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Douglas Haig:
his funeral

as reported by The Times, 4th February 1928


By the Field-Marshal's own wishes, his burial took place in his native Scotland, in Dryburgh Abbey, home of the family vault.

By solemn military pageant, a memorable funeral service in Westminster Abbey, and the silent homage of a multitude of men and women in the streets, the nation yesterday honoured and took farewell of the dead leader of the greatest Army the Empire has ever known. Three Princes walked behind the gun-carriage which carried the body of Lord Haig from St Columba's Church, Pont Street, on its last journey through London. Famous soldiers and sailors, including Marshal Foch, Marshal Pétain, Lieutenant-General Baron de Ceuninck, Lord Methuen, and Lord Beatty, flanked the draped coffin as pall-bearers. Representatives of the Dominions and of many countries had their places in the procession, and so, too, had a column of men wearing civilian clothes who served under Lord Haig in the War.

In the crowds which lined the route many thousands of people wore Flanders poppies, and this symbol linked with the military significance of a moving ceremony, recognition of the great work of the former Commander-in-Chief for the welfare in civil life of the millions who fought for their country. After the service in the Abbey the coffin was taken to Waterloo Station for the journey to Edinburgh, where for three days the body will again lie in state in St Giles Cathedral.

The great meaning of the pageant was to be found about and in the rear of the gun-carriage on which Lord Haig was borne and in the quiet sorrow of the people through whose lines it moved. To see the passing of the whole of the procession it was necessary to be not nearer to St Columba's Church than Constitution Hill. The crowds were large everywhere, but they were most densely gathered outside Buckingham Palace, along the Mall and Whitehall, and in the neighbourhood of Westminster Abbey. They had come to do honour to the chief who had sent thousands to the last sacrifice when duty called for it, but whom his war-worn soldiers loved as their truest advocate and friend. Little details in the arrangements appealed to the minds of all. The gun-carriage which bore the Field-Marshal to the Abbey was the same which had borne the Unknown Warrior to his grave, chosen for that honour because it had also carried the gun from which the first British shell was fired in the War. Twice yesterday the two were again close together, the Field-Marshal and the unnamed soldier, the Known and the Unknown . . .

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