On This Day

Douglas Haig

WWI General Douglas Haig

Full Name: 1st Earl Haig
Profession: WWI General

Nationality:
United Kingdom
British

Why Famous: Best remembered for his service on the Western Front during WWI, Haig is a controversial historical figure owing to his military strategy of attrition which produced high casualties.

Having studied at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, Haig served in various military campaigns in India, Sudan (1897-8) and the Boer War (1899-1902).

In 1915 Haig was appointed Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Believing WWI could only be won on the Western Front, Haig sought to break the stalemate there by ordering the infamous Somme Offensive.

The conclusion of this battle saw the loss of some 400,000 British or Commonwealth troops, and the gain of only 10 miles of land. Though technically a British victory, most historians agree this came at too high a cost. Thus, Haig has been retroactively dubbed "The Butcher of the Somme."

Haig also commanded the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres), the Spring Offensive (Ludendorff Offensive), and the Hundred Days Offensive.

In 1918 Haig oversaw successful advances on the Western Front, which eventually led to the Allied victory.

After the war, Haig helped establish the British Legion and was named an earl in 1919.

Born: June 19, 1861
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Star Sign: Gemini

Died: January 29, 1928 (aged 66)
Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Articles and Photos

Events in the Life of Douglas Haig

  • 1916-06-30 British General Douglas Haig reports "The men are in splendid spirits" the day before the Battle of the Somme began
  • 1916-11-18 British General Douglas Haig finally calls off the 1st Battle of the Somme in World War I after more than 1 million soldiers had been killed or wounded

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