The French foreign legion after the fall of France


#1

After the fall of France in 1940 what was the state of the French foreign legion during that time did they side with Vichy France government or did many of them escaped from where they were to join up with a Charles de gaulle’s free French army


#2

It’s a very important question to understand the formation of the free french army so I might help and add some details:

One of the first regiment to join De Gaulle was a foreign legion regiment.
After the expedition to Norway, part of the 13th brigade of the foreign legion were sent back to Brittany through England in order to make a hypothetical last stand there. They had orders to go back to England mid-June of 1940. Most of them chose to stay in England after the armistice and help form the basis of the free french army.

The legionnaires were mostly made of spanish refugees but also german anti-nazi soldiers.
French soldiers defecting to London were added to this new regiment.

The free french legionnaires were part of the free french army that tried with De Gaulle to retake and rally vichy french colonies.

I think most of other remaining foreign legion regiments were sent to (or already were in) the colonies and stayed with Vichy until they had a chance to meet the free french or the allies.

In the battle to retake control of Vichy french Syria and Lebanon Vichy foreign legion and free french foreign legion actually faced each other. Some elements of the vichy foreign legion chosed after their defeat to join the free french (though most of them choose to go back to France. The french army remaining in France would be disbanded after 1942 and the german invasion of the free area ).

The free french foreign legion, under the command of Pierre Koenig, a former legionnaire himself were decisive in the battle of Bir Hakeim.

This battle was very important for the free french. It was the first time since 1940 that the french faced the german again in the field. De Gaulle had to prove to other allies that the free french were a decisive and effective armed force.

The free french legionnaires would later fight in Italy, in Provence and took an active part in the liberation of France.