General Joseph Joffre Video and Brief Bio

Joseph Jacques Cesaire Joffre 

Marshal Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre  was a French general who served as Commander-in-Chief of French forces on the Western Front from the start of World War I until the end of 1916. He is best known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in September 1914.

His political position waned after unsuccessful offensives in 1915, the German attack on Verdun in 1916, and the disappointing results of the Anglo-French offensive on the Somme in 1916. At the end of 1916 he was promoted to Marshal of France, the first such promotion under the Third Republic, and moved to an advisory role, from which he quickly resigned. Later in the war he led an important mission to the USA.


His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.

Joffre was born in Rivesaltes, Pyrénées-Orientales, the son of a family of vineyard owners. He entered the École Polytechnique in 1870 and became a career officer. He first saw active service as a junior artillery officer during the Siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War. After the end of the war he underwent further training at the École Polytechnique before transferring to the génie (engineers). Joffre subsequently spent much of his career in the colonies as a military engineer, serving with distinction in the Keelung Campaign during the Sino-French War (August 1884 – April 1885). As a major, he led a column from Ségou toTimbuktu in Mali, where he recovered the remains of Lt.-Col. Bonnier, who had been killed on a recent expedition. His mission killed over a hundred Tuareg and captured fifteen hundred cattle. He was promoted as a result. He served under Joseph Gallieni in Madagascar.                                                                                                                                                            
Joffre returned to France and was made commander in chief of the French Army in July 1911, after General Victor-Constant Michel was removed and General Gallieni declined the post. With the revival of the army and a purge of "defensive-minded" officers, he adopted the strategy devised by Ferdinand Foch, the offensive known as Plan XVII. He was selected to command despite never having commanded an Army, even on paper, and "having no knowledge whatever of General Staff work." After a left-wing government came to power in 1914, he was due to be replaced by Maurice Sarrail in the autumn, but war broke out before this could take place.

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