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Haig: Hero or Butcher of the Somme?

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Introduction

Question Four Sir Douglas Haig was born in Edinburgh, 19th June 1861. He studied first at Brasenose College in Oxford and then in 1884 at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. He passed out of Sandhurst in less than a year and he joined the 7th Queens Own Hussars. He served there as a cavalry officer for nine years. He took part in the Omdurman campaign and in the Second Boer War. In 1906, he became Director of Military Training at the war office. In 1909, he was made the Chief of Staff of the Indian army. After the end of the war, Haig served as Commander in Chief of the British Home Forces until 1921, which was when he retired. He was made an earl in 1919. In 1921, he was made Baron Haig of Bemersyde. Sir Douglas Haig died on 28 January 1928. But the real question is: was he a hero? Or a butcher? First, I am going to discover what proved him to be a possible hero. Sources A, F, H, L, M and N show he is a hero. Source A demonstrates this by using a cartoon and headline from a British newspaper on 2nd July 1916. ...read more.

Middle

shows that Haig was not who many thought he was, which was an idiot. Because he led the British army to many victories, he is in fact a good leader. Source M is a piece of writing by Philip Warner in 1991. "If the criterion of a successful general is to win wars, Haig must be judged a success ..." shows that Haig must be a good general because he made the British army win not only many battles, but also the First World War. Source N is comments on Haig by a soldier from the First World War. I think this shows that Haig was a hero because as a soldier from the time, he has a clear image of what happened. He questions what Haig had done as if it would have been bad if he didn't chose to do it; "If he hadn't sent us over the top at the Somme, what would have happened? What would have happened if the war would have gone on and on ...". I think that the soldier thought that Haig chose all the right ideas. He also thought that Haig was a good commander: "Haig looked every inch a commander. He was a very capable man ...". ...read more.

Conclusion

21000 British soldiers who died that day.". This is pretty obvious really as you wouldn't expect 21000 men to die on one day. Source I is an extract from War Memoirs by David Lloyd George and it was published in 1936. There are two main statements which I have found in the text to make me think that Haig could be a possible butcher. The first is "... one of the bloodiest battles ever fought ..." as it clearly shows that the battle was very bloody. The second is "... The casualties on both sides were well over a million ..." as it obviously shows there were many severely wounded or dead. Source J is statistics of casualties during the Battle of the Somme. Although the statistics are all different, I feel that Haig was claimed a butcher correctly as the number was well over half a million either side. Source K is an extract from The Western Front by Rosemary Rees, a school textbook which was written in 1995. I feel that this shows Haig as a butcher for one reason, and that reason is "... His one tactic was to attack over and over again, no matter how little was gained or how many died." I think that this shows Haig is a butcher because its almost as if he doesn't care how many people die because of him. ...read more.

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