Georges Clemenceau, appointed French Prime Minister in November 1917 (Photo: Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection)

France names 2018 'Year Clemenceau' for close of WW1 Centenary

Posted on on 01 January 2018
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Themes and events for France's final year of Great War Centenary commemorations will include a focus on Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, remembered as the 'Father of Victory'.

President Macron took the lead on Armistice Day 2017, visiting the war leader's former home in Paris, now a museum, as first details of the 2018 Centenary programme were announced by Mission Centenaire.

On August 8,  Amiens will host commemorations marking the centenary of the start of the Allied offensive that ended the First World War.

National and international events in France culminate on November 11, with a ceremony to which heads of state and government from the WW1 countries will be invited. Bilateral commemorations are also planned with Germany.

As already reported in Centenary News, President Macron will also tour the regions of France that bore the brunt of the devastation in 1914-18.

Georges Clemenceau - 'The Tiger'

L'Année Clemenceau - Year Clemenceau - highlights the veteran politician, journalist and physician appointed to lead a war weary nation by President Raymond Poincaré in November 1917.

Aged 76, and serving as Prime Minister for a second time, Georges Clemenceau, a stern critic of defeatism, sought to rally French morale after the military and civil unrest of 1917. 

Within months, he was confronted with the challenge of the last major German offensive in spring 1918. Amid fears of defeat, Britain and France agreed to put Ferdinand Foch in overall command of coordinating their armies. An Allied counter-offensive delivered victory in the autumn.

Clemenceau, nicknamed 'The Tiger', remained in office after the Armistice to become an architect of the controversial Versailles peace settlement, together with his British counterpart, David Lloyd George, US President Woodrow Wilson and the Italian Prime Minister, Vittorio Orlando.

Marshal Foch's statue at Cassel (Photo: Centenary News)

Centenaire des Français:  the French national programme of events - bringing together museums, schools, universities and other groups across the country- will be officially launched in spring 2018 under the auspices of Mission Centenaire, the organisation leading France's First World War commemorations.

Next year's International commemorations in France include:

*April 9 - A Portuguese ceremony at Richebourg, near Neuve Chapelle, remembering troops from Portugal who fought at the Battle of the Lys in 1918.

*April 26 - Following Anzac Day, the new Sir John Monash Centre, commemorating Australia's role in the Great War, will be inaugurated at Villers-Bretonneux.

*May 28 - On Memorial Day, America will commemorate the Battle of Belleau Wood on the Marne, preceded by a weekend of events.  

*June 30 - Czechoslovakia's proclamation on this day, 100 years ago, will be marked at Darney - the village in the Vosges where the new state's independence was declared by Czech and Slovak volunteers.

*August 8 - Germany will join France, Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States for a ceremony commemorating the Battle of Amiens. Signalling the start of the 100 Days Offensive that ended the First World War, the battle was called 'The Black Day of the German Army' by General Erich Ludendorff.

*November 4 - New Zealanders will gather at Le Quesnoy to mark the centenary of the fortress town's capture, the last major action of WW1 for the New Zealand Division. 

Source: Mission Centenaire

Images: Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection (Clemenceau); Centenary News (Foch)

Posted by: CN Editorial Team