The Lion Of Verdun – Philippe Pétain I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?


He was 58 [years] old and a colonel when the first world war broke out And he had never seen active service yet within months He was a national hero and a commanding general and soon he would command the entire French army. I’m talking about Philippe Petain I’m indy neidell welcome to a great war bio special about Marshal Philippe Petain. He was born April 24th 1856 in [Koshi] Latour in Northern France his father was a farmer and Philippe had four siblings [his] mother Died the year after his birth He attended a jesuit middle school and high school and was noted as an intelligent [student] Now as a young adult he took money his mother had left him and studied a year of philosophy before deciding on military school although [in] the preparation exam He finished four hundred and third out of four hundred and twelve by the final he had dramatically improved his scores in 1878 he joined the 24th infantry Battalion [as] a second lieutenant His career for decades thereafter was as a peacetime soldier that career Was branded as common or slow and it’s true that it took him 35 years to become colonel But only a minority of his contemporaries would [achieve] similar rank Promotion opportunities are scarce in peacetime and the French army was regularly shaken by political scandals [Bataan] grew deeply Mistrustful of politics Petain as a commander paid great attention to military drills. He was a strict disciplinarian [but] a firm believer in good living conditions for the men he also spent time as a military professor of Infantry tactics and was known for openly criticizing established doctrine in his classes the [French] doctrine of all-out Offensives said that the decisive factor in Battle was morale Collective maneuvers, and massed infantry were necessary and immobility was anathema as it hurt morale Petain taught alternative strategies First off he thought modern rifles were accurate enough to stop using group fire Which was a napoleonic tactic he thought individuals should be allowed to choose their targets this seems obvious [now] But it wasn’t them and Petain called the charges of Dense infantry some sort of massacre game But still even as the war began French doctrine held morale More important than superiority fire and dense infantry formations Assured high morale it wasn’t that pathan promoted just defense He agreed that morale was the key factor, but he thought it came from having Superior firepower automatic weapons and ground protection So he was a colonel in july 1914 and three months later was a lieutenant general and one of the few Promising generals capable of changing French strategy even during his first action ever august 15th near danang He showed he had his own style of command coordinating infantry and artillery in his attacks he soon benefited from the dismissal of hundreds of Incompetent generals many of whom had reached their positions by political favoritism in just the first few months of the war around 300 French colonels became french generals over the [following] months as he became a hero Petain showed off his trademarks meticulous preparation the essential role [of] artillery attention to Liaison Information and recon use of new technology, and harsh discipline it is the end of this glorious Era where fighters still dared to confront face uncovered where audcity and spontaneous reaction gave to the struggle its character of improvisation the lessons of fire Cannot be ignored anymore from now on war will change in its character Material will take an ever more considerable place as factories will develop its power and quantity in Late October Petain was put in charge of the defense at Arras he first Reinforced the first and second Trench lines he also filed report after report to headquarters for more artillery Heavier artillery more shells something to match the Germans actually he often disagreed with high Command about priorities and how and where to attack and Because of his constant reports many generals began to think that he was too cautious and too pessimistic His command at Arras was marked by tough discipline men sleeping on guard duty [were] court-Martialed [and] stealing telephone cable was punishable by death in January 1915 40 men were caught mutilating themselves To Avoid combat he had 25 [of] them sentenced to death now He did commute their sentence [they] [were] instead Sent into no-man’s land With their hands tied which was just a delayed death sentence for most of them on the other hand he was aware of the hardships of the battlefield and wanted to give the men the best possible living conditions, so His supply chains were excellent And he had places for resting washing in the trenches which wasn’t so common he did order Several failed offensives in Arras, but on may 9th 1915 his core reinforced with the Moroccan division and backed by heavy artillery Managed a successful attack all along the line and the Moroccans even managed to take strategically important Vimy Ridge the German reserves prevented a true breakthrough But French [commander-in-Chief] Joseph Joffre believed that with enough men and [Patton’s] method a breach like that at Vimy Ridge Could be exploited Petain shared this hope and was given command of the champagne [offensive] that September it was a disaster 28,000 French deaths and nearly [100,000] wounded for no real Territorial gain poor weather had ruined aerial recon the artillery preparation wasn’t good enough as Usual though the first German line fell but taking the second was an impossible Task Petain concluded that one offensive alone could not take out two lines of defense And he now [favoured] a war of attrition with small meticulous operations the defeat though did not erode confidence in Petain and in February 1916 He was tasked with holding Verdun against the German offensive You can see what happened there in our regular episodes, but a couple of things here patong the logistician organized the supply road the sacred [Road] that moved up to 90,000 men and 50,000 tons of supplies per week in and out of verdun and when he saw the Staggering death toll there he [organised] a system where if a battalion lost 1/3 of its strength it was replaced That’s why 70% of the French Army fought at verdun the Germans just topped up their losses Petain favored an active defense as usual, but [it’s] March rolled by Joffre wanted to go on the offensive and in may he had Petain promoted out of the way in favor of Robert Nivelle Petain was a huge National Hero by this time though his fame faded a bit when it was neville who won back the lost ground of verdun But when neville who replaced Joffrey as commander-in-chief created the disastrous offensive at Chemin De Dong in April 1917 which Petain vehemently opposed? Petain replaced him as chief of staff of [the] French army Petain’s main Challenge at that point was not beating the Germans But dealing with a french army on the point of collapse the failed offensive had provoked mutiny in the ranks with many soldiers refusing to participate in another pointless attack research has shown that the revolts were in fact created by resentment against more all-out offensives though many Petain included believed they were caused by socialists and pacifist Propaganda the men though Were committed to defending their positions just no more stupid waste of life like Chemin de [Dom] the tongue used repression to deal with the situation and 428 death sentences were ordered and 2,870 jail sentences half of them for over five years But he also ordered relief measures to make soldiers lives more bearable Leaves were more regular and guides were issued to soldiers on leave Barracks were reorganized to make them more habitable and food was provided in quantity and quality By july the collapse of the French army was avoided Petain would later call his work in 1917 more important than that at verdun Petain’s Priority was to preserve his men long enough for American troops to arrive in Force. So he ordered no major operations in 1917 and 1918 critics Began again to call him too cautious and to favor the optimism of Ferdinand Foch indeed when the Germans Through the French lines during their spring offensive in 1918 the writing was on the wall and Foch became commander-in-Chief [may] 15th Petain’s Advice was still valuable though, but that’ll cover in 2018 when we get there I also won’t cover here the great controversy over Petain’s role in world War II which you’re going to look up as soon as this video is over that is Beyond this channel I will say this if the first world war had never begun Philippe Petain would be remembered by a few military historians as an early advocate of Modern Warfare tactics however Since he applied his theories to the battlefield he won many battles and his legacy is That of a gifted strategist and a popular leader Although he would be stripped of all military honors and titles and sentenced to life in prison in 1945 this show is only concerned with his life and actions in the first world war We’d like to thank anatole Lani for his research on this episode if you want to learn more about another famous French general from world War one you can check out our classic episode about [ferdinand] foch right here And if you want to acquire [our] classic Foch you shirt or poster. You should also definitely visit our store Don’t forget to subscribe. See you next time

