Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Marshal Foch's Ten Commandments

Ferdinand Foch was born in 1851 into the "old France": conservative, devoutly Roman Catholic, and intensely patriotic. . .Foch's birthplace [in the Pyrenees], Tarbes, is just twelve miles from Lourdes, where, in 1858, many Catholics believed that the Virgin Mary appeared in the Grotto of Massabielle and spoke to a local girl. . . Foch's maternal grandfather was decorated by Napoleon with the Legion of Honor for bravery in Italy, Spain, and at Austerlitz. An uncle rose from drummer boy to general. 
From Michael Neiberg's Foch

1.  Keep your eyes and ears ready and your mouth in the safety-notch, for it is your soldierly duty to see and hear clearly; but as a rule, you should be heard mainly in the sentry challenges or the charging cheer.

2.  Obey orders first, and, if still alive, kick afterward if you have been wronged.

3.  Keep your arms and equipment clean and in good order; treat your animals fairly and kindly and your motor or other machine as though it belonged to you and was the only one in the world. Do not waste your ammunition, your gas, your food, your time, nor your opportunity.

4.  Never try to fire an empty gun, nor at an empty trench, but when you shoot, shoot to kill, and forget not that at close quarters a bayonet beats a bullet.

5.  Tell the truth squarely, face the music, and take your punishment like a man; for a good soldier won't lie, he doesn't sulk, and is no squealer.

6.  Be merciful to the women of your foe and shame them not, for you are a man; pity and shield the children in your captured territory, for you were once a helpless child.

7.  Bear in mind that the enemy is your enemy and the enemy of humanity until he is killed or captured ; then he is your dear brother or fellow soldier, beaten or ashamed, whom you should no further humiliate.

8.  Do your best to keep your head clear and cool, your body clean and comfortable, and your feet in good condition, for you think with your head, fight with your body, and march with your feet.

9.  Be of good cheer and high courage; shirk neither work nor danger; suffer in silence, and cheer the comrades at your side with a smile. 

10. Dread defeat, but not wounds; fear dishonor, but not death, and die game; and whatever the task, remember the motto of the division, "It Shall Be Done." 


  1. Safety notch - ready to fire but on safe and not used until necessary.

    1. If that's referring to a bit on the rifle, why keep one's mouth on it?

  2. It's an analogy! Not to be taken literally. Yes, it's part of the rifle that supposedly keeps it safe when loaded. Useless when it's not loaded. You take it off when you intend to fire - and then only to kill.

    1. Interesting.
      And perhaps use it and remain silent, as per "you should be heard mainly in the sentry challenges or the charging cheer"?

  3. That was my take on it. It was the soldier's job to obey and essentially stay silent, in that army at that time. This seems to understand that the soldier would have something to say but should keep silent.

    I'm not on any social media platforms - they make me too available as a psychologist. So I remain 'anonymous'.