Fighting for the French Foreign Legion
Americans who joined the First World War in 1914
Imprint: Pen and Sword Military
272 Pages, 6.1 x 9.2 in, 10 illsutrations
- August 2023
- In Stock
On 24 August 1914, forty-four Americans joined the Foreign Legion and “with a cowboy swing” marched through Paris, wildly cheered by the crowd. They were Ivy League graduates, artists and dreamers and soldiers of fortune starting on equal terms as recruits in the French Army. They were the first Americans in the Great War, driven by a love for France and a thirst for adventure with no idea of the horrors awaiting them. This book is the amazing story of these American legionnaires told by three of the young volunteers:
• David Wooster King – a 21-year-old dropout from Harvard, son of a rich businessman. King survived four years in the trenches ending as an officer in the US Army chasing German spies in Switzerland. He became a modern global adventurer and when the world went to war again David King was the first to volunteer for an even greater adventure in North Africa.
• Alan Seeger – a 26-year-old poet and dreamer from a New York family of intellectuals. Seeger was killed during the Battle of the Somme on 4 July 1916. Six weeks earlier, he wrote the famous poem, ‘I Have a Rendezvous with Death’ which was to become his legacy and the favorite poem of President Kennedy. It has inspired a line of American presidents during the 20th century and is an indestructible poetic lifeline linking France and the United States of America.
• Eugene James Bullard – the last of the three legionnaires and a 19-year-old entertainer and boxer from Columbus, Georgia. His father was born a slave, his mother was Creek Indian. Although wounded at Verdun and invalided out of the French Army, Bullard became the world’s first black aviator. After the war he settled in Paris and ran a bar in Montmartre before going to war for France again in 1940.
The three men represent different pillars of the American soul, and their lives and dreams symbolize the story of how America became modern and remind us of the strong historic ties between France and America. Most of all, this book is a fantastic saga of brave men, great adventures and terrific sacrifices that bring hope and a new direction in a time of human division.