on blind obedience.
 
There was a similar 'French military' incident in Corsica. Bit of a boring exercise to be honest - As the duty French speaker I interrogated a 2 REP prisoner who wasn't playing the game and told me everything I wanted to know.

Endex was called on top of a big hill above Calvi, and as the French trucks were driving us down the hill we stopped for a lone legionnaire sat on his pack by the side of the road. I climbed out of the truck to do my usual franglais.

The bloke was ex Light Infantry.

I told him to get on the truck so we could take him to Camp Rafalli, but he said that his Pl Comd had told him to wait where he was. He went on to say that if he caught a lift with us he would be disobeying an order and be jailed.

So to the title of the thread, if a British Paratrooper had done that (not used his initiative) he'd get beasted within inches of his life. The French Army (at the time) relied on blind obedience.
I can relate to that. Also there would have been no way in communicating that he had been picked up and there may have been someone despatched already for him and if he was not there it would cause a problem. He could be posted as "missing" - which in the Legion was automatically suspected as desertion. If he had a weapon with him, that would be doubly serious and would necessitate the call out of armed search parties.

This dates back to the mid-seventies when a deserter (not sure whether from 2 REP or 2 REI which was also based on the island at the time) killed a couple of Corsicans.

The blind obedience part is expected of all Legionnaires as is trust in the system.
 

Oyibo

LE
I can relate to that. Also there would have been no way in communicating that he had been picked up and there may have been someone despatched already for him and if he was not there it would cause a problem. He could be posted as "missing" - which in the Legion was automatically suspected as desertion. If he had a weapon with him, that would be doubly serious and would necessitate the call out of armed search parties.

This dates back to the mid-seventies when a deserter (not sure whether from 2 REP or 2 REI which was also based on the island at the time) killed a couple of Corsicans.

The blind obedience part is expected of all Legionnaires as is trust in the system.
On a related theme (and the same exercise), I had a section of f*cking useless Ghurkas attached to my Pl. We were attacking (blank firing) some FFL blokes uphill, and after a short time one of my section commanders pointed out to me that the Ghurkas weren't following.

I ran back down the hill to get the useless f*ckers up the hill. After I bollocked the section commander it transpired he had done nothing because he hadn't been ordered to (the useless twat).

I told him in blunt terms that his section was to get its Kukris out and storm the enemy (2 REP) positions. In fairness they did so with style.

A lot of surrendering took place amongst the 2 REP blokes as they saw the Nepalese charging with kukris drawn. But after we all realised it was endex there was still a 2 REP caporal running around with a pistol threatening us.

Strange, we thought. It was later explained to us that at least one REP individual would have live ammo in case of Corsican terrorists. Said caporal was the bloke with the live ammo.
 
On a related theme (and the same exercise), I had a section of f*cking useless Ghurkas attached to my Pl. We were attacking (blank firing) some FFL blokes uphill, and after a short time one of my section commanders pointed out to me that the Ghurkas weren't following.

I ran back down the hill to get the useless f*ckers up the hill. After I bollocked the section commander it transpired he had done nothing because he hadn't been ordered to (the useless twat).

I told him in blunt terms that his section was to get its Kukris out and storm the enemy (2 REP) positions. In fairness they did so with style.

A lot of surrendering took place amongst the 2 REP blokes as they saw the Nepalese charging with kukris drawn. But after we all realised it was endex there was still a 2 REP caporal running around with a pistol threatening us.

Strange, we thought. It was later explained to us that at least one REP individual would have live ammo in case of Corsican terrorists. Said caporal was the bloke with the live ammo.
Live ammo was issued to us when on guard duty around the camp. One day one of the old Caporal-Chef ammo storemen got back late from a night out and was still in civvies when first thing in the morning he went to the ammo store to prep some ammo for an exercise issue. A young Legionnaire recently arrived from basic training was on guard duty there and correctly challenged this bloke in civvies approaching the ammo store. The Caporal-chef f@cked him off and continued approaching and was shot dead. An inquiry found that the sentry had acted within the rules and regulations and IIRC he was given a commendation and then posted out of the Regiment.
ETA: I also seem to recall that the Caporal-Chef in question had an elevated blood alcohol level.
 
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Interestingly the French are being quite active in the eastern Med at the moment. They are supporting the Greeks in a stand-off with the Turks over a Turkish Navy escorted hydrocarbon exploration ship operating in waters contested by the Greek, Cypriot and Turkish Governments. The French were recently a tad miffed when a French ship attempting to stop a Turkish freighter suspected of shipping arms illegally to Libya was painted with weapons targetting radar by Turkish Naval vessels.
Could we see a re-run of Galipoli? Only this time without the British, Indians and ANZACS.
 
Could we see a re-run of Galipoli? Only this time without the British, Indians and ANZACS.
Bit of a tangent to the thread topic here, but if they continue on their current path, there is an increasing possibility that the Turks may end up playing their own game alone and with no friends. This would be to their own detriment and that of NATO in general. Moscow has been nudging them along a bit but in fact it would gain from Turkey being isolated and weakened.
 
