Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig: Wikis


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The Earl Haig
19 June 1861 – 29 January 1928
Douglas Haig.jpg
Earl Haig
Nickname D.H., The Chief[1]
Place of birth Edinburgh
Place of death London
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1884–1920
Rank Field Marshal (1917)
Battles/wars Mahdist War,
Second Boer War,
First World War
Awards CB (1901)
KCVO (1909)
KCIE (1911)
KCB (1913)
GCB (1915)
GCVO (1916)
KT (1917)
OM (1919)

Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC (19 June 1861 – 29 January 1928) was a British soldier and senior commander (field marshal) during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from 1915 to the end of the War. Most notably he was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the 3rd Battle of Ypres and the series of victories leading to the German surrender in 1918.

Although a popular commander during the immediate post-war years, with his funeral becoming a day of national mourning, Haig has since the 1960s become an object of criticism for his leadership during the First World War; the popularisation of the phrase 'lions led by donkeys' has been used to describe British troops. Revisionist historians and many veterans, however, have continued to praise Haig's leadership.[2]


Early life

As a Hussar at age 23 in 1885

Haig was born in Edinburgh, the son of John Haig, who was head of the family's successful Haig & Haig whisky distillery. Haig attended Clifton College and unusually for a British officer at that time attended university, studying at Brasenose College, Oxford 1880–1883. He left without a degree, partially due to sickness, and perhaps also as he would otherwise have been too old to enrol for officer training in the Royal Military College in Sandhurst in 1883, from which he graduated the following year.

He was then granted a special nomination to the British Military Staff College, a common practice in the day for promising candidates, despite being colour-blind. He was commissioned into the 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars the following year and promoted to lieutenant shortly afterwards.

Personal life

Haig married Dorothy, a daughter of Hussey Vivian, 3rd Baron Vivian and a lady-in-waiting at the court of King Edward VII, on 11 July 1905.[3] His wife became Lady Haig in 1909 and the Countess Haig when her husband was granted an earldom in 1919.

The couple had four children:

  • Alexandra Henrietta Louisa Haig (9 March 1907—1997); Lady Alexandra Haig from 1919 until marriage; Baroness Dacre of Glanton from marriage in 1954
  • Victoria Doris Rachel Haig (7 November 1908—1993); Lady Victoria Haig from 1919; Lady Victoria Montagu-Douglas-Scott from marriage in 1929 (divorced 1951)
  • George Alexander Eugene Douglas Haig (15 March 1918—10 July 2009); Viscount Dawick from 1919; 2nd Earl Haig from 1928
  • Lady Irene Violet Freesia Janet Augustia Haig (7 October 1919—2001); Baroness Astor of Hever from marriage in 1971


Haig first saw overseas service in India, in 1887, where he was appointed as the regiment's adjutant in 1888, giving Haig his first administrative experience.

He saw his first active service in Kitchener's Omdurman Campaign in 1898, where he was attached to the cavalry forces of the Egyptian Army, acting as Chief of Staff to brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Robert George Broadwood.

He served in the Boer War in further administrative positions with the cavalry, acting first as the Deputy Assistant Adjutant General in 1899. Haig was employed briefly as Chief Staff Officer to Major-General John French during the Colesberg operations, then as Assistant Adjutant General of the Cavalry Division. He was mentioned in despatches four times. His service in South Africa gained him prominence and the attention of French and Kitchener, both of whom would have important roles in World War I.

In 1901, he became the commanding officer of the 17th Lancers, which he commanded until 1903. He was appointed Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VII in 1902, remaining in this position until 1904. After leaving the 17th Lancers, Haig returned to India after Lord Kitchener was appointed Commander-in-Chief, India, and became Inspector-General of Cavalry. He was present at the Rawalpindi Parade 1905 to honour the Prince and Princess of Wales visit to India. Haig's war service had earned him belated but rapid promotion: having been a captain until the relatively advanced age of thirty-eight, within five years in 1904 he had become the youngest major-general in the British Army at that time.

