Foreign volunteers

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This article is about foreign volunteers who are serving in forces of a country other than their own, but who are not primarily motivated by personal financial gain. For soldiers recruited in colonies, see Colonial troops. For soldiers in foreign armies who are motivated by personal financial gain, see Mercenaries. For foreign soldiers temporarily serving in another country's military, see Exchange officer.
Prince Abdelkader El Djezairi, wearing the sash of the Legion d'Honneur presented to him by the French Government.
The exiled Muslim Algerian, along with his 1000 volunteers protected most of the diplomats, and thousands of Christians during the 1860 Druze–Maronite conflict. He was awarded the highest medals by the European Governments.

The armed forces of many nations have, at one time or another, used foreign volunteers who are motivated by political, ideological or other considerations to join a foreign army. These may be formed into units of a given nationality or may be formed into mixed nationality foreign units. Sometimes foreign volunteers were or are incorporated into ordinary units. The practice has a long history, dating back at least as far as the Roman Empire, which recruited non-citizens into Auxiliary units on the promise of them receiving Roman citizenship for themselves and their descendents at the end of their service[1]

Reasons for volunteering[edit]

Three main reasons for volunteering can be identified:

  • Ideology - the volunteer believes in a cause and volunteers to fight for it.
  • Adventure - the volunteer joins a foreign army to see action.
  • Long-term personal or family benefit - the volunteer serves in order to qualify for non-financial benefits, such as forgiveness of sins, citizenship or to acquire an education.

This is a simplistic analysis and, in many cases, a volunteer will be influenced by two or more of these reasons. It follows, therefore, that a unit of foreign volunteers may contain soldiers with different, or different combinations of, motivations.

Mixed nationality units[edit]

  • Tercio de Extranjeros, or Tercio, or Spanish Legion - prior to 1987 and in the 2000s, after the abandonment of conscription, the Spanish Army is again accepting foreigners from select nationalities. The Legion today accepts male and female native Spanish speakers, mostly from Central American and South American states. Recruits are required to have a valid Spanish residence permit.
  • Rhodesian Light Infantry (initially all-Rhodesian, this unit became the "Foreign Legion" of the Rhodesian Army)
  • The United States Military has a long tradition of foreign volunteers taking up arms for the United States. Foreign born officers, such as the Marquis de Lafayette, Tadeusz Kościuszko, and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben provided vital contributions to the cause of independence. During the nineteenth century the US Army made extensive use of foreign soldiers, particularly Irish and German. German Jewish troops were common during World War II. Presently, many members of the US Marine Corps are of Latin American and not US nationality. However, many if not most non-American troops in the United States armed forces are usually seeking the expedited United States citizenship that comes with completion of a term of service, and can be seen as aspiring Americans rather than outright foreigners.

Units by nationality[edit]

American[edit]

During both world wars, American volunteers served on the allied side before the USA joined the war.

Belgian[edit]

British[edit]

  • During the Peninsular War, many Britons joined Spanish regular e irregular forces[3]
  • The Auxiliary Legion of the First Carlist War
  • The British Legions in the South American Wars of Independence during the 19th century.
  • The British Free Corps of the Waffen SS in World War II
  • 2,500 British fought in the Spanish civil war on the side of the republicans.[4]
  • In the Paraguay Revolution of 1922, British pilots fought in the Escuela de Aviación Militar.
  • Many Britons fought during the American Civil War for both the United States and Confederate States. 67 British soldiers in the Union Army received the Medal of Honor.
  • Dozens of British volunteers joined Croatian units and fought in the Yugoslav Wars between 1991 and 1995, most of them on the King Tomislav Brigade.[5]

Chinese[edit]

Croatian[edit]

Flag of the 369th Reinforced Infantry Regiment that was involved in the Battle of Stalingrad.

Filipino[edit]

  • About five thousand Filipinos served in a militia called the Makapili, which was under Japanese command. The unit was formed on 10 November 1944 and was issued around two thousand rifles by the Japanese. Its headquarters was located at the Christ the King compound in Quezon City. The organization was active in the Manila area, and in the nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija. This militia made its last stand at Marikina in 1945.

French[edit]

German[edit]

Irish[edit]

See Also Irish Military Diaspora

Italian[edit]

Nepalese[edit]

Moroccan[edit]

Polish[edit]

Portuguese[edit]

Rhodesian[edit]

  • The Rhodesian Army accepted foreign volunteers, almost all of whom were required to speak English, as they were integrated into regular units (usually the Rhodesian Light Infantry) alongside locally-based soldiers. The exception was 7 Independent Company, a short-lived unit made up entirely of French-speaking personnel, led by francophone officers, which existed between 1977 and 1978.

Russian[edit]

Scottish[edit]

  • Scots have a long history of service in the armies of Kings of France since at least the ninth century. The Scottish Guard was formally created by the French King Charles VII in 1422, and existed until the end of the Bourbon Restoration period in 1830.

South African[edit]

Spanish[edit]

  • The Blue Division of World War II fighting with Germany against the USSR.
  • The Blue Legion was formed late in the Second World War out of Blue Division soldiers who refused to leave after Franco required all Spaniards to leave Axis forces.
  • The 9th Armoured Company of the Free French Forces.
  • The Spanish Legion accepts foreign recruits.

Swedish[edit]

Swiss[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Webster, Graham (1979). The Roman Imperial Army (Second ed.). London: A & C Black. p. 144. ISBN 0-7136-1909-0. 
  2. ^ Webcast Author Interview Rachel Cox Into the Fire 2012 ISBN 9780451234759
  3. ^ Graciela Iglesias Rogers, British Liberators in the Age of Napoleon: Volunteering under the Spanish Flag in the Peninsular War (Bloomsbury Academic, London and New York, 2013) ISBN 978-1-4411-3565-0
  4. ^ Richard Baxell, Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle Against Fascism (Aurum Press, London, 2012)
  5. ^ a b Arielli, Nir. "In Search of Meaning: ForeignVolunteers in the Croatian Armed Forces, 1991–95". Academia.edu. 
  6. ^ a b Krott, Rob (2008). Save the Last Bullet for Yourself: A Soldier of Fortune in the Balkans and Somalia. Casemate. pp. 168–69. ISBN 1935149717. 
  7. ^ Krott (2008, p. 148)
  8. ^ "Garibaldi Division". Vojska.net. Retrieved 2013-09-17.