Légion d\'honneur (Grand Cross)
Croix de guerre
Order of Leopold (Grand Cross)
Order of Ouissam Alaouite (Grand Cross)
Order of the White Eagle
Marshal FERDINAND JEAN MARIE FOCH (French pronunciation: ) (2
October 1851 – 20 March 1929) was a French general and Marshal of
France , Great Britain and Poland, a military theorist and the Supreme
Allied Commander during the
First World War
At the outbreak of war in August 1914, Foch's XX Corps participated
in the brief invasion of Germany before retiring in the face of a
German counter-attack and successfully blocking the Germans short of
Nancy . Ordered west to defend Paris, Foch's prestige soared as a
result of the victory at the Marne , for which he was widely credited
as a chief protagonist while commanding the
French Ninth Army . He was
then promoted again to Assistant
Commander-in-Chief for the Northern
Zone, a role which evolved into command of Army Group North, and in
which role he was required to cooperate with the British forces at
Foch was ultimately appointed "
Commander-in-Chief of the Allied
Armies" on 26 March 1918 following being the
Western Front with title Généralissime in 1918. He played a decisive
role in halting a renewed German advance on
On 11 November 1918 Foch accepted the German request for an
armistice. Foch advocated peace terms that would make Germany unable
to pose a threat to France ever again. Foch considered the
* 1 Early life
* 3.1 1914 * 3.2 1915–16 * 3.3 1917 * 3.4 1918
* 4 Assessments
* 8 Honors and awards
* 8.1 France * 8.2 Foreign decorations
* 9 Quotations attributed to Foch * 10 See also
* 11 Notes
* 11.1 Bibliography
* 12 Further reading * 13 External links
Foch's birthplace in Tarbes
Foch was born at
Hautes-Pyrénées , the son of a civil
Comminges . His German surname was of his paternal side
ancestry which originally came from Alsace in the 18th century. He
attended school at Tarbes,
At the outbreak of the
In 1885 Foch undertook a course at the _Ecole Supérieur de Guerre_
where he was later an instructor from 1895 to 1901. He was promoted
In 1907 Foch was promoted to _Général de Brigade _, and in the same year he assumed command of the French War College. He held this position until 1911, the year in which he was appointed _Général de Division _. Foch influenced General Joseph Joffre (Chief of General Staff, 28 July 1911 – 12 December 1916) when he drafted the French plan of campaign ( Plan XVII ) in 1913. In 1913 he took command of XX Corps at Nancy , and he had held this appointment for exactly one year when he led XX Corps into battle in August 1914.
Foch was later acclaimed as "the most original military thinker of his generation". He became known for his critical analyses of the Franco-Prussian and Napoleonic campaigns and of their relevance to military operations in the new twentieth Century. His re-examination of France's defeat in 1870 was amongst the first of its kind. At the College, Foch was a professor of military history, strategy and general tactics while becoming the French theorist on offensive strategies.
During his time as an instructor Foch created renewed interest in French military history , inspired confidence in a new class of French officers, and brought about "the intellectual and moral regeneration of the French Army". His thinking on military doctrine was shaped by the Clausewitzian philosophy, then uncommon in France, that "the will to conquer is the first condition of victory." Collections of his lectures, which reintroduced the concept of the offensive to French military theory, were published in the volumes _"Des Principes de la Guerre"_ ("On the Principles of War") in 1903, and _"De la Conduite de la Guerre"_ ("On the Conduct of War") in 1904. While Foch advised "qualification and discernment" in military strategy and cautioned that "recklessness in attack could lead to prohibitive losses and ultimate failure," his concepts, distorted and misunderstood by contemporaries, became associated with the extreme offensive doctrines (_l'offensive à outrance_) of his successors. The cult of the offensive came to dominate military circles, and Foch's reputation was damaged when his books were cited in the development of the disastrous offensive that brought France close to ruin in August 1914.