Haig returned to Britain in 1906 as the Director of Military Training on the General Staff at the War Office. During this time, Haig assisted Secretary of State for War Richard Haldane in his reforms of the British Army, which was intended to prepare the army for a future European war. He took up the post of Director of Staff Duties in the War Office in 1907. A second return to India came in 1909, when he was appointed as Chief of the Indian General Staff. He was appointed GOC Aldershot Command from 1912 to 1914 and Aide-de-Camp to King George V in 1914.

In the Army Manoeuvres of 1912 he was decisively beaten by Sir James Grierson despite having the odds in his favour. On the outbreak of the First World War, Grierson was appointed commander of II Corps (alongside Haig as commander of I Corps) but died suddenly of natural causes before having a chance to command in battle.

World War I



Map of the Western Front in 1914.

Upon the outbreak of war in August 1914, Haig helped organise the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), commanded by Field Marshal Sir John French. As planned, Haig's Aldershot command was formed into I Corps, giving him command of half of the BEF.

Tensions quickly exploded between Haig and French. Haig and Lord Kitchener, who was now Secretary of State for War, clashed with French over the positioning of the BEF. French argued to the war council that it should be positioned in Belgium,[citation needed] where he had confidence in the country's many fortresses, while Haig and Kitchener proposed that the BEF would be better positioned to counter-attack in Amiens, stating that the BEF would have to abandon its positions in Belgium once the poorly-equipped Belgian Army collapsed, forcing the BEF into retreat with the loss of much of its supplies. During a royal inspection of Aldershot, Haig had told King George V that he had "grave doubts" about French's military competence.

The BEF landed in France on 14 August and advanced into Belgium, where French intended to meet General Lanrezac's French Fifth Army at Charleroi. During the advance the BEF experienced their first encounter with the Germans at Mons on 23 August. The Germans were bloodied in the battle but the BEF began a withdrawal after Lanzerac ordered his army into retreat exposing the BEF's right flank.

The retreats of I and II Corps had to be conducted separately because of the Mormal Forest. Both corps were supposed to meet at Le Cateau but I Corps under Haig got no further than Landrecies, leaving a large gap between the two corps. Haig's reactions to his corps' skirmish with German forces at Landrecies led to him sending an exaggerated report to French, causing French to panic, but Haig had been unwell immediately prior to this engagement, and this may have affected his judgement. The following day 26 August, Horace Smith-Dorrien's II Corps had to make a stand in the Battle of Le Cateau unsupported by Haig. This battle further delayed Germany's advance. The French commander Joseph Joffre had ordered his forces to retreat to the Marne on 25 August, compelling the BEF to undertake a lengthy and arduous withdrawal to conform to the French movements. Sir John French's faltering belief in the competence of his Allies caused further indecision and led to him deciding to pull the BEF out of the war by withdrawing south of the Seine. Lord Kitchener intervened on 1 September, making a visit to dissuade French and order him to continue cooperation with Joffre's forces. The stand to defend Paris began on 5 September, in the Battle of the Marne. The BEF weren't able to participate in the battle until 9 September. The battle ended the following day; the German advance was defeated, prompting them to initiate a withdrawal to the Aisne that signified the abandonment of the Schlieffen Plan.

Following defensive successes at Battle of Mons and Ypres (1st Battle of Ypres), Haig was promoted to full general and in December 1914 the I Corps was expanded into the British First Army of which Haig received command.


In December 1915, Haig replaced French as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, with French returning to Britain. Haig had been intriguing for the removal of French as commander of the BEF and had told King George V that French was "a source of great weakness to the army and no one had confidence in him any more".


Stretcher bearers recovering wounded during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, September 1916.