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

34 thoughts on “The Lion Of Verdun – Philippe Pétain I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?”

  1. Vlad says:

    A channel dedicated to WW1? Sign me up!

  2. Cooper Moore says:

    The quote used in the video, which source is that from? I'm writing a research paper on Pétain and I'm trying to find all the sources I can get. I'm a huge fan of TGW and you guys do amazing work! Thanks!

  3. FutureIsNow says:

    French were defenders and still lost 20% more men than Germans in Verdun. Besides calling Petain as a "lion" is ridiculous. His men on front line (or at least some of them) were "lions" but not man 10 -50 km behind front line sacrificing his soldiers.

  4. frankandersson76 says:

    Petain did exactly right decision in 1940 when capitulating to Germany. French armed forces were completely mauled and wiped out by German forces and only total idiot on that situation (when Germany had already destroyed 40% of French forces + kicked Britons out + having total air superiority and Soviet U as their allied) would have continued heroic suicide. Those blaming Petain are totally unstable lunatic people. Petain loved France and French people and understood that enough is enough.

  5. Prussian Union says:

    Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser!

  6. Blagoje Rankovic says:

    ……a great French hero.

  7. SaitoGray says:

    I lived 15 years in Cauchy-la-Tour, it's so weird to hear that name in English… Petain is our shame, even in his natal town only a small place acknowledge his birth here.

  8. GravesRWFiA says:

    it was announce this week that Petain will not be one of the french marshals honored on sunder, november 11. at the time it was thought he would for his deeds in this war, but thep ublic outcry in france was such that it was dropped, he will not and does not deserve to be rehabilitated. Petain, the lion of verdun will be kept where he belongs, besides the likes of Quisling and lord haw-haw.not so much a hero of la Belle france, but someone who stood up to be counted alongside the greatest evil the world has ever known.

