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Using the sources provided and your own knowledge of Haig, explain whether you think he was a good or bad commander.

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5. Using the sources provided and your own knowledge of Haig, explain whether you think he was a good or bad commander. General Haig was the commander of the British forces for the Battle of the Somme. Many people blame Haig for how the victory came about; many people have called him ' the butcher of the Somme'. Thousands of men gave their lives in this battle (20 000 British soldiers died) yet only a small amount of land was gained. Some people, therefore, believe that Haig was a very cruel and cold-blooded man who should have never have sent his men over the top. However some people think that this had to happen in order to have a chance of winning the war. So there is a great difference in opinions to whether Haig was a good commander or a bad one. Haig was 54 years old when he was the commander of the Somme and so he would have been experience but he would also have been old-fashioned. ...read more.


the destruction of deep dugouts' and that it was successful because 'on some sectors, the Germans evacuated the whole front line trench.' Haig lived 40 km away from the trench so it would have been not possible for him to know this and so he wouldn't know what to do. He wouldn't have cared when he sent his men over the top because he never visited the trenches to experience what they experienced. On the first day thousands of soldiers lost their lives in the battle but he carried on still without reaching a breakthrough in the next 142 days. Other people will disagree with this as they think he was a 'hero' and the result of the battle was a victory. They say that there were little other alternatives. Source A portrays Haig's army as 'patriotic heroes' and this is the message that is received back home, although it isn't reliable as nothing clear is known. Source B (i) backs Haig's importance for the battle of the Somme and says how necessary it was to take action and why he needed to. ...read more.


He also believed that God would lead his army to victory and so it was the vital sacrifice. He had criticisms for continuing with the attack even though so many lives were being lost, however he had a lot of pressure from the public and the politicians. There was also a communication problem, Haig was under the impression that they were winning the war, as Charters gave him positive information to make him feel better and have less pressure. He was never at the front line, so he would not know what was happening. It could be said that the Somme was actually something that they could learn from to help them win the war, and that it had turned the army in to excellent, experienced soldiers. We could say that it was easy for him to have changed his methods and views, but it must have been hard to use the methods that had never been used. Though judging what Haig did, a huge amount of men were killed, and many families must have been affected, so I don't think that it was right what Haig did to sacrifice people because of his religious beliefs and idealistic ideas. ...read more.

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