Joffre is preparing to counter-attack the Germans, hoping to surround and destroy Kluck’s 1st Army. General Gallieni of the Paris garrison has sent his troops forward to join those preparing to strike the Germans.
Joffre is ruthlessly sacking generals he feels are not up to the coming struggle. Lanrezac has been relieved of command of the 5th Army, replaced by his more aggressive subordinate Franchet d’Espèrey. But there is one general Joffre cannot sack: Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force. Joffre needs the British to join the counter-attack but they are not subject to his orders. So he travels to French’s headquarters, outlines his plan, and begs him to commit his soldiers to the desperate battle. “Monsieur le Maréchal, c’est la France qui vous supplie“, he says. “Marshal, France is begging you”. French tries to reply in French, but his attempts at the language are incomprehensible. He turns to a more linguistically competent staff officer. “Damn it, I can’t explain. Tell him that all our men can do our fellows will do”.
image source (Wikipedia)