Joseph Joffre
Overview
 
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM
Order of Merit
The Order of Merit is a British dynastic order recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture...

 (ʒɔsɛf ʒɔfʁ; 12 January 1852 – 3 January 1931) was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 general during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

 in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.
Joffre was born in Rivesaltes
Rivesaltes
Rivesaltes is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.-People:Rivesaltes was the birthplace of Joseph Joffre , general who became prominent in the battles of World War I.-The Rivesaltes memorial museum:...

, Roussillon
Roussillon
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

, the son of a family of vineyard owners. He entered the École Polytechnique
École Polytechnique
The École Polytechnique is a state-run institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, Essonne, France, near Paris. Polytechnique is renowned for its four year undergraduate/graduate Master's program...

 in 1870 and became a career officer.
Encyclopedia
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM
Order of Merit
The Order of Merit is a British dynastic order recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture...

 (ʒɔsɛf ʒɔfʁ; 12 January 1852 – 3 January 1931) was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 general during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

 in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.

Biography

Joffre was born in Rivesaltes
Rivesaltes
Rivesaltes is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.-People:Rivesaltes was the birthplace of Joseph Joffre , general who became prominent in the battles of World War I.-The Rivesaltes memorial museum:...

, Roussillon
Roussillon
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

, the son of a family of vineyard owners. He entered the École Polytechnique
École Polytechnique
The École Polytechnique is a state-run institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, Essonne, France, near Paris. Polytechnique is renowned for its four year undergraduate/graduate Master's program...

 in 1870 and became a career officer. He first saw active service during the Siege of Paris
Siege of Paris
The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 – January 28, 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune....

 in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, but spent much of his career in the colonies as a military engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

, serving with distinction in the Keelung Campaign
Keelung Campaign
The Keelung Campaign was a controversial military campaign undertaken by the French in northern Formosa during the Sino-French War. After making a botched attack on Keelung in August 1884, the French landed an expeditionary corps of 2,000 men and captured the port in October 1884...

 during the Sino-French War
Sino-French War
The Sino–French War was a limited conflict fought between August 1884 and April 1885 to decide whether France should replace China in control of Tonkin . As the French achieved their war aims, they are usually considered to have won the war...

 (August 1884–April 1885). He returned to France and was made commander-in-chief of the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 (1911), after Joseph Gallieni
Joseph Gallieni
Joseph Simon Gallieni was a French soldier, most active as a military commander and administrator in the French colonies and finished his career during the First World War. He was made Marshal of France posthumously in 1921...

 declined the post. With the revival of the army and a purge of "defensive-minded" officers he adopted the strategy devised by Ferdinand Foch
Ferdinand Foch
Ferdinand Foch , GCB, OM, DSO was a French soldier, war hero, military theorist, and writer credited with possessing "the most original and subtle mind in the French army" in the early 20th century. He served as general in the French army during World War I and was made Marshal of France in its...

, the offensive known as Plan XVII
Plan XVII
Plan XVII was the name of a "scheme of mobilization and concentration" that was adopted by the French General Staff in 1913, to be put into effect by the French Army in the event of war between France and Germany but was not ‘a prescribed narrative for the campaign’ or battle...

. Joffre was selected to command despite never having commanded an Army, even on paper, and "having no knowledge whatever of General Staff work."

At the outbreak of war, the French plan clashed with the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen Plan
The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory in a possible future war in which the German Empire might find itself fighting on two fronts: France to the west and Russia to the east...

, much to the detriment of the French. Joffre helped to retrieve the situation through retreat and counterattack at the First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

. He combined the French 9th and 10th armies into the French 6th army in under two weeks before turning it over to Joseph Gallieni
Joseph Gallieni
Joseph Simon Gallieni was a French soldier, most active as a military commander and administrator in the French colonies and finished his career during the First World War. He was made Marshal of France posthumously in 1921...

 in the First Battle of the Marne. His major positive contributions that won the Battle of the Marne were 1) his sustained calm under pressure and the calculated reasoning of an alumnus from Ecole Polytechnique
École Polytechnique
The École Polytechnique is a state-run institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, Essonne, France, near Paris. Polytechnique is renowned for its four year undergraduate/graduate Master's program...

 2) his ruthless dismissal of unsuccessful generals during the summer of 1914 (three army commanders, ten corps commanders and thirty-eight divisional commanders, replacing them with combative men like Foch, Franchet d'Esperey and - more junior at that stage - Petain and Nivelle) and 3) his outstanding logistical handling of French infantry divisional movements and artillery ammunition supplies during and after the French retreat of July 1914.

