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

Was Field Marshall Haig the butcher of the Somme ?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

12th May 2001 Was Field Marshall Haig the butcher of the Somme ? Field Marshall Haig was born in Edinburgh and educated at the Royal Military college. He served as a chief of staff in India, was a commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium, and was a successful cavalry commander in the Boer war in South Africa before being appointed commander of the British forces at the age of 54 in 1915. Haig is often portrayed as the "Butcher of the Somme" because of the heavy casualty list on the first Day of battle and the fact that he led one of the bloodiest battles in War. 20,000 British soldiers died and 57,000 were wounded or dead on the first day of the battle of the Somme, compared to 8,000 dead or wounded Germans. Nearly 50,000 men died with hardly any increase of land in one day. He is often compared to a butcher/slaughterer because of this. Arguments that show he was a butcher: Haig was prepared to accept heavy casualties to win. ...read more.

Middle

Haig's plans for the battle of the Somme were that a week before attacking, the artillery would bombard the German trenches for a week. This was supposed to destroy German barbed wire and trenches. Huge mines were supposed to be planted under German trenches. A week later the British soldiers were to walk across no man's land (where the barbed wire would be destroyed by the artillery and mines) where they would find the Germans ready to surrender and their trenches ruined. The cavalry would then advance to join the men on foot. This all went terribly wrong. For a start, the artillery had not cut the barbed wire, it had just made it even more tangled up; meaning that the men on foot could not get through to the German trenches. The Germans had dug trenches so deep that the bombardment that was supposed to destroy them, didn't. After the British had tried to get through the barbed wire to the German trenches they found that German soldiers were ready for them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Yet he didn't use any of these methods, he always stuck to the technique of attrition, determination and morale of soldiers and surprise attacks, which cost dearly in the lives of hundreds of men. Arguments in support of Haig Even though Haig's methods of battle resulted in many men dead, his ideas of battle were common for the time. In all the letters written whilst Haig was Commander of the British forces complaining/criticising his battle plans, there were never any contributions of alternative methods. Haig, throughout his military career, said that wars were won through "the loss of initiative" and not having a self-protective attitude, not by having the finest artillery or latest war equipment. Conclusion Was Haig the butcher of the Somme? He was willing to accept heavy casualties, he was criticised for never being near the front line or with the soldiers, his plan backfired yet he still carried on using it (even when there were other solutions) are all arguments against Haig. Arguments that support Haig are just that his plans were criticised yet there was never a given alternative. Yes, Haig was the butcher of the Somme. The arguments for Haig being the butcher of the Somme overshadow those saying he wasn't. ...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?

    In a sense, this point of view is warranted, but it was also quite essential for the general to stay behind the line for numerous reasons. The general should have no personal outlook of the war, and should have a much wider perspective of the war.

  2. Haig, Butcher of the Somme

    Whilst I find individual parts of this argument fairly convincing, it does concern me that it all seems fairly contradictory with several separate unrelated arguments. In addition, I find it hard to believe the suggestions that the attack went very well after hearing the evidence from the other argument.

  1. Haig butcher of the Somme?

    Instead he doesn't allow his bad encounters to dominate his opinion on General Haig's actions. Moreover, this Lieutenant chooses to remain anonymous, so it's not as though he was looking for any glory or recognition for writing this letter. Furthermore because is a primary source it proves reliability.

  2. Does field Marshall Haig deserve his title as the Butcher of the Somme?

    A modern historian, Llewellyn had this to say, "Haig method of winning the war was clumsy, expensive in loss of life and based on a misreading of the facts. As a modern historian he would have clearly analysed the facts. This means that this opinion is based on reliable evidence.

  1. Was Haig the butcher of the Somme?

    where they slackened of, seeing this her brother heroically jumped forward with a bomb I his hand and was immediately shot through the head... This was a quick death and to the relative a nicer way to die with no pain.

  2. Field Marshall Haig: 'The Butcher of the Somme?'

    Though, this may have been what he believed or told, so would be the truth to his knowledge. It may have been how a minority of men were feeling. Source C, written by Private George Coppard, years after the war, shows the opposite opinion of the war to Haig's view.

  1. Haig: Butcher or Serious Commander?

    Source E is taken from 'The Somme', written by Leslie Coate, was published in 1983. Coate was undoubtedly able to stand back and assess pragmatically the first day's fighting. It is unlikely that he would be unnaturally biased one way or the other because he wrote his book some sixty years later.

  2. Does Field Marshal Haig Deserve To Be Called The Butcher of the Somme?

    Haig should have realised that they were not going to break the German line and should have ordered the fighting to stop a lot sooner then he did. The battle of Passchendaele caused over 310,000 casualties for the British army, this number could have been reduced if Haig had not

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