Legionnaires in Algeria
In articles “Algerian War of the French Foreign Legion” и Battle for Algeria It was told about the beginning of the war in this overseas department of France, its features and some of the heroes and antiheroes of those years. In this we will continue the story of the Algerian war and talk about some of the famous commanders of the French Foreign Legion, who were at the forefront of this bloody war.
The paratrooper who fought in Algeria, Gregoire Alonso recalled:
“We had fantastic commanders. They treated us well. We were free, we spoke with them, we did not have to constantly greet them. Skydivers are different from the rest. Maybe it's a parachute. Or in the mentality. We did everything together. ”
In the novel “Centurions” by the former legionnaire Jean Lartega, a certain lieutenant tells the main character, Colonel Raspegi (the prototype of which was Marcel Bijard):
“Officers who know how to fight command your people, they are with paratroopers, not with us. Not for us all these Raspies, Bizarre, Jeanpierre, Béchou. ”
A little later we will return to Lartegi, his novel and the film "The Last Squad", in the meantime, we will begin to talk about everything in order.
In the photo below we see a good friend of Jean Graziani (one of the heroes of the previous article). This is Lieutenant Colonel (Lieutenant Colonel) Pierre-Paul Janpierre - he walks along the Champs Elysees at the head of the famous First Parachute Regiment of the Foreign Legion at the parade in honor of Bastille Day in 1957:
This commander was a true legend of the Foreign Legion. He served in the French army since 1930, and entered the legion in 1936. During World War II, Janpierre refused to join both the government forces of Vichy and de Gaulle's “Free France”. Instead, he became a member of the French Resistance (call sign Jardin), on January 9, 1944, was arrested and imprisoned in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.
To serve in the Legion (the First Parachute Battalion), Janpierre returned in 1948 and was sent almost immediately to Indochina. In October 1950, during the battle of Khao Bang, the military unit of Graziani defended the Tat Ke post, and the Jeanpierre battalion - the Charton strong point. Like Graziani, the wounded Janpierre was captured, in which he spent 4 years, and after his release he was found in such a state that he, too, was ranked as an unofficial "detachment of the living dead."
Having recovered, he took command of the newly created First Parachute Battalion, which on September 1, 1955 became the First Parachute Regiment. Together with him, he ended up in Port Fuad during the Suez crisis, and then fought in Algeria, where Soleil (the Sun) became his call sign. The Blackfoot Albert Camus said of him:
“A hero with a generous heart and disgusting character, a pretty good combination for a leader.”
Janpierre was the beloved commander of the First Parachute Regiment and one of the most famous and respected commanders of the Foreign Legion.
In 1956, he received a shrapnel wound to his legs, but continued to fight, becoming a recognized master of organizing helicopter landing operations.
"Flying Banana" - an American helicopter "N-21 Shauni", used by French paratroopers during the Algerian war
Janpierre also died in a helicopter, providing fire support to the paratroopers - from a bullet fired by one of the rebels. It happened on May 28, 1958, and the phrase “Soleil Est Mort”, “the sun is dead” (or “faded”), transmitted by the pilot on the radio, entered historybecoming legendary.
Lt. Col. Janpierre
The most striking thing is that at the funeral of Janpierre, held on May 31, 10 thousand Muslims - residents of Algerian Helma, came, the road in this city was named after him. This clearly indicates who ordinary Algerians (whom the TNF militants levied on “revolutionary taxes” and slaughtered entire villages and families) were considered real heroes in that bloody war.
The deputy deceased Jeanpierre was Major Jacques Moren.
