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Field Marshal Haig.

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Field Marshal Haig. Gareth Stacey. History Coursework. 19/03/2001 At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Douglas Haig served as Commander of the First Army corps of the B.E.F and shortly after in 1915 , was promoted to Commander - in - Chief of the B.E.F . During and after world War One many were highly critical of Haig's tactics and leadership . Greatly admired by his fellow officers , Haig was almost equally mistrusted by the Prime Minister David Lloyd George , who in his war memoirs wrote . The tale of these battles constitutes a trilogy illustrating the unquestionable heroism that will never accept defeat and the inexhaustible vanity that will never admit a mistake . It is a story of the million who would rather die than own themselves as cowards , and also of the two or three individuals who would rather the million perish than that they as leaders should own even to themselves that they were blunders . My sole justification is that Haig promised not to press the attack if it became clear that he could not attain his objectives by continuing the offensive . Henry Hamilton Fyfe worked for the Daily Mail and met Sir Douglas Haig several times during the First World War wrote . Haig was , in truth at close quarters very disappointing . He looked the part , his face on a postcard was no less impressive than Kitcheners but his face was his fortune . ...read more.


Many British regiments were killed still at the starting point . The 1st Lancastshire Fusiliers and several other regiments from 29th division were pinned down in a sunken road halfway into the German lines . At the end of the first day the British suffered 57,470 casualties of which 19,240 were fatal . This was the worse day in the history of the British Army . This source proves very useful because it comes from a book that Haig wrote himself admitting his mistakes. George Coppard a machine gunner at the battle of the Somme , wrote in his book , "With a machine gun to Cambrai." The next morning we gunners surveyed the dreadful scene in front of our trench. There was a pair of binoculars in the kit, and under the brazen light of a hot midsummers day, everything revealed itself stark and clear. The terrain was rather like the sussex down land, with gentle swelling hills, fields and valleys, making it difficult at first to pinpoint all the enemy trenches as they curled and twisted on the slopes. It eventually became clear that the German line followed points of evidence, always giving a commanding view of no man's land. Immediately in front, spreading left and right until hidden from view, was clear evidence that the attack had been brutally repulsed. Hundreds of dead, many of the 37th brigade were strung out like wreckage washed up to a high water mark. ...read more.


The offensive cost the B.E.F 310,000 casualties . Conclusion . It was a balanced account , the tactics Haig used were the best that anyone could bring up at the time , that particular tactic had been successful in previous battles under different Commanders . The historian John Terraine has consistently argued for forty years that Britain fought the war as well as could be expected under the circumstances . According to Terraine , there was no alternative to launching the offensives at the Somme and Passchendaele And therefore it is no use looking for the causes of the high British losses beyond the strength of the enemy and the technical character of the war itself . However it is partically due to his own incompitance that his tactics were never changed . He ignored the fact that the French were doing considerabley better than the British forces and that his own men were not even covering half the distance of their French allies . Lions led by Donkeys , was the interpretation of the British soldiers and Generals on the Western Front 1914 to 1918 . The source proves that the Soldiers and lower ranks of Officers were the only one's who really knew what was going on . However if we are prepared to criticise Hiag and his army commanders for their mistakes in 1916 and 1917 , then it is perhaps only fair that , at the same time , they should receive due credit for their decisive , but forgotton victories in 1918 . ...read more.

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