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John French, 1st Earl of Ypres

John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres (September 28, 1852 - May 22, 1925) was an English soldier and Field Marshal, the first commander of the BEF in World War I.

Born in Ripple Vale, Kent. The son of a naval captain he joined the Royal Navy in 1866 but transferred to the army in 1874. he served with the 19th Hussars in the Sudan 1884-85 and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. As a Lieutenant General he served as a cavalry commander in the Boer War from 1899-1902. He was the commander at Aldershot from 1902-07 and was promoted to full General in 1907. Chief of Staff of the British Army in 1911. Chief of the Imperial General Staff 1912-13. Promoted to Field Marshal in 1913.

Given command of the BEF in August 1914. He argued with the Cabinet against Lord Kitchener and Douglas Haig that the BEF should be deployed in Belgium, rather than Amiens, where both Haig and Kitchener believed it would be well placed to deliver a vigorous counter attack once the route of German advance was known. Kitchener argued that the placement of the BEF at Mons would result in having to abandon it's position and much of it's supplies almost immediately as the Belgian Army would be unable to hold it's ground versus the Germans, given the solid belief in fortress at the time it is not surprising that French and the British cabinet disagreed with Kitchener on this issue. After the BEFs first battles at Mons and Le Cateau, where as Kitchener predicted, it had to retreat from it's position to avoid the danger of being flanked when the Belgian position failed, French was increasingly indecisive and more concerned with preserving his troops, even suggesting removing them to the Channel Ports, than aiding the French. He began a tentative withdrawal which threatend to break the line between French and Belgian armies and needed an unwanted emergency meeting with Kitchener on the September 2, 1914 to reorganise his thinking and direct the counter-offensive at the First Battle of the Marne. French was particularly upset by the fact that Kitchener arrived wearing his Field Marshal's uniform, he felt Kitchener was implying that he was French's superior and not simply a cabinet member, a fact he mentioned in a letter to Winston Churchill. No one knows exactly what was said during the meeting, as neither man kept any record, but French became increasingly antagonistic towards Kitchener in the following months until he was eventually relieved of command in September 1915.

He remained in command as major trenching began and oversaw the fighting at Neuve Chapelle and Ypres that finally destroyed the last of the original BEF. In 1915 his indecision returned, he declined to cooperate with the French and after the failures at Aubers Ridge and at Loos the British offensive operations were almost halted. In September 1915 he was replaced by Douglas Haig.

He returned to England to be appointed Commander of the British Home Forces, a post he held until the end of the war. He was created Viscount French Of Ypres And Of High Lake in January of 1916. He oversaw the suppression of the Irish uprising in 1916 and was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1918 until his retirement in 1921. In May of 1922 he was created Earl of Ypres.

{| border="2" align="center" |- |width="30%" align="center"|Preceded by:
New Creation |width="40%" align="center"|Earl of Ypres |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="2"|Followed by:
Gearld French |}