Within Days of Germanys attack on Belgium, 43 Americans began training
with the famed French Foreign Legion. These early volunteers were members
of the 2nd Foreign Regiment and were sent to the Marne area in early October
1914. A second contingent arrived at the front later that month as part
of the 1st Foreign Regiment. A third detachment arrived in December of
Americans serving in the Legion participated in some
of the bloodiest conflicts of the war. In May of 1915, the Legion regiment
lost two-thirds of its 2900 members at the Battle of Artois. Losses were
so high that by November of 1915, the regiments were combined to form
a single unit. The unit became an elite force, completing the most difficult
assignments and became the most decorated unit in the entire French Army.
Many Americans served valiantly among the ranks of the Legion, including
8 future pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille.
Legionaires, 1914 These men were among the first to volunteer.
Back Row, left to right: Casmeze, Charles Sweeney, Jack Casey, Bert Hall.
Seated left to right: Carstairs, William Thaw, and James Bach. In December
of 1914, William Thaw obtained transfers for Bach, Hall and himself to
French aviation. While the other went to flight training, Thaw, who was
already an experienced airman, joined a front line unit immediately becoming
a gunner/observer with Escadrille D.6 (Depperdussin).
||Left: Kiffin and Paul
Rockwell as Legionaires in 1914. With a strong French-Huguenot heritage
and a deep desire to serve France, Kiffin Rockwell sent a letter in
August of 1914 to the French Consul-General offering his services
to the cause of Humanity. Without waiting for an answer,
he and Paul sailed for France on August 7. Upon their arrival in Paris,
they were 2 of the first 43 Americans accepted into the Foreign Legion.
Left: William Dugan (far left) with fellow American Legionnaires
shortly after their transfer to the 170th
Line infantry, October 1915. Paul Pavelka is seated top row, 2nd
left. Another future Lafayette Flying Corpsman is Marius Rocle,
front row, center. Note Dugans swollen and blackened left
eye, the result of a shrapnel wound while fighting in the
Bois de Sabots.
||Left: Edmond Charles
Clinton Genet, the 20th volunteer to the Escadrille Lafayette, was
born on November 9, 1896 in Ossining New York. Photographed here in
April of 1916.