In Haig's Shadow
The Letters of Brigadier-General Hugo De Pree and Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, 1914-1918
by Gary Sheffield
Pub Date 30 Oct 2019
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Hugo De Pree was the cousin of the better-known Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. However, De Pree had a distinguished military career in his own right. Educated at Eton and RMA Woolwich, De Pree grew up alongside Haig, primed for a career as a Regular officer. He served in the Boer War. He was sent to the Western Front, as Chief of Staff of IV Corps. In its role he played a key part in planning the Battle of Cambrai in 1917. In 1918 De Pree was appointed to command 189 Brigade in 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. His part in the March Retreat showed that he was not a chateau general. In August 1918, he took the morally courageous decision to cancel his Brigade’s attack, fearing heavy losses for little gain. He was sacked, but after appealing was appointed to command a brigade of 38th (Welsh) Division, which he commanded with distinction in the last weeks of the War. After the War De Pree rose to Major-General and was the Commandant at RMA Woolwich. His son, John, was killed in 1942 when attempting to escape from a Prisoner of War camp in Germany, a story told in this book. This book, by one of the leading academics in the field, combines De Pree and Haig family papers with incisive commentary to give a multi-faceted insight into both an important but obscure senior officer of the First World War, and his hugely famous cousin.