List of foreign volunteers

The armed forces of many nations have, at one time or another, used foreign volunteers who are motivated by political, ideological or other considerations to join a foreign army. These may be formed into units of a given nationality or may be formed into mixed nationality foreign units. Sometimes foreign volunteers were or are incorporated into ordinary units. The practice has a long history, dating back at least as far as the Roman Empire, which recruited non-citizens into Auxiliary units on the promise of them receiving Roman citizenship for themselves and their descendants at the end of their service[1]

Mixed nationality units

Units by nationality


During both world wars, American volunteers served on the allied side before the USA joined the war. During World War I, there were even a few Americans who volunteered to fly for the Imperial German Flying Corps.[2]






  • About five thousand Filipinos served in a militia called the Makapili, which was under Japanese command. The unit was formed on 10 November 1944 and was issued around two thousand rifles by the Japanese. Its headquarters was located at the Christ the King compound in Quezon City. The organization was active in the Manila area, and in the nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija. This militia made its last stand at Marikina in 1945.





  • The Free Indian Legion was a volunteer legion made up of Indian POWs. The legion was first part of the Wehrmacht but transferred to the Waffen-SS late in the war.


See Also Irish Military Diaspora


  • Mahal – Program for non-Israelis between the age of 18–24 to serve in the IDF.







  • The Rhodesian Army accepted foreign volunteers, almost all of whom were required to speak English, as they were integrated into regular units (usually the Rhodesian Light Infantry) alongside locally based soldiers. The exception was 7 Independent Company, a short-lived unit made up entirely of French-speaking personnel, led by francophone officers, which existed between 1977 and 1978.




  • Scots have a long history of service in the armies of Kings of France since at least the ninth century. The Scottish Guard was formally created by the French King Charles VII in 1422, and existed until the end of the Bourbon Restoration period in 1830.

South African


  • The Blue Division of World War II fighting with Germany against the USSR.
  • The Blue Legion was formed late in the Second World War out of Blue Division soldiers who refused to leave after Franco required all Spaniards to leave Axis forces.
  • The 9th Armoured Company of the Free French Forces.
  • The Spanish Legion accepts foreign recruits.





See also


  1. Webster, Graham (1979). The Roman Imperial Army (Second ed.). London: A & C Black. p. 144. ISBN 0-7136-1909-0.
  2. Herris, Jack (2010). Aircraft of World War I, 1914-1918 (2017 reprint ed.). London: Amber Books Ltd. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-906626-65-5.
  3. Webcast Author Interview Rachel Cox Into the Fire 2012 ISBN 9780451234759
  4. Graciela Iglesias Rogers, British Liberators in the Age of Napoleon: Volunteering under the Spanish Flag in the Peninsular War (Bloomsbury Academic, London and New York, 2013) ISBN 978-1-4411-3565-0
  5. Richard Baxell, Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle Against Fascism (Aurum Press, London, 2012)
  6. Arielli, Nir. "In Search of Meaning: ForeignVolunteers in the Croatian Armed Forces, 1991–95". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. Krott, Rob (2008). Save the Last Bullet for Yourself: A Soldier of Fortune in the Balkans and Somalia. Casemate. pp. 168–69. ISBN 978-1935149712.
  8. Krott (2008, p. 148)
  9. "Venezuela's Irish Legacy Copyright 1991 by Brian McGinn".
  10. "Garibaldi Division". Retrieved 2013-09-17.
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