Foch was seen as a master of the Napoleonic school of military
thought, but he was the only one of the
WORLD WAR I
On the outbreak of
World War I
Foch was then selected to command the newly formed Ninth Army during the First Battle of the Marne with Maxime Weygand as his Chief of Staff . Only a week after taking command, with the whole French Army in full retreat, he was forced to fight a series of defensive actions to prevent a German breakthrough. During the advance at the marshes at St.-Gond he is said to have declared: "My centre is yielding. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking." These words were seen as a symbol both of Foch's leadership and of French determination to resist the invader at any cost, although there is little evidence that the signal was sent. Accordingly, on October 4, 1914, Ferdinand was made the Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Zone under Joseph Joffre.
Foch's counterattack was an implementation of the theories he had developed during his staff college days and succeeded in stopping the German advance. Foch received further reinforcements from the Fifth Army and, following another attack on his forces, counter-attacked again on the Marne. The Germans dug in before eventually retreating. On 12 September, Foch regained the Marne at Châlons and liberated the city. The people of Châlons greeted as a hero the man widely believed to have been instrumental in stopping the retreat and stabilising the Allied position. Receiving thanks from the Bishop of Châlons (Joseph-Marie Tissier), Foch piously replied, "_non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam._" ("Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory", Psalm 115:1).
Commander-in-Chief with responsibility for co-ordinating
the activities of the northern French armies and liaising with the
British forces; this was a key appointment as the
Race to the Sea was
then in progress. General
Joseph Joffre ,
of the French Army, had also wanted to nominate Foch as his successor
"in case of accident", to make sure the job would not be given to
Joseph Gallieni , but the French Government would not agree to this.
When the Germans attacked on 13 October, they narrowly failed to break
through the British and French lines. They tried again at the end of
the month during the
First Battle of Ypres
Field Marshal Sir John French , C-in-C of the British Expeditionary
Force (BEF) had described Foch in August 1914 to J. E. B. Seely , a
liaison officer, as "the sort of man with whom I know I can get on"
and later in February 1915 described him to Lord Selbourne as "the
best general in the world". By contrast,
On 2 December 1914, King George V appointed him an Honorary Knight
Grand Cross of the
Order of the Bath
General Foch in 1916
In 1915, his responsibilities by now crystallised in command of the
Northern Army Group, he conducted the Artois Offensive and, in 1916,
the French effort at the
Battle of the Somme
Just a few months later, after the failure of General Robert Nivelle
's offensive , General
Philippe Pétain , the hero of Verdun , was
appointed Chief of the General Staff; Foch hoped to succeed Pétain in
command of Army Group Centre, but this job was instead given to
General Fayolle. The following month Pétain was appointed C-in-C in
place of Nivelle, and Foch was recalled and promoted to chief of the
general staff. Like Pétain, Foch favoured only limited attacks (he
Supreme War Council was formally established on 7 November 1917,
containing the Prime Minister and a Minister from each of the Western
Front powers (i.e., excluding Russia), to meet at least once a month.
Foch (along with Wilson and Italian general Cadorna) were appointed
military representatives, to whom the general staffs of each country
were to submit their plans. The French tried to have Foch as
representative to increase their control over the Western Front (by
contrast Cadorna was disgraced after the recent Battle of Caporetto
and Wilson, a personal friend of Foch, was deliberately appointed as a
rival to Field Marshal Robertson, the British Chief of the Imperial
General Staff , an ally of Haig's, who had recently lost 250,000 men
at the battle of
Late in 1917 Foch would have liked to have seen Haig replaced as C-in-C of the BEF by General Herbert Plumer ; however, Haig would remain in command of the BEF for the remainder of the war.
In January 1918, in accordance with Lloyd George's wishes, an executive board was set up to control the planned Allied General Reserve, with Clemenceau 's agreement being obtained by having Foch on the board rather than Maxime Weygand . Pétain agreed to release only eight French divisions and made a bilateral agreement with Haig, who was reluctant to release any divisions at all, to assist one another. The situation was worsened by Clemenceau's and Pétain's dislike of Foch. At a Supreme War Council meeting in London (14–15 March), with a German offensive clearly imminent, Foch agreed under protest to shelve the Allied Reserve for the time being.
