Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig

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Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig (June 19, 1861 - January 28, 1928) was a British soldier and senior commander during World War I. He had independent wealth: his family manufactured Haig & Haig whisky.

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Field Marshal Lord Haig

Born in Edinburgh, Haig attended Clifton College and studied at Brasenose College, Oxford and from 1884 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He took a commission in the 7th Queen's Own Hussars and saw service in India, in the Omdurman campaign in the Sudan and during the Boer War. Haig returned to India in 1903 as a Colonel and inspector of general cavalry. He was promoted to Major General before returning to England to a post in the War Office in 1906.

Haig helped found the British Expeditionary Force and in 1914 he was promoted to Lieutenant General and placed in command of the 1st Army Corps. Following relative successes at Mons and Ypres (1st Battle of Ypres), Haig was promoted to full General and made second-in-command of the British forces in France under Sir John French. In December 1915 Haig became Commander-in-Chief of the British forces, with French returning to Britain to head the Home forces. He directed several British campaigns, including the British offensive at the Somme, in which the forces under his command sustained over 500,000 casualties while ultimately taking only few kilometers of ground, and the campaign at Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres). In 1917 Haig was made a Field Marshal. In 1918 following the final German assault Haig's forces had much success.

After the war, Haig was created Earl Haig (with a subsidiary viscountcy and a subsidiary barony). He was commander-in-chief of home forces until his retirement in 1921. After the war, he was criticised by some historians for what was perceived to be excessive slaughter of troops under his command, earning him the nickname "Butcher" Haig. Others, however, gave him much praise, arguing that he performed well given the situation and circumstances in which he was placed. Most notably, American General John J. Pershing remarked that Haig was "the man who won the war".

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.

Haig died in 1928 and is buried at Dryburgh Abbey.

Preceded by:
Sir John French
Commander of the British Expeditionary Force
Succeeded by:

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Preceded by:
New Creation
Earl Haig
Succeeded by:
George Haig

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