At the outbreak of World War I Ferdinand Foch was
involved in many early battles, including Nancy and Marne. He
had many successes and was placed in charge of the French Northern
Army. He held his position until Robert Nivelle replaced Joseph
Joffre as Commander-in-Chief, when he was recalled to Army Headquarters.
In 1918 he was promoted to Allied Supreme Commander. He was very
successful and received credit for masterminding the victory over
Germany. He played important roles at the Paris Peace Conference
and in the Creation of the Armistice. He wanted to make the recovery
of Germany's army impossible. Foch died in 1929.
Sir John French
Sir John French joined the navy in 1866, and transferred to the
army in 1874. He served in the Sudan and Boer Wars in the late
1800s. In 1911 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the British
Army, and in 1914 became commander of the British Expeditionary
Force. His sister was ironically one of the leading anti-war campaigners
in Britain. After the Battle of Mons he became negative about
the war's outcome. He was persuaded to take part in the Marne
offensive, but resigned in 1915. Sir Douglas Haig replaced him.
French had to deal with the Easter Rising in 1916 as the commander
of the British home forces. He was granted 50,000 pounds from
the British government when he retired, and he died in 1925.
Sir Douglas Haig
By 1914 Sir Douglas Haig already had plenty of military experience,
when he became Lieutenant General and control of the first Army
Corps of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). He led his forces
into battle at Mons and Ypres, and he was praised. In December
of 1915, Haig became Commander-in-Chief of the BEF. While under
extreme pressure, he led his forces into battle at Verdun and
Somme. In 1918 he led the Allies to a victory at the Western Front.
After the war he became commander in chief of the home forces
until 1921 when he retired. The government granted him 100,000
pounds, and he died in 1928.
In 1911 Joseph Joffre was appointed chief of staff. In 1913 he
carried out his Plan 17 and invaded Lorraine and Aedennes in Germany.
At the outbreak of World War I he took command of the French Army.
Blamed for losses at the Western Front and Verdun he was replaced
by Robert Nivelle in 1916. He was then promoted to Marshall of
France, and died in 1931.
Robert Nivelle was an artillery colonel in August 1914, and was
known for his recapture of Fort Douaumont in 1916. He thought
he could win the war with his creeping barrage techniques. The
French Prime Minister, Aritide Briand, liked his ideas, and replaced
Joseph Joffre, the Commander-in-Chief, with him. The Nivelle Offensive
in 1917 was a failure, but he continued with his strategy until
his army began to fall apart. He was replaced by Henri-Philippe
Petain in May 1917 and spent the rest of his career in North Africa.
He died in 1924.
John J. Pershing
By 1917 John Joseph Pershing was well experienced in combat.
In 1917 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary
Force in Europe. His belief that he could break through the deadlock
on the Western Front had to be revised when it didn't work. He
did however; win praise for his excellent victory at St Mihiel
in September 1918. After the war he was highly critical of the
Treaty of Versallies, and became the Chief of Staff of the U.S.
Army in 1921.
Henri-Philippe Petain joined the French Army in 1876. At the
outbreak of World War I he was scheduled to retire. Instead he
took part in the Artois Offensive. Joseph Joffre sent Petain to
command the French troops at Verdun in 1915. He was praised for
his defensive tactics. After the failure of the Nivelle Offensive
in 1917, Petain replaced Robert Nivelle as Commander-in-Chief
of the armed forces. Petain cared more for the lives of his soldiers
and improved their living conditions, unlike Nivelle. He was promoted
to Field Marshall two weeks after the Armistice, and he served
as War Minister in 1934. In 1940 Petain agreed to head the Vichy
government. After the Normandy landings he fled to Switzerland,
but returned in 1945. He was then arrested for treason. He served
the rest of his life in prison, where he died in 1951.
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg fought in the Battle of Koniggratz and the
Franco-Prussian War in the 1800s. He retired form the German Army
in 1911, but was called back at the outbreak of World War I. He
became Chief of Staff in August 1916. Hindenburg and Erich von
Ludendorff formed the Third Supreme Command. They held power until
defeat was inevitable in 1918. He retired from the army in October
1918, and in 1925 he replaced Friedrich Albert as Germany's President.
He did not oppose Adolf Hitler, and he even appointed Hitler Chancellor.
Hitler was unable to overthrown Hindenburg because of his popularity
with Germany's people, until his death in 1934.
Erich von Ludendorff
Erich von Ludendorff was a German Army staff-officer from 1904
to 1913, until the outbreak of World War I. He was then appointed
Chief of Staff in East Prussia. He worked with Paul von Hindenburg
often and won many decisive victories over the Russians. Hindenburg
became Chief of Staff of the German Army in 1916 and appointed
Ludendorff as his quartermaster general. Shortly after they became
the leaders of their own dictatorship, the Third Supreme Command.
Ludendorff took control of Germany in 1917 after Theobald Bethmann
Hollweg's resignation. When the failure of the Spring Offensive,
Ludendorff realized that Germany would lose the war. The Third
Supreme Command transferred power to Max von Baden in 1918. Baden's
government was so powerful that it forced Ludendorff's resignation
by October 1918. After the Armistice he fled to Sweden to write
about the war. He returned to Germany and participated in the
Kapp Putsch and the Munich Putsch. He was one of the first Nazi
members in 1924. He ran for president in 1925, but received less
than one percent of the votes. He died in 1937.