Latest recruiting picture for the FFL:
Between COVID and a relative dearth of recruits coming from other nations than Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Brazil and Nepal that really constitute by far the largest providers of potential Légionnaires, the FFL really needs to tap into all recruiting sources.
The Réunion island probably holds quite a lot of promises ; the population is French, young, booming (0.8 million and growing fast) and composed of still quite tough individuals leaving in hilly, isolated locations for a number of them.
By comparison, Tahiti has a much smaller population (0.2 million) which has a tendency for obesity (40% of the adult population is overweight or obese) and associated diseases (diabetes…).
Joining the FFL has become a business and several « pipelines » aiming at preparing potential recruits to join the FFL have been identified in the past years.
FIDELITY IS THE BREATH OF HONOUR
"Fidelity is the breath of honour: it animates it. It is even a (defining) principle", "it is a surge of the heart and of the will which authorises (gives foundation to) all heroic deeds" ... here are some of the Foreign Legion Commanding General's, Alain Lardet's thoughts on the matter for everyone's reflection in his editorial.
"One hundred years ago, following the decision of the Minister of War, our Colours displayed for the first time the motto “Honour and Fidelity”. By acceding to Lieutenant-Colonel Rollet's (*) request, in 1920 France returned to an old tradition, underlining the commitment of foreigners to the service of France. Already in the 19th century, Legionnares' contracts of engagement were signed with the promise to serve with "Honour and Fidelity". This fidelity which “takes the place of a homeland for the heimatlos (homeless) who came here from all over the world to seek in the service of France a haven from their miseries and to give activity to their ardour, bread to their hunger, adventures to their dreams” (1). Legionnaires are not stateless and the Legion never asks them to renounce their homeland, let alone fight against it. However, Émile Henriot noted that this fidelity, already written in the motto of the Diesbach Regiment, a progenitor of the Legion, was the mark of foreigners in the service of France.
"Where there is Honour is, where there is Fidelity is, only there lies the Fatherland", (Louis d´Estouteville, military governor of Mont-Saint-Michel during the Hundred Years War). How can one fight when in one's heart there is more than one fatherland, more than one loyalty? What is this fidelity that has always been associated with the honour of fighting for France? It's a golden book (original French "livre d'or" also means visitors' book / guestbook), in every sense of the word, held by the President of the Non-Commissioned Officers of the Foreign Legion that says a lot about the legionnaire's soul. It gathers the farewell words of departing NCOs, the “Marshals of the Legion”. Little by little it draws an imprint of the soul of a Legionnaire. As I read through it, I measured the place that Fidelity held for these foreigners, sons of France, not through blood received but through blood shed. Despite any imperfections in the French language, these words were entrusted to posterity, written with regard to two snapshots sometimes more than thirty years apart, one at recruitment, the other at the time of departure, say more about the place of the virtue of fidelity than any philosophical reflections. Here are some of these indelible phrases:
- “My thoughts will stay with you forever; Honour and Fidelity"
- "The heartfelt bond with France and its army, and naturally with the Legion in particular, will be impossible to erase. With Honour and Fidelity”
- "The Legion gave me this opportunity for a new life and for that I shall always remain true to its values"
- "This is the true sacred way (**), the one that the Legion took me through; I gave my Fidelity and our House gave me Honour"
This final testimony, in a way, ends my thoughts on the association between Honour and Fidelity. Therein can be found the wellspring of our motto.
Fidelity is the breath of honour: it animates it. It is even a (defining) principle. It therefore takes on a whole other dimension than the static, cold or austere aspect that the word seems to take on today.
On the contrary, fidelity is an initiating state of being which then opens the doors to adventure and the unexpected.
Contrary to the current state of affairs and the view that loyalty would tend to disappear from a world which condones any behaviour and taking into account the modern tendency to “let go” at the slightest difficulty or weariness encountered, this virtue of Fidelity is a coveted weapon of resilience. In fact, it is a source of (inner) peace in a world of torment. It is Fidelity that enables the mission to be fulfilled to the end: Fidelity to one's commitment, to one's leaders, to one's principles. To use the words of General Gillet in his work already cited (in the previous editorial), Fidelity is the "virtue which makes it possible to conquer the next ridgeline or to be able to stay the course for ten minutes longer" (2).
Loyalty is definitely a value of the future. For us, it lies at the heart of our commitment: "our honour is to do our work to the best of our ability, our Fidelity is to do it at least as well as our forebears" (3).
Legio Patria Nostra
Brigadier General Alain Lardet Commander of the Foreign Legion
(1) Émile Henriot, "Towards the Oasis" (1935), cited in the dictionary of the Foreign Legion under the Honour and Loyalty chapter.
(2) "Who is like God?" by Pierre Gillet, Published by Sainte-Madeleine, p 111
Battle of Algiers regular French Paras.
Yes, the vast majority of troops involved in the Battle of Algiers, were French Regular Army with 3 RPC (now called 3 RPIMa) in a leading role. The only Foreign Legion unit to take part directly was 1 REP, as it was also in General Massu’s 10th Parachute Division, which had been assigned the task of clearing out the FLN from Algiers.Based on LTC Bigeard's 3°régiment de parachutistes coloniaux
Don't tell us they were only expected to blow the bloody doors off ?With one famous episode when 1er REP went for an explosive MOE in an FLN cache and unknowingly placed the charge against a wall behind which there was an FLN bomb stash....the whole block of building exploded to the bewilderment of the Legionnaires who had just applied a minimal PE charge to gain entry....
Ok, thanks. I suppose its one of those terms which has been around forever, in one form or another, viz. Via Sacra going back to the times of the Roman Empire.As I understand it the term was already in use to denote the parade path towards regimental memorials prior to WW1. Happy to be corrected.
Ali la Pointe!With one famous episode when 1er REP went for an explosive MOE in an FLN cache and unknowingly placed the charge against a wall behind which there was an FLN bomb stash....the whole block of building exploded to the bewilderment of the Legionnaires who had just applied a minimal PE charge to gain entry....