Several writers have noted that P. C. Wren (Major Percival Christopher Wren) is to be credited with creating the popular cultural image of the French Foreign Legion. It’s said that his novel, Beau Geste, was what sparked people’s interest in the Legion, spawned several Foreign Legion movies and carved out a fictional milieu that stands alongside westerns, pirates, private eyes and swashbucklers. Even Martin Windrow included an annex of Wren in his masterpiece on the classic era of the Foreign Legion, Our Friends Beneath the Sands.
Many American and English speaking volunteers joined the Foreign Legion in the early years of the Great War. Their accounts of the Legion related many of the same things that Wren would later include in his novels. Even before the war and well before Wren’s books there were accounts both fictional and nonfictional written about the Foreign Legion.