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