where detectives loaf about the village

In 1931, Dr Maurice Hammoneau gave an interview to the Evening Post about the French Foreign Legion

Belgian Foreign Legion found here

“France wants no gangsters, thieves or murderers to serve her flag. How are such men detected if they happen to enlist? France is thorough in such matters. Detectives have two chances of picking them out. First is at the depot in Marseilles and second at the distribution point in Africa where they remain for five days.

France’s most notorious gangster, Jacques Mesrine found here

They are still in civilian clothing so detectives are able to single out particular garments; an American hat, a pair of Italian shoes or an English suit. The recruits are studied carefully and then are passed on to training barracks in tiny villages. Even here they are not free from supervision, for detectives loaf about the village and watch them.

Detective found here

Sometimes the Legion suffers from an occasional desertion in peacetime but there has only ever been one wartime desertion. Hammoneau declined to give that man’s nationality or any particulars. “Caffard got him” he says. “the word translates into cockroach – imagine a cockroach gnawing at a man’s brain.”

Live cockroach brooch found here

I wonder if this is the same Frenchman I’ve been reading about in The Literary Life and Other Curiosities by Robert Hendrickson…..

Sold at auction in 1978 was a twenty one volume series about animals by Maurice Hammonneau. The author had hunted down each animal described and used the appropriate animal skin to bind each volume. Included was a book on human beings, but no explanation was given about the source of the cover.


book bound in human skin found here