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Ferdinand FochFerdinand Foch

Life: 1851-1929
Birth Place: Tarbes, France
Historical Role: General
Titles: Marshal of France, British Field Marshal, Field Marshal of Poland
Primary countries affected: France
Secondary countries affected: Germany, United Kingdom
Events: Franco-Prussian War, First World War


Ferdinand Foch was born in Tarbes, France, in 1851. He served in the Franco-Prussian War. He attended the Ecole Polytechnique and later became an officer in the army. He served on the general staff from 1890, in 1895 he became a teacher at the war college. He was later assigned to a field command, in 1908 he was named as head of the war college. He was later promoted to Major General and he was given the command of a division.

He was head of the XX Corps at the start of the war, his unit was located in the Lorraine region of France. During the Battle of the Frontiers he distinguished himself, even though he was eventually beat back by the Germans. He was then given the command of the Ninth Army, with his new unit he participated in the Battle of the Marne, where again he distinguished himself with his enthusiasm, for which he is remembered through the following quote : "I am hard pressed on my right; my center is giving way; situation excellent; I am attacking." Following this battle he was promoted to be the new Deputy Commander in Chief under Joffre. This is when he began coordinating operations with British and Belgian Forces, a skill which would help him advance later on in the war. He was later officially given the command of the Northern Army Group. When Robert Nivelle replaced Joffre, has the overall French commander, Foch was moved to a background role, but when Henri Philippe Petain replaced Nivelle, Foch was named the Chief of the General Staff. He was later named to the Supreme Allied War Council. As war progressed it became clear that more coordination between the allies was needed and Foch was named as the Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies. He was responsible for reversing the Ludendorff Offensive in 1918 that almost won the war for Germany, when the German attack had been halted and the Germans were exhausted he launched his own attack and made some extremely quick gains and eventually won the war for the Allies.

Foch was instrumental in the peace negotiations, he wanted the Allies to impose harsh terms on Germany in order to make it impossible for her to threaten Europe's security again. However, his views were too radical and he was removed from the negotiation process. He would later criticize the eventual Treaty of Versailles, saying that it did nothing to prevent Germany from declaring another war. He was named a Field Marshal by the British government and a field Marshal of Poland. He died in 1929.


Tucker, S (1996). The European Powers in the First World War. New York: Garland Publishing Inc. p.256-57.

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