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In Haig's Shadow (ePub)

The Letters of Brigadier-General Hugo De Pree and Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, 1914-1918

Maritime > Naval > Royal Navy Military > Biographies Military > Greenhill eBooks > Greenhill: WWI Military > Pre-WWI > Boer Wars Military > Prisoners of War WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Cambrai WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Somme

Edited by Gary Sheffield, Foreword by Lady Janet Glover
Greenhill Books
File Size: 2.0 MB (.epub)
Pages: 228
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781784383541
Published: 16th October 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.

Author appearing at The Black Watch Castle and Museum Book festival - Words of War

The Black Watch Castle and Museum Book festival - Words of War Programme

Review by Phil Culme

In Haig's Shadow is an informative and entertaining book to read. Furthermore, the excellent notes made by the editor provide valuable context throughout and, notwithstanding the variety of topics covered, the narrative flows freely and logically. Recommended.

Western Front Association

This book looks at the correspondence letters between Sir Douglas and his nephew Hugo de Pree, the book looks at the relationship between the two men which didn’t seem to receive much approval from Hugo de Pree’s more senior officers. The letters very much look at de Pree’s early military career along with explanatory noted on various battles, and looks at the context between then and the current or upcoming picture on the Western front. De Pree, a Brigadier General in France was a military strategist and was responsible for planning at the Battle of Canbrai and the German defensive in 1918.

I should say that I don’t have a high opinion of Sir Douglas Haig, but I have reviewed this book without allowing my opinion affect my review. This is quite an interesting book, although the two men are family members, because of their roles in life it does make interesting reading. With them having a close connection, I think this helps because there is a relaxed look at these letters and this in my opinion comes across in the book, after all your more likely to tone down and criticism if there is a personal connection. I would say that if you are into military planning especially in the First World War you would find this book a fascinating read. I loved the writing style, it was like reading a diary and this was the best way for the book to be written. Excellent use of primary sources. This book is an excellent book edited by a leading historian, definitely a recommended book.

5 stars

Read the full review here

UK Historian

A good read for anyone interested in WWI, or the British Army...

The NYMAS Review, Spring 2020

Cover to cover - a look at the latest Scottish books by Stephanie Abbot

Scottish Field, April 2020

The book is a further indispensable addition to the primary source records of the First World War and the activities of the Haig family.  In turn this is an extremely useful source for the history of the British army in the period of the Great War. 

Hugo de Pree was a nephew of Field Marshall Haig and this fresh compilation incorporates letters and other writings by both men, many of which are previously unpublished.  It contains much insightful wider family correspondence also. De Pree was a career soldier who ultimately was to play an important part in the planning of the Battle of Cambrai, but was later controversially sacked as a brigade commander, later to take command in another brigade. 

A very useful preface and acknowledgements is written by Gary Sheffield, the authority on Douglas Haig, who edited the book. This gives a very useful overview of how the book has been pulled together. He states that although he knew De Pree was related to Douglas Haig, by skimming through the letters and papers he realised that De Pree was a ‘very interesting and significant character in his own right’. 

Jon Sandison

While this work is specific to the two named individuals, it does provide some interesting and engrossing accounts.

Very interesting. 8/10

The Great War magazine, January 2020

In Haig’s Shadow is an informative and entertaining book to read. Furthermore the excellent notes made by the editor provide valuable context throughout and, notwithstanding the variety of topics covered, the narrative flows freely and logically. Recommended.

Read the full review here

Phil Curme

The letters contained in this book, corroborated by other letters and the description of the battle of Cambrai written in the 1930s by De Pree, show a little known figure, grown in the shadow of his illustrious relative, Douglas Haig. But they also give us a vision of a whole maze of human relationships and affection that is often overlooked in official stories. And this book shows us some figures as we have never seen them, in their weaknesses and their feelings, this is very important to complete an investigation into who was the Haig man and his nephew, Hugo De Pree.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

About Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield was educated at the University of Leeds (BA & MA) and King’s College London (Ph. D). He began his academic career in the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
In 1999 he moved to King’s College London’s Defence Studies Department, based at the Joint Service Command and Staff College. Awarded a Personal Chair in 2005, in 2006 he was appointed as Professor of War Studies at the University of Birmingham. Since 2013 Sheffield has been Professor of War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton.
Gary Sheffield has published widely on military history, including the best-selling Forgotten Victory – The First World War: Myths and Realities (2001; new edition 2018), and The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (2011; new edition 2016), both of which were acclaimed in scholarly and popular circles alike.
Sheffield is a Vice-President of the Western Front Association and a past President of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.

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