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Field Marshall Haig:The Butcher of the Somme?

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Assignment 2: History Coursework: Field Marshall Haig: The Butcher of the Somme A). Source A does not entirely prove that Haig did not care about the lives of his men, however it does state that Haig was willing to sacrifice the lives of his men to win this battle and war. The source shows that Haig knew there were going to be heavy casualties, but how great did he think were the casualties he so expected were going to be. If he predicted that the casualties were going to be as high as they were after the Somme then why did go on with the battle? Surely he should have thought of an alternative plan. The source does not give that great an explanation as to why he didn't care about the lives of his men because from my own knowledge of the battle there were other plans that accompanied the attack that were not mentioned in the source that could not be revealed as the attack was to be a surprise on the German lines at Somme. In these plans Haig assumed hat the German lines would have been demolished e.g. the week long artillery was thought to destroy the machine guns posts at Somme. As historians know, the very first morning of the attack was when the British were suffering heavy casualties for they were badly unprepared because the British superior officers especially Haig was sure the enemy were dead. ...read more.


It is a bit obvious that Haig would not have wanted to just to move his drinks cabinet a few inches closer to Berlin. The British officers did not actually realise that the British were going to get "a good old British style thrashing" because they believed because of the artillery and bombardment that they would confidently defeat the German lines. Also Haig was not actually a Field Marshall until the end of the war. Source F was also written by British magazine. There was never actually any account of this being done. It was clearly made up by somebody who knew what happened at this kind of a briefing. There is no indication where it says where the source came from that it actually occurred so it was probably another way of making fun of the General and trying to prove that he was wrong and lazy. From my knowledge of war and the military, normal soldiers didn't expect a general to join I the fight because they knew how important they were to the army. D). Since source G is coming from the Germans, I think that with source H backing it up, they both prove source F wrong. Source F isn't entirely wrong because it was true that Haig's strategy was quite bad but G and H are right that the morale of the German troops and their confidence was decreasing slowly. ...read more.


It shows that he knew he had made a mistake by trying to cover it up in his speeches to the public. Sources like D and E could not be taken too seriously because it was only really about the opinion of other people, but they are relevant to historians in a way that you could get an impression on how annoyed people were about what happened in the war. Haig didn't sacrifice the lives the lives of his men for no reason, he truly believed that he could get through those German lines but he was not thinking about his soldiers at the time of his decision, he was thinking about himself. He had good plans but they were not good enough, e.g. the artillery was thought by everyone to smash the Germans to pieces but they did not know about the hidden German dugouts under ground. He was very desperate to get him and his men forward and penetrate the German lines and was prepared to throw whatever he had in a non-strategic sense at the Germans never realising that the cost would be so high. He was fighting a war of attrition. The battle was not for no reason because the outcome was a partial success due to the fact that the French had the pressure taken off them at Verdun. Maybe, even though there were so many deaths, this battle was actually the cause of Victory to the western powers. ...read more.

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