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Maurice Sarrail
Born (1856-04-06)April 6, 1856
Died 23 March 1929(1929-03-23) (aged 72)
Place of birth Carcassonne, France
Place of death Paris, France
Allegiance Flag of France.svg France
Service/branch French Army
Years of service 1877–1925
Rank Général de division
Commands held Third Army
Battles/wars World War I
Great Syrian Revolt
Awards Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor
Médaille militaire
Croix de guerre 1914–1918

Maurice-Paul-Emmanuel Sarrail (6 April 1856 – 23 March 1929) was a French general of the First World War. Sarrail endeared himself to the political elite of the Third Republic through his openly socialist views, all the more conspicuous in contrast to the Catholics, conservatives and monarchists who dominated the French Army in the years prior to the war. Historians hold this, as much as—if not more than—any natural aptitude, as the reason for his rise to high command.[1][2]


He was born at Carcassonne, and attended St Cyr, graduating on 1 October 1877, with the distinction of third place. He was posted as a sub-lieutenant to the infantry. His regimental service and promotion followed the normal course. He became lieutenant October 1882, captain in 1887, and chef-de-bataillon in 1897. In 1901 he was appointed Commandant of the École Militaire d'Infanterie (St. Maixent), and the following year was promoted lieutenant-colonel. From 1904 to 1906 he held the appointment of Military Commandant of the Palais Bourbon, being made colonel in 1905. In 1907 he became Director of Infantry at the War Office ,  an appointment which he held 4 years. He was made general-of-brigade in 1908. Three years later he was promoted general-of-division, and on 1 November 1913, was given command of the VIII. Army Corps.[3]

In 1914 he commanded the Third Army in the Ardennes, but when mounting losses soured his early successes, Joseph Joffre, who personally disliked him, took the opportunity to dismiss him. The political uproar this caused on the Left led to him receiving command of the French Army of the Orient, which was despatched to Salonika in October 1915. In January 1916 he was granted command of all Allied forces in the Macedonian theatre. On 10 December 1916, Henry Descoin, the commander of the French garrison of Korçë, with the approval from Maurice Sarrail, declared the Autonomous Albanian Republic of Korçë,[4] and appointed Themistokli Gërmenji as prefect.[5]

Here Sarrail demonstrated a tendency toward interfering in politics, encouraging the Venizelist coup against King Constantine of Greece[citation needed]. His only major offensive ended in failure, and only his political contacts saved his command. In December 1917, however, the new French premier, Georges Clemenceau, relieved him of command, and he took no further part in the war. There were no political consequences.[6] When his political allies returned to power in 1924 he was despatched to Syria as high commissioner. He was recalled a year later, however, after he ordered the shelling of Damascus during the Great Druze Revolt.

He became a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour in November 1914 and was awarded a Grand Cross of the same Order in January 1916. He was given the Médaille militaire in September 1917. Soon after the end of World War I he published his account of the Salonika operations under the title Mon Commandement en Orient.[3]


  1. Haythornthwaite, pg. 345
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1922). "Sarrail, Maurice Paul Emmanuel". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York. 
  4. Sakellariou (1997). "Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization". Greece: Ekdotikē Athēnōn. p. 384. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2.,+the+French+general's+purpose%22&q=%22albanian+republic+of+Korytsa%22#search_anchor. Retrieved 16 January 2011. "On 10 December 1916, Colonel Henry Decoin, the commander of French garrison, proclaimed with the consent of Serrail – the "Albanian Republic of Korytsa"" 
  5. Çami, Muin (1999). "Shqiptarët dhe francezët në Korçe (1916–1920)". Dituria. p. 177. ISBN 978-99927-31-37-6.,+Themistokli+G%C3%ABrmenjit&dq=Shpallje+e+prefektit+t%C3%AB+policis%C3%AB,+Themistokli+G%C3%ABrmenjit&hl=en&ei=aiUyTb65N8WBgAfTpbSZCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=book-thumbnail&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6wEwAA. "Shpallje e prefektit të policisë, Themistokli Gërmenjit" 


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