Family tree of Joseph JOFFRE

World Wars & Contemporary Wars, Soldier in the First World War

FrenchBorn Joseph Jacques Césaire JOFFRE

French general who was Commander-in-Chief of the French Army between 1914 and 1916 during the First World War

Born on January 12, 1852 in Rivesaltes, France , France

Died on January 03, 1931 in Paris, France

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Joffre was born in Rivesaltes, Roussillon. He entered the École Polytechnique in 1870 and became a career officer. He first saw active service during the Siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War, but 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). He returned to France and was made commander-in-chief of the French Army (1911), after Joseph 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. 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 Schlieffen Plan, much to the detriment of the French. Joffre helped to retrieve the situation through retreat and counterattack at the First Battle of the Marne. He combined the French 9th and 10th armies into the French 6th army in under two weeks before turning it over to Joseph Gallieni in the First Battle of the Marne. Following the enormous losses at Verdun and the Anglo-French offensive at the Somme he was replaced by General Robert Nivelle on 13 December 1916.


Still popular, Joffre was made Marshal of France, the first man to receive that rank under the Third Republic, but his role was little more than ceremonial.. Following the catastrophical defeats of France's ally Romania at the hands of Germany 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 here. In June 1917, he was appointed head of the French military mission to the USA, then leader of the Supreme War Council in 1918. In 1918, Mount Joffre in Western Canada was named after him. He retired in 1919 and was made a member of the Académie française.

In 1920 Joffre presided over the Jocs Florals in Barcelona, a Catalan literary certamen. He died on 3 January 1931 in Paris and buried on his estate in Louveciennes. His memoirs, in two volumes, were published posthumously in 1932.

Joffre was a Freemason, referred to in Robert Graves book "Good bye to all that" (on page 207 peguin classics edition).

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Geographical origins

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