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

Was Field Marshal General Sir Douglas Haig a hero, or the butcher of the Somme?

Extracts from this document...


M Khawaja Hall - Essay 1/6/03 Was Field Marshal General Sir Douglas Haig a hero, or the butcher of the Somme? Haig was a technical innovator; Haig was an old fashioned fool. Haig was a brilliant strategist; Haig was ignorant. Haig was a great man; Haig was hardly a man. Haig was easily the best man for the job; Haig was obviously the only man left for the job. All these views are shared by different people about Haig, in my essay I will put forward my views about Haig and justifications by referring to the facts. Douglas Haig was born on June 19th 1861. He was the son of John Haig, a wealthy owner of a whisky-distilling factory. After his education, Haig joined the army in 1885 and served in India, Egypt, South Africa and Sudan. He slowly worked up through the Ranks. In 1906, he got to the rank of Major General and was the youngest Major General in the British army at that time. ...read more.


However, there is no point in being on the frontline for a leader, because he cannot see everything that is going on and he might be killed or injured which is pointless because he needs to plan the military strategy. Therefore, Haig was not (necessarily) uncaring. When the battle of the Somme started, the artillery failed to remove the barbed wire as it was supposed to. Men were sent over the top, to walk straight across no-man's land - as had been planned. Most of them died. However, Haig continued to send more men over the top - to their deaths. Surely, no matter how unreliable Haig's intelligence was, he must have known that he was sending men to their deaths. Yet, he continued to do so. Until the pressure being put on him by the public and MPs back at home became too much, and he called off the attack. But what drove him in the Somme in particular, were firstly his religious principles. Haig did not see the bad side to death. ...read more.


Germany's economy was close to collapse, Haig wanted one last huge push, it was made, and by Haig's interest in tanks, 150 were used. The German army collapsed due to the outbreak of revolution and the collapse of its economy. However, had the German economy not collapsed, almost all historians agree that tanks would have had the key technological advantage, needed for ending the war. Haig was on the right lines. His leadership skills were impressive. He had much experience, in a world where warfare was changing very rapidly. Some argue he was not very good, but he was better than the rest. He was keen on some technologies. At the Somme, his principal aim was to help out the French at Verdun. He succeeded, and if you look at the figures, more damage was inflicted to the Germans than to the British. His main fault though, was to believe that all his troops shared his views about death. I believe that Field Marshal General Sir Douglas Haig earned the title of Earl and the �100 000 given to him given to him by King George V and the government. And that he was a hero, not a leader who unnecessarily butchered his own men. ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Douglas Haig - Butcher Or Hero?

    Haigs plan meant a massive bombardment along a 18 mile long stretch of front would hopefully destroy German resistance of 16 German divisions. 27 divisions of men (about 750 000 men) would then cross no-mans land and take the German front line.

  2. General Haig - Butcher or Hero?

    Obviously, Kitchener was supposed to put forward an enthusiastic approach to the war, he was pushing for people to sign up to the war effort. The only way to do this was to try to inspire confidence in the commander, so that men wouldn't have any queries about conscripting.

  1. Does Haig deserve the title 'The Butcher of the Somme'?

    Haig, as a cavalry officer, was unquestionably influenced by his cavalry warfare techniques, and was convinced that Cavalry charges through a gap in the enemy line would win the war. These tactics are simply ridiculous, and as a Tommy noticed, 'Our high command had not advanced beyond the tactics of the stone age.

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

    At 5 a.m. on November 11, an armistice was signed in the Forest of Compi�gne between Germany and the Allies on terms laid down by the Allies; at 11 the same morning hostilities ended on the western front. Haig did have a few successful battles, one being the Hindenburg line breakthrough.

  1. Does General Haig deserve to be remembered as the Butcher of the Somme?

    Another reason that historians came up with this interpretation is because the people gave him support this I shown in source 11, which is an article, by Military Historian John Keegan in the Daily Mail in 1988. This source states that Haig was believed to not give up and he

  2. Haig butcher of the Somme?

    However, these interpretations were fuelled only through the publication of Lloyd George's book. War Memoirs was written 15 years after the war, with the intention to glorify the former Prime Minister's reputation as a war leader, possibly by relegating the other war leaders.

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

    The first was the very strategy for advancing. There were two known strategies at that time, the "breakthrough battle" and the "bite and hold" technique. The former was the one usually adopted by Haig, up until the last few months of the war, and has been heavily criticised, mainly for the huge tolls it placed upon human life.

  2. How much were generals such as Douglas Haig to blame for the huge number ...

    for the horse - the well-bred horse - as you have ever done in the past." This shows Haig's complete inability to move with the times. Phillip Gibbs, a historian, said that Haig was "obsessed with the idea that he would break the German line and send the cavalry through".

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