Foreign Legion In Vietnam

Discussion in 'Special Forces' started by strangelove, Aug 27, 2004.

  1. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As is well known, pre WW2, the Foreign Legion contained men of every nationality and creed and after WW2 it was certainly a home for ex Waffen SS & displaced Jews alike.

    Read about it here: French Foreign Legion’s 13th Demi-Brigade Fought in World War II » HistoryNet

    I quote:
    After the bitterness of Syria came the high point for the 13th DBLE and for the entire Legion during WWII: its crucial role in the defense of Bir Hacheim between May 27 and June 10, 1942. Anchoring the southern tip of the British Gazala line, Bir Hacheim was a nine-mile, six-sided box position on a vast plateau, hot as a skillet and blasted by wind and sand. Making up a third of the Free French garrison under the command of General Pierre Koenig were Amilakvari and 957 men of the 13th DBLE. Among them were German Jews and leftists fleeing Adolf Hitler, as well as a future premier of France, Pierre Messmer. Koenig’s British driver, Susan Travers, who was enlisted on the spot, would be the only woman ever to serve in the French Foreign Legion. Arriving at Bir Hacheim on February 14, 1942, the Legionnaires and other Free French spent three months digging 1,200 trenches, gun pits and command posts and laying minefields and then waited for the inevitable blow to fall.
  3. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    Having seen this topic I took down from the shelf a book I haven't looked at in years: "Death in the Ricefields" by Peter Scholl-Latour. The author was a German journalist who worked in SE Asia and it's about Viet Nam from the time the French re-colonised it in late 1945 until the fall of Saigon. According to the book, there were two companies of FFL on the Andus, the first troopship. Two-thirds of those two companies were German, mostly ex-PoWs who didn't - for a variety of reasons - want to return to Germany. Some Wehrmacht, some SS, even Kriegsmarine. There were also some fictitious "Belgians" who were really French: ex-collabos from the Anti-Bolshevik Legion and even the Charlemagne Brigade of the SS. De Gaulle had offered an amnesty to them providing they had not engaged in operations against the Resistance (how could they know?) - if they served five years they could return home with the slate wiped clean.
  4. Groundhugger

    Groundhugger Senior Member

    I Read some Paperbacks in the early 70's about the 'SS' ex-Pows recruited by the French government sent to Vietnam to fight the Viet cong
    I think it was called 'The Devils Brigade' or something very similar

    similar in vein to the Sven Hassel books
  5. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    " Devils Guard " ? I read that one too. Overwhelming arrogance about how f**king Elite they ~ the Waffen SS ~ were.

    But, I now come to recognise that as being par for their course. (Honestly; When I now watch those eighty odd year old b@stards shrugging and saying, " They were just Jews / Gypsys / Communists / Poles etc. etc. etc ~ *Shrug* ~ What ever ..... " I want to start hitting them ...)

    Comparable to Sven Hassle? I guess so. Only, isn't SH more of an open joke? He seems to have hit a main line and has bled it ever since. Pulp fiction at its optimum.

    No. 'Devils Guard', to this day, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  6. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    May I am allowed to give a statement as well - although not being a specialist in this subject? Going back to the first post, I do not believe that too many German legionaires were involved in Vietnam in 1965. Such was in the earlier war, where the French were involved. Furthr we have t consider that at that time, the Legion Etrangere was not that specialized unit as it is today. I refer to the memories o a Swiss national who had joined the legion and spent the war in Indochine with them. already in the previous phase he describes how they had mainly bad / unsufficient equipment and that their main purpose was to be sent to battles where the French Government did not want to spoil French blood. It is many years back that I read his book and I shall do it again to be sure about - but I cannot recall that he was writing about whole SS units who have joined the Legion after the war. Nevertheless, it was probably true that a good part of the legionaires were of German origin at that time. I would not even think that they were mainly coming from the SS but as well the Wehrmacht. As an example I could quote one articular Austrian.I think that he was not even 20 years of age when te war ended. And he wrote me once that he could just not settle down again in the Austria of that time seing the same old faces in the same positions in his hometown again (and pretending that they have never been with the NSDAP). The only way he saw was to 'escape' to the Legion. He spend most of his time in North Africa, mainly Libya. Seems that he had a fairly good time. Not really fighting and army-duty only but he wrote that they were sent to a quarry... also he does not write about an overwhelming particiaption of SS in these days. Cannot ask him any more - his email acocunt seems to be not read any more.
  7. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    The Devils Guard is a book about the SS in Nam its authenticity to the truth is open to question. But it is interesting that the SS or so called SS went to the Legion and a lot of the Wehrmacht ended up as border guards then the modern German Army.