On the evening of 24 March, after the German
Spring Offensive was
threatening to split apart the British and French forces, Foch
telegraphed Wilson (who by now had replaced Robertson as Chief of the
Imperial General Staff) "asking what thought of situation "> Foch
speaking to General
Kazimierz Sosnkowski on the steps of the Belweder
Foch was made a British Field Marshal in 1919, and, for his advice during the Polish–Bolshevik War of 1920, as well as his pressure on Germany during the Great Poland Uprising , he was awarded with the title of Marshal of Poland in 1923.
On 1 November 1921 Foch was in
Kansas City, Missouri
Foch made a 3000-mile circuit through the U.S. Mid West and industrial cities such as Pittsburgh PA, then on to Washington, D.C., which included Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery for what was then called Armistice Day. During the tour he received numerous honorary degrees from American Universities.
Foch died on 20 March 1929, and was interred in
A statue of Foch was set up at the Compiègne Armistice site when the area was converted into a national memorial. This statue was the one item left undisturbed by the Germans following their defeat of France in June 1940. Following the signing of France's surrender on 21 June, the Germans ravaged the area surrounding the railway car in which both the 1918 and 1940 surrenders had taken place. The statue was left standing, to view nothing but a wasteland. The Armistice site was restored by German prisoner-of-war labour following the Second World War, with its memorials and monuments either restored or reassembled.
* 6 August 1918:
Marshal of France
* 19 July 1919 : Field Marshal of Great-Britain
* 25 March 1921: Honorary
HONORS AND AWARDS
The aircraft carrier Foch (R99) was named in his honor.
A heavy cruiser and an aircraft carrier were named in his honor. An
early district of
* Legion of Honour :
Knight – 9 July 1892; Officer – 11 July 1908; Commander – 31 December 1913; Grand Officer – 18 September 1914; Grand Cross – 8 October 1915.
Order of Merit
QUOTATIONS ATTRIBUTED TO FOCH
* " _Aucun, sauf un lâche ose se vanter qu'il n'a jamais connu la peur._ "
English Translation: _None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear_.
* " _Ne me dites pas que ce problème est difficile. S'il n'était pas difficile, ce ne serait pas un problème._"
English Translation: _Don't tell me that this problem is difficult. If it wasn't difficult, it wouldn't be a problem._
* " _Il n'y a pas d'homme cultivé ; il n'y a que des hommes qui se cultivent._"
English Translation: _There is no man that is cultivated; there are only men that cultivate themselves._
* " _A la guerre, c’est celui qui doute qui est perdu : on ne doit jamais douter._"
English Translation: _In war, he who has doubts is lost: one should never doubt._
* "_Accepter l'idée d'une défaite, c'est être vaincu..._"
English Translation: _Accepting the idea of a defeat, is being defeated..._
* " _La réalité du champ de bataille est que l'on n'y étudie pas : simplement on fait ce que l'on peut pour appliquer ce que l'on sait. " (1903) _
English Translation: _The reality of the battlefield is not an element that can be studied: we simply do what we can to be able to apply what we know_
* " _Les aéroplanes sont des jouets scientifiques intéressants, mais ne présentent pas de valeur militaire._ " (1911)
English translation: _Aeroplanes are interesting scientific toys, but they are of no military value._(1911)
* " _Il faut travailler, toujours travailler pour nous tenir au courant, car les moyens évoluent, les solutions sont chaque jour différentes. Faire la guerre prochaine avec les procédés de la dernière, quelle utopie ! Il faudra que le chef d'alors improvise des solutions nouvelles. Travaillez… les improvisations géniales sur le champ de bataille ne sont que le résultat des méditations antérieures._ " (conférence à l' École navale – August 1920).
