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

"Overall, Haig must be judged a successful commander" - Discuss.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Overall, Haig must be judged a successful commander". Field Marshal Douglas Haig was one of the most controversial people of the Great War. While he brought eventual victory, he is accused of being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of young men during 1916 and beyond. I will begin by looking at source C and the opinions of the fighting man on Haig. Fred Pearson was an infantryman that fought under Haig, and so might not have ever met him. His thoughts on Haig are in an angry, annoyed tone, saying that he's "very bitter, always have been and always will be" and talks about Haig being "50 kilometres behind the line and that's about as near as he ever got." This source is reliable as far as facts go - Haig was that far away. The rest of the source is personal opinion, but one that seems to be shared by other men of the time. ...read more.

Middle

A similar situation occurred two years later at Passchendaele, in which he continued to throw troops forward long after his target was no longer tactically viable. Source D tries to see reasons behind Haig's tactics, and is made up of opinions on the man. From looking at Haig's own journal and other sources, this source seems reliable. It talks about that perhaps "his greatest failing was his constant, misplaced optimism." From Haig's journal, he commented that "the men are in splendid spirits...full of confidence" the day before, saying also that "the wire has never been so well cut", which is simply untrue. The wire had not been cut, and hundreds of men were slaughtered on it. On the first day of the battle, in which almost 20,000 people died (the biggest casualties on one day that the British army has ever seen), he said that it all "went like clockwork" and that the troops are in "wonderful spirits and full of confidence" In fact, that day has been said by modern historians to have "left a scar on the British people forever". ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Source E's final point says that "although some people criticise the cost of his methods, they do not offer other methods." This is very debatable. There are several things Haig could have done to reduce the mass loss of life. Firstly, and most obviously, he could have removed the bombardment. It made the wire worse, churned up no-man's land making it impossible to walk through, and warned the Germans of the attack. This point was proven in 1918 at Amiens: this attack was not began by bombardment, and so was astoundingly successful (to begin with). Some have also suggested that he should have simply stopped the attack; the Germans advance had already been halted. He could have also used similar tactics that the Germans used at Verdun - instead of masses of men going over the top, small amounts of well armed, well trained men would pick open weak points in the line. So, in conclusion, it is possible to support the opening statement from the sources - although it is also quite possible to judge the opposite. ...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 seems indeed that they won against overwhelming odds. In attempts to break the stalemate of the western front, enormous casualties were entailed. There were many major conflicts lost before the final victory. When the British attacked on the River Somme, there were over 500,000 casualties.

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

    Among the noted aeroplane fighters, or aces, were the American Eddie Rickenbacker, the Canadian William Avery Bishop and the German Baron Manfred von Richthofen. In conclusion, I think that the role war in the air played in bringing an end to the war was limited.

  1. Dunkirk - Defeat, Deliverance or Victory?

    I believe that if he had gone to certain places at certain times, maybe this is the image that might have been portrayed to him. The source is very brief, and gives no mention of any downside of Dunkirk. He simply contradicts a lot of other evidence, in two sentences.

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

    This lack of information has been a large topic for discussion when considering Haig's effectiveness. Some people say that he was so uninformed because he never went to the front line, but lived in a well-supplied chateau forty miles behind the line.

  1. How Successful Was Daniel Kleinman in meeting the brief of the Charity?

    So what is it about the advert which makes it have quite so much impact? Kleinman used a number of technical devices in the advert, which contributed greatly to its success. For a start, he mixed visual effects and real people with animated effects and dummies.

  2. The Battle of Passchendaele

    Another obstacle was a band of wet sand and blue clay, which would make digging a tunnel impossible. Haig had to come up with new tactics. He decided to bleed the Germans to death with a long, hard and big campaign.

  1. Field Marshal Haig.

    At first Joffe intended to use mainly French soldiers but the German attack on Verdum in February 1916 turned the Somme offensive into a large scale British diversionary attack . General Haig now took over responsibility for the operation .

  2. Haig: Butcher or Serious Commander?

    Sources D and E both describe the events of 1 July 1916. Source D was printed on 3 July 1916 in the Daily Express, and is a very favourable account of the first day. It leaves the reader little choice but to notice the successes of the BEF, and even less choice to hear of the failures and losses.

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