I came across Legionnaire and had to admit it grabbed my interest just from the title.
We don’t hear much about the French Foreign Legion nowadays. We hear how in the past they used to recruit from criminals and runaways that were looking for an escape from their life or a change in to something different. That romance story has gone now. Full checks are done and they’re a legit, well trained fighting force.
Simon Murray was a young Englishman in 1960 who was rejected from joining the British Army. What else do you do in that situation? That’s right, run away to the Legion!
Murray spent 5 years serving in the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment and this book is his story, told in diary form. The book is a gripping read. I read it when I was on holiday and couldn’t put it down.
The author says he kept detailed journals the whole time he was in the Legion and although he has left out many boring days and times of his experience there are tons of great stories that really give you a picture of what life was like.
Punishments You Couldn’t Dream Of
Brutal punishments that were handed out to misbehaving ranks would nowadays be classed as breaches of human rights and unfair torture. Back then they were character building exercises.
There was a reason they had so many deserters that desperately wanted to return to the life they were so eager to escape from in the first place and that reason was life as a Legionnaire is tough.
Murray fought many battles, gained promotion, was often drunk (some of the tales of Christmas parties are hilarious, and this is while they were at war and could be attacked at any time!) fell in love and saw the horrors of war first hand.
Should You Read It?
This is definitely a book worth reading. It will really open your eyes as to how life has changed in military units since then but also give you an insight in to how brave, strong and determined soldiers can be.
The hardships that Murray went through with his unit were not a one-off, it was life. A life he chose and a times wanted to leave but ultimately served his time.
After reading this you will moan less about your own circumstances. You’ll realise that deep down your situation isn’t actually that bad. Get this book.
Murray has written more and I want to get them and get further insights in to his mindset, his life and his adventures.