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Address given by Marshal Foch


lionboxer
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This extract is from an address that Marshal Foch gave to East Anglian troops at the end of the Great War. Can anyone tell me when it was and what particular battle he refers to?

"We have found that the British soldiers live up to their glorious reputation, but none have done more so than the men I see before me. None have been called on to make greater sacrifices than these men. I remember a critical period in our operations when it was necessary to take a great risk. There was one part of the Allied line about which I was anxious, because it was held by two battalions that had already done as much as could be expected from mortals. I mentioned my fears to a British General who was with me. He looked up the details that had been furnished and said to me "You need have no fear. That part of the line is held by the Norfolks and Suffolks. In reserve we have the Essex and Cambridgeshires." At once I was reassured, for of old I knew the regiments referred to, and knew they were equal to ten times their number of Boshes. I went back to the planning of my counter-strokes without an anxiety for this part of the line, and I laid my plans as though that sector did not exist. It was only possible to do so because of the presence of these fine troops, and because of the certainty that they would hold their ground as long as it was necessary for them to do so. They were put to the test for more than six days, and they did not fail me. They resisted all the attacks of the enemy, and they were not content with that. On the third day they counter-attacked, and drove the enemy out of strong positions. Their success in this direction helped our troops greatly, and in due course the plans that had been made bore fruit in one of the greatest victories of the war.

Had it not been for the magnificent work of those splendid English troops that success would not have been as complete as it was. The Norfolks and Suffolks and the supporting troops from Essex and Cambridgeshire proved themselves matchless. They fought side by side with wonderful courage, and they proved themselves more than a match for the best and the greatest numerically that the enemy could put in the field. I take off my hat to the British troops, but particularly to the men of East Anglia. They are wonderful and unbeatable. France and humanity owe them a great debt that can never be repaid. The Germans have been forced to acknowledge the worth of your men, and in future years Germany will admit that it was the fine fighting qualities of the British that destroyed her hopes of success. These qualities were never displayed to greater advantage than by the men of the Eastern Counties. Norfolks, Suffolks, Essex and Cambridge men, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you achieved. France thanks you and the whole world thanks you. You are Heroes"

Not wishing to start any regimental rivalry, but of course Marshal Foch was speaking what we already know!!!

Lionboxer

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Hello,

I'm a poor little froggy and i'm speaking very bad english language; so i prefer to continue in frennch.

Ces phrases auraient pu être prononcées par le maréchal FOCH à CALAIS, le26/01/1920 lors de la pose de la première pierre de l'obélisque, monument à la patrouille de DOUVRES , au sommet du cap blanc-nez.

Le même fut érigé en 1921 près de DOUVRES à St Margaret-at-cliffe.

Sincères salutations.

Idefix.

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I'm afraid I don't think Idéfix has the right answer, but here's what he says:

"These words may have been spoken by Marshal Foch at Calais on 26 January 1920 on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone of the obelisk erected as a monument to the Dover Patrol on the highest point of Cap Blanc Nez. An identical obelisk was erected in 1921 close to Dover at St Margaret's at Cliffe."

An article (in French) about the ceremony in 1920, the destruction of the original monument by the Germans during the WW2 Occupation, its reconstruction in 1962 and restoration in 2007 is here: http://perso.orange.fr/memoiresdepierre/al...apblancnez.html

Unfortunately it does not appear to contain anything corresponding to the address posted by Lionboxer, as, unsurprisingly, the speeches focused on Anglo-French naval cooperation in the Straits of Dover.

Merci, quand même, Idéfix ... :)

Mick

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I'm afraid I don't think Idéfix has the right answer, but here's what he says:

"These words may have been spoken by Marshal Foch at Calais on 26 January 1920 on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone of the obelisk erected as a monument to the Dover Patrol on the highest point of Cap Blanc Nez. An identical obelisk was erected in 1921 close to Dover at St Margaret's at Cliffe."

