He took part in the Franco-Prussian War, suffering the loss of his lower right arm. By 1903 he had reached the rank of General; however, he retired from active service in 1911.
When war broke out in 1914, the French commander-in-chief General Joffre recalled Pau from retirement to command the Army of Alsace to participate in the attacks towards Alsace called for by Plan XVII. The Army of Alsace contained VII Corps (which had taken but failed to hold Mulhouse between 7 and 10 August), 44th Division, the 55th Reserve Division, the 8th Cavalry Division and the 1st Group of Reserve Divisions (58th, 63rd and 66th Reserve divisions).
Although initially successful, Pau was forced to withdraw after the defeat of the First Army at Morhange-Sarrebourg. When it was clear to Joffre that French hopes for a quick victory in Alsace had faded and that France now faced the real possibility of quick defeat (caused by the Schlieffen Plan), Pau's army was broken up and sent north to join Maunoury's Sixth Army in time to participate in the First Battle of the Marne.
After this, Pau was not given another field command. After serving in the French Supreme War Council, he was sent in January 1916 as French representative to the Russian Stavka. Pau also toured Australia in Sept 1918, meeting Australian Veterans, and War rallies.
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He died in Paris in 1932.
- The European powers in the First World War p549 Spencer Tucker, Laura Matysek Wood, Justin D. Murphy 1996 ISBN 0-8153-0399-8
- Greenhalgh 2014, p.38
- Greenhalgh, Elizabeth (2014). The French Army and the First World War. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-60568-8.
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