1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cordonnier, Victor Louis Émilien
CORDONNIER, VICTOR LOUIS ÉMILIEN (1858-), French general, was born at Surgy (Nièvre) March 23 1858, and after passing through the military college of St. Cyr entered the infantry as sub-lieutenant in 1879. Eight years later he graduated from the École de Guerre, and thereafter staff and regimental service (including tours of duty in the Alps and in Algeria) alternated till in 1905 he was appointed an instructor at the École de Guerre. He had already served as commander of the cadet battalion and director of studies at St. Cyr, and from this time till 1910 his work was wholly instructional. In this period he wrote his work Les Japonais en Mandchourie (published 1911), a study which soon took rank as the most important critical work on the Russo-Japanese War and was translated into several languages (English translation, The Japanese in Manchuria, Part I. 1912, Part II. 1914). In 1910 on promotion to colonel he took command of an infantry regiment and in 1913 he was promoted general of brigade and appointed to command the new 87th Brigade, forming part of the reënforced couverture created by the Three Years' Service Act.
In command of this brigade, Cordonnier played a distinguished part in the successful action of Mangiennes on Aug. 10 1914, and in the heavy fighting of the IV. Army in the Ardennes. Before the battle of the Marne he had been advanced to the command of the 3rd Division, and he led this formation in that battle and in the advance to Ste. Menehould and the Argonne which followed. On Sept. 15 he was severely wounded, and though he resumed his command in October, he had again to be invalided. In December, having meantime become general of division and an officer of the Legion of Honour, he commanded his division in the bitter trench-warfare fighting in the Argonne, and in Jan. 1915 he was in charge of a group of divisions in Alsace. From May 1915 he commanded the VIII. Corps in the St. Mihiel sector. In July 1916, having been meantime awarded the grade of commander in the Legion of Honour, he was appointed to command the French contingent of the Salonika armies grouped under Sarrail, which became the “Armée française d'Orient.”
In general charge of the Allied left wing in Sarrail's autumn offensive he fought the actions of Ostrovo, Fiorina, Armenohor and Kenali, but owing to acute differences with Sarrail, which are discussed elsewhere, he returned to France just before the battle at Monastir which his movements and combats had prepared. He was already gravely ill, and immediately on landing in France was sent into hospital, where he underwent an operation for cancer. A command on the French front had been promised to him but he was never fit to take it up, and soon after the end of the World War he was placed on the retired list. He then devoted himself to historical and critical work on the war. In 1921 he published an account of the operations of the 87th Brigade under the title Une Brigade au feu; Potins de Guerre.