Field Marshal sir Douglas Haig as The Butcher Of The Somme

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Field Marshal sir Douglas Haig as The Butcher Of The Somme

Sir Douglas Haig was appointed Field Marshal of the British Army in

1915, as no progress had been made since 1914, when the First World

War began.

Trench warfare was introduced for the first time. Much of the nature

of the fighting taking place in the First World War was alien to Haig

and his Generals, a cavalry man who served with distinction during the

second Boer War.

In February 1916 the Germans attacked Verdun again, the French were

desperate and near to surrendering, the British desperately needed to

relieve the pressure on the French. Already 700,000 men had died in

France alone, it was thought that by committing significant British

forces on the Somme, the Germans would necessarily divert troops from

Verdun, thereby taking the sting out of the attack on Verdun. The

first day of the Battle of the Somme saw the British Army suffer the

highest number of casualties in its history: 60,000.

Nearly five months later the pressure on Verdun was lifted. Although

Haig had not anticipated it to last this long, he still pushed men

forward. Haig needed support from the French and also tried to draw

the Germans away from Verdun as it would give the French more time to

recruit men, and also help to lift morale while the German troops

moved towards the Somme. With the benefit of hindsight we see that

Haig did not realise that this battle would escalate and result in the

death of 1 ¼ million troops.

Many believe Haig deserves the title 'The Butcher Of The Somme' as we

can see in source B1 'the man responsible for unnecessarily, almost

casually, sending thousands of young...

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telling us that the British methods are successful, he is saying that

their front lines are still holding strong. He tells us that "We have

had heavy losses in men and material."

The British public eventually found out what was happening in Somme

when the source B8iii was published in the Daily telegraph by Lord

Lansdowne, on the 29th November 1916. He was an ex-cabinet minister

who would support the British in war, so this source is seen as

subjective as he puts across a bad impression to the public. He said:

we are slowly but surely killing off the best of the male population

of these islands. Can we afford to go on paying the same sort of price

for the same sort of gain?" He is questioning Haig's tactics, proving

that Haig has little support behind him, resulting in him being named

"The Butcher Of The Somme."

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