Robert Nivelle was born in Tulle, France, in 1857. He was an artillery colonel in August 1914 and made his name when in command of the forces that recaptured Douaumont and other forts at Verdun in 1916.
Nivelle argued that by using his creeping barrage tactics he could end the war on the Western Front. His ideas were popular with Aristide Briand, the French Prime Minister, and in December 1916 Nivelle replaced Joseph Joffre as Commander-in-Chief. Launched in April 1917, the Nivelle Offensive was a complete failure. He continued with the strategy until the French Army began to mutiny.
Nivelle was sacked in May 1917 and replaced by Henri-Philippe Petain. He spent the rest of his military career in North Africa.
Robert Nivelle died in 1924.