The first clip is from quite a few years ago with Francois Hollande being the President on the reviewing stand. The main unit participating is 1 REG. As regards the Pioneers, they are essentially a ceremonial unit these days, otherwise engaged in general duties at 1 RE in Aubagne.

As regards the latter clip it is much older, when scrubbed white cotton kepi covers were still stretched over regular French Army khaki kepis..
The modern band is very diverse as fits the FFL. In the old B/W film they all appear to be 100 percent white. I guess that clip was from the fifties/sixties before many French Colonies gained independence, and easy jet travel.
 
Many more Asians, South and Central Americans and Africans are bowling up to Aubagne these days. They tend to be more used to physical and psychological hardship and are very attracted by the promise of eventual French nationality. The Nepalese have certainly cottoned on to the Foreign Legion as an alternative to Ghurkha Service in the British Army.
 
There was a bit of that in the beginning and a few attempts to reintroduce it over the years. However there is far more historical commonality and military-cultural similarity between France and the United Kingdom
Yep, when we weren't fighting each other, we were knocking shit out of Johnny Foreigner all over the world. The looting and burning of the 'Old Summer Palace in Peking/Beijing in 1860 being one famous joint away day.

Apparently the PRC have still got the hump about it and want there stuff back.
 
Many more Asians, South and Central Americans and Africans are bowling up to Aubagne these days. They tend to be more used to physical and psychological hardship and are very attracted by the promise of eventual French nationality. The Nepalese have certainly cottoned on to the Foreign Legion as an alternative to Ghurkha Service in the British Army.
I guess many Brits in the Legion never bothered with French Nationality when we were in the EU. Could they still apply for it based on their FFL service, even though it might have been a long time ago, or is it time limited?
 
I guess many Brits in the Legion never bothered with French Nationality when we were in the EU. Could they still apply for it based on their FFL service, even though it might have been a long time ago, or is it time limited?
As was the case for me. I reckon that I could still apply and eventually get it (my French language is up to scratch as well), but I am led to believe the bureaucratic paperwork and procedure is quite horrendous. I was seriously thinking of giving it a go, but I am hopeless at the bureaucratic paper filling and document shuffling. I still have to apply for my "Carte du Combattant" and my "Titre de Reconnaissance de la Nation" both of which I became eligible for, when the relevant legislation came into force, well after I left the Legion. They come with another gong each and I believe a small pension as well as some other privileges if one lives in France. I must get my finger out.
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The modern band is very diverse as fits the FFL. In the old B/W film they all appear to be 100 percent white. I guess that clip was from the fifties/sixties before many French Colonies gained independence, and easy jet travel.
Here's a link to a French military website's recent article on the origins of Legion recruits. Click on the English tab at the top of the page for a translation. It is translated into understandable English (though it is immediately evident that the translation is literal and directly from the written French).
 

Jean d'Épée

Old-Salt
Not 2 REP but 2 REG.
View attachment 496445
The Legion's sappers are being deployed to Beirut on board the French Naval Vessel "Tonnere" ("Thunder") to help with the disaster relief effort after the blast in the port.

Edited to add: There are quite likely to be a few Arabic speakers amongst them!
Unlikely that the legionnaire in the centre of the photo will be able to help with that, I did instruction with him in Castel, he spoke English well but alas no Arabic. Interestingly all the Nepalese guys in my section went to 2REG.
 
Unlikely that the legionnaire in the centre of the photo will be able to help with that, I did instruction with him in Castel, he spoke English well but alas no Arabic. Interestingly all the Nepalese guys in my section went to 2REG.
Were the Nepalese highland dwellers? If so natural to go to the Regiment in the Mountain Troops Brigade.
 
As was the case for me. I reckon that I could still apply and eventually get it (my French language is up to scratch as well), but I am led to believe the bureaucratic paperwork and procedure is quite horrendous. I was seriously thinking of giving it a go, but I am hopeless at the bureaucratic paper filling and document shuffling. I still have to apply for my "Carte du Combattant" and my "Titre de Reconnaissance de la Nation" both of which I became eligible for, when the relevant legislation came into force, well after I left the Legion. They come with another gong each and I believe a small pension as well as some other privileges if one lives in France. I must get my finger out.
View attachment 497348
View attachment 497349
The NDM crowd will be up in arms...
 

Jean d'Épée

Old-Salt
Were the Nepalese highland dwellers? If so natural to go to the Regiment in the Mountain Troops Brigade.
Some were, others no. Honestly it was because of the section. My CDS was Lithuanian and a bit boorish and racist. Granted none of the Nepalese really outshone in terms of sport or weapons handling etc. and they were mostly placed in the bottom half of the section for their classement. As the most sought after regiments were 1REC, 2REP and to a lesser extent 1REG, there were no Nepalese that came to these regiments from my instruction. They could have chosen 2REI but I think they had friends in 2REG and they had heard it was more relaxed and for the same amount of pay they were relatively happy to go there. I’ve talked with a few of them since and they’re very happy where they are. Most will re-sign to get nationality and I think a fair few will stay on for a career.
 
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