From 1 July to 18 November 1916, he directed the British portion of a major Anglo-French offensive, the British offensive at the Somme. The time and place of the battle had been forced upon Haig by the French, who needed to relieve the pressure on the French Army at Verdun. The French insistence on Haig continuing the offensive on the Somme continued throughout the duration of the battle, even after the French went on the offensive at Verdun in October 1916. The forces under his command sustained around 420,000 casualties pushing the German front line back 12 km (7 miles) and also inflicting casualties on the German Army it could ill afford. Haig's tactics in these battles were considered controversial by many, including the then Secretary of State for War Lloyd George, who felt that he incurred unnecessarily large casualties for little tactical gain. At this stage Lloyd George was not able to intervene in strategy, as the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir William Robertson, had been given direct right of access to the Cabinet, so as to bypass Lloyd George's predecessor Kitchener.


On 1 January 1917, Haig was made a field marshal. The King (George V) wrote him a handwritten note ending: "I hope you will look upon this as a New Year's gift from myself and the country". [4] However, Lloyd George, who had become Prime Minister in December 1916, infuriated Haig and Robertson by placing Britain's forces under the command of the new French Commander-in-Chief Robert Nivelle at a stormy conference at Calais. The failure of the Nivelle Offensive in April 1917 (which Haig had been required to support with a British offensive by Allenby's Third Army at Arras), and subsequent French mutiny and political crisis, discredited Lloyd George's plans for Anglo-French co-operation for the time being.

The second half of 1917 saw Haig conduct another major offensive at Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres); Haig had hoped to break through and liberate the North Sea coast of Belgium from which German U-Boats were operating but, like the Somme Offensive the previous year, Passchendaele saw huge casualties for very little territorial gain, although arguably inflicting losses on the Germans which contributed to their ultimate defeat. (When he asked the Canadian Corps commander Arthur Currie to capture Passchendaele Ridge during the final month of the battle, Currie flatly replied "It's suicidal. I will not waste 16,000 good soldiers on such a hopeless objective".[5]; the casualties were almost exactly in line with Currie's prediction.) Although Lloyd George was unhappy about Haig's operations, it was still considered unthinkable for politicians to overrule the generals' professional monopoly over strategy.

The final months of 1917 also saw a tank breakthrough at Cambrai, whose gains (after the church bells had been rung in England in celebration) were retaken within days by the Germans using their new sturmtruppen tactics. The uninspiring results on the Western Front in 1917 were thrown into unwelcome contrast by Allenby's capture of Jerusalem in December 1917, a propaganda coup from a campaign which Haig and Robertson had regarded as a waste of resources (Allenby had in fact been sent out to the Middle East after his failure at Arras earlier in the year). By the end of 1917 Lloyd George felt able to begin to assert his authority over the generals. Haig was required to dismiss his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Launcelot Kiggell, and his intelligence chief, Brigadier-General Charteris, whose overly-optimistic estimates of German losses had been a source of inspiration during Haig's offensives. Robertson had arrived at Haig's Headquarters with orders (signed by the Secretary of State for War) for these officers' dismissal in his pocket in case Haig refused to do as he was asked. Early in 1918 Robertson was himself forced to resign over his reluctance to accept that the newly set-up Supreme Allied War Council at Versailles should have power to dictate to the British CIGS (Lloyd George had also secured the dismissal of the other service chief, First Sea Lord Admiral Jellicoe). Haig's predecessor Sir John French was invited to give the Cabinet a "second opinion" of Haig's strategy, although in the event he had few positive suggestions to make and seemed to the Cabinet Secretary Maurice Hankey to be full of "hatred, envy and malice". The Cabinet Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts was sent to France to take discreet soundings among the Army Commanders to see whether any of them were willing to replace Haig - none of them were. Lloyd George was later to be accused (in the famous Maurice Debate in the House of Commons) of hoarding troops in the UK at this time to make it harder for Haig to launch major offensives, thus allegedly contributing to the debacle of March 1918.


