The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, Field Marshal Sir John French, instructed I Corps to advance north-east of Ypres on 21 October ' the direction of Thourout, with the object of capturing Bruges, and to attack the enemy wherever met.' Sir John French, buoyed up for aggressive action by the enthusiasm of the French Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, and repeatedly coaxed and reassured by General Foch, who informally co-ordinated Allied actions in Flanders, was in fact short of reliable and accurate information as to the moves and strength of opposing German forces.

By temperament 'mercurial' French was a brave soldier and leader but subject to rapidly changing moods. It was not long before recognition of the powerful German forces that were converging on Ypres prompted him to consider withdrawing the BEF to a vast entrenched camp around Boulogne. He was cajoled out of such depressive - and potentially disastrous acts - by Joffre and Foch who, by their calm optimism, contributed greatly to the effective resistance of the German offensive.


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