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To What Extent Was the Battle of the Somme a Disaster.

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Introduction

To What Extent Was the Battle of the Somme a Disaster I believe that the Battle of the Somme was a terrible battle but not as bad as is made out by some sources. I will use evidence from first hand and secondary sources to show this. I will look into the actions of General Sir Douglas Haig and if he was a hero or a murderer. I will also look into his tactics and if he should have abandoned the attack after the first day of the battle. Firstly I will cover the background to the battle. The War had been going for two years and had turned into a stalemate. The British public's support for the war was starting to fade as the government had promised that the war would be over by the Christmas of 1914. Men were becoming less willing to sign up as the reality of war began to kick in. One of the first major battles of the war in Verdun was creating massive casualties and the French were at the brink of giving up. The British army had to act. Under the command of Douglas Haig an attack was launched on the German army near the River Somme. ...read more.

Middle

Another contributing factor to the battle being a disaster was the fact that it was launched at seven o'clock in the morning. Bearing in mind that the battle started on the first of July it would have been broad daylight, giving the Germans a perfect view of the assembling British troops. This was a mistake probably made by Douglas Haig. The other mistakes by this experienced general were that he was out of date battle tactics like cavalry charges. I believe that one of the worst things that he did was to keep sending more and more men over the top, when he could see that they were getting slaughtered. General Haig did have a deputy, his name was General Rawlinson and he did not always agree with Haig. His opinion was that the British army should withdraw when he saw all the devastation and loss of life after the first day. To get the real picture of the scale of the trauma at the Somme we have to take the information of someone who was really there. I will take some extracts from the diary of George Coppard a British machine gunner from the Somme. ...read more.

Conclusion

After the war Haig was criticised for his part in the battle by many people, his own soldiers, politicians, the press and the British public. He was given the unwelcome title of the Butcher of the Somme. He believed that this title was unfair as he said that he had warned the politicians of heavy losses if the battle was going to be won. He said that the battle was a success because all of the main objectives were met. This was not of much comfort to the British public; they were shocked by the huge loss of life. Many of them had lost friends, relatives and colleagues and were looking for someone to blame. Haig was the obvious target. The Somme brought to the attention of the British public the reality of war. They realised that the war was not going to be short and glorious, it was going to be drawn out and bloody. The confidence of the public in their leaders was at an all time low. The Prime Minister David Lloyd George's relationship with General Haig was particularly bad. In conclusion, the battle was terrible with horrific amounts of people killed but there were positive points to it as the main objectives were met. Brendan Thorne 10CA ...read more.

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