Czechoslovak Legion

Volunteer armed force fighting on the side of the Entente powers during World War I

New autonomous Czechoslovak units were established by the decree of the French government on 19 December 1917. In January 1918, the 21st Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was formed in the town of Cognac; it mixed prisoners of war with volunteers living in America. The 22nd Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was created later in May.

The creation of Czechoslovak units in Italy took place much later than in France or Russia. In January 1918, the commander of 6th Italian Army decided to form small reconnaissance groups from Czech, Moravian Slovak and Southern Slav volunteers from prisoner-of-war camps. They also served in propaganda actions against the Austrian army. In September 1918 the first fighting unit, the 39th Regiment of the Czechoslovak Italian Legion, was formed from those volunteer reconnaissance squadrons.

Remembrance Ceremony at the memorial of 30 June 2013 with the unit in uniforms of CS legionnaires in France
The façade of the Legiobanka main office in Prague is decorated with reliefs of war scenes.

The French military mission's role was to integrate the existing Czechoslovak Foreign Legions with the home units of the Army and develop a professional command structure. On October 15, 1919, the main staff of the Czechoslovak Army was officially formed. French officers were installed as territorial commanders and commanders of some divisions. Over the course of time, there were 200 French non-commissioned officers, over 100 commissioned officers and 19 Generals. General Pellé and his immediate replacement, General Eugène Mittelhauser (also French), were the first chiefs staff of the Czechoslovak Army.

Two postage stamps, issued in 1919, were printed for use by Czechoslovak Legion in Siberia.

From the Allies in the painting the Pantheon de la Guerre this detail highlights the flag of the Czechoslovak Legion. The Legion served on three separate fronts: France, Italy, and Russia. Total number of troops est. 75,000.

The flag of the Czechoslovak Legion can be seen in the Allies in the monumental painting Pantheon de la Guerre.

Note: There were quite a few books on the Legion written in Czech that were published in the 1920s, but most were hard to find following Soviet victory in World War II.