Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig

Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE (/hɡ/; 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, the German Spring Offensive, and the Hundred Days Offensive.[4][5][6]

The Earl Haig
Nickname(s)"Master of the Field"[1]
"The Butcher of the Somme"[2]
'Butcher' Haig[3]
Born(1861-06-19)19 June 1861
Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died29 January 1928(1928-01-29) (aged 66)
21 Prince's Gate, London, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1884–1920
RankField Marshal
Commands heldBritish Expeditionary Force (1915–19)
First Army (1914–15)
I Corps (1914)
Aldershot Command (1912–14)
Chief of the General Staff in India (1909–12)
17th Lancers (1901–03)
3rd Cavalry Brigade (1900)
Battles/warsMahdist War
Second Boer War
First World War
AwardsKnight 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
Mentioned in Despatches
Complete list

Although he had gained a favourable 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.[7][8][9] He was nicknamed "Butcher Haig" for the two million British casualties endured under his command.[7] 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."[10]

Conversely, he led the BEF during the final Hundred Days Offensive when it crossed the Canal du Nord and broke through the Hindenburg line, capturing 195,000 German prisoners. This campaign, in combination with the Kiel mutiny, the Wilhelmshaven mutiny, the proclamation of a republic on 9 November 1918, and civil unrest across Germany, led to the armistice of 11 November 1918. It is considered by some historians to be one of the greatest victories ever achieved by a British-led army.[4][5][6]

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 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.[4][5][6][11][12][13]