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Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) served as the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War I. He was born on October 2, 1851 in Tarbes, a city in the southwest region of France, near the Pyrenees. His father was a well-to-do lawyer, and Foch was brought up well.

Foch fought in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. After the war was over, he quickly graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique (Polytechnic College). After this, he enrolled in the Ecole de Guerre (War College, comparable to West Point in the United States), and became a lecturer there. He was a renowned lecturer in the field of military tactics during his time there, and he rose quickly in the ranks of the French military.

Foch was a major when he was called into duty as a line officer in 1901. In 1908, he was made director of Ecole de Guerre. He retired in 1911. When war broke out in Europe in 1914, Foch answered the call of duty. He was in command of one of the French armies at the Battle of the Marne, which was the first major battle in the Great War. His success as a leader gained him further promotions, and Foch was placed in charge of all of the French armies in the northern section. He led troops into the Battle of the Somme, the notorious World War I battle of attrition.

Foch was promoted to Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in 1917. When American troops came in 1917 to help, he and General John "Black Jack" Pershing had little power squabbles. But working together, they pushed back the German forces and forced the Germans to surrender. After the war, Foch was made Marshal of France and was influential in the development of the Treaty of Versailles. Foch passed away on March 20, 1929.

For more military history, see the Jane's Military History Nodes metanode.

"My center is giving way, my right is in full retreat; situation excellent. I shall attack."

Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) in a message allegedly sent to General Joffre during Battle of the Marne, 8 Sept. 1914.

This was in all probability apocryphal, based upon Foch's love of repeating his one word maxim of "Attaquez!" wherever possible - but resulted in Foch becoming one of the only cult french personality war students love to analyse due to his incredible military strategy of trying to advance and gain ground whatever the situation - in this case when the German were threatening to encircle the a huge proportion of the active French Army.

According to Liddell Hart, his insistence decimated the companies under his command, but resulted the eventual German withdrawal which both astonished the exhausted French troops and various critics of the French death toll.

Other variations of the message include, "Ma droite est enfoncée, ma gauche cède-tout va bien-j'attaque!" ("My right gives way, my left yields, everything's fine -I shall attack!").

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