Ray presents "A brief History of the 2e Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes"
As a first stage of this project I wanted gather some background information on the Regiment, its equipment and its combat history.
I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of information out there on the Legion in general and in particular on the 2nd Foreign Parachute regiment.
The 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment is the only airborne unit of the Legion and is generally considered to be the elite unit of an already elite arm of the French army. It was originally created in October 1948 as the 2nd Foreign Parachute Battalion in Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria. North Africa remained as the Units base until 1967 when it moved to Camp Rafalli on the Island of Corsica, where it remains to this day.
The Unit served during the Indochina War from 1949. It fought in the first battle of Nghia Lo in October 1951 and shortly after at Black River and Hoa Binh. It’s final battle in the war was at Dien Bien Phu, where it was dropped in to bolster the French garrison prior to the surrender to the communist forces. Fewer than 100 Legionnaires survived the battle!
In December 1955 the battalion was reconstituted as a full regiment and designated 2e Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes . It served throughout the Algerian War of Independence suffering more than 700 casualties in the process. After the armistice on March 1962 the regiment was moved to Telergma and in September to Mers-el-Kebir. At this time the demoralised force was taken over by Colonel Caillaud who planned to rebuild the regiment as an elite airborne commando force. After it’s move to Corsica in 1967 it was assigned the French 11th Division and became part of the nation’s rapid deployment force.
From 1962 onwards the Regiment has served in most of the conflicts that France has found itself involved in including Chad in the late 60’s and 70’s, Lebanon in 1982 and back to Chad, Rwanda and Gabon between 1984 and 1991. Since then the Regiment has been involved in the Gulf War, and, of course as part of ISAF in Afghanistan. As well as this, it has been posted to Sarajevo, Congo, Ivory Coast, Kosovo and Mali.
So it’s become apparent to me that these guys have seen a bit of action over the years!
It’s been interesting and informative studying these guys. If nothing else I’ve gained a healthy respect for them as a fighting force. In my next article I’ll take a look at the organisation of the regiment and the equipment it uses. All I need now are the figures to arrive from Eureka and I can get stuck into them. Can’t wait…..