In 1918, Germany, her Western Front armies reinforced to a strength of almost 200 divisions by the release of troops from the Eastern Front, launched major offensives in the west, enjoying great initial success, albeit with greater superiority of men and guns than Haig had ever had for his own offensives. The first of these, Michael on 21 March 1918, almost destroyed Gough's Fifth Army, and threatened to split the British forces apart from the French Armies; Haig, whose own reserves had been massed in the north because of the danger of a German breakthrough reaching the Channel Ports through which his armies were supplied, accused the French Commander-in-Chief, Pétain, of being "in a blue funk" as he threatened to retreat on Paris, and was at last forced to accept the appointment of a Frenchman, Ferdinand Foch as Allied Generalissimo (Supreme Commander), with power to commit reserves of all nationalities wherever he saw fit. During the second German offensive, Georgette in Flanders, Haig issued his famous order that his men must carry on fighting "With Our Backs to the Wall and believing in the Justice of our Cause". Ironically these two German offensives swept over the very ground (the Somme and Passchendaele respectively) which Haig's own offensives had gained at such cost in previous years. A third major German offensive against the French on the Aisne in May overwhelmed a British corps which had been sent there to refit after Michael.

By the summer the German offensives were losing momentum, and in July and August the Germans were defeated, by Franco-American forces at the Second Battle of the Marne, and by Rawlinson's British/Australian/Canadian Fourth Army at Amiens. The latter victory, at which tanks were extensively used, was described by General Erich Ludendorff as "The Black Day of the German Army" after the mass surrenders of German troops which were seen. Haig's forces had much success between then and the end of the war, storming the Hindenburg Line in October and advancing into Belgium, almost as far as Brussels. There is some dispute over how much direct operational control Haig maintained at this time, Tim Travers in particular arguing that he allowed his Army Commanders (Plumer, Byng, Horne, Birdwood and Rawlinson) a very free hand, whilst at the same time Ferdinand Foch, whose role had initially been confined to advice and deployment of reserves, was exerting ever-greater influence over strategy. However, the forces under Haig's command achieved impressive results: whereas the French, American and Belgian armies combined captured 196,700 prisoners-of-war and 3,775 German guns between 18 July and the end of the war, Haig's forces, with a smaller army than the French, engaged the main mass of the German Army and captured 188,700 prisoners and 2,840 guns - around half of these British prisoners were captured by cavalry. The military historian, Gary Sheffield, called this, the so-called Hundred Days Offensive, 'by far the greatest military victory in British history'.[6]

Promotion of army dentistry during WW1

During the war, Haig suffered from toothache and sent for a Parisian dentist. Consequently, within months the army had hired a dozen dentists and, by the end of the war, there were 831. This led to the formation of the Royal Army Dental Corps in 1921.[7]

Later life

Field Marshal Haig unveiling the National War Memorial in St. John's, Newfoundland. (Memorial Day 1 July, 1924)
Haig's grave (right) next to his wife's, with the standard military headstone used in World War I.

After the war, Haig was created 1st Earl Haig (with a subsidiary viscountcy and a subsidiary barony) and received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. Haig was Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces in Great Britain. After ceasing active service, he devoted the rest of his life to the welfare of ex-servicemen, travelling throughout the British Empire to promote their interests. He was instrumental in setting up the Haig Fund for the financial assistance of ex-servicemen and the Haig Homes charity to ensure they were properly housed; both continue to provide help many years after they were created. An avid golf enthusiast, Haig was captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews 1920-21. He was involved in the creation of the Royal British Legion, which he was president of until his death and was chairman of the United Services Fund from 1921 until his death.

He maintained ties with the British Army after his retirement; he was honorary colonel of the 17th/21st Lancers (having been honorary colonel of the 17th Lancers from 1912), Royal Horse Guards, The London Scottish and the King's Own Scottish Borderers. He was also Lord Rector and, eventually, Lord Chancellor of the University of St Andrews.


