Statues and Monuments: Marshall Foch

Posted: October 1, 2015 in History, London, UK
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Ferdinand Foch was born in Tarbes in October 1851. He enlisted in the French Infantry during the Franco-Prussian war and stayed on in the army after its conclusion. He was commissioned as Lieutenant in 24th Artillery in 1873 and was promoted to Captain in 1885. In 1895 he became an instructor at the French Army staff college which gave hin the opportunity to study French Military history particularly of the Napoleonic period and the Franco-Prussian war and he applied the results of his analysis to contemporary military tactics . During his life he published a number of books on military tactics and strategy. He was promoted to Colonel in 1903 and the following year became commandant of the Ecole Militaire. In 1907 he was promoted again and took up the post of commandant of the staff college. In 1911 he was promoted to Major General and in 1913 left the college to take command of the XX Corps. On the outbreak of war his corps was involved in the Battle of the Frontiers. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to command the French 9th Army. At the battle of Marnes the French forces were initially driven back but Foch’s strategy of counter-attacks eventually halted the German advance and then pushed them into retreat. He was appointed Asst Commander in chief of French forces. and awarded the Knight of the Bath by George V. In 1915 he commanded the northern area and was commander at the Artois offensive and the Battle of the Somme. In 1917 he was appointed Chief of the General staff, In May of the following year he was made commander of the Italian front, but was recalled a month later and made commander of allied forces. In August he was made Marshall of France and with General Haig, the British commander planned the Grand offensive to be launched in September 1918 and which eventually led to the end of war. It was Marshall Foch who accepted the German cessation of hostilities which marked the end of the fighting.


In 1919 he was appointed a Field Marshall of the British Empire and acted as an advisor to the Polish government during the  Polish-Bolshvik war and was made a Marshall of Poland in 1923. He died in March 1929 and was interred in Les Invalides alongside Napoleon.


This statue stands outside Victoria Station in memorial to a man described as “the most original military thinker of his generation”. There cant be many soldiers to hold the rank of Marshall in 3 different countries. Amongst the other strange memorials to him was the founding of the “Marshall Foch chair of French Literature” at the University of Oxford, which still exists.

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