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Louis Franchet d'Esperey

Postcard of French General Franchet d'Esperey photographed by Pierre Petit.
Text: Franchet d'Esperey; Credit: Photo Pierre Petit; Ao6 Logo: LVG

Postcard of French General Franchet d'Esperey photographed by Pierre Petit.

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Franchet d'Esperey

Credit: Photo Pierre Petit

Ao6 Logo: LVG

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During the Allied Retreat in 1914 General Joffre replaced General Lanrezac, commander of the Fifth Army, with General Louis Franchet d'Esperey. As the French fell back, Franchet d'Esperey led a counter-attack in the Battle of Guise that drove the Germans back and bought some time. Joffre began the Battle of the Marne on September 6, the day on which Franchet d'Esperey said he would be ready to go on the offensive.

During the Nivelle Offensive, he commanded the French northern armies.

On November 30, 1917, Prime Minister Clemenceau offered Franchet d'Esperey command of the Allied forces on the Salonica Front, but the general refused.

Commanding the Army Group of the North when Germany launched its 1918 spring offensives, Franchet d'Esperey's forces were overwhelmed by numerically and materially superior German forces. German artillery was once again in position — as it had been in 1914 — to shell Paris.

With Parliament calling for heads to roll, Clemenceau sent him on June 6 to take command of the the Allied Armies of the Orient on the Salonica Front.

In Salonika, Franchet d'Esperey builds upon the work of his predecessor General Guillaumat, but also demonstrated the same energetic involvement Joffre had before the victory at the Marne. To the British soldiers, he was 'Desperate Frenchy'.

Franchet d'Esperey was prepared to take advantage of the collapse of the Central Powers. His army liberated Serbia and reached the Danube across which lay Austria-Hungary. Franchet d'Esperey occupied two of the Central Powers' four capitals, Sofia, Bulgaria, and Constantinople, Turkey.


Roles held by Louis Franchet d'Esperey

Role Start Date End Date
Combatant - General