On this day

dusaboss

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8 May1945 was a very special day for me. It was the b/day of the wonderful lady who adopted me from the WW2 children's home where I lived having been bombed out and losing my father in Italy.

With her I went to our small rural town centre and clambered unrestricted all over the British and Canadian military vehicles . There was some jubilation mainly from the soldiers but with the civilians it was mainly a sense of sheer relief that at last it was over.

Albeit a rural area we lived in 'bomb alley' where bombers who had not completed there raids on London or had surplus bombs simply discarded them on the way back to the coast. Route being Portsmouth to London.
Uncle Chas, did you want to be soldier as little kid or you developed than later. Maybe your #1 wish was cop. :)
 
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Uncle Chas, did you want to be soldier as little kid or you developed than later. Maybe your #1 wish was cop. :)
No Dusa, I had completed my contract with the RM & R. I then looked at the FFL and the Australian Army. The latter offered me a commission. I declined that and had another look at the FFL with their excellent reports from 1956 Operation Musketeer when Marines rode on Legion tanks- debussed and used the fork/ bayonet. Then the Crown Agents offered me a contract to go to HK as a police officer. Foot loose and fancy free I accepted. The rest is history.
 
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On this day in days of yore. A few snippets.

1915 Igor Sikorsky flew the first 4 engine aircraft,

1944 Allied Forces in Italy broke through the German Gustav Line in the Liri valley.

1958 French troops take control of Algeirs.

1968 US and Vietnam start peace talks in Paris without success,

1981 Pope John Paul survived an assassination attempt despite being shot.
 

mark wake

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Thanks for breaking the tension Bags.
When we were in the “3e Reich” (3e REI), the Brits used to celebrate the Queen's birthday and the Germans Adolf's death. All this done with tables pushed together in the middle of the foyer.
Tried to get some stuff over to you and ossie Joseph let me know if you received anything. Cheers.
 
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Joseph Cosgrove

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16th of May 1978, The bugler is sent into the the town of Calvi, the Gendarmes are diverting traffic from the town centre, the trucks are lined up to take the legionnaires back to camp. Helicopters are sent to Castelnaudary's parade square to pick up the future corporals and future sergeants
The 2ème REP is on Alert:


16 May 1978

Hostage situation of Kolwezi, Zaire
Situation of Kolwezi


The city of Kolwezi is situated in the ore-rich region of Shaba (now Lualaba), in the South-East of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In 1978, the city held 100,000 inhabitants in a 40 km² urban area, with city quarters, separated by hills. It is a strategic spot, as it lies on important roads and railroad lines that link Lubumbashi to Dilolo. There is an airport 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the center of the city.

Hostage taking by rebels

In March 1978, a meeting took place between Algerian and Angolan officials and militants of the FNLC. Zairian intelligence was made aware of a possible destabilisation operation in the Shaba region, which had a high value because of its mines of precious materials like copper, cobalt, uranium and radium. For some months the Soviet Unionhad been purchasing all the cobalt available on the free market, but western intelligence did not connect this to the upcoming crisis. The FNLC operation was to be headed by Nathaniel Mbumba, assisted by officers from the Communist states of Cuba and the German Democratic Republic.

In May 1978, an uprising took place in Katanga against President Mobutu Sese Seko. On 11 May, a 3,000 to 4,000 man strong FNLC rebel group arrived. The FNLC was supported by foreign mercenaries.[1] Departing from Angola, it had crossed neutral Zambia. Upon arriving, they took about 3,000 Europeans as hostages and carried out various executions, particularly after the intervention of Zairian paratroopers on 18 May.[2] Between 90 and 280 Europeans were killed.

From 15 May, hundreds of rebels started departing the city in stolen vehicles, leaving only 500 men led by Cubans, mostly were garrisoned in the quarter of Manika and in the suburbs.

President Mobutu requested foreign assistance from Belgium, France and the United States.[

Franco-Belgian operation
Preparation

On 16 May at 00:45 1978, the French 2e régiment étranger de parachutistes (2nd REP), led by Colonel Philippe Erulin, was put on alert. (1) A meeting took place in West Germany between Belgian and French officials to coordinate a common operation. The meeting was a failure, as the French wanted to deploy their forces to neutralise the rebels and secure the city, while the Belgians wanted to evacuate foreigners. Eventually the Belgian Paracommando Regiment was sent independently. Meanwhile, elements of the planned operation started to leak into the press, causing fears that surprise would be lost if swift action were not taken.

(1) The clairon de sérvice was sent to the centre of Calvi and bugled the rassemblement.


