47. chapter – Camerone day in Central Africa

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I didn’t find anything different in Bria than in the others villages we went through in Central Africa. Perhaps a bit more people were out of their house, but that was everything I observed while I was driving behind the Sagaie. No flying stones in our direction or any type of violence the others were talking about the previous day.

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The battlegroup separated in two parts. One stayed in the base of the Central African army and we joined an infantry unit not too far from the airfield in Bria. We passed the upcoming weeks mostly by building observation posts in the temporary base. The only interesting thing linked to the job I thought I was going to do in the French Foreign Legion was a short recon mission in Bria. Even if those outgoings weren’t serious stuff, I enjoyed that we could move around with only two jeeps in an African village.

During the other days, we didn’t do anything but filling sandbags and fortifying the temporary base. For the first time since we arrived in Africa, I could sleep a whole night because the infantry unit was responsible for the guard on the base. The only problem was that it started to rain around midnight and at 2AM it turned into a storm. Everyone around me woke up and tried to keep their stuff dry. The next day we found ourselves in the middle of a small lake.

Back to Bambari

A week later, we received an order that we have to go back to Bambari as soon as possible. Since nobody explained us the goal of these going forth and back, the mission remained pretty unclear for us. The ROE and the situation changed all the time, so it became harder and harder to understand what we were actually doing.

In Bambari, we didn’t go back to the school building as we did during our fist stay, but moved to another place next to a river. Apparently, the problem was that on the way to the school, we always passed next to a church and local people didn’t like it. So that’s how we had to build another temporary base in Bambari. Building and filling sandbags remained the main task of my platoon until the end of the whole operation. During our second stay in Bambari, we didn’t even patrol anymore.

Camerone day

As we were approaching to the end of April, the commandment decided to organize the celebration of Camerone. Almost everyone from the company was in the same place, so it wasn’t hard to get people together.

In one of my previous article, I already wrote about my feelings concerning different festivities in the French Foreign Legion. This Camerone day was an exception.

At the beginning of the mission, we got some bag of rice and pasta we could add to our conserves and eat something else than the MREs. Officially, we also got around 2500 Central African Franc a day per person. I didn’t see too much from the money, because the platoon sergeant used it to supply the platoon with bred, sodas, onion and fruits. To be honest, I didn’t really care, because I changed more than enough money in Bangui. By the way, 2500 CAF was around 3 euros, which was enough for:

  • two packets of Pringles or
  • five bottles of beer or
  • enough bred for a whole platoon

So with the everyone’s participation, we raised enough money to buy four goats, two bottles of beer per person, fruits, vegetables and chips to celebrate Camerone. Contrarily to what usually happens in the regiment, everyone participated in the preparation. From the youngest Legionnaire to the company commander.

After a short assembly and the reciting of the combat’s story by my platoon chief, we passed a great time together.

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    • Hey, it depends on the point of view. If you are looking for a specialty that you can use in the civilian area after your time in the FFL there is not too many.

      If you’re only thinking as a soldier each specialty are useful. Transmission, mechanics, sharp shooter or cook. Everyone will have a job and be useful.

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