Susan Travers

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Susan Travers

Susan Mary Gillian Travers (born  September 23, 1909 in London , † December 18, 2003 in Paris ) was the first and to date only woman who officially served in the French Foreign Legion . She took part in battles in World War II and the Indochina War.


Susan Travers was the daughter of the British sea ​​captain Francis Eaton Travers. She grew up in the south of France and volunteered for the French Red Cross when the Second World War broke out. There, after training as a nurse as an ambulance driver for the French expeditionary force , she was transferred to Norway to relieve Finland during the winter war , but was no longer used due to the peace agreement between Finland and the Soviet Union. As a result of the Weser Exercise company , the French associations were evacuated from Finland to Great Britain via Iceland . Travers joined the Forces françaises libres , Charles de Gaulle's liberation army . Together with the 13th Demi Brigade of the French Foreign Legion, she embarked in 1940 to take part in the liberation of Dakar . After the failure of the operation, she came to the Levant via sub-Saharan Africa and became a driver and lover of the French general Marie-Pierre Kœnig in the Syrian-Lebanese campaign against troops of the Vichy regime in 1941 . During this time she received the nom de guerre "La Miss". In the subsequent fighting in North Africa , she met with the Free French units on German and Italian troops. In the battle of Bir Hakeim , she drove through the enemy lines to the British interception positions during the final breakout of King King. After the war she was demobilized to the rank of chief adjudicator, but after the final breakdown of her relationship with King she found little joy in civilian life and now officially joined the Foreign Legion. Although the Legion does not accept women to this day, it was allowed to do so in view of having served with honors in the Legion's ranks for five years of war. Now in officer rank, she was active in supplies in North Africa and Indochina. In Indochina she married Nicolas Schlegelmilch, a sergeant in the Legion. With the birth of her first son, she said goodbye in 1952 and moved back to North Africa to the Legion garrison. After the birth of their second son, her husband returned from the Indochina War, severely affected by a tropical disease, and some time later also resigned from the Legion to become an archivist at the state oil company Elf Aquitaine in southern France. With the relocation of the corporate headquarters to Paris, the family moved to where Susan Travers lived until her death.

Travers was awarded the Legion of Honor , the Croix de guerre and the Médaille militaire .


  • Alone among men. My years as a Foreign Legionnaire. Ullstein Verlag 2003, ISBN 3-548-36381-4
  • Tomorrow to be Brave. Susan Travers with Wendy Holden (in English), Corgi Books 2001, ISBN 0-552-14814-8

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