In 1942, he ended up at the Saint-Cyr military school transferred to Aix-en-Provence, but managed to study only 2 months - it was closed at the request of the Germans. After that, the 17-year-old Moren tried three times to cross the border with Spain to get to the territory controlled by Free France from there - each time unsuccessfully. Joining one of the groups of the French Resistance, he was betrayed and in June 1944 he ended up in the Gestapo, and then - in the notorious concentration camp Buchenwald. He had to flee this camp after the Americans liberated him: fearing an epidemic of typhus, the Allies, without thinking twice, quarantined Buchenwald, protecting it with a fence with barbed wire. After completing training and taking a training course in skydiving, Morin went to Indochina. Here, on April 1, 1948, at the age of 24, he became the commander of the very first parachute company of the Foreign Legion - there were no such units in the legion before. On March 31, 1949, soldiers and officers of this company became part of the First Parachute Battalion of Jeanpierre. In 1954, Morin became the commander of the Legion of Honor - the youngest commander in history. Contrary to general expectations, after the death of Jeanpierre, Moren was not appointed commander of the regiment - he was transferred to the headquarters of the 10th parachute division, and later he was appointed inspector of the air forces. The story of Jacques Moren will be completed in the next article.
Eli Denois de Saint Mark
Eli Denois de Saint Mark receives a military award, 1951
The new commander of the First Parachute Regiment of the Foreign Legion was Major de Saint Marc, who was the youngest (9th in a row) child in a provincial noble family from Bordeaux. During World War II, he studied at a Jesuit college, and in June 1941 he entered the Versailles Lyceum of Saint Genevieve, which was considered the preparatory school of Saint-Cyr. However, as we recall, this military school was disbanded in 1942.
Since the spring of 1941, Saint-Marc was a member of Jad Amikol - one of the groups of the French Resistance (at that time he was 19 years old).
July 13, 1943, a detachment of 16 people, which included Saint Mark, tried to cross the border with Spain at Perpignan, but was betrayed as a guide - they all ended up in Buchenwald. Here, Saint Mark met his acquaintance, Jacques Moren, and then, in 1944, was transferred to the Langenstein-Zweiberg camp (Harz district), where, according to eyewitnesses, it was even worse than in Buchenwald. As a result, released in April 1945, Saint Mark weighed 42 kg and could not immediately remember his name.
Ironically, the father of his bride, Marie Antoinette de Chatea Bordeaux, was the commander of the Harz garrison in 1957, and our hero’s wedding took place a few kilometers from the former concentration camp.
But back in 1945: Saint Mark was still able to recover: he was trained in Koetkidan and in 1947 chose the Foreign Legion for the service, which caused considerable confusion among his fellow students - because at that time a large number of Germans hated by all served in the legion .
Saint-Mark was “on business trips” three times in Indochina: in 1948-1949. he was the commander of a post on the border with China, in 1951 he commanded the Indo-Chinese company of the Second Parachute Battalion of the Foreign Legion, in 1954 he arrived in Vietnam after losing to Dienbienfu and spent only a few months there.
Eli Denua de Sen Marc at the head of the Indochina company of the Second Foreign Legion Parachute Battalion
During his last stay in Indochina, he was injured in an unsuccessful parachute jump - his back pain persisted all his life.
In 1955, Saint Mark began his service in the First Parachute Regiment. In 1956, he participated in the operation of his regiment to capture Port Fuad during the Suez crisis.
After de Gaulle declared “Algeria’s self-determination”, Saint Mark left the army: from September 1959 to April 1960 he worked in an electric company, but returned to service - to the post of deputy chief of staff of the 10th division. And in January 1961, Saint Mark led the First Parachute Regiment of the Foreign Legion. In just a few months, he will end up in a French prison, and the prosecutor will demand that he be sentenced to 20 years in prison. The story of Elie Denois de Saint Marc is continued in the next article.
Captain Jacques Griillot, Algeria, 1957
In 1959, an unusual detachment was created in the Said sector on the orders of Marcel Bijard, which received its name (“Georges”) after the commander - Captain Georges Grillot (you probably already realized that he was also a member of the French Resistance and fought in Vietnam ) This squad was unusual in its composition - the former soldiers of the Algerian National Liberation Front served in it, that is, it was a Harki unit (they were described in a previous article).
The first volunteers of this detachment arrived directly from the prisons, and Captain Griillot then apparently decided that “a terrible end is better than horror without end”: on the first day he put a loaded pistol at the entrance to his tent and, showing it to former militants, said that they could use him tonight to kill him. Astonished Algerians did not shoot at Grillot, but they respected them very much and did not forget this demonstration of trust.