  • Lieutenant (February 1885)
  • Captain (1891)
  • Major (1899)
  • Lieutenant-colonel (1901)
  • Colonel (1903)
  • Major-general (1904)
  • Lieutenant-general (1910)
  • General (November 1914)
  • Field marshal (1 January 1917)

Haig's funeral

Haig died, aged 66, on 29 January 1928 and was given a state funeral on 3 February.[8] "Great crowds lined the streets ... come to do honour to the chief who had sent thousands to the last sacrifice when duty called for it, but whom his war-worn soldiers loved as their truest advocate and friend."[8] The gun-carriage that carried the Unknown Warrior to his grave and, in active service, had borne the gun that fired the first British shot in World War I took the field marshal's body from St Columba's Church, Pont Street, London, where it had been lying in state, to Westminster Abbey. Three royal princes followed the gun-carriage and the pall-bearers included two Marshals of France (Foch and Pétain).[8] The cortege was accompanied by five guards of honour at the slow march, with reversed arms and muffled drums: two officers and fifty other ranks from each branch of the British armed forces (Royal Navy, the Irish Guards, and the Royal Air Force); 50 men of the 1st French Army Corps; and 16 men from the Belgian Regiment of Grenadiers.[8] After the service at the Abbey, the procession re-formed to escort the body to Waterloo Station for the journey to Edinburgh where it lay in state for three days at St Giles Cathedral.[8] He was buried at Dryburgh Abbey in the Scottish borders, his grave marked by a simple standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission white headstone. The Haig Memorial, an equestrian statue in Whitehall commissioned by Parliament, and sculpted by Alfred Frank Hardiman, aroused considerable controversy, and was not unveiled until just before Armistice Day in 1937.[9]


Post war opinion

After the war Haig was praised by the American General John Pershing, who remarked that Haig was "the man who won the war".[10] He was also publicly lauded as the leader of a victorious army. His funeral in 1928 was a huge state occasion. However, after his death he was increasingly criticised for issuing orders which led to excessive casualties of British troops under his command, particularly on the Western Front, earning him the nickname "Butcher of the Somme". Haig's critics include many younger officers who served in the First World War.

The assault on Haig's decisions began with the memoirs of the politicians. Winston Churchill, whose "World Crisis" was written during Haig's lifetime, likened him to a surgeon who had to act dispassionately for the long-term good of the patient, no matter how messy were the short-term means, although in another passage he accused him of blocking enemy machine-gun fire with "the breasts of brave men".

Lloyd George pulled fewer punches in his War Memoirs, published in 1936 when Haig was dead and Lloyd George no longer a major political player. In Chapter 89 he poured scorn on Haig's recently-published diaries (clearly "carefully-edited" by Duff Cooper), and described Haig as "intellectually and temperamentally unequal to his task", and "second-rate" (compared to Foch - p2014) although "above the average for his profession - perhaps more in industry than intelligence". He attributed his own "distrust of his capacity to fill such an immense position" to Haig's lack of clear grasp even of the Western Front (likening him to "the blind King of Bohemia at Crecy"), let alone the needs of other fronts, and his inability, given his preference for being surrounded by courteous "gentlemen", to select good advisers. He also criticised Haig for lacking the personal magnetism of a great commander, for his intrigues against his predecessor Sir John French, his willingness to scapegoat Hubert Gough for the defeat of March 1918 (although he had actually defended him, and the alternative would probably have been Haig's own dismissal to boot), and his claims to have subsequently accepted the appointment of Foch as Allied Generalissimo, a move to which Lloyd George claimed Haig in fact to have been opposed. On another occasion he is said to have described Haig as "brilliant - to the top of his boots". Lloyd George's biographer John Grigg (2002) attributes his vitriol to a guilty conscience that he had not intervened to put a stop to the Passchendaele Offensive.

Academic opinion

Of Haig's defenders was the military historian John Terraine, who published a biography of Haig (The Educated Soldier) in 1963, in which saw Haig as a "Great Captain" of the calibre of the Duke of Marlborough or the Duke of Wellington. Terraine, taking his cue from Haig's own "Final Despatch" of 1918, also argued that Haig pursued the only possible strategy given the situation the armies were in; that of attrition which wore down the German army and delivered the coup de grâce of 1918. Gary Sheffield stated that although Terraine's arguments about Haig have been much attacked over forty years, Terraine's thesis "has yet to be demolished".[11]

