Alphonse Joseph Georges

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General Georges, left, with General Lord Gort at Arras circa 1940

Alphonse Joseph Georges (August 15, 1875 in Allier - Montluçon – April 24, 1951 in Paris) was a French army officer. He was commander in chief of the North East Front in 1939 and 1940.[1] Opposing the plan by supreme commander Maurice Gamelin to move the best allied forces into the Low Countries, he was overruled. Georges tried to allow as much initiative to his subordinates as possible, to improve operational flexibility.

Military career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Georges entered the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr and graduated third in his class in 1897. He served in French Algeria with a Tirailleur regiment.

First World War 1914–1918[edit]

He served in the French Army during the First World War and was seriously wounded while leading his battalion in 1914. He was then assigned to the general staff of the army where he remained for the rest of the war.

Interwar Period 1918–1939[edit]

In 1918 Georges served under General Ferdinand Foch as operations chief. He was also chief of staff under Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain in French Morocco during the 1920–26 Rif War and as a division commander in Algeria (1928–32).

Georges was appointed to the Supreme War Council in November 1932. Based in Paris, he witnessed the assassination of French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou and King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in Marseilles on 9 October 1934. Seriously wounded during the assassination, Georges had a long recovery but was expected to succeed General Maxime Weygand as head of the French Army in 1935. The Prime Minister thought he was too right-wing and appointed General Gamelin instead.

World War II 1939–1945[edit]

Georges was appointed as Gamelin's deputy but they had a mutually hostile relationship. On the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Georges became commander of all French field armies. Gamelin and Georges assured Daladier that France had the greatest army in the world and were shocked when the Allied front was broken through at Sedan by the Wehrmacht[citation needed]. According to the memoirs of Captain Andre Beaufre, after the front was broken, the feeling was rife in Georges' headquarters staff that the battle with the Germans was lost, with Beaufre himself witnessing Georges breaking into tears[citation needed]. On 19 May 1940 Gamelin and Georges were both dismissed, and General Weygand returned as head of the French Army.

General Alphonse Joseph Georges of the French Army, accompanied by General Lord Gort, Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), inspecting men of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, British 5th Division, at Bethune, France, 23 April 1940.

Once Marshal Pétain took power after the fall of France and the collapse of the French Third Republic, Georges refused to play any significant role in the new Vichy France government. Churchill wanted Georges to become commander of French forces in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia after the invasion of North Africa in November 1942. In this aim, Churchill was unsuccessful. Roosevelt insisted that this post go to General Henri Giraud instead.

In January 1943, Giraud and General Charles De Gaulle became co-presidents of the French Committee of National Liberation (NCNL). Georges was appointed minister without portfolio, but well before the end of the year, he (like Giraud) was ousted by De Gaulle. Thereafter he took no part in politics. He died in 1951.


  1. ^ Greenwood, John; Karl-Heinz Frieser (2005). The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press. p. 92. ISBN 1-59114-294-6.

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