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"For Our Freedom and Yours."
— 19th-Century motto of Polish volunteers in service to nationalist causes

Country A is at war with Country B. Even though Country C isn't involved in the war, many citizens of Country C support Country A. Some even go so far as to join in the fight on the Country A side, either as individuals enlisting in the Country A Armed Forces, or as free agents in units formed entirely of citizens of Country C that are affiliated with the Country A forces.

These people aren't Hired Guns, although the money may be a motivation. They genuinely believe in the cause they're fighting for and may well bring their own military experience to the battle.

Contrast Fighting for a Homeland. Compare the Legion of Lost Souls, which is a more specific sister trope based on a real life unit.

Named after the American volunteer squadrons which served in the Royal Air Force during the first two years of World War II. They were recalled when the US was forced into the war proper.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens fairly often during The Five Star Stories, most notably during the Colus/Hagooda conflict of J.C. 2989 in Books II & III, which saw both sides receiving large amounts of support from foreign soldiers. While Hagooda initiall has the upper hand due to being secretly backed up by the governments of two major powers who have a beef with Colus, after the king is mortally wounded and his Fatima partner is killed by one of the "Mercenary" batallions serving Hagooda, Colus sees a massive influx of volunteers from allied nations coming in to join the fight. What makes this interesting is that some of said volunteers are actually members of foreign royalty or high officials, namely Emperor Amaterasu of Delta Belune and President Mission Routh of the Trun Union, who are participating due to a debt of honor they owe the king for his assistance during the events of Book I, but decline to directly involve their nations' military forces in the war, bringing only select members of their Imperial or Presidential Guards.

    Comic Books 
  • in Arrowsmith, Fletcher enlists in his reality's equivalent of the Lafayette Escadrille, gets taught the rudiments of sorcery, and travels to Gallia where engages in some brutal aerial battles with the enemy Prussians.
  • Atomic Robo: Tesla flew for the American Volunteer Group (see Real Life).
  • The Blackhawk Squadron is a Multinational Team version of this, to an extent. Many of the Blackhawks were, however, citizens of countries at war with the Axis powers, or occupied by them. Chuck fits the trope most exactly, as an American who joined the RAF before becoming a Blackhawk.
  • Captain X, a World War 2 hero from DC Comics. A reporter for the Tribute, an American newspaper published in Great Britain during World War II, Buck Dare volunteered to become an Allied aviator for a secret organization known as The Group. Given the codename Captain X, Dare flew top-secret missions behind enemy lines in an experimental plastic plane, Jenny, for the remainder of the war.
  • Several strips of Commando Comics feature Czech or Polish pilots who fly for the British air force in the Second World War.
  • In Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero, a group of British pilots volunteer to fight the kaiju attacking San Francisco, with one mentioning they're looking to repay the Americans who fought in for Britain in World War II.
  • One of Garth Ennis's War Stories is about these, when an Irish Greenshirt, a Condor Legion pilot, an English socialist and a Spanish Republican end up spending the night together in a shell-hole.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Steve Canyon comics (both comic books and newspaper strips) by Milton Caniff used this. The newspaper comics placed Steve in charge of "The Dragonflies" flying against a "puppet government" in China for an extended storyline starting here.
  • Terry and the Pirates: Ace Pilot Dude Hennick is introduced having been helping train Chinese pilots in southwestern China.

    Fan Works 
  • A Young Girl's Game of Thrones: Nestor Royce musters his house's forces to avenge the deaths of Jon Arryn and the men of the main Royce line, with knights from other Vale houses joining in. Lysa (or more likely, Littlefinger) allows them to fight for Stannis without formally acknowledging his kingship so that his political opponents will lose men and power and they can hedge their bets and enjoy the spoils should he win but disavow Lord Nestor to the Lannisters should they lose.

