Biography of Henry Philippe Petain


Petain, Henry Philippe. French general. Born in 1857. While widely known on account of his lectures at the Ecole de Guerre (military school), Petain was in rank only a colonel of infantry at the outbreak of the First World War. For notable services in the retreat from Charleroi to the Marne, August 23-September 6, 1914, Petain was promoted general of a division. In the great Battle of Artois, May, 1915, Petain's corps broke the German front, taking Carency. In June following, Petain completed the capture of the famous Labyrinth. When the Germans carried the outer works of Verdun, February 21-24, 1916, Petain was chosen to defend the fortress. He reorganized the battered French defenses and defeated the Germans, successfully resisting one of the greatest and most costly series of attacks ever made on a single position. During the victorious allied offensive, directed by Foch, July-November, 1918, Petain was commander-in-chief of the French armies. Upon his triumphal entry into Metz, November 19, 1918, Petain was made a marshal of France.

“Christ's ... yoke is an easy yoke; his burden like the burden of wings to a bird, that makes her fly the higher.”
–Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax