Jusqu'au Bout: Pétain's Batailles de Redressement and the French Army at the end of the Great War Open Access

Gillen III, John (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ng451h506?locale=en
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Abstract

 

Between the spring of 1917 and the spring of 1918, the French Army underwent a momentous transformation. In the span of a single year, a demoralized and mutinous army became the world’s preeminent fighting force, leading the Allies to victory in the First World War. Two crucial factors made this possible: a rethinking of French strategy and battlefield tactics, and the rebuilding of the morale of French troops. Both of these necessities occurred during three crucial French Army operations in the summer and fall of 1917, dubbed the “Batailles de Redressement” (battles of recovery) by historian Elizabeth Greenhalgh. In these three battles, French Commander-in-Chief Philippe Pétain redefined how the French Army would fight the First World War, placing emphasis during the offensive on reducing French casualties. These operations showed French soldiers that their lives would no longer be wasted in futile operations, and that they could once again trust in the high command, a trust previously lost under the previous Commander, Robert Nivelle.

Pétain’s battles gave the French troops the confidence and training they would need in the spring of 1918 to hold off the German Spring Offensives and counterattack just as hard, leading later in that year to French victory. The story of the Batailles de Redressement challenges what has wrongfully become conventional wisdom of the First World War. France, not Britain or the United States, was the key Allied force during the war, and the Batailles de Redressement saved it from disaster and allowed it to continue to lead the fight against Imperial Germany. 

Table of Contents

 

Table of Contents Introduction.....................................................................................................................1

Chapter 1: Strategy and Doctrine of the Batailles de Redressement...............................................8

Chapter 2: Protecting the Poilu......................................................................................................................25

Chapter 3: France back on the Offensive-The Batailles de Redressement.................................51

Chapter 4: Aftermath-Morale, Lessons Learned, and the Importance of Pétain...................67

Conclusions.........................................................................................................................................................88

Bibliography........................................................................................................................................................97 

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