Family research - French Foreign Legion

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by Oszadlik, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Oszadlik

    Oszadlik New Member

    My name is Linda and I'm researching my grandfather’s awesome past. In 1937 he signed up with the French Foreign Legion and when his contract was up in 1942 he decided to join the allied forces that sailed the globe. He came back to Denmark in December 1945. I’m looking to find information on the list of ships he sailed with and to see if he received any medals.

    Best regards

    PS I've attached a picture of him from his time with the Legion.

    Attached Files:

  2. DPas

    DPas Member

    Welcome to the forum Linda and thanks for posting the photograph.

    To help members answer your question perhaps you could give a few more details, like his name and any other information you may have.

    Good luck with the research
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Welcome to the forum, I've edited the thread title to include ''French Foreign Legion''.
    I must admit I haven't a clue what to suggest or where to look.
    Did he enlist unde rhis real name?
    Chap I knew joined the Legion in the 80s used a false name. I thought that was the norm.
  4. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hello and welcome Linda,

    Would that have been in the Merchant Navy? If so can you give me his name date and place of birth please? If not then these basic details will still help us to advise you of your next steps.

  5. Oszadlik

    Oszadlik New Member

    Hi guys,

    I deliberately didn’t add too many details, as I thought this was just a forum for short introductions. But here goes:

    Paul Joseph Oszadlik was born in 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Times were hard, unemployment high and a tension was felt all over Europe. Workers were getting poorer as the currencies lost their worth and people were powerless to do anything about it. This tension was released in 1914 with the start of WWI. The state called soldiers on leave in and left the wives to fend for themselves – with little or no money. What Paul and his family did during the war is unknown.

    At the tender age of 14 Paul took to the seas. By 1924 WWI was over, but there was still unrest, and few jobs to find in Europe. With the outbreak of WW1 his paternal grandmother had taken ship to New York and was now living in Hoboken, New Jersey. Maybe he wanted to visit her. If nothing else, he was following in the trail of hundreds of thousands other Europeans sailing across to the Land of Dreams.
    On the 8th October 1924 he was arrested by the US immigration authorities. From his arrest and until he appeared in court, he was contained at the women’s or the juvenile quarters of the city jail in Seattle, Washington. After a hearing Paul was deported from the US on January 3rd 1925. He left on the ship Oscar II.

    After having been in Denmark for a year, Paul set out for the US again with Oscar II. On the 18th May 1926 he was reported as missing from the ship. This time, he definitely stayed with his grandmother. On August 15th 1927 she – Marie Boetticher – called the US Immigration authorities and told them, that her grandson was staying with her – illegally! Another hearing took place, and during this Paul presents his wife. They were married on the 22nd September – the day before the hearing! The young woman in question Katherine Gregory was in fact the cause of all the trouble, as grandmother Marie though she was a lady of questionable character, and she therefore felt Katherine was not good company for her son. During the questioning Paul explains that Kathrine was pregnant, and he would therefore like to be reshipped foreign one way, instead of being deported. That way, he can return to the US with the proper paperwork. Grandmother Marie recognizes her mistake and offers to pay Paul’s return trip to the US and lodging for the young couple. On the 13th October 1927 Paul boards the Hellige Olav to leave the US.

    At some point during his second visit to New York, he must have signed up for the 165th Infantry Legion. A letter exists that claim him to be AWOL on the 29th September 1927 (where he was in jail) but further inquiries into the legion have not yielded any information.

    Back in Denmark Paul is now up for military duty, and reasonably enough, they assign him to the fleet. Here he spends most of 1929 sailing around Greenland.
    We now jump to 1937, Paul wanted to fight against General Franco in Spain, so he drove an old ambulance across country. Sometime during this drive, he got into trouble. Real trouble. And he decided that joining the French Foreign Legion was the best way out. He registered under his own name and got sent to Africa. From his military records that I have obtained from the Legion I can see, that he was in Algeria and Sahara. I’m trying to find out, whether he saw action.

    In 1942 his 5 years with the Legion is up, and on recommendation from them he boards the ship Meonia. The ship is in the service of the French's. After that he goes on to Ulrik Holm, Thyra II, Manø, Bente Mærsk, Leonatus and finally sails back to Denmark on MS Linda. I’ve purchased the merchant shipping movement cards from the National Archives and am working through deciphering them.

    Best regards,

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