Field Marshal Douglas Haig
Field Marshal Douglas Haig was born on the 19th June 1861 and commanded the British forces through to the end of the First World War to 1918
Douglas Haig has come under heavy criticism due to the number of casualties during the First World War with many suggesting his lack to grasp of modern technology and new tactics at the time.
Douglas Haig was generally fairly popular during the War and received praise from many World War one Veterans but some had labeled him “Butcher Haig” due to the high number of British casualties, with the Battle of the Somme being recorded as one of the highest numbers of lives lost in military history.
Lord Haig died on 29 January 1928 due to a heart attack.
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE (/heɪɡ/; 19 June 1861 – 29 January 1928) was a senior officer of the British Army.
During the First World War, he commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war.
He was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), the German Spring Offensive, and the final Hundred Days Offensive.
Although he had gained a favorable reputation 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.
He was nicknamed “Butcher Haig” for the two million British casualties endured under his command.
The Canadian War Museum comments, “His epic but costly offensives at the Somme (1916) and Passchendaele (1917) have become nearly synonymous with the carnage and futility of First World War battles.”
On the other hand, some historians consider the Hundred Days Offensive of 1918 – the joint allied effort led by Foch that ended the war – and more particularly the British contribution to it, to be one of the greatest victories ever achieved in British military history.
Major-General Sir John Davidson, one of Haig’s biographers, praised Haig’s leadership, and since the 1980s many historians have argued that the public hatred in which Haig’s name had come to be held was not fully deserved.
The commander’s detractors failed to recognise the adoption of new tactics and technologies by forces under his command, the important role played by British forces in the allied victory of 1918, and that high casualties were a consequence of the tactical and strategic realities of the time.