Friday, May 10

To-Do List

As a corporal, every so often one finds one’s name present in big bold letters on a particularly dreaded sheet of paper posted, almost obnoxiously, behind impenetrable plates of glass inside the entrance to the company.

That nightmarish “Service Régimentaire”, whereby the company assumes the regimental service for an entire week (guard duty, kitchen duty, leaf-collecting duty, the works), rears its ugly head every so often and leaves us legionnaires with two main, pressing questions:

1) Will I – at some stage - have to iron my guard uniform?

2) Is my weekend fucked?

If the two happen to combine (on, say, a Friday) therefore rendering your weekend fucked as you watch – in the most comical of ceremonial uniforms – your fellow legionnaires roll out of regiment in a bus headed for the train station and the start of their weekend, well then you’re just shit out of luck, I guess!

But guard duty and pot scrubbing aren’t the only chores to be delegated out to companies on a regular basis, for each company has its own perpetual service unfolding and recycling down in a small dusty corner of the building here, known simply as “la semaine”.

The Bureau de Semaine is the control centre of any company in the French Armed Forces. Manned by a sergent (or Caporal-Chef) and a corporal, it’s the go-to point for any information whatsoever concerning the daily events, schedule, news, etc of that particular company. Here is where legionnaires scribble their name to go eat at the canteen in the evenings, where they sign-up for a seat on the Friday bus carrying them out of regiment and away to 48 hours of freedom-by-rail. At the semaine is where they’ll discover if they have any post or parcels to collect from the on-base depot, or whether they’ve an appointment with the military hospital in Marseille. Running the show is the Sergent de Semaine, receiving the orders from the company captain or other high-ranking officers/NCOs, but the Caporal de Semaine is the true enforcer, the real glue holding it all together. And today, on my birthday, and during a long weekend where there is literally not a soul lingering within these walls, that gelatinous adhesive substance is me. Oh yeah!

Now typically the corporal’s chores read as follows:

05:30 – Wake up the company by blowing a whistle as loudly as possible through every corridor of the company.
06:00 – Roll call by the sergeant after which I collect the roll call slips for each platoon, extracting the names of those designated for morning chores.
06:30 - Distribute sectors together with cleaning product to the fortunate chosen for the mission ahead.
07:20 – Assemble the sick and brittle for an inspection by the captain to deem them genuine cases for medical consultation that morning.
07:30 – Assemble all the corporals and legionnaires for Corvée Quartier (a circular sweep of the grounds surrounding the company building for any cigarette butts, papers, general rubbish).
07:45 – Company assembly, lead by the sergeant (I kick back in the bureau).
08:00 – Oversee the departure of the various legionnaires for their respective regimental services.
09:30 – Same thing but for the sickies heading off to the infirmary.
11:30 – Off to eat lunch early, in order to hold the fort while the sergeant escorts the company to the canteen.
12:00 – Sergeant escorts the company to the canteen.
12:30 – Chores
13:15 – Corvée Quartier
13:30 – Company assembly
14:00 – Collect the post from the on-base depot.
17:30 -  Early eats encore une fois.
18:00 – Hold the fort while the rest chow down, again.
19:00 – Lock up all the offices.
22:30 – Whistle loudly for lights out.

Of course, this is a TYPICAL day at the semaine. However, granted that the entire regiment has been on a long weekend since Tuesday evening, the schedule has seen some adjustments made. Here’s my current day in this ghost barracks:

Whenever – Wake up.
11:30 –           Collect the lunchtime meal for me and the sergeant, bring it back and eat it together in front of the TV in our company club/bar.
Afternoon – Play some Playstation or write some of my blog.
17:30 –           Food run again.
Evening – Shower, play guitar, sleep, whatever.

Now most of this freedom is down to my particular sergeant not giving a single fuck this entire weekend, but who am I to complain? A reader recently asked for some more detailed insight into a day in the life, the day to day, etc. Well here ya go. Not a word of a lie, you will get to a point in your legion career where the above typifies all that passes between your eyelids opening from slumber and shutting for some more.

You will also get to a point where one more birthday down the drain has about as much impact on your mindset as the weekly elephant polo results from Kathmandu.

Happy Friday folks.


  1. happy birthday o'shea!
    cpl d.

  2. Excellent blog. I have enjoyed it for a long time now...not long to go for you...but lets hope the après Legion blog is as fun to read...oh!