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To What Extent Was Haig Responsible For The Failure At the Battle Of The Somme

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To what extent was Haig responsible for the failure of the British Somme Offensive on the Somme? The Somme began on the 1st July 1916, after 1 week of vigorous bombardment by the British on German trenches, and continued until November 1916. Although the battle lasted several months the first day can be clearly labelled as the worst day, and has since been noted as "The single worst day in British Military history". With around 20,000 men being killed, which was around 14% of the total death count for the whole of the battle, and 57,000 casualties, it seems Haig deserved his title of "Butcher of the Somme" However is this really fair? Did he truly deserve to be remembered for this and this alone? Although, Haig did send thousands of men to what would likely be there deaths, there were many causes which were out of his control. There were several aims of the Somme, some which were completed others, which weren't, and these were; to kill as many Germans as possible. This was done as there were in the region of 500,000 German casualties. Another aim of the battle was to get the British public used to seeing high numbers of casualties and deaths. ...read more.


We have the benefit of Hindsight and are able to look as what happened, and the tactics Haig used, and see the flaws in his plan, and what they lead to. Haig however did not have hindsight in order to plan his tactics, and see what they would lead to. He was not able to see how horrific his tactics would turn out to be, and for this reason we can not take Haig's tactics to be the soul reason for the huge death count. Haig expected the battle to be fought much further into German lines, as their frontline had supposedly been destroyed by the week long bombardment. Haig used no measure to check whether all Germans had in fact been killed and the trenches were destroyed. Haig's tactics of bombarding the soldiers with heavy artillery fire one week prior had given the Germans warning to begin preparing for what was soon to be an attack from the British. Haig's tactic of burdening the soldiers with heavy equipment, so they could only walk across no-mans land also proved costly. Haig's men were not only wearing boots which weighed 10lb and a helmet which was 2lb, but they had to carry 48lb of trench of other equipment such as repair kits, some of which was completely unnecessary. ...read more.


P. Simpkins, who author of "The First world war - The Western Front" wrote "Yet again the British offensive became bogged down and the oft-promised breakthrough appeared as far away as ever". In Conclusion it can be seen that Haig can be directly blamed for many reasons, he refused to use new military tactics and he was reckless with planning, he advanced into German lines without checking first whether German troops have been killed. This was the cause of thousands of men to be butchered; hence Haig was responsible because he didn't take proper measures in checking if enemy lines had been destroyed. Also he refused to change or adapt his tactics to meet the needs of his troops which as G Hetherton stated he didn't halt the attacks after word got to him that the attacks were failing, he just let hundreds more men go over the top to a certain death. However although Haig can be responsible of bad decision making, there were many unfortunate events which went beyond his control. The weaponry and training of Haig was not satisfactory to win a war. The tanks which should have been at Haig's disposal got bogged down before even reaching the battlefield. Also it must be remembered that the Somme lasted 4 months, rather than just the day which has been recorded in history as a blood bath. ?? ?? ?? ?? History Coursework Lucy Bainbridge 1 ...read more.

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