Who's Who - Jean Augagneur

In Rene Viviani's pre-war government, formed in June 1914, Jean Augagneur (1855-1931) - a moderate socialist - was handed the education portfolio, although his chief interest lay in a reform of France's public health system.

However the July Crisis which led to war the following month brought Augagneur an entirely unexpected promotion as Minister of Marine, his predecessor in the post Gauthier having suffered a nervous breakdown.

Augagneur was not well-versed in his new role.  He nevertheless gave limited French support for the British First Lord of the Admiralty's (Winston Churchill) enthusiasm for a Dardanelles expedition in 1915, intended at knocking Turkey out of the war almost as soon as she had entered it.

Augagneur's decision to support the British was seemingly brave, not least politically.  However the French navy could ill afford not to support a major British expedition in the (albeit unlikely) event of its success.  He nevertheless limited the French naval role, leaving the British to manage much of the expedition's risk, although the loss of two French battleships, the Bouvet and Gaulois, damaged him politically.

With the fall of Viviani's government in October 1915 Augagneur, under fire for an apparent lack of French naval success, was replaced by Admiral Marie-Jean-Lucien Lacaze.  He played no further notable role in the war and suffered electoral defeat in 1919.

He died in 1931.

A 'corkscrew' was a metal post for supporting a wire entanglement, with a twisted base enabling it to be screwed into the ground, removing the need for a hammer, the use of which could attract enemy fire.

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