Who's Who - Paul Pau

Photograph of Paul Pau Although officially in retirement when war broke out in August 1914, Paul Marie Cesar Gerald Pau (1848-1932) was recalled and handed command of the so-called 'Army of Alsace'.

An integral part of the French war strategy, Plan XVII, required the rapid recapture of the two 'lost' territories Alsace and Lorraine, ceded by France to Germany in consequence of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

Although initially successful, Pau suffered defeat at Morhange-Sarrebourg, leading French Commander in Chief Joseph Joffre to dissolve Pau's army and redeploy its troops northwards to Sixth Army in time for the crucial First Battle of the Marne, which succeeded in halting the rapid German advance towards Paris that so nearly knocked France out of the war within weeks - a strategy clearly laid out in Germany's Schlieffen Plan.

Pau had been brought out of and then returned to retirement in less than two months.

"Wipers" was the British nickname for the Belgian town Ypres.

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