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

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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.

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