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Was Field Marshall Haig the Butcher of the Somme

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Introduction

Was Field Marshall Haig the Butcher of the Somme? In order to answer the main essay question on whether or not Field Marshall Haig was the Butcher of the Somme I will include points for and against and also quotes to sum up and give a complete answer on my opinion of Field Marshall Haig. When field Marshall Haig was appointed commander of the British forces, he was 54 years old. Before this time Haig had had a long and successful career in the military and 15 years previous he had been a celebrated Calvary commander in the Boer war. Haig believed that the only way you could win a battle was through "...grit, determination...morale..." Even though hundreds and thousands of men had been killed, in December 1915, the western front was still stalemate. It was debated as to how well the British army was being led and in the same month, a new commander was appointed, General Haig. However experienced Haig was, he now encountered an even worse and more complex problem - trench warfare. Since generals had no idea of how to fight against trench warfare they simply used methods of fighting and tactics that they had used in past wars. ...read more.

Middle

However, they were too frightened to say anything because if they were to criticize the commanders then they would simply be shot too death by them. Only a few exceedingly brave soldiers wrote about how much they opposed of Haig's ideas and seeing as their letters were screened and read by others they risked their lives in doing so. On the other hand, many of the soldiers were very new and had very little experience so they would have probably just thought that that was the 'done' thing, however bizarre it seemed. As with the soldiers, I believe there were mixed feelings about Haig and the Battle of the Somme back in Britain. This, I assume, was because many had no idea about what the war was like or the terrible ordeals that the men went through, let alone the amount of deaths or the horrifying conditions they had to live in. Nevertheless, when the first movie about the war came out showing actual footage, many controversial issues occurred, mainly critical of Haig. For example, in Source E, in this section of the poem by Siegfried Sassoon you learn how the people at home understood the terrible condition that troops were in and that nobody ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion to this essay 'Was Field Marshall Haig the Butcher of the Somme?' I believe, that overall, in effect, he was. Although there are many pieces of evidence that suggest otherwise, there are also more damning quotes to suggest that he was. I believe my main point for this is that the majority of the soldiers were new and had absolutely no idea about the state of affairs they were going to go through, nor were they trained for an event this intense. After Haig had been in many wars and fought for most of his life I believe that the amount of training he gave the troops was poor and inadequate for a man of his experience. The men were simply led on false pretences and made to believe that the war wasn't going to be that bad, whereas if Haig had made it worse than he knew it was going to be then they would have displayed better fighting qualities and would have been fully prepared. Another focal point that suggests against Haig; is that even when it was clear that his plan wasn't working he stuck to it and didn't think about trying to change his ideas to suit the new type of trench warfare. ...read more.

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