So I Can Forget


I need to throw away my cup of sorrows and forget: and the best way to do that, apparently, is to join the French Foreign Legion. The legion, founded in 1831, is one of the only regiments in the world that almost anyone can join — no matter where they are from or what they have done. There won’t be any women around.

The only woman ever to belong to the legion was Susan Travers, a Briton. Attached to the legion as a driver during the Second World War, she refused to leave the Libyan fort of Bir Hakeim when the female personnel were ordered to depart in 1942. She stayed with her lover, a legion colonel, and led a convoy in a breakout through minefields and three rings of German tanks. She was accepted as a full member after the war

All recruits must assume a new name on joining. This is because some recruits do indeed want a new start and new identity, and it is fairer to make all new Legionnaires undergo the same process. Soldiers can revert to their real identities after a year.

So, what does the Legion give the lucky entrant? A hard time, mainly.

Before being awarded the kepis blanc, the famed white cap of the Legion, recruits must endure a severe training regime which can involve punching and kicking. All recruits have to speak in French – even if they can’t. Even swearing must be in French, and there is a lot of that.

After three years service, a legionnaire may apply for French citizenship. There is a quicker, more painful way way: a soldier wounded in battle may apply for citizenship under a provision known as "Français par le sang versé" ("French by spilled blood").

I am sure that after all the trials, tribulations and disappointments of EP, my new life in the legion will be easy; and I am bound to become fluent in French (at least the swear words) as well.

Extract from Thoughts of an American in the French Foreign Legion

But I have to say that the Legion truly was our family, perhaps because we had so little time for anything else in our lives. When we sat down for dinner on Christmas Eve the commanding officer sat at the head of the table and the other officiers, sous-officiers (NCOs) and hommes du rang sat together enjoying good food, wine, cigars, champagne and singing songs until late at night. In many ways the Legion was more of a family to me than the parents and sisters that I grew up with.

So, what do I say to say to someone who is thinking about joining the Foreign Legion today? Well, my first reaction is to tell them to sober up and things will look better in the morning, which is exactly what my friends told me when I first expressed an interest in joining. It was, and still is, valid advice. The term of service is five years and the only way to cut it short is death or desertion. It may be possible to get out before finishing the four months of basic training, but once you reach your regiment you're in for the long haul.

The training is rough, but if you just want a physical challenge join the Marines. In the Legion you will face the toughest physical, mental and emotional challenges imaginable. You will be a long way from home, and if you don't like the treatment there's no friendly congressman to whom you can write. If a member of your family should pass away, or some other personal crisis occur, you probably won't even hear about it until you get a letter a week later. Perish the thought of an emergency leave for a quick visit home. There's no such thing, and in any case the first thing you did when you walked into the recruiting station was to surrender your passport.

And finally, no commentary on the Legion would be complete without a word about desertion. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, goes through a hitch in the Foreign Legion without thinking about deserting at least once or twice. The Legion even has an expression, «cafard en tête», to describe the phenomenon. In general, the legion doesn't mind if you are successful in deserting. But they frown on those who fail. I had a buddy in Djibouti who made a run for Somalia and didn't make it - he got the **** kicked out of him and did a month or 2 in jail. But by the time he finished the two years in Djibouti he decided he loved it, and both of us ended up together with the 2eme REP in Tchad. Believe it or not, in the end this guy deserted -successfully - with less than six months remaining on his contract. The Legion attracts all kinds.

DON'T EVER DESERT WITH YOUR WEAPON. I saw that happen in Guyane, and the entire regiment was called out on alert to look for him. My section had just come back from 45 days on 'mission profonde' (deep jungle recce) and we lost our promised 3-day pass because of it. The guy was lucky the gendarmes caught him and not the Legion, because we probably would have shot the bastard on sight.

And so I conclude. If you want to completely tear yourself away from your home, your family and all you've ever known; if you want to endure months and years of a Spartan lifestyle and a harsh disciplinary regime; and if you don't mind carrying out the most menial tasks with only the bare minimum of material, then by all means join the French Foreign Legion.


