A gung-ho 20-year-old man has been blasted for sparking a huge police manhunt after he joined the French Foreign Legion – without telling his family.
Charles Luck has since apologised and admitted his actions were ‘idiotic’, say family.
He was last seen by relatives in June when he apparently left on his way to start a new gamekeeping job in the South of France.
But he instead secretly signed up with the military service branch of the French Army, established in 1831 and created for foreign recruits.
His family, however, became extremely worried after he lost contact and in their minds suddenly vanished for two months.
They filed a missing persons’ report with a local police force on August 1 which subsequently sent out a public appeal to help track him down.
His disappearance provoked international searches which incorporated both British and French authorities.
But Charles’ sister India, 18, posted on her Facebook page on September 29 to say her brother had been in touch to let them know he was safe and well.
She claims Charles was given a new identity, fictional backstory and was required to keep his bid to become a Legionnaire a complete secret – even from family.
Charles has since been discharged from the Legion and is due back in the UK in the ‘next 10 days’.
The post read: “CHARLES HAS BEEN FOUND!
“I spoke to Charles this morning and he has asked me to post on his behalf.
“Four months ago he left for a “job” (he said “as a gamekeeper”) in the South of France.
“Until last week, we had no idea what had happened to him or where he was. He was reported as a missing person.
“We now know what happened. Charles had joined the French Foreign Legion. He was required to keep it a complete secret (even to us).
“Upon arrival, he was stripped of his possessions and his passport.
“He was given a new identity and a fictional backstory.
“He told me that he was prepared for this but was not prepared for how long he was going to be out of contact.
“Charles completed his basic training and became a Legionnaire.
“Over the last three months, he has continued training in the South of France but due to a number of complications, he then requested that he be discharged.
“Against his will, he was held in the Legion in spite of the fact that he was legally allowed to leave.
“Without knowing any of this, it was at this point that we contacted the police as he had been gone for longer than the time he had initially told us.
“Charles feels terrible for everyone who that has been worried and says that “he’s sorry for being such an idiot”.
“He was officially discharged at 10am this morning and is going to return home within the next 10 days we hope.
“Thank you so so so much to everyone who shared our posts on Facebook and for everyone who texted or called.
“There are also so many other people who have helped in other ways. Everyone in our family is so grateful and I know Charles is too.”
Speaking on Friday, India, who works in York, said: “Charles feels terrible for everyone who that has been worried.
“We had no idea where he was, my parents were going crazy.
“He phoned us and said and said ‘I’ve managed to get hold of my phone, and this is what happened’,” added India.
“The gamekeeping job was a cover story.”
But not everyone is as forgiving and Charles has been slammed by some locals for wasting public money.
Accountess wrote on a local newspaper website: “He sounds like an idiot, not intelligent at all. How much public money was wasted looking for this person?
“If he wanted to join the military he could have joined the British armed forces and then his family would have reason to be proud.”
Muckybutt added: “Selfish idiot !”
Kev Benson said: “How cruel of the man to worry his family like that, did he really think they wouldn’t bother if he just disappeared?
“And how stupid and inconsiderate to cause an international hunt, when the resources could have been used on a real criminal case.”