Sir John French
Saturday 18th December 1915: News from the Front today is all of the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, Field Marshal Sir John French. This officer has led the BEF since the beginning of the war following distinguished service in the Sudan in 1884-1885 and in the Second Boer War. He has been replaced by General Sir Douglas Haig, commander of 1st Army(1). Sir John has released the following statement:
"In relinquishing the Command of the British Army in France I wish to express to the Officers, NCOs and Men, with whom I have been so closely associated during the last sixteen months my heartfelt sorrow in parting with them before the campaign in which we have been so long engaged together, has been brought to a victorious conclusion. I have however, the firmest conviction that such a glorious ending to their splendid and heroic efforts is not far distant, and I shall watch their progress towards this final goal with intense interest, but in the most confident hope. The success so far attained has been due to the indomitable spirit, dogged tenacity which knows no defeat, and the heroic courage so abundantly displayed by the rank and file of the splendid Army which it will ever remain the pride and glory of my life to have commanded during over sixteen months of incessant fighting. Regulars and Territorials, Old Army and New Army have ever shown these magnificent qualities in equal degree. From my heart I thank them. At this sad moment of parting my heart goes out to those who have received lifelong injury from wounds and think with sorrow of that great and glorious host of my beloved comrades who have made the greatest sacrifice of all by laying down their lives for their Country. In saying good-bye to the British Army in France I ask them once again to accept this expression of my deepest gratitude and heart-felt devotion towards them and my earnest good wishes for the glorious future which I feel to be achieved”.
(1) French seems to have been effectively outmanoeuvred by the ambitious Haig, who had influence at court, into resigning. He was given a peerage as Viscount (later Earl) French of Ypres and made Commander-in-Chief Home Forces