Not very funny FFL Jokes

A new lieutenant in the French Foreign Legion arrives at an isolated base in Algeria. As a corporal shows him quarters, he asks the corporal, "The base is rather isolated, what do the men do for female companionship?"The corporal replies, "On Fridays, they let us use the camels."The lieutenant is disgusted, but says nothing. After a few weeks, however, the new officer is very lonely. He decides that if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't he. The next Friday, the young lieutenant slinks over to the camel pens and, after looking around, drops his pants and starts humping a female camel. The camel is not amused and makes a huge uproar. The same corporal comes in to investigate. "Lieutenant! What are you doing.""Come on man," replied the embarrassed officer, "You yourself told me we could use the camels on Fridays.""Yes sir," replied the corporal. "But most of us just ride them into town.


A woman reporter is driving a jeep in the desert. She sees a Captain in the French Foreign Legion pulling and tugging on a camel, but the camel won't budge. The woman stops and says, "Captain! Do you need some help with the camel?"The legionnaire tells her the camel won't budge but she's welcome to try. The reporter gets out of the jeep, takes two bricks from the back and POW... smashes the camel's testicles with the bricks. The camel makes a terrible noise and runs off into the desert. The captain drops his pants and says, "Great! Do me next, I've got to catch that son of a *****!"


unsichtbar unsichtbar 46-50 36 Responses Jan 10, 2010

Your Response


Have been planning on joining for a year now, had some physical issues to iron out and some personal goals to meet before taking the plunge. Have sold most of my belongings, cars, found homes for my guns and said goodbye to those that need to know. I know someone that served 30 years ago, and while they say it is life changing and a great experience there is still a lot to be wondered. It seems the FFL hasn't seen much combat in the last decade. I know the regular French army was deployed to Afghanistan. My question is what are the chances you will get to use use all of this training? I dont necessarily want to join to fight, but I dont want to join to do field exercises for 5 years either. Also if anyone knows, after you complete your 5 years and take on your old identity, can you come back to the states and join the US military? Thanks

What's the script wi speaking french will they just drill that right in tae me that's the only thing holding me back

Was in the British army for a few year now this ma next step can't wait tae get broke an wake up the next feeling am the one step closer ,

Can you join the legion if you have been discharged from the British army for drugs?

Aye mate that\'s why am going ha

You tell a great tale, but the quote "you surrender your passport at the recruiting station" is false. The home base of the second rep is Aubagne, the same place where recruit "selection" takes place and where your passport, phone and everything else is taken from you and you receive your legion identity. Though you have done a lot of research for your story their is nothing more intimate than actual experience.

I'm flying on the 14th of May 2014 to join and I'm South African. Whats my chances of making it even though I pass everyting, because i recievd a letter from them that stated 9 out of 10 are sent home because of to much candidates showing up each week

What's the policy on tattoos?

I'm not sure if this helps, but I jumped ship and joined at the age of 16
When I was about 20 I disobeyed the curfew and went on a ship for drinks
A legion patrol picked me up and I ended in jail
The next day a captain accused me of wanting to desert the legion
I was caught red handed and only had one defense, my contract was invalid because I signed it at 16,
But I did not use that way out because I was afraid they would throw me out of the legion, so ikeptmymouth shut and took the punishment. I hope that makes sense.

Hi I just discovered this site

Great input,

hi i was wondering , i tryed looking but could not find, whats the policies on going home to visit family? i mean do you have to complete your 5 year contract before seeing them or can you take leave after basic?

you get leave each year - i think it may be 45 days, but going home can depend on whether youve assumed another identity upon joining, whether youre wanted by law enforcement in your home country and how long youve served - they have an english language website with answers to most f these questions. All I can say is think long and hard before joining, 5 yrs is a very long time! good luck!

You an always desert, it's easy now with the legionnaires mainly in france

i served five years in United States federal prison for weapons charges. Will I b e able to join the Legion? my record could be worse, but its bad. I am from Los Angeles. I am fit, but will they allow me in?


Sure, why not?

i want to join but i dont know how to get over there, is there anyone that could help me with this, i atleast would like to know how to get started

if you dont know how to search the internet to get an adress, or get yourself over there then im not sure a career in the FFL is for you my friend.

