Clemenceau formed his second ministry on 16 November 1917, almost precisely one year before the armistice that ended the war with Germany. He was seventy-six years old, but this year saw the supreme moments of his life, and placed him in the pantheon of French national heroes. Clemenceau's incarnation of France's will to survive through these last terrible months was expressed in a new nickname, Père-La‐ Victoire. Impossible to translate, it expresses the feelings of respect, confidence and affection which he inspired. Père so-and-so is the sort of nickname given in French villages to an old man, probably a prosperous peasant or craftsman, who is regarded by his fellow villagers with friendly respect. It is an appellation that suggests how Clemenceau had completely outstepped limits of social class, of educational and cultural distinctions, and of sectarian politics. It suggests his 'common touch'. His speeches might use classical allusions — in his inaugural speech he talked of the day when he might have to answer for his mistakes at 'the tribunal of Aeacus, Rhadamanthos and Minos' — but he managed also to talk in a direct and earthy way that everybody could understand. More than anything, his frequent visits to the front line gained him general respect. The poilus, the infantry soldiers of the trenches, gave him the new nickname, expressing a different facet of his character from that which had earned him the sobriquet of 'the Tiger'.
His first concern was the preservation of national unity: he sought to prevent a gulf opening between the soldiers fighting at the front and the civilians who still enjoyed the comfort and security of peacetime life, and to prevent political disputes leading to too bitter a conflict between the different classes of society. In the long run it might be