    Films — Live Action 
  • 633 Squadron features Cliff Robertson as an American pilot in the RAF in 1944. He tells a Norwegian refugee that before the war he was a barnstormer, and he signed up because he needed something to do after the barnstorming company folded. The film is silent on why he stayed on with the RAF after Pearl Harbor.
  • 1944 includes Dutch and Danish SS volunteers in the Battle of Tannenberg Line.
  • Battle of Britain: Most notably, the Polish, Czech and Canadian pilots fighting for the Royal Air Force. The credits include a list of different nations whose pilots fought for Britain during the titular battle.
  • Dark Blue World is a Czech-made film about pilots who enlisted in the British Royal Air Force after Czechoslovakia was conquered by Nazi Germany.
  • Flyboys about the Lafyette Escadrille in World War I.
  • The Great Escape has Hendley, who's a still member of the Trope Namer since he was shot down before Pearl Harbor and so hasn't been transferred to the USAAF. Amusingly, as he's The Scrounger, his RAF uniform is in better condition than the actual British characters'.
  • Pearl Harbor has a scene with Ben Affleck flying a Spitfire for the RAF in the Battle of Britain.
  • In The Tuskegee Airmen, Lieutenant Glenn, the cadets' liaison officer, had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (before the United States had officially entered World War II) and managed to score three kills in their service.

  • The many foreigners who come to fight on both sides in the Spanish Civil War in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan being one of them.
  • Homage to Catalonia sees many international volunteers, including Orwell himself, who came to Spain to fight for The Republic.
  • Honor Harrington: The Protector's Own Squadron starts off as one of these, and the GSN in general has elements of this trope, due to their dependency on loaned crew from the Royal Manticoran Navy early on due to their lack of experienced naval crews.
  • Knight's & Magic: The Silver Phoenix Knights rename themselves the Silver Phoenix Merchant Association to rescue Princess Eleanora of Kuscheperca, and then to fight alongside The Remnant of Kuscheperca's knights.
  • Victoria:
    • The story sees both sides in the war between Azania and the Northern Confederation receiving assistance from foreign volunteers. Conservatives in the New Confederacy contribute the Jefferson Davies Brigade to the Confederation's forces, whereas the Mexicans aid the Azanians.
    • In the Cascadia arc, the Northern Confederacy 'rents' the Japanese Navy for their battle with Cascadia for one dollar. It is unclear exactly why the Confederacy cares about environmentalists on the far side of the continent, but the Japanese make out like bandits when the Pacific Northwest gets carved up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 has a number of variations (but few straight examples).
    • The Anla'Shok, also known as the Rangers, are a Minbari covert operations organization run by the Religious Caste (since the Warrior Caste are being uncooperative jerks at the moment), who boost their numbers leading up to the Shadow War by recruiting large numbers of human volunteers, without the knowledge or sanction of the Earth government at the start (indeed, the current President of Earth is a knowing part of a Shadow-sponsored conspiracy). In the show's final season, with the Shadow War and Earth Alliance Civil War over and the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, the Rangers begin to recruit from the other ISA member races as well, as they take on the role of interstellar peacekeepers.
    • When the Babylon 5 command staff is forced to purge large numbers of their security officers who had joined an EarthGov-sponsored watchdog group called the Nightwatch that attempted to seize control of the station, they are able to make up for it with large numbers of Narn volunteers convinced to sign up by Narn ambassador-in-exile G'Kar (the Narns are currently under Centauri occupation, with Babylon 5 one of the few safe places for free Narns, and both the Centauri and EarthGov are being influenced by the Shadows, so the station's fight is their fight).
  • In Colditz, Carrington is an American volunteer in the RAF.
  • Doctor Who: When Captain Jack Harkness first meets the Doctor, he is in one of the trope-naming historical Eagle Squadrons, having taken a dead guy's identity according to the Torchwood episode "Captain Jack Harkness".
  • Foyle's War: In "The Hide", Foyle investigates the case of James Devereaux, the son of a distinguished local family who will be tried for treason for belonging to the British Free Corps, a unit composed of Englishmen fighting for Nazi Germany. If found guilty, Devereaux will be sentenced to death.
  • Horrible Histories: Referenced in the song "The Few":
    The finest British pilots
    That the world could hope to have
    Binky, Stinky, Squiffy
    Frantiek and Stanislav