You could look up France on google map,that might help

You need a valid passport and a roundtrip ticket to anywhere in France or even anywhere in Europe, then go to any major city and find the FFL recruiting office, there the recruiter will begin your paperwork, if you meet the minimum qualifications he will put you on a train to Aubagny and give you a ticket for the train and a small handdrawn map of where you need to go for selection. "Many come, few remain".

Im 30 an American wanting to join did 7 years in the Army but I want to server under a different style of training so what better place. How do I start and go about this?

If you have already done 7 years you should know better, ask your mum, she will tell you

forget the legion if you were in for seven years, you are used to getting respect, in the legion when you enter you start at the bottom and your past experience don't mean jack, give it some thought

what is an americans chances of being accepted with a bachelors degree fresh out of college? what do they look for in recruits typically?

They will check if you got 2 balls, if not you will be thrown out of the gate and spit at

You won't like it at all because every recruit is the same and you need many years to become an officer as a legionaire, find another job.

jiggi22 - the latest you could be accepted is normally 40: once in aged 39, of course, they don't make you leave a year later. <br />
<br />
Hurry up, though, if you are serious.

im 39 years, fit and healthy and interested in a new career in the ffl, what are my chances at my age to get in? can someone help??


after you pass the basic physical test and sign your 5 year contract do you get kicked out if you cant pass alot harder mental and physical tests?

No. Once you are accepted, you are in - unless you were injured and invalided out, of course.

That would take another story, senthil. I will see what I can do.

Am from india. 34 year old guy. I plan to join fflg. I be mechanical engg graduate. Trained well in muay thai and mixed martial arts too. Very well knowledge in software feild too. How was mine future when i join in fflg. As well i want to know somethong about training procedure too. Please any one help me.<br />
<br />
Thank you <br />
Senthil kumar dharmarah

Am from india. 34 year old guy. I plan to join fflg. I be mechanical engg graduate. Trained well in muay thai and mixed martial arts too. Very well knowledge in software feild too. How was mine future when i join in fflg. As well i want to know somethong about training procedure too. Please any one help me.<br />
<br />
Thank you <br />
Senthil kumar dharmarah

So, just for interest sake...visiting home is not an option once you have inlisted with the FFL? I am really considering going within the coming year! Just working on the fitness now, need to be up to it when you get there!! Also, contact with family and friend is then most likely to be limited to letters?<br />
<br />
Sounds like something I would love though, to live by Spartan Law!!

it is a long hard road you seek to follow nothing we have even comes close to what you will go thought and in the end all you get is a french pass port and citizen ship<br />
<br />
and they are crazy then i was when i was younger back in the 1970 when i was working in africa

hi i have been considering joinging the ffl for about 2 years now on and off...i have considered it in much more depth recently and watched several videos, read articles and books, stories. I plan to join in afew weeks anyone else thinking the same?

yes sir, January 4th..

Can we go to joint in another mount?
When the selection start in 2012?
Anyone know about this?

Thanks, Mentor. That is odd, isn't it.

Did it already<br />
<br />
And funny thing was, wen I left, no one knew... When I came back no one recognized me either.<br />
Let me know if you need tips or advices!

Sir, I have been arrested a few times as a juvenile, but my charges were expunged. It was for marijuana. Will this disqualify me? Also I have had 2 eye surgeries. Will they know of I don't say anything? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Regards.

I am looking to join the FFL, I was wondering if i have 2 felonies from the same event that happened 18 years ago, and havent been in any trouble since. Can I go to the FFL? The felony was for "grand theft" and "discharging a firearm in city limits" i am WANTED TO go in the next month. PLEASE HELP. thanks.

I should have to check, charmer, but almost certainly yes, unless its very serious.

Anyone joining/enlisting around May 9th 2011? If so let me know and we could probably meet up in Paris or Marseille before knocking on their door?

i want to bad

so if i have a criminal record an the crimes are not murder or drugs i could get into the legion is it possible if i have an outstanding warrant

• to be between the age of 17 and 40 years old<br /> <br />
<br />
<br />
Alas, Whattingh is quite right!