Leaderless French Army Unable To Retreat

01-07-08

THE French army was in chaos last night after the resignation of its most senior general left it temporarily unable to retreat.

The French perfected the art of running away after Napoleon's disastrous retreat from Moscow in 1812

General Bruno Cuche quit his post after one of his soldiers shot 17 civilians at a military show instead of just putting down his gun and running away.

The general's shock departure left the army chain of command in disarray with senior officers unsure who was now responsible for ordering retreats and surrenders.

Guy Delafarge, a captain stationed in east Afghanistan, said: "We were 'iding in a cave like usual, waiting for ze order to run away, but it did not come.

"I get on ze radio and demand zey pull us out, as Alain was sure he 'ear someone step on a twig. And anyway, we were down to ze last dozen bottles of ze Chateau Gazin '82.

"But zey tell me I 'ave to stay put, take my chances with ze Taleban and drink ze '84. I refuse! I say I will not endanger my men. Ze '84 is ze worst vintage since we surrender to ze Nazis in '41!"

Military historian Denys Finch-Hatton said the current inability of the French to retreat could give them the advantage of surprise.

He added: "This could be the first time since the Battle of the Marne in 1914 that they will have had to fight for more than 20 minutes."

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