    Hold fire! Is that some foreign chaps
    Risking their necks?
    That’s right, some of the bravest men
    Were Polish and Czech
  • The Optimists: In episode 3 a French movie about the Normandie-Niemen fighter pilot squadron, just about the only Eagle Squadron to fight with the Soviets on the Eastern Front, is premiering in Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry invite Joseph Chaprel, a veteran of the unit, to come to the USSR for the premiere.


    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Reign of Steel: During the current tensions in Siberia, a robofac owned by Vancouver went rogue. Incidentally, Moscow (who has absolutely no interest in retaking Siberia) had sent several hundred combat bots over to that robofac for a paint job, and the fac went rogue and "stole" all of them to fight back against Vancouver's reclamation force. Moscow (cheeky machine that it is) then asked Vancouver to compensate it for the lost bots.
  • In The King In Yellow: The Wars, the Flying Bobcats are made up from the black sheep of prominent Castaignite families from America (a neutral country) and fly for both the Loyalist and enemy sides.
  • Rifts: During the Minion War, for off-Earth political reasons, Lord Splynncryth is unable to intervene despite being an enemy of Dyval and Hades. So there's been a major uptick in runaway slaves and traitorous Minions of Splugorth who just happen to join various Earthling groups, and his slaving parties are "coincidentally" raiding in places where there are active demons and having to "defend themselves." Lord Splynncryth has nothing to do with this, of course. Really.

    Video Games 
  • In Blazing Angels, the player and their squadron start the game off as American RAF pilots flying missions in France, England, and Africa before transferring to the USAAF for the remainder of the game once America enters the war.
  • Bound by Flame: Rhelmar got in a fair bit of trouble for joining the war against the Dead Walkers back when the scale of the threat wasn't apparent and the elves were officially neutral.
  • In the Civilization games, this is represented by your gifting units to City-states that are at war with another major power. Militaristic City-states can also gift you units.
  • Commandos: Jack O'Hara / The Green Beret is an Irish citizen fighting in British army. The Republic of Ireland remained neutral during the entirety of World War II. There's a lot of Truth in Television to this one: many Irishmen joined up to fight for the British Army during the conflict, many of them even deserting from the Irish Army to do so.
  • Happens so often throughout the Fire Emblem series that a definitive list may not be possible.
  • Happens on a routine basis in Mount & Blade. For one thing, the PC is from outside Calradia, and can become a noble member of any faction if he or she so likes; for another, villagers of any nationality will join up with a PC to get involved in the fighting, and will personally remain loyal to the PC if they switch sides (though fighting against their own nation in Warband will cause a morale penalty). This overlaps with Hired Guns to an extent, as their motivation is more a paycheck and a better life than any kind of ideology.
  • Escadrille Lafayette, where all the American pilots end up prior to the United States' entry into the war in Red Baron.
  • In The Red Order: First Days of Eurasia, the Spanish communists are supported by tens of thousands of comrades hailing from numerous countries.
  • Rise of the Reds: One Ascended Fanfic introduced the Legion of Solidarity, a Russian-led peacekeeping unit composed of volunteers from the Federation's allies. The Brown Berets, as they were called, fought in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Africa and distinguished themselves through their unexpected level of gallantry during the Russo-European War, but their legacy was overshadowed by Aleksandr's Shock Divisions over the years.
  • Secret Weapons Over Normandy has the Battlehawks, an elite squadron of pilots whose members hail from different countries, from France to the United States who initially fight under British command at the start of the game. Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, they're reorganized into a proper Multinational Team fighting for the Allied cause as a whole.
  • Freddie in Valiant Hearts is this, an American (albeit one who appears to have been living in France at the time anyway) who joins up with the Allied Forces. The historical information included in the game notes other examples of this.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 shows that enough Gallians have emigrated to Edinburgh that they don't just have all-Gallian infantry units, but all-Gallian specialists - there are at least two pure Gallian Ranger corps. It's revealed that Gallia's stance of "armed neutrality" had been causing discontent for a while, and the Burning of Hafen going unrebuked was the final straw, prompting pretty much every able-bodied Gallian who actually wanted to fight for their country to leave to do so under Federation flags. The recruits are welcomed by other militaries with open arms, since Gallia's universal conscription means the new blood can essentially skip most of the training and be sent to the front in record time. Incidentally, this also explains why Gallia's own military is such a hot mess in the previous three games: by that time, the military was full of under-motivated "soldiers" who were there mostly for an easy paycheck, and politically-appointed top brass with little if any field experience, all collectively conditioned to think the disposable militia would handle a crisis without much effort from them.

