By Elizabeth Greenhalgh

Ferdinand Foch ended the 1st international battle as Marshal of France and ultimate commander of the Allied armies at the Western entrance. Foch in Command is a pioneering examine of his contribution to the Allied victory. Elizabeth Greenhalgh makes use of modern notebooks, letters and records from formerly under-studied files to chart how the artillery officer, who had by no means commanded troops in conflict whilst the warfare all started, discovered to struggle the enemy, to deal with tricky colleagues and Allies, and to manoeuvre throughout the political minefield of civil-military kinfolk. She bargains important insights into overlooked questions: the contribution of unified command to the Allied victory; the function of a commander's normal employees; and the mechanisms of command at corps and military point. She demonstrates how an lively Foch constructed war-winning ideas for a contemporary business conflict, and the way political realities contributed to his wasting the peace.

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Additional info for Foch in Command: The Forging of a First World War General (Cambridge Military Histories)

Sample text

34 Gras, Castelnau, 169–70. The last quarter hour: Ninth Army on the Marne 37 order its right-hand units to relieve 42 DI, and the process was not completed until 11am. In addition the Prussian Guards got past the marshes and, in a violent attack, captured the landmark of the château of Mondement. The Moroccan Division of IX Corps, who had suffered huge losses in men and officers in fighting in the same area since 6 September, bore the brunt of the attack. Its commanding officer, General Humbert, asked 42 DI for help.

32. From the Ecole de Guerre to August 1914 in Lorraine 13 The town of Château-Salins itself lay just across the frontier in German Lorraine. Whether Foch was permitted or not to contravene the ten-kilometre order (and Joffre would not have minded, for he chafed at the restriction), there were certainly cavalry infractions. This resulted in a sharp reminder from War Minister Messimy, sent late on 1 August to all corps commanders involved in the couverture. The ban on crossing the demarcation line applied to all arms, including cavalry, Messimy reminded them, and there should be no patrols, no reconnaissances, no element whatsoever east of the line.

It was imperative that the thin French line should hold. Foch knew that his best general and best troops were in 42 DI on the left, where Fifth Army was progressing (and where the BEF would soon cross the Marne) and that the danger was on the right. He could not order a retreat; XI Corps clearly could not stand. Tardieu’s reports left Foch in no doubt as to the state of the disorder. The only action left was to press XI Corps to attack, with the assurance that 42 DI were coming to help. Yet moving a division on foot while German aircraft were out spotting was desperately dangerous.

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