John French joined the navy in 1866, but transferred to the army in 1874. He served with the 19th Hussars in the Sudan (1884-1885) and was a cavalry commander in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1901). He became Lord Ypres.
General French was appointed Chief of Staff of the British Army in 1911, took command of the British Expeditionary Force sent to Europe in August 1914, but resigned in 1915. As commander of the British home forces im Ireland, he was responsible for dealing with the Easter Rising in 1916, and became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1918-1921).
Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1911; http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk (accessed 2004.06); 'Obituary. Lord Ypres. First Commander Of The B.E.F.', Times, London, 23 May 1925, p. 12.