1526429220186.png
 

mark wake

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16th of May 1978, The bugler is sent into the the town of Calvi, the Gendarmes are diverting traffic from the town centre, the trucks are lined up to take the legionnaires back to camp. Helicopters are sent to Castelnaudary's parade square to pick up the future corporals and future sergeants
The 2ème REP is on Alert:


16 May 1978

Hostage situation of Kolwezi, Zaire
Situation of Kolwezi


The city of Kolwezi is situated in the ore-rich region of Shaba (now Lualaba), in the South-East of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In 1978, the city held 100,000 inhabitants in a 40 km² urban area, with city quarters, separated by hills. It is a strategic spot, as it lies on important roads and railroad lines that link Lubumbashi to Dilolo. There is an airport 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the center of the city.

Hostage taking by rebels

In March 1978, a meeting took place between Algerian and Angolan officials and militants of the FNLC. Zairian intelligence was made aware of a possible destabilisation operation in the Shaba region, which had a high value because of its mines of precious materials like copper, cobalt, uranium and radium. For some months the Soviet Unionhad been purchasing all the cobalt available on the free market, but western intelligence did not connect this to the upcoming crisis. The FNLC operation was to be headed by Nathaniel Mbumba, assisted by officers from the Communist states of Cuba and the German Democratic Republic.

In May 1978, an uprising took place in Katanga against President Mobutu Sese Seko. On 11 May, a 3,000 to 4,000 man strong FNLC rebel group arrived. The FNLC was supported by foreign mercenaries.[1] Departing from Angola, it had crossed neutral Zambia. Upon arriving, they took about 3,000 Europeans as hostages and carried out various executions, particularly after the intervention of Zairian paratroopers on 18 May.[2] Between 90 and 280 Europeans were killed.

From 15 May, hundreds of rebels started departing the city in stolen vehicles, leaving only 500 men led by Cubans, mostly were garrisoned in the quarter of Manika and in the suburbs.

President Mobutu requested foreign assistance from Belgium, France and the United States.[

Franco-Belgian operation
Preparation

On 16 May at 00:45 1978, the French 2e régiment étranger de parachutistes (2nd REP), led by Colonel Philippe Erulin, was put on alert. (1) A meeting took place in West Germany between Belgian and French officials to coordinate a common operation. The meeting was a failure, as the French wanted to deploy their forces to neutralise the rebels and secure the city, while the Belgians wanted to evacuate foreigners. Eventually the Belgian Paracommando Regiment was sent independently. Meanwhile, elements of the planned operation started to leak into the press, causing fears that surprise would be lost if swift action were not taken.

(1) The clairon de sérvice was sent to the centre of Calvi and bugled the rassemblement.


1526429220186.png
Obviously you didn’t get the stuff I sent you. No matter. I remember on the 17th must of been around 10am. The siren went off. It was a hot day we were doing weapons training. One of the other company’s were doing a drop. As usual we were doing the critique watching them exit the aircraft but that siren changed everything. i remember our company commander capataine Paulet rushing off to the headquarters building. We looked at each other . Something was up!
 
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Joseph Cosgrove

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Feel free to edit Joseph. Not my best when the anniversary comes around. I’ll continue to comment if you lot want. it’s not about me. Just the lads I had the privilege to serve with.
Of course we want to hear what happened, the good, the bad, the funny, the emotional, the whole thing.
 

jonny

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Great to hear some personal accounts from Kolwesi. I had a good friend who jumped there with 2 REP, Neville, an Australian. Anybody knew him? (I will not give further details.)
 

mark wake

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Of course we want to hear what happened, the good, the bad, the funny, the emotional, the whole thing.
Got to make this quick.Bloody hung over!😵 trying to swig coffee do a shopping list avoid the daggers 🗡 from the missus (she thinks I’m turning into a bloody nerd) and text you lot at the same time! Anyway back to May 17th. Later on in the afternoon our section commander LT puga called us all in for a briefing. He made it sound like it was going to be a small operation couple of companies doing a drop saving some Europeans and taking out a few rebels. I don’t think he realized what the extent of the operation was going to be or anybody else for that matter! after the briefing was over the only thing on our minds apart from making sure our kit was packed and ready to go was making a bee 🐝 line for the foyer. If in doubt stock up! that night just after Appel a couple of police militaire came running into our chambres screaming the operation was on! to be continued..
 

