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Experiences of the Great War

Army reforms and new responsibilities

In the years running up to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Douglas Haig occupied senior positions in the British Army.

Between 1906 and 1909 he served as Director of Military Training and assisted Viscount Haldane (Secretary for War 1905-1912) with the reform of the army. After a three-year interlude in India (1909-1911) he returned in March 1912 to take up command at Aldershot, HQ of the British Army — and this was the post he occupied when war broke out in 1914.

The following letter by Haig shows how he was becoming an increasingly important figure in the years leading up to the First World War.

He writes to Lord Rosebery, a former Prime Minister, about setting up barracks in Scotland, and refers to R B Haldane, the great army reformer, at that time Minister for War.

'War Office


'My Dear Lord Rosebery,

'Many thanks for your letter of 29th inst. As desired, I am sending it to Mr Haldane. I heard from him this morning and, while thinking the question of coming to a decision re Cavalry Barracks in Scotland "urgent" he has left it to me to fix the date of my tour in the North … '

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