• 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...


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.


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.


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

    I believe that George had not had all the information in source I and that was the purpose for his change in opinion. I also feel that in Source J, George had been given all the relevant information and consequences of Haigs actions, and that if he had kept to

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

    Their President, Woodrow Wilson, therefore kept America neutral. However, America could not separate themselves from Europe completely. America's businessmen were making huge profit by selling guns to the Allies and the government was lending them money. By 1917, these war loans had amounted to two billion dollars, so while Woodrow

  2. Was Field Marshall Haig the Butcher of the Somme

    In a newspaper article written by Andrew Wilson. He states that Haig was an "...emotional man..." and when the allegations that Churchill made against him about the way he ran the war, his "...voiced cracked with emotion..." He also argues that Haig was more "...a victim of circumstances than a callous monster."

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

    then the offensive could begin, and attack the weakened lines. However, these plans were obviously made when looking back on the battle, Haig wouldn't have had the luxury of hindsight. Although, he is to blame for not changing his tactics when the 1st day had been such a failure.

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

    decided on a plan for renewing the battle in the centre and had set to work on reorganisation." These supporters suggest that the Somme was almost like a British version of Verdun, with the intention being to kill as many Germans as possible.

  1. Causes of the General Strike

    The first test of the Triple Alliance's strength came when the mine owners regained control of the mines and pay cuts occurred. The miners went on strike on 15th April 1921, and called for the Railwaymen and the Transport Workers to join them, but the Triple Alliance failed to come into effect.

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

    Haig wrote Source C and he was a few miles away from the battle so he would have had no clue of what was going on. He would only have a report of the situation through other officers passing the information back to Haig.

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