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While the infantry was very efficient in the Aurès (French language: Aurès), in Kabylie (French language: Kabylie) and all the mountainous regions, they were slow when the terrain became flat in the desert. Accordingly, at the end of the 19th century, the French Foreign Legion, and more particularly the 2nd Foreign Regiment 2e RE set on foot the mounted companies (French language: compagnies montées) in order to allow these infantry contingents to make movement over long distances while avoiding fatigue. Horses could not move for long distances in the desert, without water supply, accordingly, others means of displacement were required to be imagined.

fanion of the mounted company of the 2e REI.

Origin and history since 1881

The first mule mounted units of the French Army, were in reality the two infantry battalions of colonel Yusuf in July 1843. However, these battalions did not have any future follow-ups. At the end of 1880, in Algeria, the French troops started to occupy the oasis in the south, around the Saharan border. However, these forward operating posts had to be filled with supplies which made the convoys supplying them a tentative target. The first Legion mule mounted unit was imagined by colonel de Négrier, regimental commander of the 2nd Foreign Regiment in 1881 during launching of combat columns. On 14 December 1881, 50 Legionnaires mounted on mules brought back the first victories. In 1913, the 3rd Mounted Company of the 2nd Foreign Regiment became the Mounted Company of Morocco (French language: Compagnie Montée du Maroc), forming a corps.[1] During the war, the corps was in charge of maintaining the security of communication between Fès and Taza (French language: Taza). Assigned to the 3rd Foreign Regiment on 15 November 1920, the corps was reassigned to the 2e REI on 1 January 1922, and reassumed the original designation. On 1 October 1923, the Mounted Company of Morocco became the 1st Mounted Company of the 2e REI, following the creation of a second mounted company at the corps of the infantry regiment.[1] Designated as Mounted Company of the 2e REI on 1 October 1930, the company stationed at Ksar-ès-Souk at the end of the pacification of Morocco. From that date, a part of these mounted units would be motorized. On 1 January 1950, the last mounted company (French language: Compagnie Montée), the Mounting (French language: Montée) of the 4th Foreign Regiment was dissolved at Ksar-es-Souk.

Particularities

Starting 1884, the organization of the Mounted Companies was fixed at 215 men, 3 horses and 120 mules. The officers were on horse, the Adjudants had each a mule, as far as the others, they had one mule for two. One sits on the mule and the other marches. Every couple of hours, at the command of "change, mount" (French language: changez, Montez), the legionnaires would change places. The more senior legionnaire of the two is the responsible of the mule ("titled") and the other is the ("doubler"). One mounted company progressed at 6 Km per hour, however in case of necessity, the mule can sustain a rapid paste and the man on foot can follow in a fast tempo cadence. The normal rhythm was 10 to 15 hours of marching per day, or the possibility of covering some 40 to more than 70 km in one day, which created a considerable advantage in the desert. The legionnaires assigned to these units were the selected tier one (French language: sont triés sur le volet) and only the most robust volunteers were able to hope to serve the "Mounting".

Faits d'armes

Throughout the course of World War I, the mounted companies, which remained in Morocco, were essentially formed of German soldiers. Those of the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment 2e REI were seen compensated with the Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with four citations at the orders of the Army and the fourragère with colors of the Médaille militaire.

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 [1] History of the Mounted Companies of the 2nd Foreign Regiment

Sources


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