  9. Didier Roux says:

    he commanded the French army, yes but under the orders of Marshal Foch General in Chief or supreme commander (as Eisenhower in 1944) forces British British and American
    In verdun he arrived at his post on March 3, 1916 to relieve General Castelnau who had stopped the German advance,
    It is a stewardship job
    Petain was not a hero in May 1916 he stayed 2 months in Verdun, the battle of Verdun lasted 10 months;
    The real Hero and Winner of Verdun is the General Nivelle it is under his commandment that the forts of Vaux and Douaumont were taken again and the lost ground also took again

  10. Andy B says:

    What's with the French and having one's initials be the same letters?

  11. tiestu says:

    Pétan and Djofray .

  12. Die Fahradsstadt says:

    right after i clicked on this i got a great war game ad lol and it zoomed out right in verdun… what a coincidence

  13. Kyle Joseph Crespo says:


  14. DoctorChained says:

    Mr. Great Wars man, I'm shocked you guys haven't done a special on Charles Lanrezac. In fact, I don't think he's ever been mentioned. He was practically the only French general that understood the dire situation of the German's marching through Belgium and refused to attack and remained on the defensive. He's reluctance is credited with saving the French.

  15. Freedom Autopsy Report says:

    Did Petain say "let the Third Reich begin?"

  16. Andrew Lines says:

    If Petain were kaiser in 1914, he would have said, "alright boys, you'll all be home injured or maimed by 1980!"

  17. Andrew Lines says:

    If Petain were kaiser in 1914, he would have said, "alright boys, you'll all be home injured or maimed by 1980!"

  18. Didier Roux says:

    Petain was a false hero he command french army in 1917 but next Marshal Foch takes over the High command of French, Britis & us Army.
    Petain was not a strategic general in 1918 Marshal Foch as to cancelled Petain's orders of retreats by 4 Times.

  19. EdSkywalker says:

    If nothing else, National France is a great faction to play as In Kaiserreich.

  20. James 5373 says:

    V I C H Y F R A N C E

  21. juschu67 says:

    the Poilu is the LION not a desk officier yelling from behind out from a save place this is not heroism

  22. Der Alte says:

    Lots of "Pétain's a traitor", "he was a fascist" and other boring internet conclusions. I really wonder what these kids would have done in his boots in 1940, with a savagely defeated country in his hands. Flee to London and counting on american and british benevolency? Or try to get a little room to breath in the abyss of defeat?

  23. Skyold skyolds says:

    "Pétan" french still on point as it seems xD

  24. Jack Glasper says:

    Seems his repressive tendencies were always present

  25. luc 5070 says:

    Petain, hero of ww1, savior of france institution in the surrender of june 1940, traitor in the collaboraion .
    What a pityfull end for one of the greatest men of france …

  26. Jimmy Two-Times says:

    A heroic man.

  27. Gabberag says:

    Patain's legacy should be remembered. He was Great.

  28. zyanovich von bojna says:

    Biggest mistake of petain was getting intro politics

  29. hinanochick says:

    He will go down in History as a traitor

  30. Athaporn MCorp Review says:

    Ah….y would he go to jail? imprisoned by hitler?

  31. Gato Villano says:

    I find it interesting that Frontenac used gorilla tactics in Canada hundreds of years before WW1 where small groups of men could cripple a large army, and then see how unimaginative the french generals were during WW1.

  32. tread_well _frank says:

    Stop giving credit to Generals and leaders . Its the men who fight or fight and die on the frontlines who are the heros . And if you read one of the greatest war/anti war books and movies by a man who fought in ww1 Erich Maria Remarque's " All quiet on the Western Front" chapter 3 you will learn ideas by the rank and file soldiers that are so sane it would prevent all future wars . In short , the armies, conscripts and the people from all sides force their leaders to fight it out instead of millions dying for them . And the leader or General who is still standing doesn't get what he wants . He gets like his favorite meal delivered once a week for life . no foreign lands , no occupations , no exploitation of losing leaders countries resources , no slaves etcetera .

  33. Oliver ZURCHER says:

    His sometime protégé Charles de Gaulle later wrote that Pétain’s life was "successively banal, then glorious, then deplorable, but never mediocre".

  34. jean-luc hochart says:

    Pétain fut un prétexte à l'incurie des politiciens français socialistes!
    Nos courageux soldats servirent à leur tour de cible par les anglo saxons alors qu'ils sauvèrent la Grand Bretagne!
    De Gaulle n'était qu'un opportuniste qui n'a jamais fait grand chose pour la France.
    Les socialistes furent les seuls responsables du désastre de 1940.
    Si nous avions eu de meilleurs généraux,comme en 14:18 et si la gauche n'avait pas été au pouvoir en 1939,la France serait la plus grande puissance du Monde car son armée était la meilleure du Monde.
    Vive Philippe Pétain le sauveur de la France!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *