Evaluation of Actions of General Douglas Haig Essay

Evaluation of Actions of General Douglas Haig Essay

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Evaluation of Actions of General Douglas Haig

Some historians believe that General Douglas Haig was a butcher
because of the amount of people killed in action at the Somme. Others
believe he was not to blame as many of the failures were mostly not of
his creation. In truth, Haig is in the middle of this scale as the
evidence and reasoning I am going to present.

General Haig studied at Sandhurst and graduated. He was then sent to
India with his brigades, which were titled the seventh hussars. He
came back from India in 1904 and was made Major General. He was the
youngest ever. He was steadily promoted up the army ranks after this
and made the full General in 1914. After the war, Haig dedicated
himself to the Royal British Legion. He was made Earl Haig in 1919 and
the Baton Haig of Bermersyde. This shows to me that General Haig was
held in high regard by the British army and was obviously identified
as a success and was well respected.

While researching Haig, I discovered that he was not a fully qualified
general and he did not have the key experience. He came from wealthy
background and I think his families wealth had a bit to do with his

When people discuss the failure of the Somme, they consider the first
day. This was when the British lost the most men on any one day in the
war. The figure came to 57,000. That is about 40 men a minute. Was all
this loss of life to do with Haig? Was it his fault? These are the
questions I am going to examine in this essay. My main points will be
that “Haig ignored reconnaissance” and to defend him “is the Somme
really a failure and was it his fault”. In my opinion, Haig is mor...

... middle of paper ...

towards the side which says Haig is not to blame. Purely because Haig
was not fully concentrated on the war as the French had distracted him
and his plans at Verdun and the Germans had the higher ground in the
Battle. With hindsight, we can see that Haig made mistakes and the
first day of the Somme was a disaster. However, we also have to look
at the limited options open to him. He was told to relieve Verdun and
this meant attacking the Germans. Haig made mistakes by altering
Rawlinson's plan, but he could not foresee that 30% of the British
shells would fail to explode. Haig was criticised for sending men to
capture enemy trenches, but no politician or military leader came up
with any alternatives in 1916. It is very telling that most people at
the time did not share the hostility later expressed towards Haig.

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