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(1861 - 1928)

Field Marshall Douglas Haig was born in Edinburgh 1861, son of John Haig of the successful Scotch Whisky distillers.
He was commisioned in the Cavalry in 1885, serving both in the campaigns of Sudan and the Boer War in South Africa between 1899 and 1902.

In 1914, at the start of the Ist World War, he was the General commanding the First Army Corps. After leading his men at the Battle of Mons and the first Battle of Ypres, he succeeded Sir John French as commander-in-chief of the British Army at the Western Front.

It was here, at the Battle of the Somme, that Haig gained his reputation or some might say notoriety, as a reckless tactician on the battlefield. The objective here had been to draw German troops away from the front at Verdun to relieve pressure on the French troops fighting there.

Unfortunately Haig’s conventional tactics which amounted to advancing infantry units into formidable enemy fire, led to astounding losses of British and allied troops. In the first day of the offensive 20,000 men died and 40,000 were injured. Despite this obvious massacre, the General proceeded to order the advancement of his men with disastrous results. By the end of the campaign, 600,000 men had been lost on the Allies side.

This was partly owing to the failure of artillery to lay waste to trenches that were deeper than calculated, but more largely the result of Haig’s gung-ho attitude to human losses.

Haig served until the end of the War in 1919, and was made an Earl for his leadership during this period of wartime. He died in 1928 following several years in public service, primarily for disabled ex-servicemen via The Royal British Legion.



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