Veterans march past the Hôtel de Ville in Doullens on their way to the Salle du Commandement Unique (Photo: Centenary News)

Doullens on parade for Foch Centenary

Posted on on 25 March 2018
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A day of commemorations has been held in the Somme town where Allied leaders took the historic decision to appoint Marshal Foch supreme commander of their First World War armies.

The community events on March 25 brought together people not only from Doullens but also Abbeville, where preparations for the 1918 conference were made.

Standard bearers from French veterans groups took part in a parade to Doullens’ imposing war memorial, accompanied by schoolchildren in period dress. 

Led by the town band, the procession wound its way through streets decorated with Union Jack bunting, a reminder that Doullens served as a base for British forces in the Arras sector.

France’s Minister for Veterans, Geneviève Darrieussecq, lit the flame at the Monument aux Morts, part of two days of engagements which also took her to London for a UK tribute to Marshal Foch.  

The procession then moved onto the Hôtel de Ville (town hall) for a reception and a plaque unveiling in the rooms where - on 26 March 1918 -  Ferdinand Foch was put in charge of coordinating the Allied military response to Germany’s spring offensive.

Sunday's event was a colourful occasion, blending solemnity and informality in equal measure.

100 years ago, the threat to the French and British armies was so grave that President Raymond Poincaré came to Doullens to chair the crisis meeting.
The talks involved his Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau, Britain's War Minister, Lord Milner, and their military commanders - Philippe Pétain, Ferdinand Foch and Sir Douglas Haig.
Doullens lay in the path of the German advance to the crucial railway hub of Amiens. Those present in the Salle du Commandement Unique in 1918 could hear the sound of approaching German gunfire only a few miles away.

Reporting from Doullens by CN Editor

Images: Centenary News