Vintage Video - Lord Haldane, 1913

Although widely regarded today as one of Britain's most distinguished War Ministers, Lord Richard Haldane was forced from office in 1915 as a result of false press allegations relating to his supposed German sympathies.

Serving as War Minister from 1905-12 Haldane used his portfolio to institute a series of key British military reforms, including the creation of the Territorial Army (many of whose units went off to war as part of the British Expeditionary Force), the Officer Training Corps and Special Reserve, in addition to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).

When war arrived in 1914 it was largely thanks to Haldane's earlier planning that the BEF was able to mobilise for war as quickly as it did.  Not that he saw war as inevitable; two years earlier, in 1912, Haldane travelled to Berlin in an (unsuccessful) attempt to repair Anglo-German relations and to discourage continued Anglo-German naval competition.

When war broke out in August 1914 Haldane remained in Herbert Asquith's cabinet as Lord Chancellor.  However a sustained press campaign launched by Lord Northcliffe's newspapers - chiefly the Daily Mail - resulted in Haldane being dropped by Asquith in May 1915.

The spiteful press campaign which drew inferences from Haldane's known liking of Germany was widely regarded as a national scandal even among contemporaries.  However Haldane eventually emerged from political hibernation to serve in the first Labour government headed by Ramsay MacDonald in 1924, once again as Lord Chancellor.

Use the player above to view brief film footage of Lord Haldane from 1913.

'Alleyman' was British slang for a German soldier.

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