English Translation: _Work must be done, always work to keep up, because means evolve and accordingly solutions change daily. Conduct the next war with the procedures of the former war, what a utopia ! The chief would have to improvise new solutions. Work...the great improvisations on the battle field are only the results of previous thought_
* " _De gouverner, c'est prévoir, on a fait: gouverner, c'est attendre_ " (Les Cahiers – 1926)
English Translation: _To govern is to anticipate, we did: governing is waiting_ (1920)
* " _Parce qu'un homme sans mémoire est un homme sans vie, un peuple sans mémoire est un peuple sans avenir…_ "
English Translation: _Since a man without memory is a man without a life, a people without memory are a people without a future..._
* " _Mon centre cède, ma droite recule. Situation excellente, j'attaque._ " ( First Battle of the Marne - 8 September 1914)
English Translation: _My center is yielding, my right is retreating. Excellent situation, I am attacking_
* " _Les peuples cessent de vivre quand ils cessent de se souvenir."_
English Translation: _Peoples will stop living when they stop remembering_
* " _Une assemblée pour décider doit avoir un nombre impair, mais trois, c'est déjà trop._"
English Translation: _A committee should have an odd number of members, and three is already too many_
* Biography portal
* Jean de Lattre de Tassigny * List of French paratrooper units * Pierre Segretain * Pierre Jeanpierre * Marcel Bigeard * 35th Parachute Artillery Regiment * Moroccan Division * Russian Expeditionary Force in France * Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion * Army Manoeuvres of 1912 * Foch Line * Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature , a chair at the University of Oxford established in Foch's honour in 1918 * Non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards
* ^ Charles Messenger, ed., _Reader's Guide to
* _Foch the Man_ at
* ^ Harris 2008, p477 * ^ Harris 2008, p478 * ^ Harris 2008, p479 * ^ " 'How did I win the war?' Foch will say chaffingly to André de Marincourt, many months later. 'By smoking my pipe. That is to say, by not getting excited, by reducing everything to simple terms, by avoiding useless emotions, and keeping all my strength for the job.' " Frank H. Simonds, _History of the World War_, Vol. 5, Ch. 3, III. Doubleday, Page & Co., 1920. * ^ _A_ _B_ Ernest R. Troughton, _It's Happening Again_ (John Gifford, 1944), p. 17. * ^ Anthony Adamthwaite, _Grandeur and Misery: France's Bid for Power in Europe, 1914-40_ (Hodder Arnold, 1995), p. 57. * ^ Ruth Henig, _Versailles and After, 1919-33_ (Routledge, 1995), p. 52. * ^ "No. 31481". _ The London Gazette _ (Supplement). 29 July 1919. p. 9809. * ^ New York Times, 10 November 1921 "Foch Sees Ingots Rolled into Plates." * ^ Chrzanovia Patria Parva Street chart of Chrzanów * ^ Palmowski, Jan (2008). "Foch, Ferdinand". _A Dictionary of Contemporary World History_ (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199295678 . Retrieved 9 October 2012. * ^ Philpott 2009, p441, p555 * ^ 1 Fochsquare gets new name * ^ Les Principes de la guerre. Conférences faites à l'École supérieure de guerre, Paris, Berger-Levrault, 1903
* _Les Principes de la guerre. Conférences faites à l'Ecole
supérieure de guerre_ (_On the Principles of War_), Berger-Levrault,
* _La Conduite de la guerre_ (_On the Conduct of War_),
* Foch, F. (1931). _Mémoire pour servir à l\'histoire de la guerre
1914–1918: avec 18 gravures hors-texte et 12 cartes_ (PDF) (in
French). Translated by T Bentley Mott (Heinemann ed.). Paris: Plon.
* Doughty, Robert A. _Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War_ (Harvard U.P. 2005) * Greenhalgh, Elizabeth. _Foch in Command. The Forging of a First World War General_ (Cambridge University Press, 2011); 550 pp. online review in H-FRANCE * Greenhalgh, Elizabeth. _Victory Through Coalition. Britain and France During the First World War_ (2005) * Harris, J.P. _Douglas Haig and the First World War_. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-521-89802-7 * Holmes, Richard (2004). _The Little Field Marshal: A Life of Sir John French_. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-84614-0 . * Jeffery, Keith (2006). _Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson: A Political Soldier_. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-820358-2 . * King, Jere Clemens. _Foch versus Clemenceau_ (Harvard University Press, 1960) * Neiberg, Michael S. _Foch: Supreme Allied Commander in the Great War_ (Brassey's Inc., 2003), short popular