General Haig's Background and Military Experience

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General Haig's Background and Military Experience

General Haig is one of the most important men in world war history,

made famous for his tactics of the battle of the Somme, where

thousands of soldiers died, apparently needlessly. In this question, I

will be looking into Haig's life, and how it shaped him into the army

leader in 1915.

[IMAGE]Text Box: Haig at private school in 1887. He is at the extreme left of the back row.

Haig was born in 1862, the youngest of eleven children, to a rich

family that had made their money out of whiskey. His father died when

Douglas Haig was in his teens, so his mother played a crucial role in

his upbringing. The death of his father and being the youngest of

eleven children may have seemed quite hard for the young Douglas, and

his childhood possibly influenced his later life. From an early age,

Haig had a fascination with horses, and when he climbed up in the army

ranks, he often spoke of how vital he saw horses regarding war. This

was definitely influenced with his upbringing, and he would always be

seen on horseback through his early years.


From the age of eight Haig went to private schools, firstly in

Edinburgh, then at the high class Clifton school in Bristol, From

1880-1883 he attended Brasenose College in Oxford, and enjoyed an

active social life. His continued love for horses was shown, as he

played Polo for the college. It may have been that while on a

continental trip at university that he developed his interest in

joining the armed forces. He went to Sandhurst royal military school

in 1884, and passed impressively in under a year, holding the Anson

memorial sword as S...

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historians take swipes at Haig, but this seems justified. They did not

know Haig, and those who did spoke of his anguish at the death toll.

His heart may have been in the right place, but he did not have the

credentials to take such a high job, despite his credentials.

I conclude that I think that calling Haig the butcher of the Somme was

overly harsh, as those that knew him are likely to give more accurate

accounts of what Haig was like as a person. Yes Haig was the wrong

person for the Somme, but so would most people be. However he was not

a butcher. It is easy to find an easy scapegoat for the British death

rate, but perhaps some historians should look further and realise that

Haig did not hire himself, and that deep down he probably cared deeply

for the troops he commanded in the horrific battle of the Somme.

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