This evening Joffre was brought a message from Sir John French that the B.E.F. was ‘prepared to assume the offensive’, i.e. at least five days earlier than he had told Joffre on 30 August. So what had put some fire into French’s belly?
On 1 September he had been confronted at the British Embassy in Paris by the War Minister, Lord Kitchener, in full field marshal’s uniform and medals, and given his orders from Asquith’s government: he was to get the B.E.F. into the fighting line and ‘conform to the movements of the French army’.
Joffre could now launch his great plan, for which he had been frantically bringing up troops from the Alsace front and Paris garrison. The B.E.F. was to provide the base of a sack whose left side was the French Sixth Army and right side the Fifth. These sides could now fall on von Kluck’s exhausted and disoriented First Army, which was blundering into the trap. Joffre decided to launch the offensive on 6 September. At 9.15 this evening, 4 September, Sir John French telegraphed his consent.
This development would very soon impact on George Calderon’s private campaign to get to the Front with a regular company…
Next entry: 6 September 1914