Henri Philippe Omer Petain, French soldier and statesman, 1917. A hero of the French defence of Verdun, Petain (1856-1951) was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the French army in 1917 after a series of mutinies brought about the removal of his predecessor, Robert Nivelle. He was made a Marshal of France in 1918. Between the wars, Petain served in the French government, and was Minister of War in 1934. After the fall of France to the Germans in 1940, Petain, aged 84, was appointed Premier of the Vichy regime. With two thirds of the country under Nazi occupation, Petain sought to gain concessions by collaborating with the Germans. The Germans forced his replacement as premier by Pierre Laval in 1942. Petain remained nominally head of state, but with little real power. After France was liberated, he was tried and sentenced to death in 1945, although the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. He died, aged 95, imprisoned on the Isle d'Yeu off the French Atlantic coast.