Marine infantry parachutists, the worthy heirs of marine troops, came into existence in 1622, when Cardinal de Richelieu created ship-borne companies with the aim of participating in boarding.
Marine troops distinguished themselves with their heroic defence at the Bazeilles battle, during the 1870 War. Later on, in 1900, the appellation “colonial troops”, or “colonial” in brief, was given to detachments of the army which were in charge of defending French overseas territories.
Colonial army corps fought in the First World War, notably at the borders, in Champagne, on the Somme, in the Aisne, at St Mihiel, in the Dardanelles, at Montenegro, and at several other fronts.
It was during the Second World War that General de Gaulle entrusted Captain Bergé with the mission of creating the first Free France S.A.S. parachutist company. The French S.A.S. parachutists proved their worth during operations in the Middle East, in the Mediterranean and in Europe.
In 1947, after the Second World War, these parachutists were organized into the Demi Brigade de Commandos Parachutistes (parachutist commandos half brigade) and served notably in Indochina. In 1953, the Colonial Parachutists Brigade was created and had its base at Mont de Marsan and Bayonne, where the training of the paras who later on served in Algeria took place.
General Bigeard, the French army officer with the highest number of decorations, had the privilege of commanding in Algeria, while he was still a colonel, the 3rd Colonial Parachutists Regiment (3rd RPC), renamed the 3rd Marine Infantry Parachutists (3rd RPIMa).
1960 - Brazzaville - Cinq copains de la CPIMa posant en tenue de sortie
au camp d'Ornano - Au centre: François Leroy dit Budy de Longway -
In 1960, within the context of decolonisation, “colonial parachutists” became “marine infantry parachutists” and the brigade became the 1st RPIMa, based in Bayonne, a regiment which is the custodian of the S.A.S. traditions.
As elite soldiers, proud of their glorious past and the thousands of their buddies who sacrificed their life at the front, marine infantry parachutists nowadays take part in OPEX within the framework of the special operations command.