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Got to make this quick.Bloody hung over!😵 trying to swig coffee do a shopping list avoid the daggers 🗡 from the missus (she thinks I’m turning into a bloody nerd) and text you lot at the same time! Anyway back to May 17th. Later on in the afternoon our section commander LT puga called us all in for a briefing. He made it sound like it was going to be a small operation couple of companies doing a drop saving some Europeans and taking out a few rebels. I don’t think he realized what the extent of the operation was going to be or anybody else for that matter! after the briefing was over the only thing on our minds apart from making sure our kit was packed and ready to go was making a bee 🐝 line for the foyer. If in doubt stock up! that night just after Appel a couple of police militaire came running into our chambres screaming the operation was on! to be continued..
Kinshasa airport 18th May... it was dawn and already I could feel the heat and humidity of the Congo wash over me. Ah! L’afrique! Love her or hate her! I was on guard duty standing amongst the piles of equipment. My mind went back to the events of the past 24hrs. The long preparations after the alert was sounded. Waiting around until early hours of the morning before the go order was finally given. 04:30hrs we left camp raffalli for the long trip to solenzara the French Air Force base some 130 kilometers southeast of Calvi. Tired but happy we were finally on the move. Arriving at the base we were surprised to see a DC8 already coming In with a couple more behind it. Bloody hell! said Dave my no 2 l’equipe choc they really mean it! Dave was an Aussie and didn’t mince his words when tired! There was a rush to get off the trucks and unload all our kit. The only thing I remember about the long trip from solenzara Corsica to Kinshasa Zaire was one of the purser’s was English! Bloody marvelous! He kept slipping us shots of liqueur when the officers weren’t looking. Bless him! We arrived in Zaire late at night around 23:00hrs. Again the unloading of kit and equipment. You alright mate? a light tap on the shoulder it was Dave a cup of brew in his hand. You look like you need it! We laughed. All around us other paras were doing the same. a quick brew up and something to eat. talking quietly amongst themselves I could see the fatigue on their faces. We knew it wouldn’t be long before the order was given to assemble...to be continued
 

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Kinshasa airport 18th May... it was dawn and already I could feel the heat and humidity of the Congo wash over me. Ah! L’afrique! Love her or hate her! I was on guard duty standing amongst the piles of equipment. My mind went back to the events of the past 24hrs. The long preparations after the alert was sounded. Waiting around until early hours of the morning before the go order was finally given. 04:30hrs we left camp raffalli for the long trip to solenzara the French Air Force base some 130 kilometers southeast of Calvi. Tired but happy we were finally on the move. Arriving at the base we were surprised to see a DC8 already coming In with a couple more behind it. Bloody hell! said Dave my no 2 l’equipe choc they really mean it! Dave was an Aussie and didn’t mince his words when tired! There was a rush to get off the trucks and unload all our kit. The only thing I remember about the long trip from solenzara Corsica to Kinshasa Zaire was one of the purser’s was English! Bloody marvelous! He kept slipping us shots of liqueur when the officers weren’t looking. Bless him! We arrived in Zaire late at night around 23:00hrs. Again the unloading of kit and equipment. You alright mate? a light tap on the shoulder it was Dave a cup of brew in his hand. You look like you need it! We laughed. All around us other paras were doing the same. a quick brew up and something to eat. talking quietly amongst themselves I could see the fatigue on their faces. We knew it wouldn’t be long before the order was given to assemble...to be continued
Man .. and I was thinking to skip through this long post, And now (after reading this) I'm skipping FB rings from one relay, I mean really hot girl-friend of mine (yes those 2 words are separated ;))... just to read this.

Anyway Mark I really want to hear more (much more) from that story of yours. And I'm pretty sure you can tell as some real things .... Yes, they are more exciting than most of sh*t some guys lying about. And there's lot of that as well.

Respect my man Mark!
 

mark wake

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Man .. and I was thinking to skip through this long post, And now (after reading this) I'm skipping FB rings from one relay, I mean really hot girl-friend of mine (yes those 2 words are separated ;))... just to read this.

Anyway Mark I really want to hear more (much more) from that story of yours. And I'm pretty sure you can tell as some real things .... Yes, they are more exciting than most of sh*t some guys lying about. And there's lot of that as well.

Respect my man Mark!
Thank you for your comments Jonny and dusa. Today I just want to be alone with my thoughts and memories. It’s a tribute to the lads I knew that’s all. I’ll be around tomorrow. Take care all.
 