An article (in French) about the ceremony in 1920, the destruction of the original monument by the Germans during the WW2 Occupation, its reconstruction in 1962 and restoration in 2007 is here: http://perso.orange.fr/memoiresdepierre/al...apblancnez.html

Unfortunately it does not appear to contain anything corresponding to the address posted by Lionboxer, as, unsurprisingly, the speeches focused on Anglo-French naval cooperation in the Straits of Dover.

Merci, quand même, Idéfix ... :)

Mick

I'm very sorry, sirs;

I had only read an article about sangatte in "la voix du nord" of year 2002 that was in my archives.

I did not know this website.

Sincerly,

idefix.

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Absolutely no reason to be sorry, Idéfix. You may not have identified Lionboxer's text, but you set me off looking for articles about the French Dover Patrol monument and led me to find the one I posted a link to, which is of great interest to me, and I'm very grateful to you.

Merci et salutations :)

Mick

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I've just tried a search on French Google, but unfortunately matters are complicated by there being so many roads etc named after Maréchal Foch and the existence of a Maréchal Foch grape variety, which seems to be grown widely in New World countries that also use the county names Essex, Norfolk, Cambridge — so sadly no luck.

Mick

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Thanks for trying everyone. I was hoping an "expert" would pick up on this.

Ouch! But I know what you mean. :)

You could perhaps try posting your question in the English language section of the French WW1 forum, where you're more likely to find someone who specialises in Marshal Foch. I don't have the URL, but hopefully another Pal will oblige.

Mick

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Mick,

Thanks for that. Yes, reading my last post again I think I could have been a little more tactful with the wording!!! Glad you took it in good spirit.

Lionboxer

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  • 1 month later...

Lionboxer,

During May 1918 that particular combo of units may have been present briefly in the 35th Brigade, 12th Div. The Long, Long Trail has the following:

35th Brigade

7th (Service) Bn, the Norfolks

7th (Service) Bn, the Suffolks left May 1918

9th (Service) Bn, the Essex

5th (Service) Bn, the Royal Berkshire left February 1918

1/1st Bn, the Cambridgeshire joined May 1918

The History of the Norfolk Regiment Vol 2, 1914-1919 does not index Foch and neither he nor any related address or event is mentioned in any of the battalion-by-battalion chapters.

Rob.

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Hello all

Foch is presumably speaking about 1918, in which case the best bet would be the defence of the river crossing at Bac St Maur, just SW of Armentieres, in the second week of April.

He may also have been cofusing the Cambs Regt with 11/Suffolks, recruited in Cambridge,

If he is in fact referring to 1916, which seems unlikely, it could be the capture of the Schwaben Redoubt in early October.

The OH volume for May 1918 contains NO index entries for the Norfolks, Suffolks, Essex or Cambs.

Speaking as an Essex-born man living in Cambs, of course I know Foch was right!

Ron

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Looking at the original Foch quotation, it seems to me that he might be referring to the time in April, 1918, when five British divisions (8th, 19th, 21st, 25th and 50th) were moved to Champagne to relieve French tropps in what was deemed a 'quiet area'. It would also fit in with the Foch counter stroke reference.

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Looking at the original Foch quotation, it seems to me that he might be referring to the time in April, 1918, when five British divisions (8th, 19th, 21st, 25th and 50th) were moved to Champagne to relieve French tropps in what was deemed a 'quiet area'. It would also fit in with the Foch counter stroke reference.

Not a bad idea, Ian, but I have had a look at Becke and James and none of the five divisions in Champagne contained ANY battalions from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambs in April to July 1918.

The same is true of the four divisions (15th, 34th, 51st and 62nd) which took part in operations under French command in June/.July 1918, with the sole exception of 11/Suffolks (the Cambridge battalion) in 34th Division.

I have tended to discount anything from 8 August onwards as I am not aware, offhand, of any German counter-attacks lasting up to six days during that period. Can anyone else suggest candidates from that period?

Ron

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