The number of soldiers of this detachment soon reached 200 people. They entered their first battle on March 3, 1959, together with the 1st company of the Eighth Infantry Regiment, and the general command was carried out by Marcel Bijar himself.
Marcel Bijard and soldiers of the Georges
One of the Algerians captured at that time (Ahmed Bettebgor, who had fought on the side of the TNF since 1956) later received an “offer that cannot be refused”: 15 years in prison or service at Grillot. He chose the detachment "Georges" and did not lose: he rose to the rank of company commander and continued serving in the Foreign Legion with the rank of captain.
Ahmed Bettebgor among the soldiers of the Georges squad (second from right)
Leaflet addressed to the TNF militants: “Muslims, my brothers! Mokrani Mulud is speaking to you. I decided to go over to the French side. Look, they did no harm to me. Do as I do, they won’t do anything to you either. Leave the mountains where you suffer for nothing ”
Under the command of Grillot, former militants destroyed and captured about 1800 of their former “colleagues” in three years and found thousands of caches with weaponshaving received 26 military orders and medals, as well as 400 thanks in orders.
Georges squad on the march
Molotov cocktail bottles found in one of the caches of the TNF
But the end of this story was very sad: after the Evian agreements were concluded, the Georges were invited to join the Foreign Legion and leave their families to go with him to France or return home, where they were likely to die. Captain Grillot ordered to put in front of each of his fighters berets of different colors: red and black. The Red Beret, symbolizing the Foreign Legion, was chosen by 24 people out of 204 - it was the right choice, these soldiers were the most fortunate. Because by May 9, 1962, 60 Georges detachments remaining in Algeria Harki were killed. Among them were three company commanders. Two of them, Riga and Bendida, after long bullying and torture, were beaten to death.
Riga, commander of one of the companies of the Georges squad, March 1961
Another commander, named Habib, was killed, having been forced to dig a grave for himself. Some of the Harki Detachment Georges ended up in Algerian prisons. Most of the others, thanks to the efforts of General Cantarelle and Captain Grillot, were taken to France, where they ended up in two refugee camps, until banker Andre Worms, who had previously served in the Saeed sector, bought a farm in Dordogne for them.
Georges Guillot rose to the rank of general and wrote the book "Die for France?"
His deputy in the Georges detachment, Arman Benezis de Rotrou, took part in the rebellion of the army in April 1961 (more on that in the next article), but escaped his arrest: his bosses transferred him to a distant garrison in the department of Constantine, where he again commanded Harki . He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Arman Benezis de Rotrou
Again about Bijar
In a previous article, we talked about the movie “Battle for Algeria” by Gillo Pontecorvo. But in the same 1966, Canadian director Mark Robson made another film about the Algerian war - “The Lost Command”, in which viewers saw stars of the first magnitude, including Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinal.
The script was based on the novel Centurions, written by Jean Lartegui, who fought in the First Group of the commandos of the Free French Army during World War II, after serving for 7 years, served in the Foreign Legion, resigning as captain, then as a military journalist visited many “hot spots” of the world, met with Che Guevara.
The action of both the novel and the film begins with the story of the battle of Dienbienf. Returning from Vietnam, the main character (Pierre Raspegi) finds himself in Algeria, where it is also very difficult. The famous Legionnaire Marcel Bijard became the prototype of Raspega (we already talked about him and the battle of Dienbienf in the article “Foreign Legion Against Vietnam and the Dienbienfu Catastrophe”) Performed this role, Anthony Quinn wrote on a photograph donated to Bijar:
“You were him, and I just played him.”
Marcel Bijard and Jean Lartegui
Cover of La Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire magazine with a portrait of Bijar, called the "Centurion of the Republic"
Images from the film “The Missing Squad”:
Alain Delon as captain Esclavier and Anthony Quinn as lieutenant colonel Raspega - already in Algeria:
Captain of the Foreign Legion Esclavier (Alain Delon) and Arab terrorist Aisha (Claudia Cardinale):
If you read the article “Foreign Legion Against Vietnam and the Dienbienfu Catastrophe”then remember that Alain Delon served on navy and was in Saigon in 1953-1956. If you haven’t read it, open it and see: there are some very interesting photographs.
