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They shall not pass!
— Rallying cry often attributed to Nivelle

Robert Georges Nivelle became Commander-in-Chief of the French Armed Forces in 1916 after his predecessor, General Joseph Joffre, had been promoted to the rank of Marshal of France (an elaborate cover for Joffre being relieved of command). He came from an artillery background, were his excellent command of French Artillery had turned back the German Offensives at Alsace, First Marne, and First Aisne. He is credited with the creation of the Creeping Barrage tactic, using it during the battle of Verdun in 1916, were his counter-strokes against the German Offensive, while costing heavy casualties, masterfully helped the French recapture several important objectives.

This fame earned him the Promotion to Commander-and-Chief, however, the power this role held had been reduced with Joffre's resignation. His big plan in 1917 was for British Forces to take 20 miles of front line out of French hands, where he would gather those soldiers into an attacking force so a joint Anglo-French Offensive could be launched. Tired of all the attrition warfare, the French and British Governments supported his attack plan.

The vaunted Nivelle Offensive began in April 1917, however, things started crumbling from the start. A sudden shortage in French Artillery meant that Nivelle's tried-and-true tactics of suppression barrages keeping Germans hidden while Creeping barrages guarded French Assaults couldn't be used, resulting in way less damage to the German lines than projected; the first day of battle cost 120,000 casualties. He was asked to halt the attacks, but Nivelle claimed he could rescue this dying animal from death; and by April 20th, the French had taken 20,000 German Prisoners and captured 147 artillery pieces; a very large increase from other large offensives. However, by the time the offensive ended on the 9 of May; 187,000 Frenchmen had been killed or wounded.

This made Nivelle's reputation shatter. While more successful than the German Offensive at Verdun, the grand victory that Nivelle had promised never arrived, and Neville was replaced by Petain just six days after the battle's conclusion. In December, he was appointed the Head of the French Army of North Africa, effectively humiliating Nivelle and removing him from the War. Nivelle died on 22 March 1924 and was buried in Les Invalides in Paris.

Battle vs. Douglas Haig (by LB&SCR)[]

Expedition into Eternity[]

Haig's Headquarters, ???

POV: Haig

I cannot, no, I will not say that I understand the position I have found myself in. The War had ended what seemed ages ago, but here again I find myself in a familiar uniform while recieving an explanation from some fellow as of why I've been again put in the position of holding the lives of hundreds of thousands of men in my hands; yet again waging a war against an enemy... but this one also has a face.

For yet for all my emotion, the most powerful is the thrill of exhileration that overpowers my concern and my mistrust... for across the fields and streams lies a man that I have hated with a burning passion... Yes, a man I would more than happily don the uniform again, just for the chance to finally put him where he belongs...

"... as such I hope that you are up for your task, Haig." The man was still speaking, despite his explanation having died off a while ago. "For in this life there is only one end: Your victory or your defeat..." Was he even a man? He had a young baby face, not unlike many of the men mysteriously under my command. I saw the streams of sweat running down the doughy face, the strain he was under. Now that I think about it, he sounded like a Yank... "Anyway, General Haig, I bid you good luck in the endeavor that you've had handed to you. I look forward to catching wind of a riveting report." He said, wiping his brow again before turning on his heels to leave.

"One moment!" It had been so long since that confidence and command had ebbed and flowed through my voice... it felt like a long lost taste or emotion. The man stopped and looked over his shoulder at me, as if confused as to my needs. "Is he aware that it is I he now faces across the fields...?" What's left of them, anyways. "If I'm to get out a good battle plan it is essential that I know!" The man shrugged his shoulders... perhaps he was a spy? I'd better keep that in mind.

"Well, he knows you're in the general area, General, but if I will say so, I'm not so sure of his exact positions." He replied, before shaking his head. "... but if I may say, I'd act fast if I were you." He replied, before stepping outside outside into the dying sunlight, before looking up at the darkening sky. I stopped paying him any heed afterwards, as I started organizing my staff for the oncoming storm. I'd already checked ahead of time, and apparently I did have subordinates at my disposal... but the fact that Plumer, Monash, and Currie were also.... no, I need not dwell on such subjects. Their confusion was just as great as mine... but if anything, we had a duty ahead of us... but I was stopped just as soon as I'd started by the sound of light thunder off in the distance, and the man spoke from outside.

"Oh... It appears that he found you first, General... apparently you shall start on the defensive." His words echoed in my mind. It had been long enough for him to formulate even the slightest semblance of a plan... or was the explanation I recieved just that long? It did not matter anymore... not now.

"You!" I pointed at one of my staffers, who was jolted out of his sudden, dazed state."Figure out who's part of the line is being bombarded! I want to be notified immediately if any infantry start coming at them." I then turned away towards the stranger outside. "As for you, I'm in a fix so I'm conscripting your services!" That made him jolt, wiping away all the smugness that had polutted his round face, and the sweat on his brow increased tenfold, but I stopped him from speaking. "You are going to run. If it is as you say, then you'll have no issue doing this simple job." I managed to procure a pouch for him, and filled it with some hastily scrawled papers before throwing it at him.

I wasn't satisified yet with how he felt... so I took one of the local infantry helms and shoved into his yankee chest with as much might as my body could muster. He had paled considerably by the time I next spoke. "You'll be needing this where you are going..." I then arraged for him to be sent off with some others running up to what had suddenly become a front-line. I then finally gazed at the orange horizon.

"You and your bloody offensives, Nivelle... but I'm better than any German you've ever thrown yourself at... just you wait and see..."

A Good Bashing[]

Line of the Canadian Corps, Currie's Command.

That night began as most of the nights would I suppose: ignoring the rats and fighting off the slight chill that constantly attempted to penetrate through my uniform and into the marrow of my bones. I don't know how many times I rubbed my hands together to collect a small bit of warmth or retain that tiny piece of feeling in them, nor do I recall how many times I wished to just strike up and have a calming smoke to stop my shaking hands. I do however, remember when it started raining.

It was fairly early evening and I was on watch, precariously perched with trench binoculars in an event to pick up the last remaining semblances of sunlight that had disappeared behind the horizon, casting everything in that pink glow that used to mesmerize me as a kid. To add a sense of gloom, dark clouds had gathered above in the sky and started to drizzle down ice cold raindrops that made me shudder. I don't think any of us had prepared for that, as I collected a few sounds of complaining from somewhere behind me... but my post was here, and despite my urge to just shrink back and take shelter from the soon-to-be torrent I stood my ground and shivered.

After a brief bit of scuffling a presence appeared behind me and to my left. A hoarse bit of whispering confirmed my inner suspicion as to who my new company was. The good Lieutenant had come to check on me apparently. No, I had not been sniped by an enemy; no, I did not see anyone nor here anything crawling about in the middle. Last I checked it was just me here. Yes, I told him, I would keep my eyes open for whomever was over there across the way. If anyone slipped past me, I said, it would kill not only the people behind me, but me too.

I heard him slip away, and again I let myself shiver from the water falling from above. I heard thunder off in the distance and sighed, giving into the nature of what was happening... a good, lousy night...

It couldn't have been more than a second or two later that the dirt several yards in front of me exploded! I was briefly blinded and my ears burned and rung for what would constitute a shell going off. Who's shell, I don't know, but I found myself sliding down into the position and blinking rapidly while I waited for anymore pain to come over me... none did and I found myself hunkering down for the new rain that fell from the sky... a deadlier rain.

~Private Campbell, 1st Canadian Division.

TBC

Expert's Opinion[]

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