Légionnaires et Dromadaires

Sulky, stupid as a sheep, vicious as a mule, with the roar of a mad lion, the camel is not an animal from which to expect perfection in military evolutions...

The Demon Caravan by George Surdez

The second instalment of Strelets French Foreign Legion Desert Patrol set (see my Strelets marching legionnaires here). I shared the camels in a previous post. The six riders are dressed in the usual legionary uniform but without their packs.

There are stirrups which are unnecessary when riding camels, so I’ve simply painted over them. One of the mounted legionnaires you will notice holds a pair of binoculars, an essential item for any patrol.

Now, I’ve said it before. I really don’t like pegs on figures. Even when expertly made, I don’t like the concept – tiny plastic pegs in tiny holes do not a secure connection make.

Being camels intended for a number of other Strelets sets, needless to say these Foreign Legion pegs did not connect with the camel’s holes at all well and when they did it unseated the rider in an awkward way. What’s more, the legs of the riders were far too narrow for the camel also so I was left wrestling, bending and gluing for an unconvincing sit. The end result is just about convincing, I think.

The concept of camel-mounted legionnaires is fanciful, owing more to the romance of cinema than to reality. However, as my miniature camel train lopes off across the rolling Saharan dunes into the sunset, I’m still not quite done with the Foreign Legion. I’ve opened another box of French Foreign Legion also recently issued by Strelets, but this time I’ll be applying my own twist to it…


And now the men of the mounted company were very pleased with themselves. They had not to march, the morning was reasonably cool and… added to this, they were getting away from the detested garrison duty, and after a little time voices began to rise in the marching song of the Legion, Le Boudin, the whole column taking up the chorus:
Tiens, voila du boudin
voila du boudin
voila du boudin…

Lost Sheep by Vere Dawson Shortt

18 thoughts on “Légionnaires et Dromadaires

  1. Really well done mate ,I’m only in this for the fun of it and not to recreate historical events in any accuracy so Legionaries on camels is fine with me ,question did you try and boil the boys before shaping them to fit on the camels ? .Hang on I’ve another one ,I remember vaguely 50 odd years ago painting Airfix Legionares with red trousers but I can’t remember why ,can you shed any light on the reason I did that?

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    1. Funnily enough, Pat, 50 years ago my dad painted Airfix Foreign Legion with red trousers! I think the box art showed red trousers. The summer trousers were white and probably worn most of the time in North Africa, although the legion did wear red trousers at times. French line infantry of course wore red trousers from before 1860 until WW1! Aplogies if I’ve jumped in in front of you here Marvin – I know you’ll know the answer! 🙂

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      1. Not problem, John, I need someone with facts to give Pat rather than my very vague guesswork! 😀 I’m feeling rather pleased that your answer wasn’t a million miles away from mine. That’s interesting about the box art showing the red trousers.

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      2. Now John mentions the box art ,that would have been why we went with the red early on .This has led me to rummage through an old trunk and I have found a latter set that I have painted with white trousers ,I’ll check out the PRS and see if they have a picture of this later set ,they would still have to have been Airfix as that was all there was .

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      3. The first run in the 60s was woeful but the revamped set are ok and worth a look at .I had a look on the PRS for the original sets box work like John was talking about but they only had the figures and no image of the box .

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    2. Quite right, I paint for fun. What other reason can there be? If people can paint orcs and goblins in their droves, we can surely stick a legionnaire on a camel. 😀

      I had already painted the figures when I realised they were going to be a struggle to fit on, so I just pried the legs apart thankfully without losing any paint. I’m sure someone less inept would do a far better job of it – pegs and all.

      I can’t pretend I’m anywhere near expert but I think the FFL more or less wore versions of the French infantry uniform of the time with tropical variations. So that would include red trousers (le pantalon rouge) on occasion. Under that neck veil was a red kepi after all. I think I recall reading somewhere that they would wear white or red trousers, white jackets or heavy blue capotes, etc, etc depending on whether it was hot, winter, summer, parade, etc.

      Cheers mate

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  2. Marvin, these guys look great, regardless of whether they should be on camels or not! Well done! Will be interesting seeing where you go with the Legion next! If you need any spare legionnaires, I think I’ve got a small handful of the ESCI figures that I’m not planning on using (only the figures in coats though)! 🙂

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    1. Thanks very much, John. My next legionnaires wont be on camel-back and won’t be quite as Strelets intended them to be either. It’s possible that they may also turn out to be as fictional as those camel riders as I’m relying on one found image only…!

      That’s a very kind offer with the Esci veterans but I think I’ve got some up in the loft somewhere. I’ll have a look and get back to you if they are permanently ‘lost in a sandstorm’. 🙂

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      1. This ‘boudin’ knowledge makes it slightly less random or surreal. I suppose it came from days and weeks staring at someone’s backpack in front of you on route marches. The rest of the song about ‘lazy Belgians’ etc. we shall leave to the historical explanation on Wikipedia.
        I shall paint my Airfix FFL figures with renewed interest.
        As ever, Marvin, you have painted your camels and FFL beautifully.

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      2. Thanks, pal. I look forward to seeing Airfix’s veterans brought into full colour.

        Yes, I could see how very hungry, bored and tired troops could easily visualise / delude themselves that the roll on the pack in front is a giant tasty sausage.

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