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

Was the label “the Butcherof the Somme” a fair description of General Haig?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Was the label "the Butcher of the Somme" a fair description of General Haig? In December 1915 it was still a stalemate situation on the Western front. This was because both sides were dug deep into a line of trenches stretching over 70 miles from the Belgian ports to Switzerland; neither army could gain any ground, or make any progress towards victory. The British questioned how well their army was being led. On 10th December 1915 General Haig was appointed as the new commander of the British troops, succeeding Field Marshall Sir John French. Haig faced a difficult task, as he was to try to relieve the pressure imposed on the French by the Germans at Verdun, by attacking another part of the front lines. His tactics strategies and general opinions towards war caused some to label him as "the Butcher of the Somme". Does he deserve this title or was he doing his best for the war effort? ...read more.

Middle

Haig felt that "The machine gun is a much overrated weapon". During the early part of the battle of the Somme Haig's strategies overlooked the power of the enemy machine guns. On the 1st July 1916 the British troops were ordered to go "over the top". However they were to walk, not run, they also had to carry packs weighing about sixty pounds. The fact that the British were only able to move very slowly left them like sitting targets. They were almost instantly mown down by the German's machine guns. During the battle of the Somme General Haig did not use many different tactics or formulate any new strategies. Haig did not make full use of new technological advances such as the tanks. He could have used tanks to a much greater extent during the battle. There were many other ways in which Haig could have changed his tactics at the battle of the Somme. ...read more.

Conclusion

Messages took a long time to be delivered from Haig to the trenches and the Field Marshall did not have knowledge of the terrible losses of the 1st July until three days later. In contrast to Haig's butcher like tactics at the end of the war he was welcomed home as a victorious hero. As the battle of the Somme had served it's purpose by removing the pressure of the Germans from the French at Verdun. However was this too high a price to pay for victory? The battle of the Somme resulted in the largest number of British deaths than any battle before it. It took five months for the pressure on Verdun to be lifted. At the Somme only a few square miles of blood and mud had been gained in exchange for 700,000 deaths. I personally feel that Field Marshall Haig does deserve the title of "Butcher of the Somme" as he casually sent hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths. He did not think of alternative tactics and readily accepted the large number of deaths and casualties. ...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?

    At first, the tanks were not integrated in the British war tactics. There was no provision made after land gains. As the tank was not a defensive weapon, any gains it did make were quickly swallowed up. The slowness and unreliability of early tanks prevented them from being a decisive weapon in their own right.

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

    against that kind of bombardment, and that's why our wars last weeks rather than years. But in Haig's day, warfare was only just evolving out of basic guns, cavalry charges and swords and shields, not long after the bow and arrow.

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

    Americans had already suffered when the Germans sunk the liner Lusitania, killing 128 American passengers. Anti German feeling swept through the country and many people demanded that America go to war with Germany. After the Lusitania sinking, the German cut back there U-boat attacks for over a year, but by 1917, they were desperate for a quick victory.

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

    However, this may not be a valid interpretation because it is a cartoon that mocks Haig and entertains the public. Low troop morale during the battle of the Somme can support the interpretation that Haig was the 'butcher of the Somme'.

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

    Whereas previously they had put the majority of their troops in the front line, and only left a few in reserve for defence, now they were adopting the opposite scheme. Ludendorff's new doctrine was to withdraw as many troops as possible from the front line to protect them from British

  2. Causes of the General Strike

    15th April became known as `black Friday`. After three months on strike, the miners returned to work under the employer's terms. Black Friday was a major cause of the General strike because it meant the miners were more dissatisfied than ever, with lower wages and increased hours; they knew that action had to be taken.

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

    truth, it is not designed to hold any historical accuracy what so ever. The comedy is also British, and therefore makes it bias to Germany. It is hilarious, though it describes how Haig's plan was ridiculous and that all soldiers going over the top knew they were going to die

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

    Haig then decided to double the width of the straight line from nine miles to eighteen miles, even though he was uncertain that the 'straight line' plan would even be successful. By doubling the width Haig was effectively halving the impact. Once again Haig was trying to achieve the impossible.

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