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The Foreign Legion was, and may still be, made up entirely of non-Frenchmen. You joined up, and much like SASS, you were not allowed to use your real name, and when you finished your hitch you were now a citizen of France, and had French documents in the name of your Legion name.

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If you were wondering why the first group of Legionares were wearing leather aprons and carrying axes.

 

 Les Pionniers de la Légion étrangère

 

Les Pionniers de la Légion étrangère. The Pioneers (or Sappers) are a popular, traditional unit of the Foreign Legion. They wear large beards and the traditional Foreign Legion Pioneers uniform, including leather aprons and axes. The pioneers/sappers were very common in the French Army during the Napoleonic Era (1799–1815), but disappeared after 1870, excluding the Pioneers of the Foreign Legion. Several pioneer companies existed within the Legion in North Africa in the 1920s-1940s.

Today, some regiments of the Foreign Legion keep their own group of pioneers (e.g. 1er REG, 2e REG, DLEM or 3e REI, comprising mostly one NCO and roughly 9 to 15 legionnaires). The 1er RE is the Legion’s only regiment with its own traditional pioneer platoon, composed of at least 3 NCOs and 36 ordinary legionnaires.

In late April 1931, on Camerone Day, a platoon of Pioneers opened a parade for the very first time in modern history, during the 100th anniversary of the Foreign Legion celebrations. Even nowadays, the parades of the Foreign Legion are opened by this unit. This practice maintains the sappers’ tradition of opening the way, using their axes and shovels to clear enemy obstacles in the past.

Within the French Army, the Legion remains the only unit keeping the tradition of old-fashioned, bearded pioneers/sappers.

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2 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

If you were wondering why the first group of Legionares were wearing leather aprons and carrying axes.

 

I almost titled this thread Sappers because of that opening shot.  I figured that 90% of people who read it would know it had something to do with the Legion.  But there is enough footage of other units that I just went with Legion

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12 hours ago, Alpo said:

The Foreign Legion was, and may still be, made up entirely of non-Frenchmen. You joined up, and much like SASS, you were not allowed to use your real name, and when you finished your hitch you were now a citizen of France, and had French documents in the name of your Legion name.

Originally the officers were Frenchmen.  That may have changed over the years.

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In THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE, there's a scene where all the new recruits are telling their name to the sergeant - Peter Ustinov.

 

Everyone announces his name is Smith. Until they get to Ted Cassidy. He says his name is Jones. The sergeant expresses puzzlement at the name, and the new legionnaire explains that his name is really Smith, and since he can't use his real name, he is now Jones.

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Legion was formed as in 19th century France politics being what it was....

No Frenchman should die fighting for foreign lands....and the legion was formed.

 All officers are St Cyr graduates ( their West Point so to speak),

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Probably the only recruitment office that is open every day of the year including holidays.

 

Joining the French Foreign Legion

 

Welcome to the information page on how to join the French Foreign Legion. Please note that the ONLY way to join the Foreign Legion is to travel to mainland France (in Europe) and knock on the door of one of the Foreign Legion recruiting centers and offices. There is NO OTHER WAY! No online applications, no letters of invitation, no French embassy’s forms are offered to join the French Foreign Legion. Keep it in mind.

French Foreign Legion: Entry Requirements

What DOES matter when joining the Legion

  • to be a man between 17.5 and 39.5 years – read more here:
    Age limits for joining the French Foreign Legion
  • to have a valid ID (identity document)
    • ID Card or Passport for recruits from the European Union (EU)
    • Passport for recruits from all over the world
  • to have a verified copy of your birth certificate (translated into English or French)
    – the verified copy cannot be older than 6 months while enlisting
    – you are allowed to enlist in the Legion without the certificate as well, nonetheless, the document will facilitate your engagement
  • to be NOT wanted by Interpol (murders, drug trafficking, or other really serious crimes are NOT tolerated…)
  • to be physically fit to serve anywhere in the world and in any season (heat, cold), for at least 5 years
  • to be able to write and read in your native language
  • to have BMI between 18 and 30 – read more about body mass index requirements:
    Height and weight requirements for joining the French Foreign Legion

 

What DOES NOT matter when joining the Legion

  • your citizenship (whether you’re a Brazilian, Indian, Russian, Japanese, etc…) doesn’t matter
  • your race origin doesn’t matter
  • your religion doesn’t matter
  • your ignorance of the French language doesn’t matter
  • your educational background doesn’t matter
  • your qualifications doesn’t matter
  • your social status doesn’t matter
  • your professional status doesn’t matter
  • your civil status (single, married, divorced) doesn’t matter
  • your previous military or non-military background doesn’t matter

 

Less than 10% of all applicants are selected to join the Legion at the end of the 2 to 4 week selection process.

 

25% of legionnaires will become non-commissioned officers (N.C.O.).

All NCOs in the Legion started as simple legionnaires (except for a few NCOs, nicknamed cadres blancs, coming from the French Army and assigned to Legion regiments as well-trained specialists).

 

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On 10/20/2021 at 3:21 AM, Sedalia Dave said:

If you were wondering why the first group of Legionares were wearing leather aprons and carrying axes.

 

 Les Pionniers de la Légion étrangère

 

Les Pionniers de la Légion étrangère. The Pioneers (or Sappers) are a popular, traditional unit of the Foreign Legion. They wear large beards and the traditional Foreign Legion Pioneers uniform, including leather aprons and axes. The pioneers/sappers were very common in the French Army during the Napoleonic Era (1799–1815), but disappeared after 1870, excluding the Pioneers of the Foreign Legion. Several pioneer companies existed within the Legion in North Africa in the 1920s-1940s.

Today, some regiments of the Foreign Legion keep their own group of pioneers (e.g. 1er REG, 2e REG, DLEM or 3e REI, comprising mostly one NCO and roughly 9 to 15 legionnaires). The 1er RE is the Legion’s only regiment with its own traditional pioneer platoon, composed of at least 3 NCOs and 36 ordinary legionnaires.

In late April 1931, on Camerone Day, a platoon of Pioneers opened a parade for the very first time in modern history, during the 100th anniversary of the Foreign Legion celebrations. Even nowadays, the parades of the Foreign Legion are opened by this unit. This practice maintains the sappers’ tradition of opening the way, using their axes and shovels to clear enemy obstacles in the past.

Within the French Army, the Legion remains the only unit keeping the tradition of old-fashioned, bearded pioneers/sappers.

 

I thought maybe because they worked in the mess hall.

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