In December 1916 General Robert Nivelle was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the French armies fighting the Germans on the Western Front. He had enjoyed a meteoric rise to high command and public acclaim since the beginning of the war – he was a national hero. In return, he proclaimed he ‘had the formula’ that would ensure victory and end the conflict in 1917. But his offensive was a bloody and humiliating failure for France, one that could have opened the way for French defeat. This is the subject of David Murphy’s penetrating, in-depth study of one of the key events in the history of the Great War. He describes how Nivelle, a highly intelligent and articulate officer, used his charm to win the support of French and British politicians, but also how he was vain and boastful and displayed no sense of operational security. By the opening of the campaign, his plan was an open secret and he had lost the ability to critically assess the operation as it developed. The result was disaster.
BREAKING POINT OF THE FRENCH ARMY The Nivelle Offensive of 1917
The Nivelle Offensive is familiar to many as one of the truly dreadful blunders of World War One and this succinct book takes a thorough look at Nivelle’s sudden promotion within the French army and how he managed to convince a government is desperate need of good news of a plan that he predicted would lead to the collapse of the German army on the Western Front. Nivelle’s plan is outlined in a clear fashion as are the various elements of poor planning that resulted in it’s abject failure within two days of commencing. David Murphy is confident of his history and the envisaged plan and the reasons why it so spectacularly failed are detailed concisely and clearly.
Excellent study of major events within the French army during its fourth year of conflict, an army where the goal had continued to be attack, always attack, and stay on the offensive no matter what the cost. This had resulted in massive casualties ,Nivelle’s fresh approach based on innovative tactics that had worked at Verdun would end conspicuous failure within two days of commencing.