Earlier this month Capt. RP Jeynes of the Trailquest Archaeology Legion Project contacted me with information about their effort to find and document the existing remains of French Foreign Legion activity in Morocco. Pictured is the first, unnamed fort they are excavating, located in southeast Morocco near Figuig.
In the words of the project:
“As symbols of colonial conquest the forts and outposts of the Legion were mostly abandoned by the mid-1930s. Many were destroyed by the French themselves, a few continued in use as Moroccan police and Army stations, some became farm buildings and many were used as quarries by the builders of expanding villages and towns. A few, those in the most inaccessible areas, have simply been abandoned and forgotten.”
From my own visit to Morocco in 2005, the fort looks like typical Moroccan architecture: compare the picture above to Ait Ben Haddou, featured in my article about building a Moroccan ksar. The Legion was also employed in building roads and other infrastructure–certainly not the kinds of activities gamers are usually interested in but of lasting consequence.
The tribes of the mountains were not completely subdued until the 1930s when these structures were used. G. Ward Price’s book In Morocco with the Legion, published in 1934, describes both Morocco and the activities of the Legion at that time. The fictional Beau Geste, published in 1925, remains popular but harks back to the pre-World War I Legion. In the 1930s the Legion wore mostly khakis and left-over wartime uniforms and in addition to the Lebel rifles they were increasingly armed with heavy weapons and armored cars.
Our Askari Miniatures Inter-War Foreign Legion figures cover this period, as do the Spahis, Berbers and Tuareg. Stay tuned for some new figures as well, due out soon.