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Kinshasa airport 18th May... it was dawn and already I could feel the heat and humidity of the Congo wash over me. Ah! L’afrique! Love her or hate her! I was on guard duty standing amongst the piles of equipment. My mind went back to the events of the past 24hrs. The long preparations after the alert was sounded. Waiting around until early hours of the morning before the go order was finally given. 04:30hrs we left camp raffalli for the long trip to solenzara the French Air Force base some 130 kilometers southeast of Calvi. Tired but happy we were finally on the move. Arriving at the base we were surprised to see a DC8 already coming In with a couple more behind it. Bloody hell! said Dave my no 2 l’equipe choc they really mean it! Dave was an Aussie and didn’t mince his words when tired! There was a rush to get off the trucks and unload all our kit. The only thing I remember about the long trip from solenzara Corsica to Kinshasa Zaire was one of the purser’s was English! Bloody marvelous! He kept slipping us shots of liqueur when the officers weren’t looking. Bless him! We arrived in Zaire late at night around 23:00hrs. Again the unloading of kit and equipment. You alright mate? a light tap on the shoulder it was Dave a cup of brew in his hand. You look like you need it! We laughed. All around us other paras were doing the same. a quick brew up and something to eat. talking quietly amongst themselves I could see the fatigue on their faces. We knew it wouldn’t be long before the order was given to assemble...to be continued
More, please!
 

mark wake

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More, please!
Assembly! We formed up in our company’s let’s get on with I thought. Looking at the lads I could see they were thinking the same thing. There was a French colonel with our captain. Latest intelligence reports... Apparently there were several hundred Katanga rebels holed up in and around Kolwezi and a couple of thousand Europeans waiting to be rescued. Some of them had already been massacred. and it was up to us to go in and rescue them. We looked at each other. Most of the regiment had yet to arrive and they had all the heavy weapons! So that was it then I thought. There were only 381 of us with no heavy support, no French Air Force support. The Zairian airforce? A bloody joke! And what if those rebels were organized and had anti-aircraft weapons? We would be up shits creek without a paddle! Another bloody Dien Bien Phu!
Then almost apologetically the captain told us the company would be split up. Mixed combat groups 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cies, reason being the lack of aircraft. We looked over the tarmac. Four Hercules C-130s and one Transall C-160 were standing there. Which meant some eighty paras with all our kit would be stuffed like sardines in each aircraft! Christ! Murmured Dave anything else? As if on cue the captain told us we would be jumping with American T10 parachutes, the Transall would be used as the pathfinder and command aircraft with the Hercules C-130s following behind. We were to go in fast and low and hope for a surprise. Dismissed! The next couple of hours was getting organized in new combat groups and putting on the American parachutes. They were not compatible with our jump bags and kit so it was démerdez-vous! The Legion way! Bits of string tape whatever we could find! The Zairian troops there were supposed to help us but we could tell they had no clue. One of them came up to me to help with the parachute. I told him to piss off! I would figure things out myself! Other lads were doing the same thing.
Finally we were ready, loaded down with kit. There was another delay. Something about the aircraft getting permission to takeoff! We sat down back to back with a groan. The lad next to me, Allen a cockney from East London ex 2 Para machine gunner from 2nd Cie. What a bloody lark mate! We laughed. Wish you were back at Aldershot? Not bloody likely! Probably be doing another bloody tour in Northern Ireland! That’s why I’m here! Hey mark did you notice something (it was Dave piping up behind me) ? What? Seems like they put most of the Anglos in with us! He was right I looked around in our stick we had a couple of Irish lads from the 3rd Cie. Allen and his sidekick Mad Jock from the 2nd Cie. Me and Dave from the 1st Cie. And we were all in the pathfinder Transall! Unfortunately cpl Arnold the only other Brit was picked to go with one of the Hercules. Do you think they are trying to get rid of all the trouble makers first? Dave said in a serious tone! We all roared with laughter I think at that point we all getting a little silly we were so bloody tired. I looked down the line. We had some good lads. Tough Germans from the slums of Hamburg and Berlin. Hard little Spanish lads. Some of them had done their time in the Spanish legion before joining the French Foreign Legion and a sprinkling of lads from other nations. A motley crew! I looked at their faces, saw the apprehension but there was also something else. A look of determination. I knew then that no matter what we would get the job done! Suddenly the engines of the Hercules and the Transall started up. It was time to go!....to be continued.
 

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The above part of these memoirs is dedicated to adjudant-chef Jacques Hosteins Ancien of the the REP and 1ere cie. He died in July of last year, aged 78, surrounded by friends and family in Corsica. I served with him in Zaire, Gabon, Central African Republic and Lebanon. And of course many times when we did the garde d'honneur for the regiment flag. Rest In Peace mon adjudant-chef.
 

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