WI : Death dates of Foch and Pétain swapped

There were three Maréchaux de France created during WWI : Foch, Pétain and Joffre.
All of them were born in the 1850s, and while Joffre and Foch died during the interwar era, Pétain would live on, with the pathetic consequences we know about.
Now, what would happen if Foch survived to the 1940s in reasonably good mental health and died in 1951, while Pétain died in 1929 ?
Ferdinand Foch was a very agressive character, often refered to as a madman, and known for the sentence "Pressé fortement sur ma droite, mon centre cède, impossible de me mouvoir, situation excellente, j'attaque.". He would later become the Generalissimo of the Allied Forces, and oversee the Hundred Days Offensive which broke the German army, as well as decry Versailles as being an "Armistice for twenty years". Meanwhile, Philippe Pétain was the very popular defender of Verdun, and was known for his concern for the individual soldier.
excellent thread idea. Well even as a kid in school learning about WWI and WWII, I was already wondering - why that senile and coward Petain survived indeed when "madman" Foch and "Tiger" Clemenceau died ? lol
More seriously problem is
- 1940 collapse = apocalypse
- Laval influence
- Foch vs Petain personality in the 1940 context
Basically what would madman Foch do in the 1940 mayhem ? Petain turned out from Verdun savior to senile and defeatist and Laval jumped on that.

Now Foch I don't know enough but imagine if he pulled out...a FTL.

Foch fights on !

Foch leads France fighting from Algiers !

How my freakkin' god what a terrific idea. FTL subverts the myth of the WW1 savior - OTL Petain failed and become a traitor
FTL Foch saves the day !!!
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Does he tell Hitler to Foch uff?
I actually see it as likely that after Munich he goes "I told you so, Versailles was an armistice for 20 years" and manages to punch the Assemblée Nationale through rearming at a deficit, as well as a number of economic measures against Germany (iron ore & siderurgic products embargo, seizing of German economic assets in France).
There is also a chance that he gets to be Generalissimo of the Entente from the start of WWII, guaranteeing a more muscled punch into the Saargebiet.
How about adding Charles Mangin to the mix? "Quoi qu'on fasse, on perd beaucoup de monde" ("Whatever you do, you lose a lot of men").
Well he was born 1851 vs Petain 1856 BUT the old arse lived until 1951 so maybe Foch can make it to 1946...
Joffre was a veteran of the French-German war of 1870/1871. Petain was in military school I think. I never found infomation if Petain actually saw combat or military service while being a cadet.
with Foch still living and Petain dead in 1929, French military policies (and in to some extend foreign policies) in the 30s will differ a lot from OTL.

Possibly a French military intervention in 1936.
main difference is that Foch unlike Petain is no political animal by any mean. Petain went into politics by the 30's but Foch won't.
It indeed impacts the next generation of generals that OTL screwed 1940: Gamelin and Weygand and also Alphonse Georges.

Gamelin has become our running joke on the FTL forums. Basically the man was totally INEPT at every level for a simple reason. His medical files have confirmed he had advanced syphillis so he was mostly brain damaged or brain dead. Yet he was chief of the French armies right from 1935 to 1940 thanks to Daladier backing.
Can you believe that ?
I kidd you not.

It really helps understanding how 1940 went from a 1870 carbon copy to a brand new Crecy or Azincourt that is not an ordinary military defeat but rather the quasi disintegration of the country.
Much like in 1415 - 1430 when Charles VII ruled over nothing with the english bourguignons and armagnacs eviscerating what was left of France. 1940 is really similar: rock bottom.
And then De Gaulle pulled out a Joan of Arc. LMAO.

So whatever can butterfly Gamelin away from OTL is a huge gain to France.
At least Georges or Weygand had an intact brain.
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We have no idea how well Foch would have done with politics. By all accounts he is not the sort of person who had the temperament for it.

France had a lot of people in WW2 that had fought in WW1, but that did not matter. I doubt Foch could bring about the needed changes.


I remember reading this old post while searching through the forum on the topic of Foch living.
Foch was a devout catholic and he would have been suspected of reactionary tendencies way before Petain exposed his OTL. Petain was actually considered a republican until 1938-1939, when he accepted the French embassy in Francoist Spain.
Can anyone confirm or refute this?
Not only did Gamelin have syphilus, but he deputy, General George, was a physical and mental wreck from his various war injuries. The French High command was practically a nursing home.
Georges was indeed Gamelin 2nd in command tasked with the north-east front.
The two hated each others.
Alphonse Georges was a wreck because he had been badly hurt, as you note... the day Louis Barthou was killed... and the king of Yougoslavia. October 9 1934, Marseille.
What is crazy is that not only Georges severe wounds got Gamelin the job from 1935 to 1940 thanks to Daladier backing. Guess who suceded the dead Barthou as PM ? Pierre Laval. The freakkin French Quisling of Vichy fame got his first big political job.
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from my discussion at FTL a living Foch impact Weygand (who got Gamelin job on may 19 1940, way too late) which in turn helps the case of Georges.
So it is very much a Foch - Weygand - Georges trio.
What is really interesting is that these three might do a very good job in 1940. The Weygand line in June 1940 resisted heroically and efficiently at 1 to 4. Georges himself might be crippled physically but he was far less inept than Gamelin.

God damn it in April 1940 the 9th army commander Andre Corap was perfectly aware his defensive lines on the Meuse near Sedan were badly lacking. He needed more ammo, flak, men, concrete for bunkers, barbed wire... So he went to see his boss Gamelin and guess what the old arse told him ?
La Meuse, Corap, ca ne m'interesse pas !

It is one of the FTL forum members that dug out that quote. I was so horrified by it (and also ROTFLMFAO at the same time), I made it my signature.
And also a running joke of ours.

Oh Gamelin, you mental wreck...geez.
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