“If necessary, cut off my leg!” The story of a wounded French soldier who is ready to continue fighting for Ukraine

Nicolas Brandon is a French fighter of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. After a serious injury sustained in December 2022, for nine months, doctors have been unable to provide him with proper treatment due to bureaucratic hurdles. Such negligence could cost him his leg. However, despite this, Nicolas does not lose his fighting spirit and strives to return to the front lines.

The 28-year-old French fighter, who is currently in a military hospital in Lviv, shared his story and military journey with Zahid. Espreso media outlet.

Dreamed of becoming a soldier since childhood

Nicolas is from the city of Montauban in southern France. He is a professional soldier and served for two years in a battalion involved in demining. He also provided security in public places, as in France, military personnel assist the police in patrolling areas with large gatherings of people.

Since childhood, Nicolas dreamed of military training, as his father is also a military man who fought in Chad and was injured there.

Nicolas Brandon — a wounded French soldier of the International Legion

Source: Yuriy Martynovych

Before coming to Ukraine, Nicolas worked as a laborer for some time. However, when he saw in the news that Russia had attacked Ukraine, he decided that he needed to help the Ukrainians defend their independence.

“I came here to protect the civilian population and defend freedom. When I heard that foreigners could fight here, I immediately bought a bus ticket and headed to Poland to get to Ukraine,” says Nicolas, who didn’t even have an international passport because French citizens only need an internal document to travel within the Schengen area. This didn’t hinder his entry into Ukraine.

He fought in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Luhansk regions

In March of last year, Nicolas entered Ukraine for the first time. The bus driver provided a sheet for a taxi driver where he wrote where he needed to be taken, and that’s how Nicolas arrived at the Yavoriv training ground. He arrived there at night and wasn’t immediately allowed into the territory but was placed nearby where civilians were stationed. Nicolas could hear the flights over the training ground with his own ears.

“I spent three days at the base. On the third evening, we boarded a bus that took us to Kyiv,” Nicolas recounts.

At first, he and other foreign fighters were tasked with guarding certain streets in Kyiv where street battles were taking place. Later, they were sent to Bucha and Irpin to prevent Russian troops from entering there. When clashes occurred between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian soldiers, the International Legion fighters were positioned in the middle, so they could be fired upon from both sides. Nicolas doesn’t complain about these uncoordinated actions because he understands how difficult the first months of the war were. Moreover, as a Frenchman with poor knowledge of English, he was sent to improve his language skills after the liberation of northern Ukraine. However, when asked if he was willing to go to fight in Kharkiv, Nicolas agreed without hesitation. He and several other foreigners who had not completed their English language courses were taken to the east.

In May, Nicolas was fighting in one of the villages near Kharkiv. Just as he settled there, he was immediately sent elsewhere. At the end of August, he was transferred to positions in the forests near Kupiansk. In just two weeks, he found himself in Luhansk, where he remained until December when he suffered a severe injury. Medics said they removed five Russian bullets from his body.

See also: Ambassador of Ukraine to France: “If you hear from Zelenskyy or Macron that France will provide weapons, you should know that they are already in Ukraine, at the front”

“A close combat took place. About 20 Russians attacked us, seven foreigners. We held our ground and managed to call for reinforcements. Unfortunately, the Russian army killed two Poles and one American. I and another German were wounded. We held out until the larger Ukrainian Armed Forces arrived and defeated Russians. They took me, and the wounded, and transported us to a field hospital near Kupiansk. My leg was badly injured. Part of the thigh was going in one direction, and the other in the opposite. Medics had to put me back together twice. I remember there was a soccer match between Poland and France at that time. Before the operation, I asked what the score was. They said they would tell me after the operation, but I insisted, and when I found out that the French were winning against the Poles, I calmly agreed to the surgery,” Nicolas recounts with a smile. He had been a football fan since childhood and had a tattoo of his favorite team, FC Bordeaux, on his body.

For nine months now, they have been transferring him from one hospital to another, but still, he can’t stand on his two feet

Nicolas Brandon

Source: Yuriy Martynovych

From those December days in 2022, his long road to recovery began. In Kupiansk, he underwent two surgeries, and then he was driven to Kharkiv for another one. They had to remove a part of his leg bone. After that, an ambulance took Nicolas to a medical facility in Poltava, where he stayed for several days.

Then, he was transported across the country to Lviv for ten days. Afterwards, he was sent to Poland, where the Frenchman changed hospitals twice and spent about five months. When Poland stopped providing financial support for his treatment, Nicolas was sent back to Ukraine, specifically Lviv, where he has been for two weeks.

Due to bureaucratic delays in establishing an exact diagnosis, Nicolas lost his payments from Ukraine back in April. For several months now, he has been living on his own funds, waiting for all the necessary tests to be conducted, the required documents to be obtained, and for a medical commission to determine exactly what should be done with his leg.

“I have no complaints. I’m just tired of waiting. I’m ready for the possibility of them amputating my leg. It’s not a problem. They’ll fit me with a prosthesis, and I’ll be walking again. I want to continue fighting. I understood the risks when I came here. It’s a profession I’ve loved since childhood. When they get me back on my feet, I’ll keep fighting until the war is over, or until I die in battle… That’s the fate of a soldier. Ukraine was attacked without cause, and it needs to be defended,” says the Frenchman.

Of course, if there’s a chance, Nicolas would like to save his leg. But it’s clear that the longer he waits, the slimmer the chances become. That’s why his French friends are also looking for an opportunity for French doctors to examine him and perhaps help him walk again.

In the meantime, Nicolas patiently awaits his future in a wheelchair. His days in the hospital pass monotonously: one hand on his phone, the other holding a cigarette, while his thoughts drift back to the battle. Fortunately, there are several fighters in the medical facility who speak French, so at least he has someone to converse with in his native language.

At home, Nicolas has a six-year-old daughter waiting for him

Since March of last year, when he arrived in Ukraine, Nicolas hasn’t seen his family. Every day, he talks to his parents, who worry about him and offer support, as well as with his six-year-old daughter. When he told his daughter that he might lose his leg, she, with childlike innocence, recalled seeing something like that in a movie and assured her dad that everything would be fine.

“I have no regrets. If I had to, I would undoubtedly go down this path again,” concludes Nicolas Brandon.

Originally posted by Yuriy Martynovych on Zaxid.Espreso. Translated and edited by the UaPosition – Ukrainian news and analytics website

See also: “This is my third war with Russia.” Stories of foreigners who stood up to defend Ukraine

Avatar photo


An independent media focused on Ukraine.
Follow us on social media:

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!