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Field Marshall Haig: "The butcher of the Somme?" - source related study.

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9.3 Assignment 2: Assessment Objectives 2 and 3 9.3.1 The First World War Field Marshall Haig: "THE BUTCHER OF THE SOMME?" a) I believe that sources A and B show that he doesn't care about the lives of his mean. In source A, an account written by Haig June 1916, he says, "The nation must be taught to bear losses." I think that this shows he is not bothered about how many men he kills; it is all down to business. He feels he needs to keep his job and the only way to do this is to carry on piling men over the top to their peril to fight the Germans. He also says, "...no training, however good, on the part of the officers and the men, no superiority of arms and ammunition, however great, will enable victories to be won without the sacrifice of men's lives." In part, this quote is true, but in other parts it is not. I feel that if Haig was to wait for reinforcements of armed power and tanks, then our military forces would have been stronger. However, many see it from Haig's point of view that the great offensive had to go ahead. The pressure on Verdun was too great for the French resistance, Haig was told he had to act and that he had to act quickly otherwise Verdun would have been taken and France would have been put out of the war. Haig soon realized that it clearly was not going to work, she should have given up, but no! Haig carried on piling men over the top insisting that Britain should expect to see heavy casualty lists. Source B, two accounts from Haig, one before the attack and one is an extract from his report on the first day of the attack. The first paragraph shows Haig had no understanding about the tension and fear on the frontline, he never realized what he was doing was going to cause so much grief and pain. ...read more.


From my own knowledge, I know that this did occur, the Germans morale was lowered and many of their most experienced troops were killed making them relegate to pushing out more and more inexperienced privates. Source H (an account written by a British General in 1973) says, "Germany's spirit of resistance was broken, mainly by the courage and resolution of Haig's army". This backs up what I said earlier about how we can not stereotype everyone hating Haig just because sources D and E go against him. Source H shows us that there were and still are people who believe Haig was right in ordering more men over the top everyday. "Had Haig not had the moral courage to shoulder the main burden of the struggle in the Somme battles of 1916, French resistance would have crumbled." Thus quote tells us that had Haig not continued to push men to their peril just to kill more Germans, then the French resistance would more than likely have broken down, thus putting them out of the war. Had this happened to the Allies, then the Allies would have lost. Rightfully so source F goes against Haig saying, "He knew he had no chance e of a breakthrough but still sent men to their deaths" Because from my own knowledge I know that Haig always believed that he was going to breakthrough, so I feel that there is sufficient evidence for Haig sending men to their deaths. e) After studying sources I and J, I think that these sources do show a difference. Source I is soon after Lloyd George visiting the battlefield, he had to say something good to make sure that British morale was maintained, however once the war was over he said in his War Memoirs that "This offensive was already a failure." Now that the war was over he could express views on the battle, unfortunately although the battle achieved some of its aims he believes it could have been handled in a more accurate way. ...read more.


This source, therefore gains more favor for Haig not being the butcher of the Somme. Source I is Lloyd George (Secretary for War) writing to Haig on September 1916. I believe that Lloyd George was influenced to write good things because had his letter been bad and was intercepted by the press, British morale could have been destroyed. I believe that source J is evidence towards my beliefs because in Lloyd Georges War Memoirs, (wrote in 1930 after the war) he talks about his disbelief in Haig. Think that at the time he did not have the courage to stand up and admit he was wrong in appointing Haig. He also comments that he only feels that the Somme saved the Allies because the Germans had the stupidity to quarrel with the Americans and bring them into the war. In conclusion to my essay I feel there are both points for and against Haig being the 'Butcher of the Somme' Haig's aims were to reduce German morale and raise British morale, to break out of the trenches, relieve pressure on the French at Verdun and most of all to try and bring the war to an end. Well what he did was kill many of Germany's most experienced soldiers meaning that the German morale was disturbed, because of this the British felt they had a better chance of winning now thus meaning a morale boost. As for relieving pressure on the French, this was probably Haig's biggest achievement because had he not done this then the Germans would have taken over Verdun and then most of France - leading to a 90% chance of the Allies in with a running chance of winning and he also weakened the Germans. My personal view is that Haig led to the winning of the war and that he was not a butcher of but there will always be people who will disagree, but the question we are left with that no one can answer is:- Did, what Haig achieve warrant the death of so many Allied troops? 3,072 Word in Total Alec Smith 10C ...read more.

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