The Serbian rank of duke theoretically corresponded to the rank of field marshal in other armies, and he was higher than the army general. In Serbian history, only five people have officially received the rank of duke.
On July 3, 1942, French Marshal Louis Franchet d’Espèrey died, to whom the Serbs gave the highest rank – honorary duke of the Serbian army. The rank of duke theoretically corresponded to the rank of field marshal in other armies, and he was higher than the general of the army. It is important to note that in Serbian history, only five people have officially received the rank of duke. They were in order:
- Radomir Putnik
- Stepa Stepanović
- Zivojin Misic
- Petar Bojović
- Louis Franchet d’Espérey
So, how did a French marshal get that highest Serbian rank? It was about the fact that in the First World War Louis Franchet d’Espèrey was the supreme commander of the allied forces on the Thessaloniki battlefield. On that battlefield, Serbian forces, with the help of the French, British, Greeks, Italians and some other allies, fought against the Central Powers. Let us mention that the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac was also present on that battlefield in his youth.
Interestingly, Louis Franchet d’Espèrey, although a Frenchman, was actually born in Algeria, in the town of Mostaganem. Namely, Algeria was French territory at the time of his birth. Indeed, Algeria was not an ordinary colony, but was already established in the system of the French department. Marshall’s father was a soldier in Algeria.
Franchet d’Espèrey spent most of World War I on the battlefield in France. At the end of the war, he was appointed head of the allied forces on the Thessaloniki battlefield. Interestingly, the British soldiers there allegedly gave him the nickname Desperate Frankie, which is an obvious joke about his last name Franchet d’Espèrey