    Real Life 
  • The Trope Namer, as mentioned, is the American volunteer squadrons in the Royal Air Force during the early (i.e. American neutrality) period of World War II.
    • In fact, the first USAAF aircraft to fight on the Western Front after America's entry into the war were British Spitfires from the Eagle Squadrons which were repainted to have American insignia on them. They transitioned to American-made airframes as the American war effort got going.
  • Another good example are the American Volunteer Group (AKA the "Flying Tigers") who flew P-40 Warhawks for Nationalist China against Imperial Japan. Contrary to legend the AVG were (technically) mercenariesnote  (and well paid ones at that) and didn't actually fly their first mission until four days after Japan's Declaration of War upon Britain, the Netherlands, and the USA. Regardless, they did more than their bit ripping up the skies against the Japanese, which earned their famous nickname when a Chinese newspaper marveled at how those Yank pilots "fight like tigers." They were eventually incorporated into the USAAF.
    • The Soviet Operation Zet was an earlier example in the same war.
    • Yet earlier in the same war, there was the odd example of General Alexander von Falkenhausen and the cadre of German military advisers who basically conducted the early phase of the Second Sino-Japanese War for Chiang Kai-shek and the GMD. After Germany recalled Falkenhausen, Soviet advisors took over until Operation Barbarossa occurred.
  • Some 200 000 Irishmen fought for the UK in both World Wars. Granted, many of them were from British/Northern Ireland and in the First World War Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom - but then again, many of them weren't from Northern Ireland.
    • This still happens today. Units like the Irish Guards, Royal Irish Regiment, and the Brigade of Gurkhas accept non-British nationals who are looking for adventure and/or better wages. Many citizens of smaller Commonwealth countries also join the British military for the same reasons.
  • Here is the Wikipedia category on these. Some more notable ones from the list:
    • The WWI French equivalent of the Eagle Squadron, the Lafayette Escadrille. Named after Lafayette, who came and fought for the Americans during The American Revolution while France wasn't sure whether to ally.
    • The Mahal during the Israeli War for Independence, a combination of Jews fighting for a homeland and WWII veterans looking for adventure. The very first Israeli Brigadier General had been a Colonel in the US Army, and much of the early Israeli Air Force was made up of American and Canadian pilots who had flown against the Luftwaffe.
    • The French Foreign Legion, depending on what the French are doing at any given time.
  • Swedish volunteers fought against the Soviets in Finland during the Winter War. The most famous such unit is probably Flygflottilj 19 (the greater Swedish Volunteer Corps, which Flygflottilj 19 was a part of, while Swedish-dominated and organized also incorporated Danish and Norwegian volunteers).
  • The Yugoslav Wars saw foreign volunteers fighting on all sides. Arabs fought on the Bosnian Muslim side, while Greeks and Russians fought for the Serbs. There were cases of neo-Nazi volunteers fighting for the Serbs or Croats.
    • Russian volunteers have a long history of showing up in the Balkans in support of Eastern Orthodox peoples—the Greeks, the Serbs, the Bulgarians, and the Romanians. Several pieces of music, especially by Tchaikovsky, such as the Marche Slave and the March of the Volunteer Fleet, commemorate these.
  • A number of foreign volunteers served in the Rhodesian security forces during the 1970s.
  • After Nazi Germany conquered their countries, many Polish and Czechoslovakian pilots traveled to the UK and decided to fly for the British Royal Air Force. The top-scoring RAF pilot of the Battle of Britain was Czech, and the pilots of the top-scoring RAF squadron were Polish.
    • Poles wound up doing this a lot in the 19th and 20th centuries. Polish volunteers served in the French Revolutionary armies, and later Napoleonic armies. Polish volunteers showed up in Portugal in 1828, during the Liberal Wars in that country. Polish volunteers formed the best units of the Hungarian rebels in 1848. Polish volunteers also signed up to form Polish Legions, this time, to fight for Austria-Hungary against the Russians during World War I. Poles interested in a military career had little choice but to do this during the period of 1795 through 1918, since Poland had been divided up between Russia, Prussia (later Germany) and Austria, and wouldn't regain its independence until after World War I. And the same was true for the duration of World War II, with Poland being occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union.