Haig's critics argued that Haig failed to appreciate the critical science of artillery or supporting arms, and that he was "unimaginative". For example, Paul Fussell, in "The Great War and Modern Memory," writes that "although one doesn't want to be too hard on Haig ... who has been well calumniated already ... it must be said that it now appears was that one thing the war was testing was the usefulness of the earnest Scottish character in a situation demanding the military equivalent of wit and invention. Haig had none. He was stubborn, self-righteous, inflexible, intolerant — especially of the French — and quite humourless ... Indeed, one powerful legacy of Haig's performance is the conviction among the imaginative and intelligent today of the unredeemable defectiveness of all civil and military leaders. Haig could be said to have established the paradigm."[12] However, Brian Bond points out this was not the case. Haig, although not familiar with technological advances, encouraged its use and implementation. Bond also refutes that Haig was a traditionalist and focused only on Cavalry tactics.[13] Bond argues that the Cavalry represented less than three percent of the British Army by September 1916, whilst the British Army was the most mechanized force in the world by 1918, supported by the world's largest Air Force. The British Tank Corps was the world's first such force, and some 22,000 men served in it during the war. Moreover, the British artillery corps grew by 520 percent, and that of engineers who implemented combined arms tactics, grew by 2,212 percent. Bond argues this hardly demonstrates a lack of imagination.[14]

Australian historian Les Carlyon - that while Haig was slow to adapt to the correct use of artillery in sufficient quantities to support infantry attacks, and was generally sceptical that the science of such doctrine had much place in military theory, he was fully supportive of excellent corps and field commanders such as Herbert Plumer, Arthur Currie and John Monash, who seem to best grasp and exercise these concepts especially later in the war. Carlyon also points out that there is a case to answer for his support of more dubious commanders such as Ian Hamilton, Aylmer Hunter-Weston, and Hubert Gough[15].

Along with John Terraine and Gary Sheffield, historians such as Richard Holmes, and Gordon Corrigan are sympathetic towards Haig, Gordon Corrigan in particular arguing that if Haig had really been the blinkered uncaring incompetent of popular legend then he would not have delivered victory. They point out that he faced enormous problems, notably the inexperienced Kitchener's Army, the lack of effective battlefield communication (radios then being too large for the battlefield but telephone wires impossible to lay under artillery barrage, so that senior generals had little choice but to command from chateaux miles behind the front lines), the lack of a decisive arm, the application of new technology and political interference.

Historians favourable to Haig also argue, as did British generals such as Sir William Robertson and Haig at the time, that the Western Front (where a defeat for either side would have exposed either Paris or the Ruhr to occupation) was the decisive theatre of war, where the Germans deployed roughly two-thirds of their army - between 150 and 200 divisions - in well-developed positions, and argue that Lloyd George's schemes to engage the Germans on other fronts such as Palestine and Italy did little to bring Germany nearer defeat.

Modern historians also make the point that mass warfare between Western Armies in World War I (and indeed World War II, in which the most serious land fighting was done by the Soviets rather than the Western Allies) invariably led to huge casualties and that if there was an easy, cheap way to break the trench stalemate, no-one else found it on either side - Ludendorff's 1918 offensive became increasingly costly once the initial sledgehammer blow against the British Fifth Army had been accomplished, while Nivelle's promise of victory in 48 hours was completely illusory.

Haig in popular culture

Journalism and popular history

Haig has commonly been portrayed as an inept commander who exhibited callous disregard for the lives of his soldiers, repeatedly ordering tens of thousands of them to supposedly useless deaths during battles such as Passchendaele. Sometimes the criticism is not so much of Haig personally, as of the generation of British generals which he is deemed to represent - a view aired by writers such as John Laffin ("British Butchers and Bunglers of World War One") and John Mosier ("Myth of the Great War").

Norman Stone describes Haig as the greatest of Scottish generals, since he killed the highest numbers of English soldiers at any front in history, perhaps a slightly facetious point as Scotland in fact suffered one of the highest proportionate losses of any Allied nation (Niall Ferguson - "The Pity of War").

