Le Père Légion
Father of the Legion
|Born||20 December 1875|
|Died||16 April 1941 (aged 65)|
French Foreign Legion
|Years of service||1894 – 1935|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||Légion d'honneur |
Croix de guerre
|Other work||Fédération des sociétés d'anciens de la Légion étrangère, FSALE|
Paul-Frédéric Rollet (1875–1941) was a Général who led in the Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion RMLE, and was the 1st Inspector of the Foreign Legion, a post which he created under his intentions. Rollet accumulated 41 years of military service out of which 33 were in the Legion and also planned the 100th anniversary of the legion on Cameron day of 30 April 1931. Consequently, he was responsible for creating many of the Legion's current traditions.
He was born in Auxerre, France and was admitted to the military school at Saint-Cyr in 1894. Upon graduation, he was initially assigned to the 91st Infantry Regiment (French: 91e régiment d'infanterie) but was later transferred to the 1st Foreign Regiment 1er RE in Sidi-bel-Abbes, Algeria.
Rollet served first in Algeria from 1899 to 1902, then in Madagascar from 1902 to 1905, prior to returning to Algeria from 1905 to 1909. Promoted to captain in March 1909, he commanded the 3rd mounted combat company of the 1st marching battalion of the 2nd Foreign Regiment, 2e R.E from 1909 to 1914.
While World War I erupted, Rollet was on leave in France. Insisting to be on the front, he was assigned to the 31st Line Infantry Regiment (French: 31st Line Infantry Regiment), then to the 331 Infantry Regiment (French: 331st Infantry Regiment). Wounded twice, he was promoted by delegation to Chef de bataillon (Commandant - Major), based on the recommendation of général Henri Joseph Eugène Gouraud. Following several victories, he was confirmed as a Chef de battalion.
On 18 May 1917 he was assigned to the French Foreign Legion and became the regimental commander of the Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion (R.M.L.E) as a Lieutenant-colonel. Under his command, the regiment covered itself with excellence during combats of Hangard-en-Santerre, La Montagnde de Paris, then in piercing the Hindenburg Line, a combat battle which would later be designated as the anniversary of the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment 3e REI, heir to the traditions of the R.M.L.E. The regimental colors of the R.M.L.E were subsequently decorated with four new citations (with five previous citations already) as well as the double Fourragere, with colors of the Légion d'honneur and Croix de guerre. At the end of the war of 1914–1918, he participated in campaigns in Morocco with his regiment, which would be designated as the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment 3e REI.
Consequently, Rollet was promoted to Colonel. In 1925, he assumed command as regimental commander of the 1st Foreign Regiment 1e RE at Sidi-Bel-Abbès. He would remain until planning the 100th anniversary (the centennial) of the French Foreign Legion on Cameron day of 30 April 1931.
Following years of service, Rollet retired on 20 December 1935, having accumulated 41 years of military service out of which 33 years were in the Legion.
Later life and death
In his final years of service, he dedicated his career to the organization of the modern French Foreign Legion and the realization of considerable social profits to active legionnaires as well as those on retirement. He would later pursue social donation actions in that respect after concluding his service.
Rollet died in Paris on 16 April 1941. He was originally buried at the French Foreign Legion's Headquarters in Sidi-bel-Abbes in Algeria. When the Legion left Algeria in 1962 his remains were one of three chosen to be reinterred at the Legion's new headquarters in Aubagne, France.
Rollet made major contributions to promoting and preserving the Legion's history, traditions and mystique. The legion always maintained an institutional reputation of legendary and honorable values.
Recognitions and Honors
List of decorations
- Grand officer de la Légion d'honneur
- Croix de guerre 1914-1918 with 7 palms and gilt star
- Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures with 2 palms
- Médaille commémorative du Maroc with clasps : OUDJA-MAROC-HAUT-GUIR
- Médaille coloniale with 4 clasps: SAHARA-MAROC-ALGÉRIE-MADAGASCAR
- Croix du combattant
- 1914–1918 Inter-Allied Victory medal (France)
- Médaille commémorative de la guerre 1914-1918
- Chevalier de l'ordre du Mérite agricole (1911)
- Commemorative medal of the battle of Verdun (medal non official)
- Commemorative medal of the battle of the Somme
Orde, decorations and Foreign medals
- Commandeur de l'Order of the Crown (Romania) (1917)
- Commandeur de la Spanish Red Cross 1925
- Commandeur de l'Order of Prince Danilo I (Montenegro – 1917)
- Commandeur de l'Ordre du Mérite civil d’Espagne 1930
- Commandeur de l’Order of the Oak Crown (Luxembourg – 1931)
- Grand officier de l'Ordre du Order of Ouissam Alaouite (1931)
- Grand officier du Nichan Iftikhar (1931)
- Grand officier de l'Order of Saint-Charles (Principauté de Monaco 1931)
- Grand-croix de l'Ordre royal du Cambodge 14 November 1936
- Grand officier de l'Ordre du Mérite militaire d'Espagne (Order of Spanish Military Merit) (1920)
- Officier de l'Ordre chérifien du Ouissan hafidien (1911)
- Ordre du Muniséraphon, ordre académique du Royaume du Cambodge (1936)
- Major (France)
- French Foreign Legion Music Band (MLE)
- Moroccan Division
- 1st Foreign Infantry Regiment
- 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment
- 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment
- History of the 2nd Foreign Regiment
- List of French Foreign Legion units
-  Division General Commandant of the French Foreign Legion, Les Chefs COMLE
- François Garijo; Jean-Marc Truchet (1 January 2003). La Légion et les Spahis dans la conquête du Maroc: 1880-1934 : la guerre du Rif, 1921-1926. La Plume du temps. p. 92. ISBN 978-2-913788-42-8.
- Guillaume Piketty (2009). Français en résistance: carnets de guerre, correspondances, journaux personnels. R. Laffont. p. 485. ISBN 978-2-221-10143-8.
- Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage (11 December 2007). The French Foreign Legion: An Illustrated History. McFarland. pp. 107–. ISBN 978-0-7864-6253-7.
- Eric H. Boehm (1983). Historical Abstracts: Modern history abstracts, 1775-1914. American Bibliographical Center, Clio. p. 112.
- Louis Saurel (1965). La Légion étrangère. Éditions Rouff. p. 125.
- Ces cérémonies commémoraient le centenaire de la création de la Légion étrangère, en 1831, mais furent célébrées le jour anniversaire du combat de Camerone
- "CÉRÉMONIE A LA MÉMOIRE DU Gl ROLLET ". AMICALE des MARINS et MARINS ANCIENS COMBATTANTS.
- P.-F. Rollet sur le site phaléristique