  • Just about any war fought by the USA but not Canada, or vice versa, lead to men from the non-participating country crossing the border to enlist. Most notably with the early years of WWI, WWII and Vietnam.
  • The Texas Revolution featured American militia regiments joining the young Army of the Republic of Texas. Santa Anna (dictator of Mexico at the time) regarded them as pirates and mercenaries as they had no claim for fighting, and this led to the most notable massacres of the time aginst both the American volunteers and the white Texan settlers.
  • The Czechoslovakian Legion (on White side) and the International Units of the Red Army (on Red side) during the Russian Civil War. Many of them were WWI ex-POWs, but all POWs were free to leave Russia after 1917. These guys stayed, so they qualify for this trope.
    • Subverted for the most part on the Red side of the war, where experienced troops were in extremely short supply, so veteran international fighters often ended up taking up roles training and instilling discipline in far greener troops across the entire front rather than fighting in their own organizations. There were some exceptions to this though, like the Red Latvian Riflemen, one of the few veteran units from the First World War who volunteered to keep fighting for the Soviets rather than follow through with demobilization after the war. Notable in particular because they ended up siding against their homeland in the Civil War. Depending on who you ask they are either Les Collaborateurs or this.
  • In the Polish-Soviet War, the Kościuszko Squadron was a squadron of American volunteers fighting for the Polish.
    • ...and named after a Polish general who aided the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Recursion!
  • Escuadrón 201, also known as the "Aztec Eagles", of the Fuerza Aérea Expedicionaria Mexicana. Mexico declared war on Germany after U-Boats began sinking Mexican oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. Lacking the resources to raise an expeditionary army, Mexico instead formed a squadron of volunteers who were sent to Texas to be trained and equipped as a unit attached to the US Army Air Forces. They served with distinction in the Philippines until the end of the war.
    • Though not technically an Eagle Squadron as Mexico was at war, it bears many of the same characteristics.
  • In the Spanish Civil War, both sides saw many foreign volunteers, including the famous author George Orwell on the Republican side.
    • The most famous volunteer forces are probably the German Condor Legion and the Italian Aviazione Legionaria (for the Nationalists) and the many International Brigades, including the American Abraham Lincoln Brigade (for the Republicans). The former two were technically "volunteer" in the sense that none of the troops involved were conscripted, but were in fact fully supported by their nations' supposedly-neutral governments. While this was in part because Germany and Italy supported the Nationalist side of the conflict, it was also so they could test out their latest equipment and tactics before beginning their own war for territorial expansion.
    • And when the Spanish Civil War ended and World War II started, it was the Spanish's (both sides) turn to serve under other flags: the winning Nationalist sidenote  sent the (technically) volunteer Blue Division to fight under German flag in Russia (as mentioned below), while exilees from the Republican (losing) side fought under Free Frenchnote , Soviet note , and British note  flag. General Lister would go on to (sort of) fight alongside Fidel Castro after World War II ended, as Soviet Union's military liaison to Cuban revolutionaries.
      • All four related examples had their share of interesting war tales, but the (Spanish) 9th Company of the Leclerc Division is noteworthy for having managed to live the embarashing incident of unwitingly liberating a politically important objetive (instead of the host army). Twice.
  • The Nazis had quite a few during World War II. The last troops defending Hitler's Chancellery in Berlin were French Waffen SS of the "Charlemagne" division.
  • The Free French Normandie-Niemen fighter squadron, flying for the Soviet Union in World War II.
