Tag Archives: Dien Bien Phu paratrooper

Swagger in Indochina

If this isn’t Diên Biên Phu aesthetic, I just don’t know what is.

Capt. Bernard Cabiro, commander of the 4th company of 1st BEP (French Foreign Legion) is smoking a Gauloise cigarette and carrying a German Luger P08 he picked up in 1944. Also, note the WWII U.S. Army Signal Corps-approved SCR 536 “handie talkie” which had a range of about a heavy whisper and the U.S. M1 helmet and liner, which also makes a good wash basin.

Original Fr. caption: Au nord de Diên Biên Phu, sur la piste “Pavie”, le capitaine Cabiro, commandant la 4e compagnie du 1er BEP (Bataillon Etranger de Parachutistes) avec un émetteur-récepteur SCR 536 à l’épaule et son pistolet allemand Luger P 08 au ceinturon.

Just barely 17 when WWII started, Cabrio snuck out of occupied France and joined the 8e régiment de tirailleurs Marocains in North Africa in 1943 and fought with the Free French up the boot of Italy through 1944 and 45, finishing the conflict as an NCO with three Croix de guerres and an appointment to the French version of OCS at Cherchell. By 1946, he was in the Legion in Indochina as a sub-lieutenant in the 2e REI and by 1949 was in the Legion’s first paratrooper units.

The above image dates from around November 1953 when his battalion was dropped on Dien Bien Phu as reinforcements. Acting as a sort of fire brigade, his guys were in the thick of it for the next several months. Severely wounded in March 1954 he was evacuated out.

He spent the next two years in recovery in France and, a dozen surgeries later, returned to service in Algeria with 2e REP only to be drummed out in 1961 due to the smear of the Legion’s involvement in the putsch against De Gaulle over the withdrawal from North Africa.

His rank was later reinstated in 1974– on the reserve list– and, named a chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, he died in 1993 in Bordeaux.