London and Doullens to mark Marshal Foch command centenary

Ceremonies are coming up in Doullens, France and London to commemorate the centenary of the WW1 conference that resulted in Ferdinand Foch becoming Allied commander-in-chief.

It was in the imposing town hall of Doullens that French and British military leaders met amid the crisis of Germany’s spring offensive 100 years ago to put General Foch (as he then was) in charge of coordinating their armies. Five days into the Kaiserschlacht, Allied forces were in danger of being split apart.

On Monday 26 March, the UK Government will hold a national event commemorating the Centenary of the Appointment of Marshal Foch as Supreme Allied Commander at the Statue of Marshal Foch in Lower Grosvenor Gardens, Victoria, London at 1pm.

Statue of Ferdinand Foch, Grosvenor Gardens, London
Statue of Ferdinand Foch, Grosvenor Gardens, London

The event is ticketed for guests but the general public will be able to watch the event without tickets from a designated viewing area close to the Statue.

This will be the opening event of the UK's national commemorations in 2018, marking the final year of the First World War Centenary and the path to peace.

The event is one of the national events in the Government’s four-year First World War Centenary programme and will include music, readings and wreath laying to honour and express gratitude for the role played by Marshal Foch in 1918 and to remember the greater military strategy under his unified command.

The event will be attended by the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Mrs Geneviève Darrieussecq, French Minister of State for Defence, representatives of the countries that fought on the Western Front in 1918 as well as descendants of Marshal Foch and Field Marshal Douglas Haig. As the opening event of the Government’s centenary commemorations in 2018 it will begin to tell the story of the events of 1918 and the path to peace.

Gates open at 12.40 and the ceremony will start at 1pm prompt, ending at 1.30pm. Please allow time to clear security as you will be subject to a bag search and you are advised not to bring suitcases or large bags.

On Sunday March 25th, these events will be recalled with a procession to the town's war memorial, where a wreath-laying ceremony will be held.

Ferdinand Foch

Marshal Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch  (2 October 1851 – 20 March 1929) was a French general and military theorist who served as the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War. An aggressive, even reckless commander at the First Marne, Flanders, and Artois campaigns of 1914-1916, Foch became the Allied Commander-in-Chief in 1918 and successfully coordinated the French, British, American, and Italian efforts into a coherent whole, deftly handling his strategic reserves.

Marshal Foch, In supreme Command of the Allied Forces on the Western Front
Marshal Foch, In supreme Command of the Allied Forces on the Western Front

Foch was ultimately appointed "Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies" on 26th March 1918 following being the Commander-in-Chief of Western Front with title Généralissime in 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 to Marshal of France. Addington says, "to a large extent the final Allied strategy which won the war on land in Western Europe in 1918 was Foch's alone."

On 11th 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. Foch considered the Treaty of Versailles too lenient on Germany and as the Treaty was being signed on 28 June 1919, he declared: "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years". How accurate his assessment would prove to be as the Second World War started 20years and 64 days later.

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