  • Soviet Air force pilots flew for China and North Korea during the Korean War. Because proof of Soviet involvement could have escalated the conflict into World War III, Soviet airmen pretended to be Korean and the UN forces went along with the pretense. Pilots Pepelyaev and Sutyagin were the top scoring aces of all nations in the Korean War (and did so while struggling with Korean on their radios). American fighter pilots tended to quite easily recongize which of their enemies were Russian due to their superior skill compared to the much more poorly trained North Koreans, and referred to them as "honchos".
  • Chinese People's Volunteer Army during the Korean War. That's right: officially, those three million Chinese were all volunteers in arms, spontaneously stepping in to defend the Communist cause.
    • As the British quipped:
    It is a very well-dressed volunteer who turns up wearing a MiG fighter.
  • Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and other Islamic fighting groups typically have Muslim combatants that come from very far away places. During the war against the atheist Soviet, the Afghans had mujahideen hailing from place as far as Indonesia.
    • One of the Afghan Mujahideen fighting the Soviets was known as "the American". He was a Muslim soldier in the US Army who requested - and received - administrative leave to "kill Soviets" (his words). He was later killed in Egypt as part of Ayman al-Zawahiri's organization prior to 9/11, preventing the Americans from looking extremely stupid.
  • The American Revolution saw many individuals from around Europe coming to America to fight for the young nation's freedom, most famously the Marquis de Lafayette, who came to America to fight in direct defiance of orders from the King of France. Other famous ones includes Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a former officer in Frederick the Great's old Prussian Army who went on to train the Continental Army and turn it into something resembling a professional force, and the aforementioned Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish nobleman.
    • This overlaps with a phenomenon that was considered quite normal up until The Napoleonic Wars: When their country was (technically) at peace, it was usually possible for officers to join the army of a belligerent country as a volunteer. This could be an attractive career choice, especially if you belonged to an army that had not been in a war for a while (like e. g. the Polish army, which basically missed out on all important wars between the Great Northern War and the Wars of the French Revolution), because in peacetime promotion generally went by strict order of seniority, which was extremely frustrating for young, ambitious officers. Lafayette had a very personal motivation to fight against Britain though.
    • The Battle of Yorktown featured several German regiments of the French Expeditionary Army, consisting of volunteers/mercenaries from the Rhineland, fighting against German regiments of the British Army, either Hannoverian (British king's German subjects) or Hessians (lent by their German sovereigns in return for British money), plus, of course, German immigrants to America in the Continental Army.
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi did it a lot during his life. First, he led foreign volunteers in a number of South American revolutionary movements in Brazil and Uruguay in 1840s. After having been involved in revolutionary activities in his native Italy in 1850s, he volunteered himself to join the Union cause in the American Civil War, which was declined as Lincoln considered the conditions he demanded, such as immediate emancipation of slaves, impractical. After helping unify his homeland in 1860s instead of joining the Americans, he almost joined the Prussians against the French Empire, which still occupied Rome on behalf of the Pope, but changed his mind practically overnight after Napoleon III abdicated and the French Republic was declared, and brought a group of several hundred Italian volunteers to fight for the French Republic. These formed the core of the Army of Vosges that fought in the Rhone Valley during the Franco-Prussian War.
  • Union Army actively recruited "immigrants" with military experience in Europe during the American Civil War.
  • During The Napoleonic Wars a number of volunteer formations took part that were formed from nationals of countries that were at least technically neutral.
