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Was Haig 'A Butcher'?

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Introduction

Was Haig 'A Butcher'? The Battle of the Somme was planned as a joint French and British operation. The idea originally came from the French Commander-in-Chief, Joseph Joffre and was accepted by General Sir Douglas Haig, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) commander, despite his preference for a large attack in Flanders. Haig also wanted to make a breakthrough and show that he would help takeover Germany with France. At first Joffre intended for to use mainly French soldiers but the German attack on Verdun in February 1916 turned the Somme offensive into a large-scale British diversionary attack. General Sir Douglas Haig now took over responsibility for the operation and with the help of General Sir Henry Rawlinson, came up with his own plan of attack. Haig's strategy was for an eight-day preliminary bombardment that he believed would completely destroy the German forward defences. Since 1918 there has been furious arguments over the leadership of General Haig, an army general in the First World War. After the war the British Government praised and showered Haig with honours. They also awarded him with �100,000. However not long after the war ended, Haig started to be criticized on his tactics, his willingness to sustain a great number of casualties and a number of other reasons. ...read more.

Middle

Even though Haig had experience of battle on the front line, most of these experiences were hand to hand combat, fighting small skirmishes in India and fighting against guerrilla warfare in South Africa. He had no experiences of large military confrontation in traditional battle formation or with the new machines or techniques of the twentieth century war methods. So to call up a general who had no experience of these things was a very risky idea. Haig thought that killing more Germans even at the cost of a large potion of the British Empire soldiers would win the war. Haig lived in luxury, forty miles away from the front line and never visited soldiers at the front. Hence he did not know the conditions they were subjected to. Haig should have ensured efficient communication in planning the strategies for the battle. Another weakness he had was, when confronted with problems Haig would step back and let other people handle it. Haig and his generals used the same strategy continually. They also used all their artillery to destroy the barbed wire while killing Germans at the same time. But this was not successful. In fact, it made it worst. ...read more.

Conclusion

Haig was not used to modern warfare as his experiences of wars in other countries were completely different from the traditional formation in Europe. We should also take in consideration that in the Battle of the Somme Britain suffered heavy losses but Germany had the most casualties. Also people who classify Haig as a butcher often say that Haig didn't care for anyone and he said, "the nation must be taught to bear losses" but I think that at the time of the war this is a true considerable statement to say although it is hard to face facts, because if you want to win a war there is going to be losses unfortunately. Although I am making it seem that I am on Haig's side completely I still think Haig should have got more involved in the battle but I think that his battle tactics were okay, maybe only a little improving needed due to the fact that Germany had more casualties at the end of the Somme. Haig was a considerable general for example he said," success in battle depends mainly on morale and determination." Overall I think that Sir Douglas Haig was not a butcher and should not be classified as a butcher. I think this is a very important issue and I found the information very interesting while I was researching the answers to this question. ...read more.

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