|On 19 July 1950 the French government applied only
economical sanctions against North Korea as it was decided that to send
troops to a second theatre of operations would effect the long and
solitary efforts of the French forces fighting in Indochina. However on
23 August 1950 after General MacArthur requested further troops from the
United Nations to save the total collapse of forces in South Korea, the
French government decided to form a battalion. This was a battalion of
volunteers to show the will of the French, in spite of its own
responsibilities in Indochina, to fight against the one aggression -
General Magrin-Vernerey Montclar, the inspector of the
French Foreign Legion, was the first to volunteer and was assigned to
command the French Battalion (Bataillon Francais). It consisted of a HQ
company (including an elite assault pioneer platoon), support company and
three riffle companies (1st, 2nd and 3rd), each with one support and three
rifle platoons. After a brief period of training the French Battalion
with the effective strength of approximately 1,000 officers, N.C.O.'s and
men embarked for Korea from Marseille on 25 October 1950. They arrived at
Pusan on 29 November 1950 and were assigned to the 23rd RCT (2nd US
The French fought through some of the fiercest battles of the war and
were the first to be awarded the American Distinguished Unit Citation.
The battalion first distinguished itself on 10 January 1951 in a bayonet
charge at Wonjo, and again the following month between 13th and 17th
February in an epic defence of Chip'yong-ni village, which turned the
Chinese offensive. At Putchaetul on 17 May 1951 the pioneers fought to
the death. Heartbreak Ridge was captured in October 1951, and Arrow Head
Hill held in October 1952, again at the cost of the pioneers.
3,421 French soldiers served in Korea during the war and of these 287
were killed in action, 1,350 wounded in action, 7 missing in action and 12
were taken prisoners of war.
A French patrol gun-boat, FMS La Grandiere, was also in action in the
early stages of the fighting, but returned to other duties later.