Douglas Haig 1st Earl Haig

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Haig, Sir Douglas, 1st Earl Haig (1861–1928). Soldier. Before 1914 Haig was recognized as one of the outstanding soldiers of his generation. In December 1915 he replaced Sir John French as commander-in-chief of the British armies in France. He fought two of the most costly and controversial battles in British history, the Somme (1916) and third Ypres (Passchendaele, 1917), because he was convinced that the German army would run out of soldiers if he continued to attack. His reputation never recovered from the casualties his own army suffered and these battles have overshadowed the far more successful campaign he waged between August and November 1918 which finally broke the German army's resistance. Haig remains a figure of great controversy. Despite attempts by some historians to portray him as an ‘educated soldier’, his popular image remains that of a callous butcher. In reality, he was a man of limited professional ability, sustained by a deep religious faith.

David French