Who's Who - Paul Maistre

Paul Andre Marie Maistre (1858-1922) served as a solidly reliable French commander whose wartime career saw rapid progression as other commanders around him were deemed to have failed and required replacement.

Maistre was commissioned into the French army after studying at St. Cyr.  He himself later served as an instructor of tactics at the War College.

The outbreak of war in August 1914 saw Maistre, then a staff officer, act as Chief of Staff to the French Fourth Army.  With Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre's ruthless policy of weeding out perceived weak officers Maistre's career saw rapid promotion to command of XXI Corps with the rank of Lieutenant-General in the wake of the successful First Battle of the Marne in September 1914.  Within a month he had been promoted to full General.

While with XXI Corps Maistre subsequently saw action at Vimy, Verdun and at the Somme having been sited around Armentieres for much of 1915.

In May 1917 Maistre was again promoted in the wake of the calamitous failure of Robert Nivelle's Second Battle of the Aisne, and was handed command of Sixth Army, XXI Corps having been held in reserve during Nivelle's offensive.  Having worked to restore morale in Sixth Army - which had mutinied following the failure of the Aisne offensive - he successfully led it in a carefully planned limited offensive against Malmaison in October 1917.

Briefly in command of French forces in Italy following the Italian failure at the Battle of the Caporetto in October 1917 (further consolidating his reputation as an effective crisis commander), Maistre returned to the Western Front to command Tenth Army where he slowed the German advance during the Spring of 1918.

During the Allies' counter-offensive from the Summer of 1918 onwards Maistre was given responsibility for Army Group Centre from June to the right flank of the American Expeditionary Force, a position he retained until the end of the war.

He died in 1922.

A "listening post" was an advanced post, usually in no-man's land, where soldiers tried to find out information about the enemy.

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