Field Marshall Haig: the Butcher of the Somme Essay

Field Marshall Haig: the Butcher of the Somme Essay

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Field Marshall Haig: the Butcher of the Somme

In order to answer the main essay question on whether or not Field
Marshall Haig was the Butcher of the Somme I will include points for
and against and also quotes to sum up and give a complete answer on my
opinion of Field Marshall Haig.

When field Marshall Haig was appointed commander of the British
forces, he was 54 years old. Before this time Haig had had a long and
successful career in the military and 15 years previous he had been a
celebrated Calvary commander in the Boer war.

Haig believed that the only way you could win a battle was through
“…grit, determination…morale…”

Even though hundreds and thousands of men had been killed, in December
1915, the western front was still stalemate. It was debated as to how
well the British army was being led and in the same month, a new
commander was appointed, General Haig.

However experienced Haig was, he now encountered an even worse and
more complex problem – trench warfare. Since generals had no idea of
how to fight against trench warfare they simply used methods of
fighting and tactics that they had used in past wars.

General Haig used the same plans for this war that he had devised for
the battle of Nueve Chapelle. Haig’s plans were very thorough and used
as much intelligence that was available at the time. He used aerial
observation, photography, ground patrols and interrogation of
prisoners.

Haig’s plan was to-

1. Begin with an artillery bombardment to destroy the German barbed
wire in front of their trenches.

2. Then there would be a mass infantry attack over No Man’s land on
the German tren...


... middle of paper ...


...ajority of the soldiers
were new and had absolutely no idea about the state of affairs they
were going to go through, nor were they trained for an event this
intense. After Haig had been in many wars and fought for most of his
life I believe that the amount of training he gave the troops was poor
and inadequate for a man of his experience. The men were simply led on
false pretences and made to believe that the war wasn’t going to be
that bad, whereas if Haig had made it worse than he knew it was going
to be then they would have displayed better fighting qualities and
would have been fully prepared.

Another focal point that suggests against Haig; is that even when it
was clear that his plan wasn’t working he stuck to it and didn’t think
about trying to change his ideas to suit the new type of trench
warfare.



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