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Chris Boonzaier

The "Cafard", Suicide in the Legion, 1916

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Just looking at the photo of the Legionnaires sitting around their barracks was enough to make my depression worse!  Can't imagine living like that for any length of time - when fighting the Toureg begins to look like a good thing! :(

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Posted (edited)

It’s funny, I first came across that expression many years ago when I read that brilliant classic by P.C. Wren, Beau Geste, and have often excused my moments of silliness since then (of which I seem to have many) as “Cafard”.  Although, I distinctly remember that that particular edition had about four hundred pages or so, and it wasn’t until the very last page that I finally had my suspicions confirmed as to who actually stole the “Blue Water”, which was enough to give any potential reader a good bout of “Le Cafard”! The only problems is that nobody knows what you’re talking about – even me?

Regards,

Zob.

Edited by zob123
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I get it, Zob!  Wren was my first introduction to the Legion as well.  And he actually served with the LE, back in the '20s when that was [briefly] a fashionable thing to do! :)

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Hmmmmm.... Wren has many details nailed.... but most studies tend to agree he never served in the legion.... he probably knew a few people who did....

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I sit corrected.  [I'd stand, but its' so tiring!]  Going on my increasingly shaky memroy, Chris, rather than an evidence.  Should have known you'd know better! Cheers. ;)

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That’s really interesting, I too hadn’t realised that there was so much controversy over whether or not P.C. Wren actually saw any service in the Legion. It all makes very interesting reading on the net; although I have to confess it does look highly unlikely considering his age etc.  What also sparks fleeting aspects of interest are the other books in the trilogy - Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal neither of which have I had the opportunity to read. I only wonder if I still have stamina after all these years for all that sand, sun and of course - Le Cafard?  

Regards,

Zob.

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His absurd novel about a " mannish" woman who follows her lover into the Legion has an entire chapter on a discussion of La Cafard-and even blames the infamous exploration expedition of voulet-Chanoine which turned into mass genocide- upon the phenomenon. 

Edited by Ulsterman

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Hi Ulsterman,

I had to look this one up I’m afraid “The Voulet–Chanoine Mission”, a fascinating read and not something that I was familiar with at all. I suppose that’s the problem with the smaller colonial campaigns from other European countries, that there is very little in the English language that’s actually available, unless gleaned from other sources such P.C. Wren or internet chit chat. Still it’s all riveting stuff.

I thought I’d attach a scan of a few souvenirs picked up in Paris a few years ago whilst wandering along the banks of the Seine, scouring through endless copies of the “Petit Journal”.

Petit Journal.JPG

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very cool! I met a very old ex Legionnaire yesterday -in the elevator of the Dallas Book Depository of all places. 

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Peter,

Thank you, I’m glad you like these. My partner and I had loads of fun that afternoon trying to find anything she could on the French involvement in the Boxer Rebellion, and of course I on Samori Ture and his cohorts. The illustrations on the front covers, as I’m sure you already know, are works of art in themselves, and would look great framed on anybody’s wall.

Ulsterman,

Now that’s a pretty ominous place to meet anybody. He wasn’t carrying an old dilapidated manual on the 6.5 mm Carcano model 91/38 rifle – was he? You never know, you may have just inadvertently solved one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century? LOL.

Regards,

Zob.

Edited by zob123
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Nope- an eery place indeed though. He is Irish and was invalided out of the Legion after 4 months when they had him jump out of a moving lorry " in full kit" and he landed the wrong way. 

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Such a terrible shame to find one’s self injured in such an unfortunate way, and have your career brought to such an abrupt end. I’ve had a bit of experience of this myself.  I confess though, I’ve always had a great desire to visit Texas, albeit much further south. Well, San Antonio to be precise, and the Alamo, as I have always had great weakness for a good “Western”, particularly those shot on location using the old technicolour cinematography. Oh, and a nice bit of acting helps as well. I had to hand it to Randolph Scott the other day in something or other that I was watching. He never lost his hat once despite being hit with everything from a bottle to a bar room chair. What a performance – that hat should definitely have won an Oscar.

Best regards,

Zob.

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7 hours ago, zob123 said:

He never lost his hat once despite being hit with everything from a bottle to a bar room chair. What a performance – that hat should definitely have won an Oscar.

Best regards,

Zob.

Thats a bit like the singer from AC/DC.... you just have to know ... a hat that never falls off hides a bald spot.....

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On ‎9‎/‎14‎/‎2017 at 09:33, Chris Boonzaier said:

Thats a bit like the singer from AC/DC.... you just have to know ... a hat that never falls off hides a bald spot.....

Chris,

I think you could possibly be right, there must have been something on that barnet that didn’t want to come out and play. Still a pretty impressive performance from his hat though – hanging on that tight.

Best regards,

Zob.

Edited by zob123
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