• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

General Haig: Butcher of the Somme

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Field Marshall Haig: Butcher of the Somme? No-one expected the First World War to last very long. This belief was shared between both sides. The Germans planned to sweep through Belgium and capture Paris. They were thwarted however by the French Army and were pushed back and a front-line was established. This did not change much for the next three years. In 1916, General Haig formed a plan to break this stalemate and the battle that took place is now known as the Battle of the Somme. Despite plenty of careful planning many losses were sustained by all parties. The Total Allied Forces had 623,907 casualties, 419,654 of them were British, while the Germans lost 465,000 men. This was a huge number of casualties and historians have debated about General Haig's role in this. Did General Haig attempt to achieve something at the Battle of the Somme, or was he a butcher who sent thousands of men to their deaths? One of the arguments against Haig is how much he cared for his men. Source A written by Haig in 1916, just a day before the battle, talks of sacrifice and its importance in war. He warns that 'the nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists' and you can't win a war without 'the sacrifice of men's lives'. At first Haig's tone indicates that he doesn't care much for the men fighting the war. ...read more.

Middle

Source H comes from Lloyd George's war memoirs and I believe he deliberately changed his opinion to cover up his mistake in supporting the battle. He wouldn't want to seem foolish in supporting the battle, and now in the 1930's when the facts had come out and everyone was discussing the failures of the war he would prefer it if the public thought that he had made the correct decisions. Source D comes from the book called 'British Butchers and Bunglers of World War'. The first line reads: 'Haig was stubborn as a donkey and unthinking as a donkey'. The title suggests that this the book is going to be biased against the generals in the war and there is hardly any evaluation of what happened. Because of this, I don't think this Source is useful to a historian trying to study a balanced argument about the Battle of the Somme. Source E comes from a German account of the First World War. It is important when studying something to look at both sides of the argument. so Source E should be useful to a historian. Many British accounts say that the Battle of the Somme didn't achieve much strategically. The account by the Germans talks about the consequences the Battle had on the army's morale. A German would be better placed to talk about the effects on the country, and this Source provides an opinion from a different viewpoint. ...read more.

Conclusion

Source d says that Haig's stubbornness let the Allies down, but hear the general says that it was because Haig 'never wavered' from his purpose that the Allies were successful. Source G by the Prime Minister is also in support of General Haig and praises him on the 'skill with which plans were made'. This contradicts Sources C and D who claim that Haig's strategy was foolish and negligent. Source H written by the same person is contradictory to his previous account and claims the whole attack was a failure. I think it would be silly to say that Haig was a traitor and deliberately sent thousands of men to their deaths. But you could question his tactics. You could say there were some things that Haig didn't know. For example, he was not to know that the Germans would be so well entrenched and therefore survive the 7-day assault. This was also a very different type of war to previous ones, and no one had any experience in trench warfare. My conclusion is that Haig did care for his men in battle but cared more about protecting his country. It would be unfair to call Haig incompetent as this was a completely different kind of war and he did not have any experience in fighting this type of war. Let's also not forget that he succeeded in his goal of pushing the Germans back. The Battle of the Somme was a tragedy for all involved and therefore Field Marshall Haig was not the Butcher of the Somme. Adam Green ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Britain 1905-1951 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Britain 1905-1951 essays

  1. General Haig - Butcher or Hero?

    In reality, the artillery shells created giant craters, and turned up mud in which the eventually the tanks would get stuck, or 'bogged down' until they were 'knocked out' with relative ease by the Germans. *Question 5: These Sources are taken from a novel, a song, and a poem.

  2. Haig, Butcher of the Somme

    Of course this argument is incredibly biased coming from Haig himself however must have had some truth in as an official report. (Source 11) Another key quotation is a German officer on the Somme who in source 15 is quoted as calling the battlefield 'the muddy grave of the German army'.

  1. Haig butcher of the Somme?

    Instead he doesn't allow his bad encounters to dominate his opinion on General Haig's actions. Moreover, this Lieutenant chooses to remain anonymous, so it's not as though he was looking for any glory or recognition for writing this letter. Furthermore because is a primary source it proves reliability.

  2. Was General Haig a donkey or a great commander?

    Before the main offensive, the British launched the Battle of Messines, which allowed them to occupy the southeastern arm of the ridge. After this, according to Haig's detractors, Haig made his first important mistake.

  1. Was Field Marshall Haig the Butcher of the Somme

    Winston Churchill wrote in a personal memoir of his just this. [Source F]. As did Lord Lansdowne, except the only difference was that Lord Lansdowne took the bravery to be the first politician too publicly question the way the war was being fought.

  2. Haig and 'The Battle of the Somme' - source related study.

    I believe that this source doesn't prove that Haig was an uncaring general as this source shows that before the battle he warned that men will be sacrificed and they were. Source B contains two extracts written by Haig, the first the day before the attack, and the second a report on the first day of the attack.

  1. Field Marshall Haig: 'The Butcher of the Somme?'

    From other knowledge, the Battle of Somme is much more similar to the way Copppard describes it rather than Haig, though I do not blame Haig for his inaccurate report as he may have just been uninformed. How far do you agree that they have no use for the Historian studying Haig and the Battle of the Somme?

  2. was haig butcher of the somme

    Preparations for deceiving the enemy should be made without delay. This will be effected by means of - (a) Preliminary preparations such as advancing our trenches and saps, construction of dummy assembling trenches, gun emplacements, etc. (b) Wire cutting at intervals along the entire front with a view to inducing the enemy to man his defences and causing fatigue.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work