Doullens Conference

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The Doullens Conference was held in Doullens, France on March 26, 1918 between French and British military leaders. The purpose of the conference was to better coordinate the British and French military operations on the Western Front.

Cause[edit]

On March 21, 1918 the German Armies attacked all along the Western front with the goal of breaking the Allied lines before American forces could land in Europe; the Spring Offensive (Kaiserschlacht or Kaiser's Battle), which started with Operation Michael.[1] Three days later the tactic seemed to be working as General Sir Hubert Gough's Fifth Army was overwhelmed and it seemed quite likely that the Germans would break through the French and British lines. This was made possible largely due to the lack of coordination between French army commander General Philippe Pétain and British commander Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig.

It became quite clear that better coordination between the Allies was needed to prevent a German breakthrough. The Allies decided to meet at Dury, France on the 26th but moved the meeting to Doullens because Field Marshal Haig had already planned to meet with his commanders there. There was some concern that the advancing Germans may actually overrun the town of Doullens before the conference but the conference was successful.[2] The meeting involved General Petain, French President Raymond Poincaré, Premier Georges Clemenceau, General Ferdinand Foch, and General Maxime Weygand; Lord Alfred Milner, Field Marshal Haig, and Generals Henry Wilson, Herbert Lawrence, and Archibald Montgomery were the British representatives.[3]

The conference was somewhat successful in its attempt to form a more unified command. The basic goal was to appoint a ‘commander-in-chief’ with enough authority to manage all Allied operations. The members attending the conference believed that General Ferdinand Foch had shown the best leadership and perseverance and therefore put him in charge of all the Allied armies on the Western Front. One of Foch's more inspiring statements at the conference clearly showing his perseverance was "You aren't fighting? I would fight without a break. I would fight in front of Amiens. I would fight in Amiens. I would fight behind Amiens. I would fight all the time. I would never surrender".[4]

Beauvais Conference[edit]

It was at the Beauvais Conference on April 3 that Foch was officially given the title of commander-in-chief. General Tasker Bliss, senior U.S. military representative on the Supreme War Council, did not attend the Doullens Conference[5] but did attend the Beauvais Conference and he supported Foch's appointment to commander-in-chief.

Abbeville Conference[edit]

This conference was held on May 1 & 2 1918 in Abbeville, France. The main purpose of this conference was to deal with the Allies manpower shortage. The French and the British could not meet the requirements and were requesting Americans forces to fill these requirements.[6] Also at this conference Premier Vittorio Orlando of Italy gave General Foch the authority to coordinate the Italian army.

Summary[edit]

The Doullens Conference was brought about to address the need for one unified Allied command. This goal was ultimately met with the appointment of General Foch to commander-in-chief or supreme commander of Allied Forces. This unified command would be vital to the Allies victory. Therefore the Doullens Conference can be viewed as having a "momentous importance to the outcome of the fighting".[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, and John S. D. Eisenhower, World War I: A Student Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2005), 587
  2. ^ Rod Paschall, Colonel Rod Paschall, and John S. D. Eisenhower, The Defeat of Imperial Germany 1917-1918 (Da Capo Press, 1994), 144
  3. ^ Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, and John S. D. Eisenhower, World War I: A Student Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2005), 588
  4. ^ Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall, World War I (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001), 357
  5. ^ Jehuda Lothar Wallach, Uneasy Coalition: The Entente Experience in World War I (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1993), 114
  6. ^ Spencer Tucker, Laura Matysek Wood, and Justin D. Murphy, The European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia (Taylor & Francis, 1996), 1
  7. ^ Commonwealth War Graves Commission, "Western Front 1918: The German Offensives"