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Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig's Military Boot Brushes, 1910
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Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig's Military Boot Brushes, 1910

Measurements: Length: 21.5cm (8.4in)

£950

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A pair of rectangular form with horsehair bristles, the wooden backs impressed ‘Sir D. Haig’. Sold with a copy of Twenty-Five Years with Earl Haig, by Haig’s batman and valet Sergeant T. Secrett, M.M., London, 1929.

Sir Douglas (later, 1st Earl) Haig (of Bemersyde) (1861-1928), Commander-in-Chief of British forces on the Western Front during the First World War and practitioner of war by attrition, was a stickler for smart turnout under every circumstance. Such was confirmed by Thomas Secrett, his batman and valet of twenty-five years, who spent countless hours with the present brushes in hand. ‘Anything indecorous always offended Sir Douglas. In all emergencies he was neat and modest. Officer’s skipping about with scarcely any clothing on, at all, to take their morning tubs, always annoyed him’, confirmed Secrett in the memoir of his chief that he penned after reluctantly quitting the Field Marshal’s service in 1925. The cause of their split reveals Haig’s abhorrence of anything that disturbed his routine. Moreover it tells of an unyielding personality insensible to private lives of those around him. Sergeant Secrett’s departure was a result of his engagement to Lady Haig’s maid. The idea of Secrett being married was unthinkable to Haig, who insisted he could not do without him. With no solution to the impasse, Secrett was forced to leave Haig’s employ and was married that same year. The rift was exacerbated when Secrett cashed in by publishing his memoir. In retaliation Haig struck Secrett out of his will by removing a legacy of £52 per annum. Nevertheless when Earl Haig died in 1928 Secrett returned to the fold, and preceded  Haig’s charger in the funeral procession to Westminster Abbey. Thereafter he remained in service with the Haigs until the Second World War, when he joined the N.A.A.F.I.

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