This film also turned out to be quite tough. It is shown, for example, how, having found killed colleagues on the road, paratrooper legionnaires with knives in their hands go to avenge them in the nearest village, not paying attention to Esclavier, who got in their way with a gun in his hands.
And this is a shot from the movie "Close Enemies", filmed in 1979 by Florent Emilio Siri - also Algeria, 1959:
This officer in 1954 (the time of the beginning of the Algerian war) was already 41 years old. He graduated from Saint-Cyr Military School in 1935 and was sent to serve in Metz. In the 1940 combat campaign, he commanded a sabotage group and managed to get the Legion of Honor. After the surrender of France, he went to his grandmother's house and was extradited by his neighbors. He was held captive until April 7, 1945, when he was released by the Red Army units that entered Vienna. The French command promoted him to captain and appointed him to work at the Soviet headquarters: for 2 months he was engaged in assistance to French prisoners of war, for which he received the rank of officer of the Legion of Honor. In 1947, Byushu ended up in Indochina - he commanded the 2nd company of the First Parachute Battalion of the Foreign Legion: in his composition, he participated in Operation Lea, the purpose of which was to capture Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Ziapa (then neither one nor the other was captured managed). After being wounded, Büschu returned to France, where he was engaged in teaching, and on April 2, 1956 he was commanded by the Eighth Parachute Regiment. There was an Algerian war, and Bushu's subordinates were given the task of controlling the border with Tunisia, from where fighters trained in special camps were coming in a continuous stream. In late April - early May 1958, this regiment distinguished itself in battles at Suk-Arase. In September 1958, Byushu received the rank of colonel, in January 1961 he became commander of the La Calais sector (named after the port city), and in April 1961 he was arrested in the case of a rebellion led by Raul Salan. You can learn about his future fate by reading the following article.
Erulen, on the contrary, was very young (born in 1932) and therefore did not take part either in World War II or in the war in Indochina, but his father was a member of the French Resistance and died in Indochina in 1951. After graduating from the military school of Saint-Cyr, he was from 1956 to 1959. served in Algeria, was wounded twice and was awarded the Legion of Honor at the age of 26. Later, French liberals accused him of torturing and killing a member of the TNF armed group, Maurice Aden, in 1957, but failed to prove anything (which, in my opinion, speaks very well of their level of competence and ability to collect evidence). In July 1976, Erulen was appointed commander of the Second Parachute Regiment of the Foreign Legion, and Ante Gotovina, the future general of the Croatian army, convicted by the International Tribunal for crimes against the civilian Serb population, but later acquitted, became his personal driver.
Ahead of Erulen was the famous operation “Bonite” (better known as “Leopard”) in Kolwezi, which is studied in military schools around the world as an example of “military professionalism and effective protection of fellow citizens”. We will definitely talk about this operation in one of the following articles.
Philip Erulen (left) and Colonel Grasse, head of the military mission in Zaire. 1978 year
Philip Erulen’s brother, Dominique, was also a paratrooper officer, but didn’t “work together” with Francois Mitterrand and, having left the service, he headed the private security service of former President Giscard d'Estaing.
The next article will tell about the operation "Renaissance", the end of the Fourth Republic, the "betrayal" of Charles de Gaulle, the desperate attempt of Raul Salan and his associates to save French Algeria, as well as the song "Je ne regrette rien".
In preparing the article, the materials of the blog of Urzova Ekaterina were used:
About the Lartegi novel: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/545071.html
Testimonies of paratroopers: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/324492.html
The story of Jeanpierre: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/367366.html
The Story of Morena: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/335219.html
Story of Saint Mark: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/464448.html
The story of Georges Grillot and the Georges squad: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/344827.html
The story of Bijar (by tag): https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/tag/%D0%91%D0%B8%D0%B6%D0%B0%D1%80%20%D0%9C%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BB%D1%8C
The story of Bush: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/1017835.html
The story of Erulen: https://catherine-catty.livejournal.com/383964.html
Also in the article, quotes from French sources translated by Catherine Urzova were used.
Some of the photos are taken from the same blog.