“Desperate Frankie” Led The Charge to Finally Liberate Serbia
Louis Franchet d’Esperey was a French General who was career military man. He was the son of a cavalry officer and was educated at Saint-Cyr. After graduating he was assigned to a regiment of Algerian Tiralilleurs. He served in French Indochina, China, and Morocco. In 1913 he was made commander of I Corps.
In the first year of the war, Franchet d’Esperey proved himself as corps commander during the Battle of Charleroi. He was also able to rally his I Corps to a successful attack at the Battle of the Guise. His skill as commander of I Corps earned him the position of Commander of the Fifth Army. He found that the best way to rally his men to perform was to act the tyrannical leader, despite the fact that he was actually a rather kind man. He would threaten to shoot any man who did not do his duty.
In March 1916, he as promoted yet again to be in command of the Eastern Army Group. By January 1917, he was put in command of the Northern Army Group. But his luck seemed to have run out as he was soundly defeated by the German at the Battle of Chemin des Dames in Mary 1918.
His defeat had him removed from the Western front and sent to command the Allied Army of the Orient at Salonika. In September 1918, he was in command of a very large army that consisted of allies from Greece, France, Serbia, Britain, and Italy. It was during his time as commander of the Allied Army of the Orient that he was given the name “Desperate Frankie” but British soldiers who were not quite able to say his name properly. Whether or not Franchet d’Esperery really was desperate for a win after his defeat against the Germans, he did succeed in collapsing the Southern Front and making it all the way to Hungary.