    There would have been a proportion of the SS who would never have settled back into the daily routine and would have either joined the legion or become mercenaries because they knew nothing different.
  8. Milgeek

    Milgeek Member

    I'm afraid I read 'Devil's Guard' when I was younger - but even in my teens I recognized both the huge amount of technical inaccuracies, jingoistic hyperbole and decidedly dubious political overtones.

    However, the one positive thing that came out of my reading of that rubbish was it put me onto Spencer Chapman's excellent 'The Jungle is Neutral'...

    According to the main character in 'Devil's Guard' they used Chapman's book as their 'manual' for jungle warfare...

    Spencer Chapman must be turning in his grave at the thought of his book being used in this way.
  9. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    On reading this thread, I also had a memery of reading somewhere that the French, in 1946, bolstered thier forces in Vietnam by using former German POWs but can't find any referance to it now. I did find this article about the British in Vietnam in 1945 - perhaps not one of the best eposides of British military history
  10. Ropi

    Ropi Biggest retard of all

    Germans usually made up the largest non-French part of the Legion, and many enlisted in the FL after WW1 and WW2 (in 1940 Hitler demanded that German legionaires be sent back to Germany and the Vichy French complied). They were heavily involved in the '50s campaign in Indo-China, and no doubt the French Govt. was glad to have such experienced and displaced/fugitive men in the FL to save the lives of conscript Frenchmen in fighting to keep their empire.


    Once we were talking about this with one of my mates in school, and we concluded that in France everybody was okay with the war in Indo-China untill the Legion was fighting (and taking losses). But as soon as the army troops were sent in and started taking casualties the public opinion became anti-war.
  11. Milgeek

    Milgeek Member

    On reading this thread, I also had a memery of reading somewhere that the French, in 1946, bolstered thier forces in Vietnam by using former German POWs but can't find any referance to it now. I did find this article about the British in Vietnam in 1945 - perhaps not one of the best eposides of British military history

    Hi Noel -

    The events you mention were what you could call the 'First Vietnam War' - it was actually Ho Chi Minh's first attempt at 'freeing' Indochina from the colonial powers (the Second Vietnam War being the Indochina War against the French and the Third being the war which involved the USA).

    The campaign was commanded by Lord Mountbatten - then CinC South East Asia - and he made the audacious decision to use JAPANESE prisoner of war in conjunction with British and Commonwealth troops to successfully put down the communist uprising.

    In a way the later success of the Viet Min and later still the Viet Cong can be said to have been in some part based on the drubbing they (communist Vietnamese) got at the hands of the British. Certainly Ho Chi Minh modified his strategy for the stuggle for independance after this ill-concieved revolt.

    Ho Chi Minh simply fought above his weight class this time - British and Japanese troop being at that time some of the best and hardened jungle fighters in the world - but he learned his lesson, as history showed.
  12. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    Evening all,

    Just found some rather nice archive photos of the French in Vietnam 1949-1954, seems to be vaguely 'official' as well. Unfortunately I don't think they can be downloaded...

    Médiathèque de la Défense

  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  14. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

  15. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

  16. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    If you have access to Twitter by Jake Holliday @J_O_Holliday there is an incredible story, it starts with:
    The full story is available, without joining Twitter on: Thread by @J_O_Holliday on Thread Reader App

    An aside it also refers to German(s) serving in the Foreign Legion who defected to the Viet Minh!
    Capt.Sensible likes this.

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