Émile Fayolle

Marie Émile Fayolle (14 May 1852 – 27 August 1928) was a French general during World War I and a diplomat, elevated to the dignity of Marshal of France.

Émile Fayolle
Marie Émile Fayolle (1852 – 1928) .jpg
Member of the Superior War Council
Personal details
Born(1852-05-14)14 May 1852
Le Puy-en-Velay, French Empire
Died27 August 1928(1928-08-27) (aged 76)
Paris, French Republic
Alma materÉcole polytechnique
Military service
AllegianceFrance Third Republic
Branch/serviceFrench Army
Years of service1873 – 1919
RankDivision general[a]
Battles/warsWorld War I

Early lifeEdit

Fayolle studied at the École polytechnique from 1873, where he graduated with the class of 1875 and was commissioned into the artillery.[1][2]

Military careerEdit

During his career he served in the artillery. He participated in the Pacification of Tunisia in 1881.[1] Promoted to Captain he entered the école de Guerre in 1889 and graduated with distinction in 1891.[1] From 1897 to 1908 he taught artillery at the École supérieure de Guerre. He retired in 1914 with the rank of Brigadier General.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Fayolle was recalled from retirement by the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre and given command of the 70th Infantry Division.[1] Fayolle took part in the fighting near Nancy, notably the Battle of Grand Couronné, which helped make possible the French victory at the First Battle of the Marne.[1] Later, Philippe Pétain took command of the Corps in which Fayolle was serving, and the two commanders became close.

In May, 1915 Fayolle succeeded Pétain in command of the 33rd Corps. In this command he participated in the Artois Offensive.[1]

In 1916, Fayolle was given command of the Sixth Army, which he commanded at the battle of the Somme, under the command of Ferdinand Foch's Northern Army Group. In preparation for the Somme offensive, the French Sixth Army under Fayolle would attack with 8 divisions, a force reduced from the original 40 divisions because of the French needs at Verdun.[3] During the offensive, Fayolle is credited with successfully using a combination of artillery resources and infantry tactics to push the less well-defended Germans back across an 8-mile long segment of his front.[4] In August, as the Battle of the Somme continued, General Foch, commander of French forces on the Somme, visited British General Haig at Val Vion. Foch appointed Fayolle, one of the most successful army commanders of July, to fight alongside the British forces between their right flank and the north bank of the River Somme.[5] During the British and French Somme offensive from August 1 to September 12, Fayolle decided without consulting the high command that his troops were too exhausted to launch a major offensive. He then reduced his command's participation in the battle to 1 division. The British had lost significant French support on their right during the offensive.[6] In October, French forces led by Fayolle advanced almost to Sailly Saillisol by successfully using the artillery-barrage system.[7]

On 31 December 1916, Fayolle was transferred to command the First Army.[1] When Philippe Pétain was appointed Chief of the General Staff in April 1917, Fayolle was put in command of the Army Group Center, to the disappointment of Foch, who had hoped for the command himself; Pétain replaced Nivelle as Commander-in-Chief in May 1917.

On 16 November 1917, after the Italians met disaster at Caporetto, Fayolle was transferred to Italy with six divisions and made commander in chief of the French troops supporting the Italians.

Marshal Fayolle awards the flag of the Canadian Royal 22nd Regiment on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, Canada. Fayolle had been sent to Canada on a gratitude mission for Canada's assistance during the First World War.

Fayolle stayed in Italy until March 1918, when he was recalled to France and put at the head of the 55 division strong Army Group Reserve, with which he played a role in stopping the last significant German offensives. After the allied victory in the Second Battle of the Marne, he took part in the allied counteroffensive until the end of the war. From July until November Fayolle's command reduced the Marne Salient and drove towards the Rhine. He commanded occupation forces in the Palatinat and Rheinhessen and was a member of the allied Control Commission. Fayolle was named in 1920 a member of the French Conseil Supérieur de la Guerre, the highest French military council.[8] The next year, 1921, he was made Marshal of France.[1] Fayolle undertook diplomatic missions to Canada and Italy.[1]


He also has a statue in front of the Les Invalides. Fayolle kept a diary during the war, not published until 1966, it provides deep insight into French strategic thinking at the time.

Honours and decorationsEdit


  1. ^ Marshal of France is a dignity and not a rank.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tucker, Spencer (2014). World War I: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO. pp. 555, 556. ISBN 1-85109-965-4. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  2. ^ https://www.polytechnique.edu/bibliotheque/fr/fayolle-emile-x1873-0
  3. ^ Gilbert, Martin (2006). The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 49. ISBN 0-8050-8127-5.
  4. ^ Gilbert, Martin (2006). The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 86. ISBN 0-8050-8127-5.
  5. ^ Gilbert, Martin (2006). The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 144. ISBN 0-8050-8127-5.
  6. ^ Prior, Wilson, Robin, Trevor (2005). The Somme. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 164. ISBN 0-300-11963-1.
  7. ^ Gilbert, Martin (2006). The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 209. ISBN 0-8050-8127-5.
  8. ^ Government of the French Republic (5 July 1920). "Decree of the Minister of War". gallica.bnf.fr (in French). Retrieved 23 September 2020.

General referencesEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Auclair, Elie J. Pau, Fayolle, Foch au Canada. Montreal: Librarie Beauchamin, Itee., 1922. OCLC 317295480
  • Burg, David F. and L. Edward Purcell. Almanac of World War I. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1998. ISBN 0-8131-2072-1 OCLC 39210195
  • Mosier, John. The Myth of the Great War: A New Military History of World War I. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. ISBN 0-06-019676-9 OCLC 44932295
  • Rawson, Andrew. The Somme Campaign. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword Military, 2014. ISBN 1-78303-051-8 OCLC 883432383
  • Tucker, Spencer and Priscilla Mary Roberts. World War I: Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005. ISBN 1-85109-420-2 OCLC 61247250

External linksEdit