Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig was born in London on 19 June 1861. He served as British Field Marshal, Commander in Chief of the British Forces in France during the First World War. Although he is a controversial historical figure in many ways, he is remembered for founding the Royal British Legion Scotland on 18 June 1921.

 Graduating from the Royal Military College in Sandhurst, Earl Haig fought in the Sudan and in the South African War. He was later assigned to the War Office as Director of Military Training where he helped the War Minister, Richard Burdon Haldane, form the Territorial Army. His decision to commit many troops to an unsuccessful offensive on the Somme in World War I earned him a questionable reputation.

 Prior to the First World War, soldiers received very little government support. The problem became impossible to ignore when civilian conscription swelled the ranks of the Armed Forces. This increase in military personnel and the large number of casualties returning home from the war made it clear that the current level of support wasn’t sustainable.

 Haig highlighted his concerns over the welfare of troops and he proposed demobilisation based on age and length of service as early as 1917. Haig pushed for one large organisation to support all the Armed Forces rather than a series of separate ex-servicemen organisations.

 At the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 18 June 1921, Haig brought together more than 100 veterans support organisations to form the British Legion (the ‘Scotland’ was added later). Earl Haig was its first President and worked tirelessly to champion the needs of the Armed Forces.

 In 1921 Haig also launched the Poppy Day Appeal, the start of modern Remembrance, and went on to spend many years touring the country to visit different branches.

 In January 1928 Earl Haig passed away suddenly, aged 66, the day after visiting a Poppy Factory in Richmond and meeting a group of Scouts. His legacy continues in the work done by the Royal British Legion Scotland – and the separate Royal British Legion, which he also founded – ensuring that all members of the Armed Forces have access to the care and support they need to live dignified and full lives.

In 2022, Founders Day will be marked on 26 June in Dryburgh. In future years, Earl Haig will be honoured with a wreath-laying at the Scottish National War Memorial on 29 January to mark the day of his death. Tributes will also be paid at the Legion Scotland Annual Conference’s opening ceremony.