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Does Haig deserve the title 'The Butcher of the Somme'?

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Does Haig deserve the title 'The Butcher of the Somme'? Introduction In this essay, I will try to figure out what historians all over the world have been talking about for years: Does Sir Douglas William Haig deserve the title 'The Butcher of the Somme'? I will start by correctly defining the term, 'butcher', before analysing the case for and against this statement. I will finally conclude my essay by weighing up the two cases and comparing the definitions of 'butcher' to his actions. Butcher: Cutter of meat Seller of meat Profiteer from death Slaughterer Authority to kill Murderer Does Haig deserve the title 'The butcher of the Somme'? Argument: For Statement To say that Haig was the hero of the victory at the Somme, although the opinion of the people of the time, must now be looked back on with great scepticism. You cannot deny that Haig made the correct tactical decision to make an offensive at the Somme, in order to take the pressure of Verdun, and it is true to say that he achieved his target objective in doing so. However, it is inexcusable, whatever the gain, to throw away life so carelessly as Haig did. It is also to be noted, that Haig's attitude after the Somme, was that it was a worthy sacrifice, and an honourable way for a man to die. ...read more.


I'm sure his life was a worthy sacrifice and the other men had high spirits for the next week, to know that another 15 people had been sent over the top and died'. Haig said, the day before the offensive: 'The men are in splendid spirits. Several have said that they have never before seen so instructed and informed of the nature of the operation before them. The barbed wire has never been so well cut, nor the artillery preparation so thorough. All the commanders are full of confidence.' This statement in itself tells the story. Haig was either miss-informed or delusional, and despite the fact that the wire was clearly not cut, he sent the men out anyway. Does Haig deserve the title 'The butcher of the Somme'? Argument: Against Statement Haig didn't listen to his commanders advise and reports from the battlefield. He made it difficult for people to tell him bad news about the battle. This was a big mistake and it meant that anyone trying to tell him something would be afraid of the way he would react. They would distort the news to make it sound like the battle is going better than it actually was. This means that Haig would be hearing news that wasn't accurate to the actual battle, so he would be acting on false information. ...read more.


He couldn't see the whole battle like we can today in a complete overview. To call Haig a 'butcher', meaning: Cutter of meat Seller of meat Profiteer from death Slaughterer Authority to kill Murderer This description pretty much fits Haig, but taking into account the evidence, you have to say he made so many inexcusable mistakes and decisions, however the evidence against this statement is also significant. The conclusion I have come to is that if Haig was a general today, (supposing technology had not advanced and we were still in the day of the machine gun and trench warfare) Haig would deserve the title outright, but he wasn't. He had no way of seeing the entire battle and getting a truthful account on what was going on, and his tactics were in line with the warfare of his day, so he does and he doesn't deserve the title, depending on which way you look at it. However, as a final note, I would like to add this quote from a British soldier fighting at the Somme. 'We are lousy, stinking, ragged, unshaven and sleepless. My tunic is rotten with other men's blood and partly splattered with a friends brains. It is horrible, but why should you people at home not know? The horror was indescribable...I want to tell you so that it may be on record, that I honestly believe that Goldie (a mate) and many others were murdered through the stupidity of those in authority.' ...read more.

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