Drama and literature

Haig was played by Sir John Mills in Richard Attenborough's 1969 film, Oh! What a Lovely War, in which he is portrayed as being indifferent to the fate of the troops under his command, his goal being to wear the Germans down even at the cost of enormous losses and to prevail since the Allies will have the last 10,000 men left.

Haig's tactics were also a running joke on the 1989 BBC comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth, where Stephen Fry's role as General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, nicknamed 'Insanity' Melchett, with his vast moustache and callous disregard for the lives of his men is a popular caricature of British leadership, with elements of Haig and Lord Kitchener, although his personality is more like that of Sir Edmund 'The Bull' Allenby.

The battle plan invariably consists of the men 'climbing out of the trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy'. Haig, played by Geoffrey Palmer, makes a single appearance in the final episode, childishly playing with toy soldiers while Blackadder tries to call in a favour from an occasion when he saved him from being "mortally wounded by a tribeswoman with a sharpened mango" during the Boer Wars. Other derogatory jokes followed. A particularly cutting reference was made to the limited gains made during the 1915–1917 offensives, Blackadder retored: "Haig is about to make yet another gargantuan effort to move his drinks cabinet six inches close[r] to Berlin".[16]

Haig was one of the chief inspirations for the character of Herbert Curzon in C.S. Forester's novel The General, a sharp satire of the mentality of old-school British officers in the Great War.

Haig is briefly mentioned in British sitcom Fawlty Towers: Sybil Fawlty claims Basil is of the opinion that:

Sybil Fawlty: "..we girls should be aroused by people like Gladstone and Earl Haig and Baden-Powell".
Basil Fawlty: "Well, at least they had a certain dignity. It's hard to imagine Earl Haig wandering around with his shirt open to the waist, covered with identity bracelets, isn't it?"

Styles and honours

  • Douglas Haig (1861–1885)
  • Lieutenant Douglas Haig (1885–1891)
  • Captain Douglas Haig (1891–1899)
  • Major Douglas Haig (1899–1901)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Haig CB (1901–1903)
  • Colonel Douglas Haig CB (1903–1904)
  • Major-General Douglas Haig CB (1904–1909)
  • Major-General Sir Douglas Haig KCVO CB (1909–1910)
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig KCVO CB (1910–1911)
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig KCVO KCIE CB (1911–1913)
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig KCB KCVO KCIE (1913–1914)
  • General Sir Douglas Haig KCB KCVO KCIE ADC (1914–1915)
  • General Sir Douglas Haig GCB KCVO KCIE ADC (1915–1916)
  • General Sir Douglas Haig GCB GCVO KCIE ADC (1916–1917)
  • Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig KT GCB GCVO KCIE ADC (1917–1919)
  • Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig KT GCB OM GCVO KCIE ADC (1919–1919)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Earl Haig KT GCB OM GCVO KCIE ADC (1919–1928)


  1. ^ Generals' Nicknames No.61: Douglas Haig ('D.H.')
  2. ^ Todman, D. the Great War: Myth and Memory, (London, 2005), p. 73-120.
  3. ^, Person Page 1602
  4. ^ Terraine, John; Douglas Haig: the Educated Soldier, p 245
  5. ^ Berton, Pierre. Marching as to War, 2001 Toronto
  6. ^ Sheffield, Gary. Forgotten Victory p. 263
  7. ^ Stephanie Pain Histories: Can't bite, can't fight (preview only) New Scientist Issue 2594 10 March 2007 pp50–51
  8. ^ a b c d e The Times, 4 February 1928, pp 14–16
  9. ^ 'A Kick in the Teeth' by Nicholas Watkins
  10. ^ Gordon Corrigan, Mud, Blood and Poppycock, p. 204.
  11. ^ Forgotten Victory, p. 21.
  12. ^ Paul Fussell. 1975. "The Great War and Modern Memory"
  13. ^ Bond 2009, p. 4.
  14. ^ Bond 2009, p. 5.
  15. ^ Carlyon, Les. 2006. The Great War, Pan MacMillon
  16. ^ Blackadder Quotes.


