Visit Website In addition, Haig was a cavalryman, and he always optimistically anticipated breakthroughs the decisive offensivefollowed by cavalry exploitation. Hence at the Battle of the Sommeon July 1,Haig forced his army commanders to deepen their objectives, and he also wanted a short hurricane bombardment, followed by a rush through. The result was a mixed plan of lengthy bombardment and deep objectives that did not succeed. The same process occurred at Passchendaele on July 31,when Haig appointed an offensive-minded general Sir Hubert Gough to command, and pressed him to plan a decisive breakthrough, rather than a step-by-step advance.
War Office[ edit ] The Boer War had exposed Britain's lack of a general staff and modern reserve army.
In the new Liberal Government DecemberRichard HaldaneSecretary of State for Warimplemented the Esher recommendations accepted in principle by the outgoing Conservative government. Although both men later claimed that the reforms had been to prepare Britain for continental war, they did not create a continental-sized army and it would be truer to say that they created a small professional army within a budget, with conscription politically impossible despite Lord Roberts' campaigning.
Haig was intolerant of what he regarded as old-fashioned opinion and not good at negotiating with strangers. Haig had wanted a reserve ofmen, but Haldane settled for a more General haigAs an intimate of Haldane Haig was able to ensure high priority for cavalry, less for artillery, contrary to the advice of Lord Roberts now retired as Commander-in-Chief whose views were no longer very welcome because his campaign for conscription had made life hard for Haldane.
Haig's records of his time supervising artillery exercises show little interest in technical matters aim, range, accuracy etc. He supervised publication of General haig Service Regulations", which was later very useful in expanding the BEF in WW1, although it still stressed the importance of cavalry charging with sword and lance as well as fighting dismounted.
At this time he was also completing a separate work, "Cavalry Studies" on which topic Haig's admiring biographer James Marshall-Cornwall later wrote that he was "not … among the prophets" and devoting much time to cavalry exercises.
Haig, who had been knighted for his work at the War Office, was promoted to lieutenant-general in November A plan he envisaged for mobilising the Indian army to send to Europe in the event of war there was vetoed by Viceroy Lord Hardingein the event an Indian Corps would serve on the Western Front early in the conflict, and Indian troops were also used in comparatively small formations the Middle East.
At dinner afterwards Haig abandoned his prepared text, and although he wrote that his remarks were "well received" Charteris recorded that they were "unintelligible and unbearably dull" and that the visiting dignitaries fell asleep.
Haig's poor public speaking skills aside, the manoeuvres were thought to have shown the reformed army efficient. Haig stressed that the army's duty was to keep the peace and urged his officers not to dabble in politics.
Sir John French was forced to resign as CIGS, after having made the error of putting in writing a promise that officers would not be required to coerce Ulster; Haig respected Hubert Gough's principled stand but felt French had allowed himself to be used as a political tool by H.
In a letter to Haldane 4 AugustHaig predicted that the war would last for months if not years; Haig wanted Haldane to return to the War Office Asquith had been holding the job since the resignation of Seeley during the Curragh Affair — it was given to Kitchener and delay sending the BEF to France until the Territorial Army had been mobilised and incorporated.
There were no other contingency plans — Haig and Kitchener proposed that the BEF would be better positioned to counter-attack in Amiens. Sir John French suggested landing at Antwerpwhich was vetoed by Winston Churchill as the Royal Navy could not guarantee safe passage.
A critical biographer writes that Haig was "more clear-sighted than many of his colleagues". Haig was so angry at this claim that he asked Cabinet Secretary Maurice Hankey to correct French's "inaccuracies". However Haig also rewrote his diary from this period, possibly to show himself in a better light and French in a poor one.
The original manuscript diary for early August does not survive but there is no positive evidence that it was destroyed; and it has been pointed out that it is just as likely that the extant typed version was prepared from dictation or notes now lost.
Haig predicted that the war would last several years and that an army of a million men, trained by officers and NCOs withdrawn from the BEF, would be needed. He later claimed that these doubts had gone back to the Boer War but there appears to have been an element of later embellishment about this; Haig who had criticised Kitchener, Roberts and others had in fact praised French during the Boer War and had welcomed his appointment as CIGS in Monro commanding 2nd DivisionBrigadier-General J.
Haig crossed over to Le Havre.
Haig was irritated by Sir John French influenced by Henry Wilson into putting his faith in a French thrust up from the Ardennes who was only concerned with the three German corps in front of the BEF at Mons and who ignored intelligence reports of German forces streaming westwards from Brussels, threatening an encirclement from the British left.
The two corps were supposed to meet at Le Cateau but I Corps under Haig were stopped at Landreciesleaving a large gap between the two corps. Haig's reactions to his corps' skirmish with German forces at Landrecies during which Haig led his staff into the street, revolvers drawn, promising to "sell our lives dearly" caused him to send an exaggerated report to French, which caused French to panic.
This battle slowed the German army's advance. Haig was irritated by the high-handed behaviour of the French, seizing roads which they had promised for British use and refusing to promise to cover the British right flank. He complained privately of French unreliability and lack of fighting competence, a complaint which he would keep up for the next four years.
He wrote to his wife that he wished the British were operating independently from Antwerp, a proposal which he had rejected as "reckless", when Sir John French had made it at the War Council on 4 August.
On 1 September, Lord Kitchener intervened by visiting French and ordering him to re-enter the battle and coordinate with Joffre's forces. The battle to defend Paris began on 5 September and became known as the first Battle of the Marne. Haig had wanted to rest his corps but was happy to resume the offensive when ordered.
He drove on his subordinates, including Ivor Maxse, when he thought them lacking in "fighting spirit". Although Sir John French praised Haig's leadership of his corps, Haig was privately contemptuous of French's overconfidence prior to Mons and excessive caution thereafter.
I Corps marched headlong into a thrust westward by fresh German forces and the result was the First Battle of Ypres.Sir Douglas Haig (), the most controversial of the war generals, was born in Edinburgh on 19 June Sponsored Links He studied first at Brasenose College, Oxford, and then in at the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst).
Douglas Haig () was a top British military leader during World War I. A graduate of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, Haig fought in the Sudan War and the South African War.
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