Swedes in the French Legion – Emile Benzien

In my database I have around 16 Swedish born soldiers who fought in the French foreign legion during The Great War, and fell at the Western Front. It is very hard to find information about these soldiers.

Now a relative to one of the soldiers, Emile Benzien, has contacted me. Emile´s brother´s grandchild, Bengt.

Bengt contacted me through the contact form at my home page which you will find in the main menu. It is really interesting to read the words from Bengt, as we realized this is the Emile Benzien that he is related to.

Emile Benzien was born as Emil Herman Benzien i Vänersborg May 31st, 1890 and raised by his Swedish mother Anna Charlotta Karlsdotter and his German father Paul Emil Benzien.

Bengt has told me some words about the family, and he will also try to talk more with his mother, who is still alive at an age of 97. Emile was the youngest son in the family of 8 cildren, and he was born in Sweden. His mother Anna Charlotta emigrated to Germany and married Emiles father in Hamburg April 16, 1876, and the the family moved then to Sweden. After Anna Charlottas death the family moved to back Germany. I have at this moment not yet found the date of death of Anna Charlotta.

Bengt has now told me that his mother has more to tell about the Benzien story, and it will be really interesting to learn more about this family.

Emiles sister, Johanna Emilia Augusta, called aunt Milly, told some stories about the family when she lived, but seldom mentioned Emile. Aunt Milly had a daughter, who is told to been married to Kurt Traeger, a German pilot, who flew together with Manfred Von Richthofen, “The Red Baron”. Kurt got injured when he was downed in his plane in 1915, and died later on by his wounds.

Emile is supposed to be one of the children in the photo below, and as Emile was the youngest child in the family it could be the boy in the middle. Kurt, the pilot, received a silver Cup from the Emperor at that time, Kaiser Wilhelm, and that Cup has now returned to Germany. There are also connections within the family to the Piano maker family “Neumeyer”, who also has connections to Sweden.

I have tried to find out if Emile has a grave somewhere in France, as he are supposed to have been fallen in the area of Dompierre-Becquincourt in the Somme region. Emile was killed in action July the 4th, 1916, just a few days after the Somme Offensive was started.

Today Emile´s name is to be found on the stone outside the Swedish church in Paris among the names of the other Swedes who fought and fell for The French Foreign Legion at the Western Front in the Great War. May all rest in peace.

Disclaimer: There can be details in this story that not correlates with the info that I have got from Bengt. I will be ready to correct any info if something occures. The story is told with permission from Bengt.

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