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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Haig & Co.

Friday, December 20th., Yacht Club, London.

Welcome to Sir Douglas Haig and 4 carriages full of Generals yesterday.

Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig of Bemersyde, (1861 – 1928) was a British senior officer during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from 1915 to the end of the War. He was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the battle with one of the highest casualties in British military history, the Third Battle of Ypres, and the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the armistice in 1918. Although a popular commander 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. Some dub him "Butcher Haig" for the two million British casualties under his command, and regard him as representing the very concept of class-based incompetent commanders, stating that he was unable to grasp modern tactics and technologies. 
However, Major-General Sir John Davidson, one of Haig's biographers, praised Haig's leadership and since the 1980s some 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, or the important role played by the British forces in the Allied victory of 1918, and that the high casualties suffered were a function of the tactical and strategic realities of the time.

Vast crowds in front of Reform Club. Girls at windows opposite covered their shoulders in the cold with national flags. Reform full of women, boys, and girls. In ground floor room, East, grave members standing on table-clothed tables in front of windows (me too) and in front a dame covering the throats of two small boys. All front windows of club occupied by women. Roadway kept by very few police. Roadway sprinkled with gravel. Cheering in distance. Handkerchiefs taken out. One or two mounted policemen on fine horses. Then a sort of herald in a long hat. Handkerchief waving, cheering, louder and louder. Then the four carriages, 3 in first carriage and 4 each in the other 3. Generals wore no overcoats. One or two bowed and smiled. Gone in a moment and we all jumped down and turned away. Such was the welcome to Haig and Co.


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