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    Foreign Legion Headgear

    Chris Boonzaier

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    Here is an Iconic bit of headgear. Not restricted to the Legion, but issued in Indochina and Algeria... and old stocks used up to the 80s for units doing tours in Africa.... the "Chapeau de Brousse" (Bush hat) ... I really regret they were no longer issued in my era.... A really salty one, and a mint one from a store find... you occasionally find new ones in very small sizes. According to a French source the small ones were issued to indigenous troops in Indochina, and as that came to an end, they stayed in stores...bh1a.jpg.d40cd5ecf6bb48d2d6e4dd7d0261bc66.jpgbh1b.thumb.jpg.6576e170181f83bd51af09c18ef9c24a.jpgbh1c.jpg.1fc6a3ebb3ef049889dba9b2b2f03dc5.jpgbh2a.thumb.jpg.8f82c6735a2682d78913ff67bb3e976f.jpgbh2b.jpg.063067add48bd58e8c69e157b89839b9.jpgbh2c.jpg.ae12b8d80b426b0372669f2bf0443198.jpg

    Legionnaires in Laos wearing the Chapeau....ind1.thumb.jpg.73d39b1dde26d560c275388c6460ccc7.jpgind2.thumb.jpg.b3d75581d1eabc7c556c81fc47a77c64.jpgind3.thumb.jpg.6c27f99d2a388554e4a06b32912a1ded.jpgind4.thumb.jpg.6279e0b094876cd7804f07e40c3d0f30.jpg

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    OK... Beret 1 ... This is a late 50s early 60s one... with the first version Beret badge... the Legion paeas had the same badge as the normal French Paras, but other units had the Legion flame... this one for 2 REI ... for other regiments it stayed, but the 2nd REI changed very quickly to an own design reflecting their origins as a mounted unit... a mounted columns had been 2 Men one Mule, but by the beginning of the 1960s it meant trucks and Helicopters... so the later badge had a Mule shoe... and anyone knew to the regiment even today learns fast is for a mule... the mule sho badge was worn until the 2REI left its bases in the Sahara in 1968, the last French unit to leave Algeria.b1a.thumb.jpg.76de1e415a4ca728a4022f88e550aebc.jpgb1b.thumb.jpg.6bebc00d063fa0b7e2641df4b745b03f.jpgb1c.thumb.jpg.e24c496ec00fbd2e0eb48a87e0bd048b.jpgb2a.thumb.jpg.6bbc6f032a52be3f0e77c64466731159.jpgb2c.thumb.jpg.95bf7a0aee6d1245af74f3ddb8463f78.jpg


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    The two badges above were introduced in about 1961, the 2 REI seems to have abandoned the first and designed itself the 2nd... at almost the same time the badge below became the standard Badge for everyone (Cavalry in silver) other than the paras... but it seems they were seldom worn in Algeria and were adopted when the legion moved from North Africa in the mid 60s... here 2 terrible ones (the berets)... the first with a plasticky black rim, no longer leather... and the 2nd, an issue beret from the 80s.... In 1989 we were issued these in Aubagne... and wore them for the train ride to Castlenaudary... there the standard procedure was, upon a arrival an instructor would collect all beret sizes, then to to the PX and buy everyone a Beret with a pay advance.... next day everyone had to appear with a commercial beret more fitting to the "image" and not the big formless ones like from the 60s....b3a.thumb.jpg.3208dca23e0710492fb0e7c7d2b4937e.jpgb3b.jpg.084ea10a3ee3352d624635996e62a69c.jpgb3c.thumb.jpg.d7658b507f5dbb885fc127cdf5196b56.jpgb4a.thumb.jpg.5841e76c72a81208a83c9b0ca0f8181f.jpgb4b.thumb.jpg.b64b4d185321ab753742f9991ad2b466.jpgb4c.thumb.jpg.82d068bd95f243dc6dc1ca786598a62d.jpg

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    This was the most comman maker in the early 90s... they still make Berets today, but the quality has really, really dropped.... the leather used to have a zig-zag pattern on the inside with made it pretty resistent to wear and tear.. now they are sewn in a straight line, sometimes not even straight... two thumbs down to the newer ones. The ones with the parachute were also pretty comman back then, but they still seem to be making them in good quality... you can see the zigzag compared to the straight stitchb6c.thumb.jpg.20a8d808e56088c559f248e808c2d4f3.jpgb6d.thumb.jpg.5d3eaf53f6deb7e36cfd0be9848e0899.jpgb6e.jpg.41141969834766cedb473b57863a878b.jpgb7c.thumb.jpg.1a284d44cee2bc2dd741c0aa5379e241.jpg


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    Often refereed to as a "c**t cap" in english, for obvious reasons (general term for a garrison cap)  the French Legion garrison cap or "Bonnet de Police" was popular in Indochina, but once the Legion was fully stationed in North Africa again it was basically only for recruits in Basic training. The Sleeve badge for Legionnaire 1st Class was pinned on by the vet, so I left it therb9a.thumb.jpg.b5ebe129d81b699053c21b8b5af978da.jpgb9b.thumb.jpg.e68a5a159a9d742d64de26836245ba04.jpgb9c.jpg.8932a9239c18706764e1c1f7bb010318.jpge....

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