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Does Haig Deserve To Be Called The Butcher Of The Somme?

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Introduction

Does Haig Deserve To Be Called The Butcher Of The Somme? Commander-in-chief during the battle of the Somme, Field Marshall Haig has often been called 'Butcher of the Somme' since the battle. A butcher, of course, is someone who kills animals and prepares them to be sold before selling them himself. However, when applied to a person butcher can mean someone who kills heedlessly, brutally or indiscriminately or someone who bungles things, and this is how people felt abut him. During the war, people at home in England only heard about the war from the point of view of the generals (when they read the newspapers) or their husband, sons, friends, brothers or fianc�s when they wrote letters (which was not a guaranteed way of getting news across, as letters could be lost or intercepted) so they didn't really know what was going on. The newspapers all said Haig was leading the BEF well, so people believed it. But after the war, when the soldiers came home, they told their families and friends what things had actually been like on the front line. ...read more.

Middle

His strategies were very unimaginative, they were the same ones used previously in the same war and had not really worked- how could Haig expect them to work now? He also kept sending men in month after month, one replacing another. It apparently did not occur to him that if they were all dying something was not right- maybe it was the fact that his plans were inflexible, and many of his soldiers were inexperienced and could not follow them through properly. Haig was very remote and his officers and generals found him very hard to talk to. They did not tell him how big the casualty rates really were, or how badly their plans were going because they were afraid of him. However, to be fair, Haig never gave up. He was a stable figure of hope for many soldiers throughout the battle. Haig spent an enormous amount of time preparing for that battle, when he became Field Marshall he directed the conversion of the back area of the Somme (from Albert to Amiens, twenty five miles apart) to a military encampment cut by new roads and covert with shell dumps. ...read more.

Conclusion

on (so that the British would have the advantage of higher ground), and though some of the battle plans were unsuccessful, they certainly managed to take over the hill, relive the French and wear down the Germans (which was useful as by then the great war had become a war of attrition). Of course, Field Marshall Haig was only a human being, and no matter how well the battle was planned, and how good a strategist he was, there were always going to be some failures. After all, the German army would have chosen the best commander they could, so Haig was up against someone of his own level, and he carried a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Because he was Commander-in-Chief any mistake that was made- even if it wasn't his mistake- would be blamed on him. I think that because many people have read or heard the accounts of the soldiers, and how terrible it was for them, they forget that it was an ordeal for Haig as well. In desistance to my conclusion, even if he was a terrible commander in chief and a careless blunderer, he did his best, so how can he be a Butcher? ...read more.

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