Following the enormous losses of the French offensives in Artois and Champagne in 1915, and after further losses at Verdun
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...

 in 1916, where the Germans initially made good progress against fortifications which had had their guns removed for use elsewhere, Joffre's political position weakened. Early in 1916 he asked the British commander-in-chief Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig was a British soldier and senior commander during World War I.Douglas Haig may also refer to:* Club Atlético Douglas Haig, a football club from Argentina* Douglas Haig , American actor...

 to put in a good word with the British Ambassador in Paris (Lord Bertie) so that it would get back to the French government. Haig wanted to delay the Anglo-French offensive at the Somme until 15 August to allow for more training and more artillery to be available. When told of this Joffre shouted at Haig that “the French Army would cease to exist” and had to be calmed down with “liberal doses of 1840 brandy”. The British refused to agree to French demands for a joint Anglo-French offensive from the Salonika bridgehead. Eventually – perhaps influenced by reports of French troop disturbances at Verdun – Haig agreed to attack at the start of July. This was just in time, as it later turned out that Petain (commander at Verdun) was warning the French government that the “game was up” unless the British attacked. After that battle Joffre was replaced by General Robert Nivelle
Robert Nivelle
Robert Georges Nivelle was a French artillery officer who served in the Boxer Rebellion, and the First World War. In May 1916, he was given command of the French Third Army in the Battle of Verdun, leading counter-offensives that rolled back the German forces in late 1916...

 on 13 December 1916.

Still popular, Joffre was made Marshal of France
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

, the first man to receive that rank under the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

, but his role was little more than ceremonial.

Following the catastrophic defeats of France's ally Romania at the hands of Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 in late 1916, that forced the capital Bucharest to be evacuated, Joffre was appointed as head of the French Military Mission aimed at reforming the Romanian army. He spent the first part of 1917 there. In June 1917, he was appointed head of the French military mission to the USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, then leader of the Supreme War Council
Supreme War Council
The Supreme War Council was a central command created by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George to coordinate Allied military strategy during World War I. It was founded in 1917, and was based in Versailles...

 in 1918.

In 1918, Mount Joffre
Mount Joffre
Mount Joffre is a mountain located on the Continental Divide, in the extreme southern tip of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta. The mountain was named in 1918 by the Interprovincial Boundary Survey after Marshal Joseph Joffre, commander-in-chief of the French Army during World War I.The...

 in Western Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 was named after him. He retired in 1919 and was made a member of the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

.

In 1920 Joffre presided over the Jocs Florals in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, a Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

 literary certamen. He died on 3 January 1931 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and was buried on his estate in Louveciennes
Louveciennes
Louveciennes is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris, between Versailles and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and adjacent to Marly-le-Roi.-Sights:...

. His memoirs, in two volumes, were published posthumously in 1932.

Honors

The Joffre class of steam locomotives was a French Decauville
Decauville
The Decauville manufacturing company was founded by Paul Decauville , a French pioneer in industrial railways. Decauville's major innovation was the use of ready-made sections of light, narrow gauge track fastened to steel sleepers; this track was portable and could be disassembled and transported...

 design built by Kerr Stuart
Kerr Stuart
Kerr, Stuart and Company Ltd was a locomotive manufacturer from Stoke-on-Trent, England.-History:It was founded in 1881 by James Kerr as James Kerr & Company, and became Kerr, Stuart & Company from 1883 when John Stuart was taken on as a partner...

 under contract during 1915 and 1916.

A French aircraft carrier
French aircraft carrier Joffre
Joffre was the planned lead ship of her class of aircraft carriers for the French Navy. She was named in honour of Joseph Joffre. The ship was laid down in 1938, but never launched.- Description :...

 bearing Joffre's name was under construction at the start of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 but was never completed due to France's rapid fall in 1940.

The Joffre cake
Joffre cake
A Joffre cake is a chocolate buttermilk layer cake filled with chocolate ganache and frosted with chocolate buttercream originally created at Bucharest's famed Casa Capşa restaurant, in honor of a visit by French General Joseph Joffre, shortly after World War I....

 is named after him.

The following landmarks were named in Joffre's honor:
  • Place Joffre, Avenue de la Motte-Piquet, Paris, with bronze statue of mounted subject.
  • Rue du Maréchal Joffre located in Nice, France
  • Mount Joffre
    Mount Joffre
    Mount Joffre is a mountain located on the Continental Divide, in the extreme southern tip of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta. The mountain was named in 1918 by the Interprovincial Boundary Survey after Marshal Joseph Joffre, commander-in-chief of the French Army during World War I.The...

    , a mountain located on the Continental Divide, in British Columbia
  • Rue Joffre (Joffre Street), located in Shawinigan, Quebec
    Quebec
    Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

    , Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    .
  • Joffre Avenue, located in Milltown, New Jersey, USA.
  • Avenue Joffre (now Huaihai Road
    Huaihai Road
    Huaihai Road or Huaihai Lu is one of the two most famous shopping streets in Shanghai, China; the other is Nanjing Road. Compared with the more touristy Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road is more upscale, and is the preferered destinaton of local residents. Huaihai Road comprises three sections, the...

    ), located in the former French Concession of Shanghai
    Shanghai
    Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

    , China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    .
  • Joffre Street, located in Pascoe Vale, Victoria, Australia.
  • Joffre, Pennsylvania, zip code 15053 (Latitude 40.4 degrees north; Longitude 80.4 degrees west).
  • Avenue du Maréchal Joffre located in Verdun, France

External links

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