In March 1918, after the Germans had displayed their strength in a series of successful offensives, Foch became supreme commander of the Allied armies. Charged with keeping them intact and holding back the Germans, he drew on a lifetime's experience as a soldier. In 1871, he joined the French army at 20, attended a war college and eventually became an instructor there. Forced out of retirement, he became a key French figure in World War I. In August 1918, Foch was named marshal of France.
Of his role leading the Allies, Gen. John Pershing said of Foch in April 1918, "Gen. Foch is charged by the British, French and American governments with the coordination of the allied armies on the Western front; to this end there is conferred on him all the powers necessary for its effective realization. To the same end, the British, French and American governments confide in Gen. Foch the strategic direction of the military operations."
By November 1918, Foch had accepted Germany's surrender, attributing his success to calmness, simplicity and strength - or, in his words, "by smoking my pipe."
After the war, Foch continued his military service as an adviser. He died in Paris in 1929, at 77.
For more on Foch, click here (www.firstworldwar.com/bio/foch.htm).