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  #1  
Old 22-10-16, 11:09 AM
MarkGD
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Default British German Legion

Guys and Gals,

Continuing with my collecting to units my family have served in, i wondered if anyone had seen one of these out in the wild!

http://www.nam.ac.uk/online-collecti...=2000-04-114-1

Internet research shows only a couple of items have surfaced in the public domain, thoughts, observations gratefully received.

Regards Mark
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  #2  
Old 22-10-16, 02:08 PM
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Hi, I have seen a stringed bugle with BFL between the strings. This British Foreign Legion badge(likely forage cap badge) was dug up at a fort in the Eastern Cape. They served in the Eastern Cape, South Africa during the 1850's. Regards Andrew
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  #3  
Old 22-10-16, 05:18 PM
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Andrew, many thanks, i have done quite a bit of research, including the troops that went to the Cape, very few images or sketches exist of uniforms badges etc. Was it BFL? BGL?
Don't suppose you have an image? sketch? Many thanks, it is an option i can look for. I understand that of the troops that went, they were called South African Legion prior to leaving the UK (after signing their life away for seven years), the only change to their uniform was a red band or ribbon. Appreciate the insight - regards Mark
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  #4  
Old 22-10-16, 05:34 PM
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Hello Mark

According to a short article written by Bill Carman published in 'Button Lines' (Journal of the British Button Society) the 'British Foreign Legion' was created in 1855 to increase Britain's forces fighting against Russia in the Crimean War.

This soon developed into separate 'foreign' legions - British German Legion, British Italian Legion and British Swiss Legion - a British Polish Legion was envisaged but never formed.

It would seem then that the British Foreign Legion came first but was soon superseded by the individual legions.

Hope this helps a little but hopefully another member can shed more light on these rather unusual British units!!

Roger
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  #5  
Old 22-10-16, 05:57 PM
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Roger, appreciated, there are very few books regarding the German, Swiss and Italian Legions, albeit some were deployed to the Crimea. Other than medical staff (memorial to them in Sebastapol), none saw action, hence the problem - what to do with all these troops on return and then a subsequent move by some to South Africa. Fortunately the PRO does hold the documents to the Legions again most are in their 'mother tongue' i am fortunate however to have the attestation of my Ancestor who had previously served in the French and Belgian Army but that's another story!

Did the article mention what sort of buttons etc? Thanks - Mark
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  #6  
Old 22-10-16, 06:59 PM
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Hi, I did take a picture of it. Not very good picture, but at least something. Regards Andrew
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BFL.jpg (32.1 KB, 44 views)
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  #7  
Old 22-10-16, 07:26 PM
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Hello Mark

Bill's article mentioned the move to South Africa. According to him the disbandment of all of the units took some years with the German-speaking units taking years. Of the German Legion, he said "a number were transported to and settled in South Africa and, of these, some went on to India to join units there" (I guess for 'transported' he meant 'shipped' rather than as in 'transportation'). A fascinating story behind such few words!

He did indeed illustrate the buttons and a shako plate of the Swiss Legion (courtesy of drawings by Denis Darmanin) but I think copyright prevents me from illustrating them here. The British Foreign Legion and German Foreign Legion buttons were similar, a QVC over a garter with 'BFL' and 'BGL' in the centre within a scalloped, rimmed edge.

Different patterns were used for the other two legions - a garter star surrounded by a circlet inscribed 'British Italian Legion'. A QVC over a cross with 'British Swiss Legion' around all within a scalloped, rimmed edge and also a QVC over a circlet 'British Swiss Legion' with a cross in the centre, again all within a scalloped, rimmed edge.

Roger
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  #8  
Old 22-10-16, 10:48 PM
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Andrew, brilliant thank you - actions of a true collector and enthusiast, most helpful.

Roger, thank you, i will see if i can somehow get a copy. It reminds me to have a look for patterns in the PRO should they be amongst the documents. One of the references i have is 'Ten years in South Africa' by Wilhem Westphal, recently republished, a personal account albeit limited in detail of his time in the Legion, South Africa and the India Expedition.

With Andrews photo, i live in hope that others may be around somewhere!

Many thanks - Mark
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  #9  
Old 23-10-16, 12:02 AM
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I seem to recall an article about The British German Legion in Antique Arms and Militaria back in the 1980s. I'll see if I can find it.

Phil
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  #10  
Old 23-10-16, 12:05 AM
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Thanks Phil, any info gratefully received. Regards Mark
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  #11  
Old 23-10-16, 12:15 AM
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Error post.
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  #12  
Old 23-10-16, 08:43 AM
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Hi Mark, there is always hope. I don't believe that there are many rare badges still sitting with families. These have been vacuumed up by dealers and the likes of EBay over the years. However, because of the internet, it is easier to be alerted should something come up for sale. Nothing cheap though, but if it is out there, it will surface eventually. Have a grand day. Andrew
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  #13  
Old 23-10-16, 11:59 AM
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Andrew, thanks i do live in hope, i had forgotten about the possibilities in SA though, fortunate to get across there for a couple of weeks each year, also a previous customer of Mike Kaplan (does he still do stuff?) Best regards - Mark
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  #14  
Old 23-10-16, 05:58 PM
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Hi, Michael Kaplan is still operational. Have a grand evening. Andrew
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  #15  
Old 05-08-22, 11:02 AM
Angazi Angazi is offline
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Default British Foreign Legion Shako - Metal detector find

I have recently dug 2 damaged British foreign legion shako plates and a British German Legion button. I don't believe the legions were active in South Africa. From the little available information I could find, the members of the units where repatriated to South Africa as they could not return to their own countries at the end of the Crimean war. These members were then taken up into other units.

Last edited by Angazi; 16-08-23 at 06:51 AM.
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