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

How much were generals such as Douglas Haig to blame for the huge number of casualties in WW1?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Hamish Livingstone Saturday 2nd February 2002 How much were generals such as Douglas Haig to blame for the huge number of casualties in WW1? In WW1 39.1% of British Empire forces mobilized were made casualties. 52.3% of total allied forces were made casualties. Of course, in war you cannot expect there to be no casualties, but casualties on this scale is astounding and there must be some reason for it. The classical way of blame for it lies with the generals, and the old saying - lions led by donkeys - but I am going to try and establish just how much the men at the top could be blamed. I will examine Sir Douglas Haig to see how pardonable his huge casualties were. He was the general in charge of the battle of the Somme, which many would call a military disaster as Haig's tactics resulted in an unacceptable number of high casualties, and only a 12km gain, without a significant breakthrough. However, it may not be entirely Haig's fault indirectly. It was almost certainly his fault directly. ...read more.

Middle

As the industrial revolution was in full swing, it was now possible to mass-produce shells in huge quantities. But when he came to use this tactic at the Somme, two things were amiss with the shells. Firstly to many of them were just shrapnel and did not remove the barbed wire, which was one of the shells fundamental purposes. And secondly, the shells that were high explosive and capable of removing the wire, were faulty due to their hurried production, and often did not explode, or worse exploded in their own shells. This could have been prevented with more careful and lengthy planning and preparation. In Haig's war education, he was often told not to be afraid of attack, and that attacking was the way to win. Unfortunately, by the time the fist world war came, the technology and weaponry advances were so great, that it was in fact now far easier to defend than attack. Thus giving the Germans the advantage, as all they needed to do was stay put, whereas the Allied objective was to push the Germans back, so attack was necessary. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are those historians who see Haig as a great commander. He did after all, if you look at it in black and white, win the battle of the Somme, as he made the greatest advance, and more troops were lost on the Germans side than the British/French. It is true that there were many times when he was deprived of accurate intelligence, and did in fact lead many successful battles in 1918, which led up to the Allied victory later that year. Also there is the claim that Haig's actions were affected by the French demands for imminent action on the western front. However, my conclusion is that public school boy generals like Haig have to take a substantial amount of the blame for the immeasurable number of casualties in WW1. After all, it is lives that we are talking about, and you cannot just shrug it off and try to lay the blame elsewhere when you are directly responsible. A certain amount of blame can also be laid on intelligence officers and subordinate officers. But I think the majority of the blame must be laid on the Generals who failed to adapt to modern warfare. ...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?

    This had more than one effect, not only did this severely weaken the allied efforts, but also caused huge morale low among allied troops, triggering poor performances. Even after such a shift of power on the western front, the allies still struggled through and eventually won.

  2. WHO WAS TO BLAME FOR THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR?

    This was when the 'Long Parliament' came in (so called because it sat until 1653). Charles could not shut it down, as he needed taxes to pay off the Scots. MPs, led by John Pym, made it clear that they would only vote taxes after the grievances had been settled.

  1. How important were Haig's tactics in bringing an end to WW1?

    He made volunteers walk slowly over 'no mans land' towards the enemy. They were just mowed down by a machine gun, but Haig still made them walk. His battle plans are seen as torture. Haig believed that he was an instrument of God, and he felt God picked him to lead the British army.

  2. World War 1

    Death is a constant comrade in war whether in the trenches or not. Constant shellfire brings random deaths to those not even on guard. Many of the soldiers are buried due to large bombardments in the trenches. Death is shown all around not just from bombardments, but also disease and injuries.

  1. Why Were There So Many Interperatations of General Haig In WW1

    The main reason for Haig being liked, or rather, being publicised as a good general was for the morale of the men still in Britain, so they would join the army and help win the war. Haig's wife was also lady in waiting to the Queen so he was in

  2. Were the police to blame for Jack the Ripper not being caught

    This would have almost defiantly caught him. The police tried catching the Ripper by using rubber soles on their shoes to sneak up on him silently; they dressed up as prostitutes on a night in hope to catch him out.

  1. World war 1

    The German people were suffering from the effects of food shortages. The Germans U-Boat campaign had also led to food shortages in Britain the British naval blockade that prevented supplies from getting into German ports hit them harder. A virus hit the German cities causing large number of deaths amongst people already weakened by food shortages.

  2. How did WW1 contribute to nationalism in the British Colonies?

    These techniques played an extremely important role in influencing and deceiving British colonies. The political side of the war was kept secret in order to enhance this nationalistic view which many British colonies had at the time. The governments of all the colonies also had a main part in their country's involvement in WW1.

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