Ahem, not often mentioned was that the 2e REP also participated in the 1961 putsch. I was at the airport in Philippeville in April 1961, getting ready to board an aircraft to jump in Paris and depose, get rid of by any means, the French president, general Charles De Gaulle. Apparently our jumping target drop zone was the Bois de Boulogne, then from there we would make it on foot to the Elysée Palace. Fortunately, that plan was eventually dropped, and we just occupied the airport in Algiers for a couple of days instead. Could have been good fun though, and I was totally pissed off when the Paris drop was cancelled.
And the 1er REP were singing Edith Piaf as they were kicked out of their camp at Zéralda after the end of the putsch:
From "hearsay" I believe that the reason the drop was cancelled, was that the Air force refused at the last moment not to go though with the jump. Also "Hearsay" even sections of infantry and cavalry from the Legion were going to be included and of course several French Para units. We being simple Legionnaires, were not privy to the going on's of the higher echelon cadre.
Yes, the airforce pulled their planes away at literally the last moment. I was already at the airport in Phillippevile waiting for the aircrafts to land when Legion music was suddenly broadcast over the transistor radio from Algiers, shortly after units of the 1er REP had occupied the radio station. We all went ‘whooppee’, this sounds like good kleen fun, the Legion is taking control!
But then the aircraft got contraorder in mid air and turned around. We were so close, bugger!
I remember reading some offical docs in the museum on the subject. If I am not mistaken, the airforce pulled out because De Gaulle positioned anti-aircraft batteries in Paris and threaten/warned he would have the planes shot out of the sky. Jonny, it is also rumored that those that were under fort arrest in FdN would break out and sing Edith Piaf's Je ne regrette rien.
Not sure about that bit, as far as I know the French were dragging out old tanks out into the streets of Paris to try to stop the invasion by the paratroopers from Algeria. But then again, in my memoirs, it just goes down as the day I nearly invaded France.
Snafu, I’m glad you feel that way. I sometimes feel that I’m a bit too old for the main posters here who either want to know about how to join the Legion or tell them how many push ups they have to do. Anyway, I think the Legion is still the same as it was in 1862, 1930, 1957, or whatever,
That’s one reason I tell my little stories from my Legion time. Another is that mostly at this time of the night I’m basically on my own, with only my dog snoozing by my feet.
This bits of real life info are really precious, coming from any parts of history, but in this place especially important because they describing moments of FFL history.
Official story is ... officially story. Could be found everywhere, usually not enough for those searching for deeper truth. Also stories from common legionnaires have totally different point of view than official or news report.
Thank you very much Volt and Jonny. It's great thing that we still have guys from that period. I'm really glad to hear everything you two could remember.
In moments like this am hitting my head in keyboard because I'm still not part of family and I did not even try.
Sometimes on the board, things can get a bit too much wannabe saturated. Am I fit enough, am I too blind to join, my left pinkie is longer than my right pinkie and my one ear doesnt look symmetrical to the other?
But the sharing of the stories and first-hand experience of all the Anciens, not giving advice but giving their perspective on the events that have made the Legion famous is fantastic! Hope to hear/learn more!
Humm... You haven't always said that, Jonny my friend, if I recall your first posts on this board. But that's Ok. After all, as we say in French seuls les imbéciles ne changent jamais d'avis...
Anyway, for the rest, this putsch story is anything but ‘heroic’. The Legion officers who decided to get their unit involved in this masquerade took an enormous risk. If it hadn't been for Defence Minister Pierre Messmer's influence and power of persuasion (as he had fought with De Gaulle's so-called Free French in WW2 as a captain in the 13e DBLE), De Gaulle would have disbanded the whole Legion. He decided to axe only the 1er REP... That was a lesser evil.
People change with time. I think what Jonny wants to say is that some things are radically different now than during his time, but still you can find many parallels in today's Legion in comparison with Legion of whatever time. I think that soul remained the same. Some greens may disagree, but what they know. They only served for 5y in comparison with my .... aaahhhmmm... year and a half on forum.
BTW what happened with likes? Is it only me or is from? Now like looks like a dislike! If remains that way I would become more likable person on forum.
Cheers Countdown, yes I’m the one on the right. The other one is my best mate, a Swiss, who died a few years ago from cancer. The photo was taken in northern Algeria, near the Collo peninsula, probably about 1959.
I’m basically the last legion paratrooper from Algeria still left standing, as far as I know, but I hope I’m wrong. Not the kind of records I like to achieve. though.
About the guy killing his wife? I know the feeling. (Re, my ex wife, that is)
So what do legionnaires really look like anyway? Is it the white kepi and the red epaulets only? Or is it more like this photo I took of my section returning from a heavy day of patrolling the mountains of northern Algeria. The Lt is the guy grinning on the right background.