Douglas Haig Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1861 - 1928 *** Full Name: Douglas Haig *** Nickname: Master of the Field, the Butcher of the Somme and ‘Butcher’ Haig *** Occupation: British Officer – Field Marshall *** Date of Birth: Douglas Haig was born on June 19th 1861 *** Place of Birth: Douglas Haig was born in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, Scotland *** Family background: His father was John Haig and his mother was Rachel. His father was an alcoholic and also the head of a success family of whisky distillers, a very successful business and of the middle classes while his mother was born into gentry but had no fortune *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with his parents and his brother *** Education: Douglas Haig attended Clifton College and later went to Brasenose College in Oxford when he took Political Economy, French Literature and Ancient History *** Douglas Haig died on January 29th 1928
Douglas Haig Fact 1: Douglas Haig was born on June 19th 1861 and during the 19th century period in history when many empires across the globe collapsed, the Spanish, first and second French, Holy Roman, Mughal and Chinese but the British and Russian Empires, the United States and German Empire where on the rise.
Douglas Haig Fact 2: When he was just eighteen years of age both his mother and father died.
Douglas Haig Fact 3: Before attending University, Douglas Haig and his brother went on a tour of the United States.
Douglas Haig Fact 4: Once installed at University he became very active among the sporting community, in particular the equestrian sports and would become one of the best riders amongst the young men at Oxford and would be chosen to take part in the University polo team.
Douglas Haig Fact 5: After completing University, Douglas Haig entered the Royal Military College at Sandhurst in January of 1884. In February the following year he passed out first in the order of merit and would be commissioned a lieutenant in the Queen’s Own 7th Hussars.
Douglas Haig Fact 6: By 1888 he had become the regiments adjutant and gained a reputation for being a disciplinarian. In January of 1891 he would receive a promotion to captain.
Douglas Haig Fact 7: Although he attempted to enter the Staff College in Camberley in 1893, he was not successful, but in 1894 he was nominated by Sir Keith Fraser, Inspector General of Cavalry and he was accepted. He travelled to Germany while waiting to take his place in the college, and there he met Colonel John French with whom he served as staff officer. The two men’s careers would cross paths many times of the next twenty five years.
Douglas Haig Fact 8: Douglas Haig saw active service in the Sudan War in 1898 and also the Boer War between 1899 and 1902.
Douglas Haig Fact 9: During 1905 he married Dorothy Maud Vivian and together they had four children, Alexandra Henrietta Louisa, Victoria Doris Rachel, George Alexander Eugene Douglas and Irene Violet Freesia Janet Augustia. They were married until he died.
Douglas Haig Fact 10: In 1906 Richard Haldane, the Secretary of State for War appointed Haig to the War Office as Director of Military Training and wrote of him “a first rate general staff mind” and “gave invaluable advice”.
Douglas Haig Fact 11: Between Haldane and Haig reforms were put into place that created a professional army, albeit on a small scale, budget notwithstanding, and without conscription.
Douglas Haig Fact 12: Haig had considerable organizational skills and he was able to administer and organize training for an Expeditionary Force of one hundred and twenty thousand men.
Douglas Haig Fact 13: In 1909 it was becoming increasingly clear to both Haig and Haldane that an Anglo-German conflict was imminent.
Douglas Haig Fact 14: In August of 1914 war broke out and Haig was assisted in organizing the British Expeditionary Force under the command of Field Marshal Sir John French.
Douglas Haig Fact 15: He was appointed to Aide-de-Camp to King George V.
Douglas Haig Fact 16: He was posted to Le Harve where he found the French less than competent.
Douglas Haig Fact 17: He took part in various battles including the Battle of Le Cateau, the first Battle of the Marne, the First Battle of Ypres, the failure of Dardanelles Campaign and the Battle of the Somme.
Douglas Haig Fact 18: By 1918 many of his predictions would come true, for example a German offensive would take place in late March, he also prediction that the allies would have more man power than Germany by August.Douglas Haig Fact 19: Haig would ultimately be responsible as Commander-in-Chief for signing the death warrants of those soldiers found guilty by way of court martial on charges of desertion, murder and cowardice, to British and Commonwealth soldiers.
Douglas Haig Fact 20: He would also be responsible for implementing the Royal Army Dental Corps which was formed in 1921. During the war he suffered terribly with toothache and had a Parisian dentist look after him. This lead to dozens of dentists being recruited to deal with the needs of the soldiers and by wars end there were eight hundred and thirty one dentists hired.
Douglas Haig Fact 21: Under Haig’s command the British, Canadian Corps as well as the Australian Corps achieved extremely impressive results in comparison to the combined forces of the French, Belgian and American.
Douglas Haig Fact 22: Once the war was won Haig was offered a Viscountcy but refused feeling it was another of several snubs offered to him by the government. He did however accept being created an Earl.
Douglas Haig Fact 23: Douglas Haig died on January 29, 1928 in London from a heart attack aged sixty six years. His body laid to rest in Westminster Abbey in London.
Influence and Legacy: He would be hailed by General John Pershing as “the man who won the war” and publicly praised as the victorious leader of the British army.
List of Awards given to Douglas Haig: Knight of the Order of the Thistle *** Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath *** Member of the Order of Merit *** Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order *** Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire ***