Foreign Legion


The Russian Expeditionary Force was a World War I military force sent to France by the Russian Empire. In 1915 the French requested that Russian troops be sent to fight alongside their own army on the Western Front. Initially they asked for 300,000 men, an absurdly high figure, probably based on their assumptions about Russia’s ‘unlimited’ reserves. General Mikhail Alekseev, the Imperial Chief of Staff, was opposed to sending any, though Nicholas II finally agreed to send a unit of brigade strength. The First Russian Special Brigade finally landed at Marseille in April 1916. A Second Special Brigade was also sent to serve alongside other Allied formations on the Salonika Front in northern Greece. In France, the First Brigade served with distinction until the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of 1917. A 3rd Brigade comprised serving soldiers plus reserve units was formed in Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk under the command of Fyodor Fyodorovich Palitzin left for France in August 1916. A 4th Brigade was formed and arrived on the Salonika front in November 1916. A 5th Brigade was ordered and never formed due to the outbreak of the Russian Revolution.