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  • Bond, Brian and Cave, Nigel (eds) Haig – A Reappraisal 70 Years On. Pen & Sword. (2009 edition). ISBN 184415887
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  • Dixon, Dr. Norman F. On the Psychology of Military Incompetence Jonathan Cape Ltd 1976 / Pimlico 1994
  • Duncan, Rev G S Douglas Haig as I Knew Him (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1966)
  • Haig, Countess The Man I Knew (Edinburgh & London: The Moray Press, 1936)
  • Haig, F-M Sir Douglas Sir Douglas Haig's Despatches (December 1915-April 1919). Ed. by Lt.-Col. J.H. Boraston, OBE, Private Secretary to Earl Haig. Dent. 1919
  • Harris, J.P. Douglas Haig and the First World War. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008. ISBN 9780521898027
  • Keegan, John. The First World War. Pimlico. 1999. ISBN 0-7126-6645-1
  • Marshall-Cornwall, General Sir James Haig as Military Commander (London: Batsford, 1973)
  • Protheroe, Ernest Earl Haig (London: Hutchinson, nd)
  • Reid, Walter. Architect of Victory: Douglas Haig (Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh, 2006.) ISBN 10: 1 84158 517 3
  • Secrett, Sergeant T Twenty-Five Years with Earl Haig (London: Jarrods, 1929)
  • Sheffield, Gary, Forgotten Victory. The First World War: Myths and Realities (Headline Review, 2002), p. 263
  • Sixsmith, E.K.G. Douglas Haig (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976)
  • Norman Stone World War One: A Short History (London: Allen Lane, 2007)
  • Terraine, John. Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier. (London: Hutchinson, 1963) ISBN 0-304-35319-1
  • Travers, Tim The Killing Ground: The British Army, The Western Front and The Emergence of Modern War 1900–1918 (Allen & Unwin 1987)
  • Warner, Philip Field Marshal Earl Haig (London: Bodley Head, 1991; Cassell, 2001)
  • Winter, Denis Haig’s Command (London: Viking, 1991)
  • Yockelson, Mitchell A. (2008-05-30). Borrowed Soldiers: Americans under British Command, 1918. Foreword by John S. D. Eisenhower. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806139197. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien
GOC-in-C Aldershot Command
1912 – 1914
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Hamilton-Gordon
Preceded by
New Creation
Commander of the British First Army
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Rawlinson
Preceded by
Sir John French
Commander of the British Expeditionary Force
1915 – 1918
End of World War I
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair
Rector of the University of St Andrews
1916 – 1919
Succeeded by
Sir J. M. Barrie
Preceded by
The Lord Balfour of Burleigh
Chancellor of the University of St Andrews
1922 – 1928
Succeeded by
The Viscount Haldane
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl Haig
1919 – 1928
Succeeded by
George Haig


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC (1861-06-191928-01-29) was a British soldier and senior commander during World War I.


  • A defensive policy involves the loss of the initiative, with all the consequent disadvantages to the defender.
  • Obviously, the greater the length of a war the higher is likely to be the number of casualties in it on either side.
  • Once the mass of the defending infantry become possessed of low moral, the battle is as good as lost.
  • So long as the opposing forces are at the outset approximately equal in numbers and moral and there are no flanks to turn, a long struggle for supremacy is inevitable.
  • The idea that a war can be won by standing on the defensive and waiting for the enemy to attack is a dangerous fallacy, which owes its inception to the desire to evade the price of victory.
  • Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.
    • Order to the British troops, 12 April 1918

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Douglas Haig in 1919

Field marshall Douglas Haig (June 19, 1861January 29, 1928) was Scots general in World War I. Most notably, he was a commander during the Battle of the Somme.


Haig had a mixed reputation. Some people said he used old battle plans and a lot of soldiers died under his command. The King gave him a medal and made him an Earl when he came back from the war.


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