CZECHOSLOVAK LEGION IN FRANCE
The first Czech unit deployed at the French-German front was a company called " Compagnie Nazdar ". It came into existence on 23rd August 1914 representing countrymen living in France, especially organized in Sokol and Rovnost, and it consisted of 300 volunteers. The company was assigned to C battalion of the 2nd march regiment of Foreign Legion. In the town of Bayone it received its combat banner with Czech lion and left for the front.
The company Nazdar started its front activity in the area of Chamagni as a part of Morocco division. After several fights in the first line came its crucial day - 9th May 1915. On this day the company was given the task (within Foch´s offensive) to capture a point at the height of 140m near Arras . The company captured 3 German lines of trenches suffering heavy losses - out of 250 only 100 men were still fit for action. Among the killed were also Chief of Parisian Sokol Josef Pultr, Chairman of Rovnost Josef Sibal, Second Lieutenant Dostal and others.
After the losses during the second attack at Arras on 16th June 1915 the C battalion was dissolved and Company Nazdar ceased to exist as a Czech unit. The remaining Czech soldiers were scattered throughout many regimental units of Foreign Legion which brought them to the Sahara desert.
Order of French government from 19th December 1917 enabled organization of an autonomous Czech Army. After that, in a small town of Cognac, The 21st Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was established out of volunteers transported from Russia, Romania, the USA, Italy, Foreign Legion and prisoners from Serbia on 12 January 1918. After their training in the area of Darney it fulfilled tasks at the front within the 53rd French Infantry Division. It achieved exemplary success in the fights at Terron .
On 20th May 1918, The 22nd Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was established at Jarnak out of the detached units of The 21st Regiment. It joined the existing Czechoslovak Brigade in France and participated together with The 123rd French Infantry Division in fights in the area of Vouziers.
On 30th June 1918 both regiments swore an oath in Darney, in the presence of French President R. Poincaré and Dr. E. Beneš.
It is necessary to point out that at that time another dozens of Czechoslovak legionnaires kept fighting within Moroccan division. They were fighting in the area of Champagni, Chemin des Dames, at Verdun and St. Mihiel. Only in July 1918 they were transferred to The Czechoslovak brigade.
The Czechoslovak Brigade was under command of French General Philippe for the whole time. The battalions of both regiments were awarded with Czechoslovak War Cross, and The 22nd Regiment also with French War Cross.
War monuments of the soldiers killed at Arras, Vouziers, Paris, Champagne, Argon as well as in other towns commemorate this tragic reality. Out of the total 9.600 Czechoslovak legionnaires fighting in France 630 did not live to see the end of the war.
The war ended on 11th November 1918 at 11 o'clock and the capitulation of Central Powers was signed in a wagon in Compiegne.