Ferdinand Foch

Biography of Ferdinand Foch

Marshal Ferdinand Foch (2 October 1851 – 20 March 1929) - a First World War hero - was a French soldier and military theorist.

A native of Tarbes in the south of France, Foch enlisted in the infantry during the Franco-Prussian War and later graduated from the École d'application de l'artillerie et du génie as artillery officer.

For his scholarship of military history and strategic skills, he was appointed instructor at Staff College. 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 counterattack and successfully blocking the Germans short of Nancy. Ordered west to the defence of Paris, Foch's prestige soared as a result of the victory at the Marne for which he was widely credited as a chief actor while commanding the French Ninth Army. The failure or stalemate of subsequent offensives—including the operations at Ypres and the Somme—led to Foch's removal from major commands, in which wartime political rivalries also played a part. Recalled as Chief of the General Staff in 1917, Foch was ultimately appointed "Generalissimo of the Allied Armies" in the spring of 1918. He played a decisive role in halting a renewed German advance on Paris in the Second Battle of the Marne, after which he was promoted Marshal of France.

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. His words after the Treaty of Versailles, "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years" would prove prophetic; the Second World War started twenty years and sixty-five days later. In 1919 he was made a Field Marshal in the British Empire, and in 1923 a Marshal of Poland, adding to a long list of military decorations.

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