The Nivelle Offensive
Efforts were to be intensified in 1917 in an attempt to force victory. In December 1916 in Britain the dynamic Welsh ‘wizard’, Lloyd George, supplanted Asquith as Prime Minister. In France Joffre was replaced by the rising star of the French high command, Verdun commander Robert Nivelle, who had a new plan for breaking the western front stalemate. Lloyd George, anxious to avoid further heavy casualties in a prolonged attritional struggle, and French premier Aristide Briand, anxious over his political future, both welcomed Nivelle’s plan, which promised a decisive breakthrough within 48 hours. Haig’s doubts were muted with his formal subordination to Nivelle’s authority for the duration of the offensive, by the terms of the Calais agreement of 27 February 1917. Thus came about one of the most misguided Anglo-French strategic initiatives of the war.