• 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...


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.


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.


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. Was Field Marshall Haig the Butcher of the Somme

    The only evidence I have of this is a letter that a soldier wrote home to his parents before he died. [Source D] Overall, I believe that the soldiers disagreed with General Haig on all of the things that he ordered them to do.

  1. Haig, Butcher of the Somme

    These historians should be unbiased, having researched the battle. In addition, the British troops continued to follow Haig as a leader in sharp contrast to the French troops who mutinied as a result of poor leadership. Finally is the argument that the Somme offensive was actually ultimately successful.

  2. Does Haig deserve the title 'The Butcher of the Somme'?

    He couldn't see the whole battle like we can today in a complete overview. Conclusion As an overview, Haig was a ruthless General in charge of people's lives, with the attitude that the death of 60,000 men on the first day was a worthy sacrifice.

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

    It suggests that he is irresponsible for making the plans and then abandoning the process of carrying it out. It may also suggest that Haig is afraid to attend the front line, this may be as he knows his plan will fail.

  2. Does General Haig deserve to be remembered as the Butcher of the Somme?

    Haig was not the butcher of the Somme was because that they believed Haig was only one man. Source 12 is a report by sir Douglas Haig written on the 1st of July 1916. He mentions that the Germans are surrendering free which makes it seem as if it is a positive interpretation.

  1. Haig butcher of the Somme?

    This source is fairly reliable because this historian has the benefit of hindsight and research. However he goes on to describe the generals as being 'obstinate'. This persons natures as a left wing historian is against war. Attitudes pro equality and against capitalism certainly influenced his interpretation of Haig who was conversely an upper class General.

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

    He tried to relieve Haig of his position, but Haig was popular and had friends in very high places. This having failed, he tried to limit Haig's power by rashly signing a treaty with the French, promising to put the BEF under the command of the French General Nivelle, for the next big French offensive.

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