    • In the Franco-Austrian war of 1809 (aka the War of the Fifth Coalition) the exiled Duke of Brunswick, who lived in neutral Prussia, formed a volunteer corps from all comers to fight against Napoleon. The "Black Brunswickers" fought their way through several states allied to France to the North Sea and then participated in the Peninsular War on the Allied side. Those who wanted to continue to serve were eventually absorbed into the army of the restored duchy of Brunswick in time to fight at Quatre Bras (where the Duke was mortally wounded) and Waterloo.
    • After Prussia's defeat in 1806-1807, a number of active and former Prussian officers joined the forces of countries that countinued to wage war against Napoleonic Wars, enlisting e. g. in the British King's German Legion (which originated as a Hanoverian army in exile), Spanish, Austrian (in 1809) or Russian (in 1812) units. The most well-known instance of this was Carl von Clausewitz, who later wrote On War.
    • In the early stages of the Wars of Liberation, in the spring of 1813, Major von Lützow and some other officers with the Prussian government's permission formed a free corps recruited from non-Prussians. This included e. g. some citizens of Saxony (which at that point was neutral), such as the poet and playwright Theodor Körner who wrote the corps' theme song Lützows wilde verwegene Jagd, which is still used a light infantry march in the British Army.
  • The Indian National Army, composed of tens of thousands of volunteers that signed on to fight the British for liberation of their homeland alongside the Japanese during World War II.
  • The Syrian Civil War had several foreign volunteers pouring into the region to assist all sides of the conflict:
  • The Czechoslovak Legion was the only foreign unit fighting alongside the Polish army during the Defense War of 1939.
    • Matched by the Slovak troops fighting alongside the invading Germans.
  • Nazi Germany had quite a few of its former officers doing this after its official end. German officers, often from the Waffen SS, were sighted in Arabian and South American countries all the way from 1945 well into the 70s as 'advisors' against both Jews and communists.
  • This one's Older Than Print. Many Varangians — travellers from Scandinavia and the Kievan Rus' — fought for the Byzantine Empire. Starting in 988, they even got their own unit called the Varangian Guard, which comprised the emperor's Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards. (After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, a lot of Anglo-Saxons travelled eastward to join the Guard too.)
  • The Russo-Ukrainian War:
    • Similar to the Korean War example above, there are a fair number of Russians fighting in Donbas on the separatist side. And like the Chinese volunteers, they tend to cross the border surprisingly well equipped. Entire units of Russian troops have showed up wearing their Russian uniforms, except with all the insignia removed, and driving modern Russian tanks, except with the insignia pained over. Ukrainian loyalists call them "little green men", while the Russian-speaking Donbas separatists call them "polite people". Russian news media even acknowledges the deaths of Russian soldiers in the conflict, but calls them "volunteers" who joined the fighting while off-duty. One of the "volunteers" photographed in Ukraine was even identified as being a high-ranking Russian Spetsnaz general.
    • Eight years after initially annexing Crimea and moving into Donbas (see above), Russia dropped all pretenses and launched a full invasion of Ukraine in “defense” of the Donbas republics, resulting in them facing this trope from the other side. Volunteer battalions taking up arms for Ukraine include over 20,000 volunteers from 52 countries, including Belarus note , Georgia note , and several NATO countries who can’t officially join the fighting for fear of conflict escalation and possible nuclear war. Russia has countered and attempted to cushion their losses by recruiting soldiers from Syria, the Central Africa Republic, and Belarus, the last of which Russia has been trying to elicit more direct involvement. There also exists a '"Freedom of Russia" Legion', consisting of Russian defectors fighting on Ukraine’s behalf.


Video Example(s):


The Battlehawks

Early in WWII, with mainland Europe under Nazi control, the SOE establishes an elite squadron under its supervision: The Battlehawks, a multinational unit with members from different parts Europe and even the United States, fighting under the British flag.

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Example of:

Main / EagleSquadron

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