Monday, July 31, 2006

Not much on the net about our beloved General Astray but I hope this photo does him justice and here are a few facts from Wikipedia....

On September 2 of that same year, King Alfonso XIII conferred command of the new regiment on Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry José Millán Astray, chief proponent of its establishment. Milan Astray was an able soldier but an eccentric and extreme personality. His style and attitude would become part of the mystique of the Legion. On September 20 the first recruit joined the new Legion. This date is celebrated yearly.
The initial make-up of the regiment was that of a headquarters unit and three battalions (known as
Banderas or flags). Each battalion was in turn made up of a headquarters company, two rifle companies and a machine gun company. The regiment's initial location was at the Cuartel del Rey en Ceuta on the Plaza de Colón. At its height, during the Spanish Civil War, the legion consisted of 18 banderas, plus a tank bandera, an assault engineer bandera and a Special Operations Group. Banderas 12 through 18 were considered independent units and never served as part of the tercios.
Francisco Franco was one of the founding members of the Legion and the unit's second-in-command. The Legion fought in Morocco in the War of the Rif (to 1926). Together with the Regulares (Moorish colonial troops), the Legion made up the Spanish Army of Africa. In 1934 both units of the Legion and the Regulares were brought to Spain by the new Republican Government to help put down a workers revolt in Asturias.
Under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel
Juan Yagüe the Army of Africa played an important part in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side. The professionalism of both the Legion and the Regulares gave Franco's Nationalists a significant initial advantage over the less well trained Republican forces. The Army of African remained the elite spearhead of the Nationalist armies throughout the Civil War. Following the Nationalist victory in 1939, the Legion was reduced in size and returned to its bases in Spanish Morocco. When Morocco gained its independence in 1956 the Legion continued in existance as part of the garrison of the remaining Spanish enclaves and territories in North Africa.
June 17, 1970, legion units opened fire and killed eleven pro-independence demonstrators at the Zemla quarters of El-Aaiun in the Western Sahara, (then still the Spanish Sahara). The incident, which came to be called the Zemla Intifada, had a significant influence on pushing the Sahrawi anticolonial movement into embrarking on an armed struggle which still goes on up to the present, though Spain has long since abandoned the territory and handed it over to Morocco.
Through the course of the Legion's history Spaniards have made up the majority of its members, with foreigners accounting for 25 percent or less. During the Riff War of the early 1920s most of the Foreigners serving with the Legion were Spanish speaking Latin Americans. After
1987 it stopped accepting foreigners altogether and changed its name to the Spanish Legion.
In the
2000s, after the abandonment of conscription, the Spanish Army is again accepting foreigners from select nationalities. The Legion today accepts native Spanish speakers (mostly from Central and South America, but even from countries like Germany) between ages of 18 and 28, be they male or female.
In recent years the Spanish Legion was involved in
Bosnia as part of the SFOR. It also took part in the Iraq War, deploying in Najaf alongside El Salvadorean troops, until the new Spanish government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero fulfilled its electoral promises by withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq. The Legion units deployed in Iraq were involved in several combats against the insurgency. In 2005 the Legion was deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Stabilisation Force (ISAF).

Esprit de corps
Millán Astray provided the Legion with a distinctive spirit and symbolism intended to evoke Spain's
Imperial and Christian traditions. For instance, the Legion adopted a regimental unit called the tercio in memory of the sixteenth century Spanish infantry formations that had toppled nations and terrorized the battlefields of Europe in the days of Charles V. Millán-Astray also revived the Spaniard's ancient feud with the Moors and portrayed his men first as crusaders on an extended Reconquista against the Islamic civilization; and later as the saviours of Spain warding off the twin evils of Communism and democratic liberalism.
The Legion's customs and traditions include:
Its members, regardless of rank, are titled caballero legionario ("knight legionnaire"). When women became admitted, they were titled damas legionarias ("lady legionnaire").
Legionnaires consider themselves novios de la muerte ("death bridegrooms").
When in trouble, a legionnaire shouts ¡A mí la Legión! ("To me the Legion!"). Those within earshot are bound to help him regardless of the circumstances. In practice, Legionnaires are never supposed to abandon a comrade on the battlefield; they must try to help him until all have perished, if necessary.
Contrary to usual military practice, Legionnaires are allowed to sport
beards and can wear their shirts open on the chest. They are also allowed tattoos, especially the Legion Shield, or typically depict scenes of war. From its establishment the Legion was noted for its plain and simple uniforms, in contrast to the colourful dress uniforms still worn by the Peninsular regiments of the Spanish Army until the overthrow of the Monarchy in 1932. This was part of the cult of austerity favoured by a unit that considered itself on more or less continual active service.
The Legion's
march step is faster than the Spanish military standard, 160-190 in contrast to the Army's 90 steps per minute.
During the
Holy Week processions, the paso carried by legionnaires is held not on the shoulder but on their extended arms.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article, yet again.

How's the arm?

9:52 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

The arm's doing well, but the doc's been out of town since shortly after the surgery so I am anxious to see him again and see what he thinks.... Thanks for asking, what.....

5:00 AM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Good news, durrati. BTW, where the hell is that pic from? I recognize it somewhat, but I can't for the life of me remember where.
P.S. Can you guys believe it's already Aug. 4? Ay-yi-yi.

6:05 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Star Wars, I think.....After the boys of Summer have gone; Jeez it does hurry by....

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Durrati, my dear friend, Davros is from Doctor Who. He's the evil chap who created the Daleks, who the Time lords battled, who eventually came back and wiped out the Time Lords, with the exception of Dr. Who.
Dr Who has been around since I was a sprite - no smart comments here because you will experience a virtual smack right to the head. Dr Who predates the American original Star Trek series (which I watched while I babysat) and Star Wars, and I wouldn't be surprised it didn't contribute to George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy - forget the last three, they were for money and nothng else.
Dr Who is still going strong. Unfortunately, we in North America cannot see his adventures because the networks are so busy with meaningful programs such as the Gilmore depressives, the OC dysfunctionals, the cop disfunctionals etc.
Whatever happened to pure entertainment, for entertainment's sake? Dr Who was a prime example.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. I think the new meds are starting to work, so Durrati, you better be ready. Of couse, I thought the old meds would work, and I dropped out of sight -- but this time is different...I hope.
As mentioned in previous threads, you do not need to write solely about the Spanish Civil War. The stories are probably infinite, but with the censorship of the day, your resources are limited. Just write - about anything. Just keep writing and posting. Thanks.,

7:08 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Haven't you been watching CBC? They're redoing Dr. Who with a new doctor- Christopher Eccleston.

4:13 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

It's really good, by the way.

4:13 PM  

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