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, but he retired from active service in 1911. He was offered the position of Army Chief of Staff by War Minister Adolphe Messimy, but was removed from consideration due to his anti-republican political views and his insistence on the authority to personally nominate generals for high commands. The position instead passed to Joseph Joffre, who would become the French commander-in-chief during World War I.
When war broke out in 1914, 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 high command, known as the Stavka. Pau also toured Australia in September 1918, meeting Australian veterans, and attending war rallies.
He died in Paris in 1932.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paul Pau.|
- Tucker, Spencer; Matysek Wood, Laura; Murphy, Justin D. (1996). The European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 549. ISBN 978-0-8153-0399-2.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Tuchman, Barbara (1962). The Guns of August. New York: Random House. pp. 42. ISBN 0-345-47609-3.
- Greenhalgh, Elizabeth (2014). The French Army and the First World War. Cambridge University Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-107-60568-8.
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