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...
... middle of paper ...
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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