Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig

Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig

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Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig
In this oral assessment I am going to talk about Field Marshall Sir
Douglas Haig, Haig was a war leader in the First World War who led the
army on few occasions. One of his most memorable battles was the
battle of the Somme; in this battle the allies suffered over 2 million
causalities and over 500,000 deaths. We may have won the battle and
the war, but at a huge cost. In this assessment I am going to try
arguing the case that Haig was a fool who cost the lives of too many
British soldiers.

Johnny, the youngest of the Yorkshire pals. Just signed up on his
sixteenth birthday, he is too young, but he doesn't care. He wants to
do his bit for the country, make them proud. He's been shipped off to
France, somewhere called the Somme. His first battle, his chance to
shine. He lines up in the trench , surrounded by others that will
ultimately suffer the same fate as him. Waiting, the stillness, the
silence. The guns have stopped which have continually bombed the enemy
for weeks. The emotions start to build, he will do his country proud.

The Whistle - the long sharp blow. He climbs the ladder, others next
to him, he climbs for victory, he he is shot, it went through his left
rib cage into his lung, lactic acid forms and penetrates his skin, he
cannot breath yet he cannot die, his heart still pumps growing weaker
and weaker. He lies there, no-one can help no-one will. He is buried
alive swarms of soldiers by behind him Eventually after hours of pain
and agony his lungs suffocates itself from acids.

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Johnny dies a
painful death, a wasted life. The Germans were expecting him.

Many men suffered the same death as Johnny, if he had planned it more,
why, how could a man let over 400,000 men die without realizing his
tactics were wrong, why was a man like him be aloud to lead? That man
was HAIG.

One of Haig's famous speeches in his time was and I quote "the machine
gun is a much overrated weapon". How can any man who has this view be
allowed to run a countries army, it is surely Haigs thought that
Britain lost so many soldiers in battle. More of Haig's famous quotes
are "the way to capture a machine gun is by grit and determination"
and "success in the battle depends mainly on morale and
determination." Surely these tactics would be good in warfare. If
first we don't succeed send more troops in to get slaughtered by the
enemy, surely you would change you tactics? Oh but I forget if you
have a higher morale than the enemy you will indefinitely win!

It's not just me that disagree with Haig's methods and ways. Many
people have disagreed with his ways over time. One of the first people
was David Lloyd George. He was the Prime Minister at the time, he
didn't agree with "general insanities" ways and didn't agree with his
methods at first. He was kept away but due to unfortunate events he
came to power. Lloyd George resented this and reluctantly agreed to
accept him, the only reason he got the job was because he was an
experienced war leader in India. But this was completely different
warfare and he knew next to nothing about modern warfare and new
technological warfare. Even his own son didn't know if Haig was a hero
or not, he said in public he was a "callous, uncaring man" who didn't
care about the soldiers lives.

Some people disagree with him and say we successfully won the war
under Haig's command. Educated people would say they did not realize
the whole truth to the story, when the attack took place the country
was under heavy censorship - many did not realize the reality of the
war. Soldiers couldn't disobey the foolish commands, they would be
shot, they have no choice, they have to fight for their country. Under
Haigs influence over 2 million good-hearted soldiers died. He could
have changed his tactics. He should have changed them.

I am going to read you a slip form Haig's personal diary taken form
the 1st of July , the day that over 100 thousand men were killed:
"very successful attack this morning…all went like clockwork…the
battle is going very well for us and already the Germans are
surrendering freely. The enemy is so short of men he is collecting
them from all parts of the line. Our troops are wonderful in spirits
and full of confidence" before this was written there is evidence that
Haigs right hand man had just giving him casualty lists for the
morning and Haig had read them and said we are winning though aren't
we? For him to have wrote this in his personal diary shows that Haigs
is either the foolish man in British history or someone who doesn't
care for his country and his country men. Surely this man should not
be crowned as a hero but as a fool for whom he rightly deserves.

It was not just the British that disagreed with his ways. Germany many
times took humor in being sarcastic about Haig and the way his led his
army; they published an article in a national German newspaper of how
Haig was a war leader worthy of recognition, the only recognition he
deserves is the recognition that he was the cause of so many peoples
deaths and injuries. The article talks about how he is a "great"
Briton but this is just a sarcastic view of him, during the battle of
the Somme a German soldier quoted "they came over the ridge, early in
the morning, the warm dawn sunshine smiling for the last time upon
there youthful faces. Slowly they advanced, standing tall, walking in
lines like children. As our machine guns burst into life they fell,
like corn in a strong breeze. They were massacred, but then when the
last had fallen another line rose again, and again all being cut down
by the same guns".

As you can see from this quote, why did Haig not change his tactics,
surely he knew that the soldiers were not experienced; surely this
proves him wrong in that if you use the grit and determination tactic
you will not succeed. Why couldn't he see that?

After the horrors of the battle Of the Somme the government would have
thought that Haig should have been demoted and someone else put in
charge. This wasn't the case, after this battle Haig led the
Passchendale offensive" this was another huge grave in France of
British soldiers. Another half a million soldier died from the allies
side, the lesson was not learnt, another occasion was the "Niville
Offensive" again Haig did not learn his lesson and 200 thousand men
died in 4 days of battle. Due to this huge numbers for casualties the
army and the country would never be the same again. The "surviving"
troops lost faith in their commanders. The war had changed, because of
Haig, from what was a mythologized crusade against evil to "a great
mincing-machine, where we send are young men to die!"

After the war had ended Haig returned as a "hero" no matter how many
lives he had cost, this was because the people lived in a
propaganda-ridden country, papers ruled by censorship, after time
though censorship was lifted, soldiers who had fought as heroes and
survived returned and they were average again, they had there say and
it could be publicized, people had to come to terms with the huge
casualties lists and deaths of loved ones, they may have won the war
but, the ones killed were "the flowers of their generation, the pride
of Britain, cut down in their prime, to lie forever still. These were
the people that won the war for us but they could not celebrate.
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